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#65082 02/17/06 02:12 PM
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What is everyone's opinion on the subject of adding bacteria to a pond to promote the decomposition of muck? Has anyone seen this work? I haven't seen any research that backs it up. If anyone knows of any unbiased studies please tell me where to find them!


Sue Cruz
Vertex Water Features
www.vertexwaterfeatures.com

#65083 02/17/06 02:33 PM
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Hi Sue, I have read many "claims" as everyone else has but have only read (testimonials)on the success.I think this is a valid question. It would seem the documentation is difficult to come by.(perhaps nonexsistant)It would seem that the best value may be in the "free" bacteria AKA aerobic. Ted

#65084 02/17/06 02:39 PM
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ewest, any data in that info vault of yours on this one ?? \:\)

#65085 02/17/06 04:16 PM
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Ted :

Thanks for asking. I looked for a second when the question came up in a couple of places and not surprisingly ,considering the sources checked, no luck. I have some more to check and will do so tonight and post. Interesting question that we all could use a good answer to. \:\)
















#65086 02/17/06 04:47 PM
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Here's a discussion you might be intrested in:
http://www.pondboss.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=14;t=000153


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#65087 02/17/06 07:42 PM
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Thanks ewest your input always appreciated. Ric thanks for the link as that is the one I was trying to recall. Again I think it is the unbiased studies and research that will be difficult to come by.Sue what are you running into to pose the question ??

#65088 02/17/06 08:14 PM
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Readers - Kelly Duffie was going to do a study to examinine the affects of bacterial additions for ponds. He was looking for participants. Hopefully he will post the progress of his efforts.


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#65089 02/17/06 11:15 PM
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Here's my two cents. I have used several different microbial products over the years. My main mission was to use them to manage algae. As I did some consumer research years ago, it seems suppliers were high on their product and secretive about how it works. At the time bacteria began to become popular, it was a staple in sewer treatment plants. So, the timing was good to shift the usage into small ponds, as they became nutrient loaded. But, I could not get a single company to tell me any technical information about their product. They acted as though the ingredients are proprietary. I believe that's the main reason we look at microbial products with open eyes. With that said, I have come across several products that I firmly believe play a positive role in helping compost organic matter in the bottom of ponds. But, they work best with aeration in place. There are several of those products advertised in Pond Boss. And, the March/April issue has a new one, an interesting man from California who has a long standing reputation as a pond manager and aquaculture consultant who has a product he has used for years.


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He can teach to catch fish...
#65090 02/18/06 11:59 AM
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Kelly Duffie once told me that the bacterial products don't work well with alkalinity values of less than 80 ppm. Well, in this case, we are very limited in our ability to use them. He mentioned that this would hold true for all or most of the bacterial formulations.

We have used these products, like Bob, for the management of filamentous alage with some success. But since we began raising and stocking tilapia we mostly recommend them as algae control. They are less espensive and actually take nutrients and channel them into fish growth on up the food chain. Bacteria, if they do their job, flourish and consume nutrients, then die back and have to be added again, and again through the growing season.

I too have been frustrated and confused by the huge influx of these products. They are relatively new to the industry so there is a lot of work to be done in determining how and when they should be used and whether it is actually worth the investment.


It's ALL about the fish!
#65091 02/18/06 12:43 PM
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Ted , check your mail.

In looking for info on this topic for Ted one interesting point came up several times. It was noted by Todd above. Acidic waters ( like those from E. Texas through the deep south) especially those with tannin have more limited bacteria. This is because tannic acid water kills or reduces some bacteria. Some bacteria are bad for fish and thus fish health. I am sure some are good and some bad and some have no effect. The writers noted the cyclic nature of the question wrt water quality. High acid (low productivity) - add lime - get more bacteria - high densities greater risk of fish problems. They were approaching the matter from a fish health perspective , noting that adding tannins or tannic acid would kill bacteria and cure or reduce certain fish ailments. Water quality is not an easy subject.
















#65092 02/18/06 01:24 PM
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ewest, Thanks so much for the information, I am printing all of it off at present, Lots to "digest" :)Some very interesting reading, I resent the information to the "topic starter" Sue Cruz, tried to put the files on this post but had no luck doing it, Thanks Again.Ted

#65093 02/19/06 10:19 PM
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Sue,

Pond bacteria have been given several endearing names over the years:

- BUGS (or Bacteria Under Guided Supervision)
- Beneficial Pond Microbes
- Pond Enzymes
- Fill in the blank

Many of our clients use pond microbes for one reason or another: "feel-good" environmentally friendly way to improve water quality, reduce excess nutrients, reduce organic bottom sludge, reduce odors from anaerobic activity (hydrogen sulfide gas), etc.

We private label two different forms of pond bacteria, but both forms consist of the same bacteria formulation. The products achieve the same result but over different periods of time.

