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how to clean algae from water fountain

25 10:01:43

Followup To
Question -
Dear Brigitte:

We have built a small fountain on our deck in a half barrel.  We don't have any fish or live plants.  The plastic insert that holds the water and the rocks are now getting some green  algae on them and I went to a garden store to get something to clean the algae but what I found was really expensive. I was thinking of just adding some bleach to the water to clean the algae.  Is this okay?

Answer -
Hello Ron!
Theoretically it would be okay to add bleach, but there are some cautions:
1) Many times the bleach turns already existing algae into an unbelievable brown slimy scum. For this reason it is best to scrub the fountain first and start with an absolutely clean one.
2) Often the materials used to build fountains are not made to withstand chlorine and adding it will speed the deterioration of the liner.
3) Chlorine is not very healthy for birds or other wildlife that may want to drink out of the fountain.
That said, the products you were looking at may not be all that healthy for wildlife, either.
What is the solution?
Try moving the fountain into the shade. Maybe you could use a harmless dye that is sold for ponds that will color the water blue and thus deprive algae of light (caution: the dye may also discolor the fountain and anything else around it that gets splashed).
You could also try putting a small barley bale into the water to prevent new algae from forming. Small bales are usually pretty inexpensive.

Hi Brigitte:

thanks for your advice. I don't want to dismantle the fountain because we have used loose flat rocks to create a base and I am reluctant to take it apart unless I have to.  Something that I  did not mention is that we have used green foam (used for flower arrangements) to stick artificial fern leaves into and maybe that is what is causing the green looking "algae".


There is, unfortunately, no way for me to tell without actually seeing it. If the color and texture matches the material you used then it would probably be best to remove it.
Otherwise, I would think that the floral foam is an inert material and should not cause algae growth.