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Old 01-13-2014, 05:11 PM   #1
slowfoot
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Suggestions for a high-altitude pond?


These questions are actually for my father, who has a group of three ponds in his yard in Colorado. Basically, he'd like to manage these ponds as naturally as possible, but he's been having some issues with out of control hair algae.

Some info:

His ponds are at about 9000 ft in a ponderosa pine/meadow type environment. They freeze solid every winter. The largest is about cattle-tank size, and the smallest is about a 30 gallon tub. They all get full sun. They are planted with water lilies, and some other bog-type plants that I'm not sure of the names of.

My dad's main interest are the chorus frogs that live around his ponds and lay eggs there every spring. He'd like to make them ideal environments for the tadpoles without interfering too much with the natural balance of things.

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The issue:

He has a horrible problem with string algae each summer. Manually removing it endangers the tadpoles, which get caught in it like a net. He'd like to avoid any algae treatments and try more floating plants. He tried water hyacinth last year, but it seemed to burn up in the sun and died.

He also seems to get way too many dragonfly and damsel fly larvae - not a huge issue, but they eat his tadpoles.

So, any suggestions for floating plants and/or algae control? Any way to control dragonfly nymphs without harming tadpoles?

He's planning on adding a shallow bog-style pond this spring.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:03 PM   #2
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Ok three quick options come to mind.
Floaters, of course as you've surmised, maybe try water lettuce or frogbit, and possibly acclimate it in a tub at your house outside where it doesn't get full sun all day, before adding to ponds

Barley Straw added to ponds supposedly helps control algae

Algaefix chemical, should be ok for frogs and added benefit is would probably kill many of the invertebrates (dragonfly nymphs?), but of course if would also kill of lots of beneficial organisms too.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:17 PM   #3
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I think the answer is no there is nothing he can do.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:43 PM   #4
slowfoot
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenman857 View Post
Ok three quick options come to mind.
Floaters, of course as you've surmised, maybe try water lettuce or frogbit, and possibly acclimate it in a tub at your house outside where it doesn't get full sun all day, before adding to ponds

Barley Straw added to ponds supposedly helps control algae

Algaefix chemical, should be ok for frogs and added benefit is would probably kill many of the invertebrates (dragonfly nymphs?), but of course if would also kill of lots of beneficial organisms too.
Thanks for the suggestions.

I think he's tried the barley straw trick without much success. I think we'll try more and different floaters. Just wondering how he managed to kill the water hyacinth because I didn't think it was possible.

BruceF, thanks for your opinion.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:05 PM   #5
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The only thing that comes to mind is UV Sterilization.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:52 PM   #6
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As far as I know the frogs need algae, especially in their tadpole stage. I had an outdoor 150 gallon that I had set up for frogs in my backyard. At the beginning of the spring it would get clogged with algae. The tadpoles would show up and devour it all. I would actually end up having to feed them. Also, most frog eggs are very vulnerable to being eaten by fish. Few frog species exist where they must reproduce in competition with fish. I think your best bet algae wise is to try to create shade somehow.
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:23 AM   #7
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I don’t mean to be so negative, sorry. It is just that I used to volunteer at the Botanic Garden facility near Chatfied Reservoir and they had exactly this same scenario, frogs and all. Even in the shade they had this algae problem. In the sun all the ponds there were choked by this alga. The woman who was in charge of them would empty them two or three times every summer. The frogs do seem to need it so you don’t really want to eliminate it. The herons did seem to like the tadpoles! If anything I would look into lilies they are at least indigenous, looks like there might be some of those already. I am not sure they could handle the winters so that might be expensive. I think for most floaters the extremes are just too great not only from day to night but from season to season. I do agree shade might help. I do grow hyacinth in my yard but I do that in morning sun. I imagine if you wanted to grow them you might be able to acclimatize them to the sunlight very slowly.
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:28 AM   #8
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It looks like you have water lilies in there. Have more of them. They'll block out the sun.
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Old 01-14-2014, 01:41 PM   #9
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Thanks all!

I know the tads eat algae, but they won't touch the hair algae. My dad does feed them pretty often - boiled greens.

The lilies are hardy because they survive the winters. The only issue with adding more is that as soon as they get good and lush something (moose, elk) comes along and has a snack, or a bear takes a dip in the pond and tears everything up. I think his next step is to introduce more floaters. He's going to add a couple different kinds of duckweed this spring.

He's been using white clouds as mosquito control and they come inside during the winter, so he can bring some floating plants in too.

Dad's become really interested in local pond ecology because of all this. We've noticed that nearby natural ponds have really different ecologists: some are covered in hair algae, while some are clear, but still have lots of plant life. Not sure what the differences are.
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Old 01-14-2014, 05:52 PM   #10
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Ah well, if the moose come along to eat the plants, there isn't much you can do. Try the duck weed but that'll get eaten too but they'll recover really fast.

Try small native minnows or mosquito fish to control the mosquito population. I'm not sure if mosquito fish would survive the winter though but maybe a native fish would.
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:46 PM   #11
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I've had some water gardens in the denver area since the 1990s. They are well stocked with water lilies, iris and other plants. The main one is 800 gallons with two smaller ponds built into the terraces above that flow into it.
I've had hair algae in the terrace ponds every year, but none in the main pond where the goldfish are. The goldfish do a good job of eating the hair algae.
The native leopard frogs moved in and successfully bred in this pond until the snakes got them.
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:54 PM   #12
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try fathead minnows they wont have to be taken in over the winter as long as the pond is deep enough to not freeze all the way to the bottom and if he keeps a hole in the ice. and i'm pretty sure they're native to colorado ps the hawks are gonna slaughter the broncos
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