BUGS are somewhat mysterious, but have mostly been proven with results from the use in wastewater treatment, oil exploration sites the grease trap business, etc.

We have been providing clients our two forms of BUGS for the last 4 years with varied results. One case I can think of is a municipal client of ours that has been using our products in their 8 or so different ponds for about 3 years. They have reported (and I have personally seen) the positive results of their continued use. Besides some of the ancillary benefits, one of the largest benefits has been the reduction and almost complete elimination of all organic bottom sediments that have accumulated over the last 20 to 30 years. The noticeable change is indescribable.

In any event, whether you believe in the use of BUGS or not, here are the facts about these products we've gathered over the last 4 years (because to tell you the truth, I was skeptical from the beginning...now, 4 years later, I believe they can benefit SOME (the right) ponds).

FACTS:
- although most marketers claim their product is "proprietary", the fact is there are only a few fermenters in the business supplying and manufacturing the bacteria. Most claim their product is proprietary because they don't want to spend the money and effort needed to patent their product and make it "unique".

- almost all (including PondMedics) of the retail sellers of bacteria products are just private labelers. Bacteria manufacturers sell similar products to many marketers and slap their label on it. I am pretty sure that the same company that makes our microbes is the same company that makes the microbes for the company in California in Bob's aforementioned comment. (I'd have to ask my manufacturer, but I think this is correct).

- no matter how many strains of bacillus one "claims" to have in their formulation, only 4 to 7 of these BT strains do most of the work in metabolizing excess nutrients.

- any product that claims to have "anaerobic" bacteria is misleading you. Those microbes they claim to be anaerobic cannot be stored and applied without being exposed to oxygen at one time or another. The bacillus strains they claim are "anaerobic" are actually "facultative" meaning they do their job in both aerobic AND anaerobic environments. The aerobic BT strains are the ones doing most of the work metabolizing nutrients anyway.

- there are no microbes on the market today (to our knowledge) that have registered their product with the EPA. All products with pesticidal claims, must have registered their product with the EPA in order to make such claims. This is a lengthy and expensive proposition. However, you would think it would be more popular due to all of the "proprietary formulations". Therefore, since none of these microbial products have an EPA registration, they cannot make implied or explicit claims that their product is an "herbicide" or, more specifically, an "algaecide". If they do so, they are in violation of the EPA regulations.

- there are a few companies out there claiming their "proprietary microbe blends" work in water temps of any range. Although some BT strains have a metabolic rate under water temps of 55 F, the activity is not such that the bacillus would metabolize nutrients at a rate sufficient of significant water quality improvement.

- microbe product efficacy is measured in CFU's or Colony Forming Units. Most products do not provide this information, but it can vary widely among products. Liquid formulations typically have the lowest CFU's per unit of product.

- dry microbe formulations have a higher CFU concentration and a longer shelf life. Dry formulations are cheaper to ship and less expensive to make.

- microbes (CFU's) sold in "water soluble packet" formulations do not contain most of the BT strains in the "carrier" or what's inside the packet, however the microbes are sprayed on the outside of the water soluble packet (giving them a distinct smell).

A couple of other things we've learned about microbes:

- they are not for every pond. Some ponds are too big to be cost effective. Some pond's water chemistries are not preferred habitats for thriving microbe populations.

- they take time to see results. Continued, consistent use will produce the best results. Intermittent and sporadic use will not yield desired results. Remember, these are Class 1 organisms and a natural remedy...you can't undo 10 or 20 years of nature's work in just a few weeks or months. Most of our clients use the products for at least one year before they see desired results.

- microbes are popular among do-it-yourselfers because it is not a herbicide and it is a "feel good" product (the same reason one might use an organic product for pest control in the home).

- microbes are cheap to make and expensive to package. i.e. you are mostly paying for the packaging. Therefore, buyer beware...don't pay too much for your favorite microbe blends because everyone is using all the same strains of bacillus to get the job done!

Hope this information is helpful and unbiased!

BTW...remember I don't make these products, nor do I claim to know everything there is to know about beneficial pond microbes. I wanted to just attempt to share with you what we've learned about them in the last several years. I would love to learn more about what other professionals using them have gained in their experience.

#65094 02/20/06 08:47 AM
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Thanks for the valuable input! Being in the 'pond aeration' business, it seems everywhere I turn people are selling bacteria. If oxygen is present there will be aerobic bacteria. Why do bacteria levels go back down to normal levels so quickly after a treatment. If there is an unlimited food source and plenty of oxygen to go around, why do they die off so quickly and need to be added again? We know there is odor, nutrient and muck reduction with aeration alone and I question if adding large amounts of bacteria is neccessary. From what I've seen and heard it is quite expensive and is an ongoing treatment. I am often asked my opinion on this subject from people trying to solve their water quality problems. I'm not against it, I'm just looking for justification.


