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Control Clado with Barley Straw

Updated on February 9, 2015
Cladophora sp.
Cladophora sp. | Source

Once you have a pond in your own backyard, you have to remember the level of responsibility that goes with it. A pond requires care and treatment. It also needs monitoring because of the balance you have to maintain. This small body of water has aquatic life to keep it active. One of the living elements in a pond is the algae. It is naturally occurring and it thrives in the right conditions. Just like plants, algae need sunlight and nutrients. One of the most common species of algae that can reside in your pond is Cladophora or fondly called Clado.

What is Clado?

Clado is usually brought about by the introduction of new plants in your pond. Marimo balls are the known culprits [These are moss balls (Aegagropila linnaei). Marimo balls are actually algae that grow into the shape of balls in controlled conditions. They are usually placed in ponds or aquariums as low-maintenance pets. If you are thinking of adding Marimo balls into your pond, please reconsider. It would be best to keep your Marimo balls in a separate container, away from your pond].

This pond algae is any pond owner’s worst nightmare because it forms strands, it is branchy, and it gives off a very pungent smell. It also forms fluffy clouds, despite its brittleness. It is so brittle that its strands can easily break off. The detached strands then attach themselves to your aquatic plants, such as ferns, grasses, and moss. Clado is often mistaken for hair algae.

Cladophora often behaves like a higher plant. With this, it is only natural for it to grow where your other aquatic plants are. It does not transfer to your pond via spores, but through direct transmission from point A to point B. This alga’s filaments are tinier than hair, so it can easily mix up with stems and roots. It always collects debris that floats around in your pond water. When Clado masses die off, they collect to the sides of your pond and these clumps become paradise for odor-causing bacteria.

In your pond, clado’s stringy branches appear unattractive. They also attract organic matter. Because of high phosphorus and light levels, clado can easily take over. You have to make sure that this algal species does not win, or you will have an unsightly, odorous pond.

Mos balls
Mos balls | Source

Preventing and Eliminating Clado

Below are some practical ways to prevent and eliminate clado from overpopulating your pond:

  1. Clean the new plants you want to introduce into your pond. You’ll never know if the plants you just bought have clado strands. The best way to wash is to dip the plants in bleach (three parts bleach, ten parts water), very quickly.
  2. Use your fingers and a reliable toothbrush. You can remove clado from your pond by manually removing them with your fingers and a toothbrush. Twirl the toothbrush, to get the strands quickly. You should do this as often as you can.
  3. Reduce the amount of light that enters your pond. If you lessen the amount of sunlight that enters your pond water, plants will grow slower. This also retards the clado’s growth. When this happens, you can remove it easier.
  4. Chemical removal can help. You can reinforce your manual clado removal with an effective algaecide. You just have to consult your pond expert about the proper dosage and the frequency of the treatments.
  5. Introduce the clado eaters. Caridina multidentata, commonly known as the Amano shrimp, eats clado. You can place a large number of them into your pond, to remove the clado effectively, especially around plant roots and moss.

Amano shrimp
Amano shrimp | Source

Using Barley Straw to Combat Clado

Natural means to fight clado is better than drowning it with chemicals. Herbicides and algaecides tend to be very expensive and very tedious to use. Using them also put your aquatic life at high risk of dying off, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. This is where barley straw comes into play.

Barley straw is a safe, healthy, and inexpensive helper in controlling clado in your pond. Ultimately, it improves your pond’s water quality. It has a much longer effectiveness than other straws, such as wheat. Remember that barley straw does not kill clado. Instead, it helps create an aquatic environment, which hinders the growth of the algae. It does this without harming other aquatic life.

When barley straw degrades in your pond water, its byproducts are added into the water. You should make sure that the temperature of your pond water is above 40 degrees, so that your barley straw can go active more quickly. In just a week, your barley straw begins to release the ideal chemicals to prevent clado.

If you decide to use barley straw in your pond, you need to provide ideal conditions such as proper sunlight, nutrients, and aeration. See to it that the barley straw is a bit loose when you put it I water because if it remains compacted, it will just restrict the movement of the water. This reduces the straw’s effectiveness.

With barley straw, you can add healthier food sources for your pond fish. Barley straw attracts invertebrates, which serve as food for the fish. Since it releases healthy byproducts into the pond water, studies have shown that it helps improve gill function in fishes. This helps make pond fish healthier.

Always use netting around your barley straw before you place it in your pond water. The netting allows water to flow smoothly through the straw. As the barley straw degrades, it sinks into the water. With this, you will know when to get another one.

Place the barley straw in your pond very early during spring, when the temperature of the water is still low. The barley straw will become active after a month. Once it becomes active, it will slowly release its healthy byproducts for up to half a year or 6 months. Make sure you have a replacement bundle ready before the first one degrades completely. In a year, two barley straw applications are enough to keep your pond healthy and clear of clado.

About 20 lbs or barley straw for every quarter acre of pond surface area is enough for half a year. If your pond has a history of algae overpopulation, you should first treat it two to three times the ideal amount. This is just to boost the effectiveness of the straw.

The bales of barley straw should be broken, if they reach you in a compacted form. This broken state allows the water to pass freely through the straw. Compacted barley straws inhibit its decomposition and by-product release. If you have a small pond, only one barley straw is enough. Place it in the center of the pond. Also attach floats to the barley straw, to keep it partially above the water. it should also have an anchor, so it just stays in one area of the pond.

Barley straw
Barley straw | Source

Clado is a stubborn algal species, but you can help control it with barley straw. Through barley straw, you can be sure that your pond is clado-free, the natural way.

Why You Should Use Barley Straw


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