When most people hear the word “algae,” they imagine a dark green, murky pool of water. However, algae can vary greatly in appearance. One particular type of algae, cyanobacteria, often looks as if paint or pea soup was dumped into the water. This deceptive appearance belies the potential hazards of cyanobacteria. Understanding what cyanobacteria is, why it grows, and how to get rid of it is crucial for maintaining the health of any lake.

What Is Cyanobacteria?

Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, are photosynthetic bacteria found in many aquatic environments. They are known for their rapid growth, especially in nutrient-rich conditions, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients often enter bodies of water through agricultural runoff, wastewater discharge, and stormwater runoff. Warm temperatures, stagnant water, and abundant sunlight also contribute to the proliferation of cyanobacterial blooms. Once established, these blooms can dominate the water body, disrupting the natural ecosystem, degrading water quality, and posing health risks to humans and animals.

How to Get Rid of Blue-Green Algae

Identifying cyanobacteria in a lake is the first step toward effective management. Its distinctive appearance — often forming a thick, paint-like scum on the surface of the water — can be a clear indicator. However, laboratory testing is required to confirm the presence of cyanobacteria and to assess the potential toxicity of the bloom. Once it’s been confirmed that your lake is affected by cyanobacteria, you must partner with a lake and pond management company to effectively control blue-green algae growth.

Below, we discuss the best methods for getting rid of and preventing cyanobacteria.

Mechanical Removal

Physical removal of algae using skimmers, vacuums, or harvesters can reduce the biomass of cyanobacteria in the water. This method is labor-intensive and often provides only temporary relief. If you pair this removal technique with an aeration system, you can have more long-term results. 

Increasing water movement through aeration can disrupt the stagnant conditions that cyanobacteria favor. Aeration also helps to increase oxygen levels and supports the health of aquatic life, which can combat the growth of algal blooms.

Chemical Treatments

Chemicals, such as copper sulfate and hydrogen peroxide, are commonly used to kill cyanobacteria. While effective, these treatments must be used carefully to avoid harming other aquatic life and to prevent the release of toxins from dying algae. Always follow the guidelines outlined on the product and consult with professionals before using chemical treatments.

Biological Controls

Using biological controls can also be effective in managing blue-green algae. Introducing certain fish species, such as grass carp, can help control algae growth, while beneficial bacteria can compete with cyanobacteria for nutrients. Planting native aquatic plants can also be beneficial, as they absorb excess nutrients, reduce sunlight penetration, and outcompete cyanobacteria for resources.

Effective Ways to Prevent Blue-Green Algae

Of course, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to managing blue-green algae. If your lake is given a clean bill of health in regards to cyanobacterial blooms, you should still consider implementing one or more of the following preventative measures:

  • Reduce Fertilizer Use: Use phosphorus-free fertilizers and reduce overall fertilizer application near water bodies.
  • Add Buffer Strips: Planting vegetation buffer strips along the shoreline can help absorb and filter out nutrients before they enter the water.
  • Practice Proper Waste Management: Ensure that septic systems are well-maintained and not leaking into nearby water bodies. Also, help reduce animal waste runoff from farms.
  • Improve Stormwater Management: Using retention ponds, wetlands, and rain gardens to manage stormwater can reduce the flow of nutrients into water bodies.
  • Regularly Test Your Water: Regular monitoring of water quality is essential for early detection of nutrient levels and algal blooms. Have a professional test your lake for nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll levels.
  • Educate: Educating pond owners, local communities, and stakeholders about the causes and consequences of cyanobacterial blooms can foster better management practices and preventive measures.

Partner With Aquagenix for Effective Cyanobacteria Control

Maintaining the health of a lake requires vigilance and proactive management. Recognizing the signs of blue-green algae and understanding how to get rid of cyanobacteria is essential for preserving water quality and protecting aquatic life. Aquagenix offers comprehensive services, including aeration system installations, to control blue-green algae and can help you maintain a clean, healthy body of water with our expertise and tailored solutions. If you own or manage a lake and are struggling with cyanobacterial blooms or looking for preventive measures, contact Aquagenix today.