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Algae In Water Troughs
 By Winniefield Park   •   4th Oct 2018   •   225 views   •   0 comments


If itís the least little bit warm and the sun is shining, any body of water can be a great place for algae to grow. Youíll know this if you have a fish pond, aquarium, bird bath, swimming pool, livestock ponds or tank. Algae will also grow in infrequently used automatic waterers. Thatís because these water containers contain the few things that algae thrive on: sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and nutrients from organic matter. Organic matter might come from fertilized or composted fields runoff, manure pile runoff, bits of hay and grain drooled into a trough by a horse, a dead animal in the water, or leaves and grass clippings in the water. And it doesnít matter if the water is moving or not. Youíve probably seen streamers of algae rippling in a moving stream and certainly, youíve experienced the type that attaches to rocks when youíve tried to walk in a stream or pond.

There are several types of algae. Some float, some grow long tails of slimy substance, some attach to the sides of the container or anything it can adhere to in a pond or stream. All will discolor the water if the water isnít moving quickly enough to clear it, usually turning it green or rust colored. Most algae is relatively harmless, even if it is unsightly. Horses will drink around it unless the algae bloom is so thick they canít actually get to the water.

But there is one kind of algae that is harmful to all mammals, including horses. Itís called blue-green algae and it is likely to be found in ponds and slow moving streams. Even once this type of algae has dried up, say along an evaporated pond or a stream that has receded from its banks, it is still toxic. It isnít actually a algae at all, even though thatís itís common name - itís actually bacteria.

How do you know if the algae youíre looking at is harmless or not? There are some signs that blue-green algae is fouling water. Dead fish floating around for no apparent reason, foul smelling water, and a covering of slime over the water are signs that blue-green algae is growing. Your horse, and hopefully other pets might be smart enough to sense that this water is not good to drink. But, if the body or container of water that has the bacteria in it is their only option, they might be forced to have a drink. And, if they do, a horse can colic and have diarrhea. In severe cases, the bacteria can cause liver damage. If you were to stick your hand in water polluted by ďcyanobacteriaĒ you might end up with a rash. Dogs are particularly sensitive to blue-green algae poisoning.

Ideally, the water in your troughs, buckets and automatic waterers should be nice and clear. Some horses are fussy, and wonít drink water with algae. This is why itís important to empty out and scrub clean anything that your horse drinks out of.

You can slow down algae growth by putting your horseís water in the shade. Put it on the shady side of the barn or put some sort of covering over it. The same chlorine bleach you use on your white laundry can be used to clean out buckets and troughs to kill any algae trying to grow. Chlorine can also be used to keep the water clean, just as Ďtowní water has chlorine in it to keep it safe for drinking. You can add liquid chlorine in the right proportions or buy tablets made for the purpose. Chlorine evaporates from water in the sunlight, so the tablets dissolve slowly, replenishing the chlorine. There are also other combinations of chemicals that are made to keep livestock tanks fresh. These have to be used with caution, especially if different types of livestock share the same water.

There is some research that suggest that floating barley straw in water before any algae starts to grow will stop it from growing. Goldfish and plecostomus, also known as algae eaters can help clear up algae. And, goldfish will eat mosquito larvae as well. The downside of fish is that there has to be enough water for the fish and dying fish can pollute the water too. The fish themselves will need some upkeep to keep them healthy.

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