Sue Cruz
Vertex Water Features
www.vertexwaterfeatures.com

#65095 02/20/06 09:31 AM
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Sue,

You are exactly right...everyone is selling bacteria. Why? The MAIN reason: their customers "feel good" about applying something natural in their ponds. Also, it is a carry over product from ornamental backyard water gardens (talk about a market of rip-offs!) that is now available to those with larger bodies of water.

You are correct, the BT strains doing the majority of the work in these products are naturally occurring in most ponds. We supplement using these microbe products because the naturally occurring microbes can't keep pace with the nutrient loading that takes place around our man-made ponds/lakes.

Your question: "Why do bacteria levels go back down to normal levels so quickly after a treatment. If there is an unlimited food source and plenty of oxygen to go around, why do they die off so quickly and need to be added again?"

I'm not a microbiologist in any form, but my understanding is bacteria levels fluctuate due to dilution (water exchange from a rain-event, etc.) and the natural balance and control within the pond itself, i.e. components within the pond's ecosystem will not allow the bacteria to reach a harmful concentration.

Yes, by adding mechanical aeration, we do see a reduction in all the things you mentioned. This aeration does provide a better environment in which naturally occurring microbes can process nutrients. Why add more? Because you can. I agree that "large amounts" are not necessary, but in the scope of things, by supplementing with manufactured bacteria, I wouldn't necessarily say it is "large amounts."

Microbe treatments can be expensive depending on the pond size and location. Large ponds are sometimes cost prohibitive and not worth the treatment. Other smaller ponds are also cost prohibitive because the amount of water exchange that takes place on a regular basis (on-stream ponds). However, your client is ultimately the one that decides what is expensive and what is not.

I get asked the same questions you do regarding the products to help solve their water quality problems. It's not the magic bullet to all water quality issues, but it is definitely a tool that can be utilized from our pond management toolbox in the appropriate situation.

BTW...speaking of "everyone selling bacteria". I just noticed a few months ago that one of your competitors out of Kiel, Wisconsin (I won't mention the name) has introduced several new, here we go again, "proprietary" blends and many different applications methods for their new microbe lines. In my opinion, they don't have anything "new" on the market as far as bacillus strains; they are just marketing new "gimmicks" on ways to apply their products.

#65096 02/20/06 10:29 AM
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It is in the nature of this forum to want proof on matters of all sorts. This is a positive and protective function of our combined efforts. Proof can take several forms or combinations of them. Unbiased peer reviewed studies are one form. Long term good results by many knowledgeable pond owners under the right circumstances is another. A third form of proof is that provided by multiple pro fisheries scientists/managers with knowledge of the situation. Less reliable but still of value is the good success of satisfied customers over time with a product. With this last type of proof remember that many things can lead to a good result and they may be describing the right result for the wrong reason (not really iding the cause and effect).

Keep in mind however that if no one ever tried something new (unproven) or decided to test an idea (research /study) then there would be little progress. We need progress. The key is that the person who undertakes the idea/study (especially if on his or someone else's pond )understand the concept and recognize the risk and make an informed choice. That is one place where we collectively should help with our input. It is still his/her choice in the end and should be respected.

It is important to report back results when one tries or encounters a new idea or event or has special knowledge of events. It is very important for each of us to distinguish the difference between "proof" and "reports of an event". Both are welcome and encouraged and are fun to hear and share.

IMHO one thing we don't need (I have not encountered this here)is people trying to make it a market place for economic benefit unless, Bob allows it as an advertisement.

Off the soap box.

BTW Sue , Trent, Bob , Ted and others thanks for the info on an interesting topic . How big is to big for this product/concept if you have little to normal water flow through, in your opinion ?
















#65097 02/20/06 11:20 AM
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Trent,

Thanks for your input on a "fuzzy" topic.Information like yours is what makes this forum so terrific.

#65098 02/20/06 12:24 PM
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Ewest,

Not sure how to best answer your question about "too big". The largest pond one of our clients have added microbes to for over two years is 7 acres (treating the entire body of water). I was just at that pond a week ago and they are still using the microbes during the warm months.

However, some other clients have used microbes in only certain areas of larger lakes, too. I guess the question is subjective to a person's pond or lake management budget.

For the most part, we sell microbes because we have many clients who've asked for them specifically. I can't think of a time where we have "pushed" the use of microbes. We've suggested the use, but never recommended them as the only solution to the problem.

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Best thread I have read yet on beneficial pond bacteria. I just hate marketing hype, gimmicks and super secret claims when logic tells me that there are most likely only a few real producers supplying a product under private lables. Thanks, Trent. I appreciate your no nonsense information. Exactly why internet forums can be such a good source of information.


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