Our backyard pond is unsightly, as it's been overrun by slime. Is there anything we can do to get rid of the algae that's safe for water plants and fish? —Dena Bickhardt, Morgan, Minnesota
Melinda: Keeping balance in your pond is as important as balance in your life.
For example, make sure your pump is sufficient to handle all the water in your pond. It should circulate half the total volume of water each hour. The filter should also be rated to handle your size pond. Using the right-size equipment will reduce much of your maintenance chores.
Also try growing floating plants so that 30 to 50 percent of the water surface is covered. This limits the light reaching the algae and discourages its growth.
Monitor your management techniques. Too much fertilizer, too many fish producing lots of nitrogen-rich waste and plant debris can get things out of balance. Don't overfertilize your plants or over feed the fish; this leads to excess nitrogen in the water, and that means more algae. If your fish population has grown, adopt a few out. Most pond experts recommend keeping no more than 1 inch of fish per 10 gallons of water or 1 inch of fish per square feet of the surface area of your pond. This helps keep your pond in balance and algal growth to a minimum.
Lastly, you can remove the algae by hand and install a barley-straw natural filter. These float in the pond and help filter the water, decreasing algal growth.