Aquatic Weed Control
What is Pond Dye Management? Ever wonder – our sky is blue, but why are our ponds? Pond dye. Yes, our ponds are dyed! All healthy ponds such as Carillon Stonegate Pond will have aquatic plants growing in the shallow areas. But too much growth can quickly turn a healthy pond into an unhealthy pond. Dying the surface of our pond reduces the sunlight levels penetrating our pond water. Management of the pond is critical to maintaining the fish, other aquatic life, and birds and other wildlife that feed, drink, or nest around the pond. In other words, it assists in maintaining Carillon Stonegate Pond as a home for all of the birds and wildlife that we love to see and the variety of fish in our pond that we love to catch (and release)!
What are the aquatic zones in our pond? To understand why our ponds are dyed, you need to understand aquatic zones. Ponds and lakes have several different zones that divide the water area from top to bottom and side to side. The two primary zones are associated with the shore area and the open water area. The shore area of the lake or pond is called the Littoral Zone. The open water area of the lake or pond is called the Limnetic Zone. The zones of a pond or lake are also characterized by the amount of sunlight that penetrates the water. The portion of water that receives sunlight is called the Photic Zone. The zone ends where the sunlight fails to penetrate the water. The zone that does not receive any sunlight is called the Aphotic Zone. The Photic Zone will generally be located within the shore area, or Littoral Zone. This is the zone of the pond that contains emergent plant life.
How do pond dyes work and what are the benefits? Pond dyes work by coloring the water of our pond. The pond dye absorbs and spreads the sunlight; thereby, reducing the depth of the photic zone. This restricts submerged plant and algae growth to only the shallowest areas of our pond. Pond dyes also deters predators away from fish by reducing the visual depth of the pond.
Are there different pond dye colors? Yes. Blue or Black or some combination are typical colors used. The most common color of pond dye is blue, which comes in a range of different shades. Blue dyes give a rich blue color to the pond, making it appear more vibrant and more natural looking water. Blue dye is a good choice for algae control, being able to block a large chunk of UV light from entering the water. Black pond dye is especially good for algae control as they block more UV light compared with lighter dyes. Black dyes also create a more reflective service on the water, allowing the surrounding foliage of the woodlands around our pond to be perfectly clear on the surface. Black dye will also help deter predators, as the dye creates a more reflective water surface and greatly masks the deeper areas of pond water
How is pond dying carried out? Administration of pond dye can be as simple as pouring the dye into the water. It will quickly disperse throughout the pond, usually within a few hours. This may work for a small koi pond, but is not very effective for larger ponds (> 1 acre). With a larger pond such as Carillon Stonegate Pond, the preferred and most effective method is to have pond dye sprayed out into the pond from a boat traveling along the shoreline with the benefit of complete pond coverage and dispersion of the dye quickly across the entire surface of the pond. Alternatively, pond dye can be added by tossing dye blocks into the pond along either the entire circumference of the pond or up and down the length of the pond. As winds pick up and occur over time from all directions, the dye is slowly dispersed across the pond. This is a very ineffective approach and should be used only if access to the pond by boat is unavailable.
What type of equipment is used? The key equipment will be a pump sprayer that can disburse the dye out ten feet or more. And the delivery via a boat, not only makes it easier and quicker, but the movement of the boat’s wake will cause the dye to spread across the pond shoreline area, or Littoral Zone, better. The goal is to limit sunlight penetration to only a few feet. A method to measure this is to lower a Secchi disc, or a stick with a piece of white plastic on the end, to a depth where it disappears from sight. This would then be the depth at which sunlight penetration is blocked. If the Secchi disc is still visible to a depth of several feet, then more dye needs to be added.
When are Pond Dyes carried out? The initial application of pond dye should be made in the spring to coincide with the growing season for the aquatic plants. But, in order to implement this pond management strategy successfully, dye may need to be applied regularly throughout the year to maintain a constant UV screen. A particularly lengthy period of rain may necessitate another dye program as the previous dye becomes too diluted.
Are there other issues after use of the dye? Other than a bluer – but not sky blue – color, there are no other impacts. The dyes used are registered for aquatic use and usually food-grade (the same dye used in our food as colorant). These dyes are rated as environmentally friendly and are non-toxic. There is no harm to birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, or the tallgrasses around our ponds.
For more information on Aquatic Weed Control and Pond Dyes and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit these articles from Michigan State University Extension, Ohio State University Extension, Kasco Marine Blog, and HubPages.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!