Algae, members of a non-flowering aquatic organism group of the biological kingdom Protista, form on the surfaces of pools, ponds, rivers, lakes, and even streams. It is known that they have a wide range of sizes, from microscopic ones to giant-sized algae (which might be over 190 feet in length). Algae, like most special organisms, have their own unique study called phycology and special chemicals used against them.
These special chemicals are called algaecides. They also possess structures that are not common to both plants and animals. In spite of their “weird” nature, they make significant contributions to medicine as they serve as pharmaceutical products for mankind.
They also serve as a source of crude oil, thereby contributing to the area of petroleum. Ecologically, they produce oxygen and function as a food source for most underwater organisms. What then causes their appearances on the surfaces of pools? Read along as, in this blog, we will be shedding more light on algae and what stirs their formation in pools.
For clarification, we have different types of algae and, for simplification, we classified them based on their color. The green algae, the most commonly seen of all, is mostly situated on water surfaces or attached to walls. It renders water unclear and can cover parts, or even a whole pool! The yellow algae on their own are very resistant to water treatment measures.
Also called mustard algae, it attaches itself to walls as well as shady parts of pools. This group is every pool owner’s nightmare, as one can spend a whole season battling it. Black algae, probably the hardest to battle due to its firm root system and highly resistant layer, appear as deep blue, dark green, or deep black spots.
This variety can be dealt with by attacking the roots, as that will hinder the algae from resurfacing on that spot. Black algae are also highly resistant to water treatment measures. The last variety on our list, pink algae, is the slowest in terms of covering a whole pool. It mostly sticks to smooth surfaces. It is also highly resistant to water treatment measures.
What causes algae in a pool?
Scientists have revealed that the existence of algae is natural and, as such, it is found in organic matter (e.g., plant wastes, soil, etc.). As fragments or portions of the aforementioned organic matter land in a pool, it will become a habitat for algae. Also, air introduces algae spores into the water. Infected pool cleaning tools are also capable of introducing algae into a pool.
When infected equipment is used to clean vulnerable parts of the pool, a rise in algae cannot be expected. Swimming wear (like that of someone who is just getting back from the ocean) is the medium through which algae enters a pool.
As a matter of fact, it has been proven that algae exist in pools, but their growth into a noticeable colony depends on the pool’s current conditions. Although most pool owners embark on pool sanitation on a regular basis, algae can be clearly seen in a pool given the following “appropriate” conditions:
- The low flow rate of water in the pool.
- There is an imbalance in factors such as pH, alkaline level, and/or calcium levels.
- An unbalanced level of chlorine (poor water cleaning measures).
- ineffective water filtration techniques.
- Inadequate addition of stabilizers, e.g., cyanuric acid.
One or more of the abovementioned factors can stir up the growth of algae in little or no time. Hence, you need to be on the lookout for shortcomings in your pool, make the necessary amends to be insured against algae insurgency in your pool.
Can high chlorine cause algae?
There is no scientific proof that a high level of chlorine can cause significant algae development in a pool. However, science has provided backup to the fact that the larger the crowd in a pool, the faster the rate at which chlorine levels reduce.
This is because swimmers always enter pools with things like dirt, sweat, germs, etc. and chlorine does the good work of eliminating that stuff; this leads to a drop in the pool’s chlorine level. A drop in chlorine levels creates an avenue for rapid algae development. Why is this? It is because a reduced level of chlorine leads to unclean water, which can stimulate the development of algae.
Although a low level of chlorine offers a safe path for algae to follow, there is a way through which chlorine consumption can be moderated. This way is to use stabilizers.
The most commonly used stabilizer is cyanuric acid, which functions by slowing down/delaying the time for all the chlorine in the water to be used up. The addition of the right amount of cyanuric acid prevents the chlorine in the water from getting used up.
However, algae like mustard/yellow algae have proven to be unshaken regardless of the level of chlorine. Another thing is that mustard algae is not hard to remove from the surface of the pool, but the resurrection can be annoying (resurfacing at the same spot).
Hence, you should carefully choose your chemicals. Get chemicals that are targeted directly at mustard algae, e.g., copper-based algaecides.
Is it safe to swim in a pool with algae?
On health grounds, it is nowhere near safe to swim in a pool with algae; no matter the condition of the algae growth (little or drastic). You should also note that a reasonably large number of algae in a pool can give rise to predators like harmful bacteria.
These bacteria are, in the real sense, harmful to swimmers. Some of the problems, mostly health conditions, caused by these bacteria are itchy skin, eye/ear infections, diarrhea, or sometimes, fever.
Health experts have said that if a pool’s water is not crystal clear, one should forget about getting soaked. A green pool (a sign that algae are in the water) might also give out a foul odor, and should you perceive anything bad, do not attempt to swim in it.
Algae are also famous for their slimy nature, making swimmers fall, which may result in swollen body parts, cuts, bruises, bleeding, dislocation of joints, or even broken bones if care is not taken.
Apart from the injuries sufferable, untrained swimmers stand at a high risk of drowning as a result of these falls. In this vein, you must take care of your water to avoid expensive hospital bills.
How are algae harmful?
Although algae are not straight-up harmful to man, they make the pool uncomfortable as well as unfit for swimming – who wants to swim in green, slimy water anyway? Apart from the health conditions caused by algae as discussed above, algae also have effects on a pool’s components (especially the circulatory components).
For instance, trying to use your pool filter in an algae-filled pool can cause it to get clogged up and as a result of that, the filter might become permanently damaged.
Attending to algae-related pool issues consumes a lot of useful time. When algae takes over your pool, the time you should have spent in achieving other beneficial things is prone to being wasted on removing algae from your water. Money also becomes a necessity in trying to address algae issues.
You might unexpectedly spend money meant for other things on algaecides, new tools (in case of damage), chemicals, etc.
To avoid the harm done by algae, you have to act fast. Maintaining a healthy pool will save your time, money, and equipment from getting wasted, unnecessarily spent, and causing permanent damage.
Does high pH cause algae?
Algae blossom impressively in water with a pH value of between 7 and 9. Low pH or a neutral or close-to-neutral pH can decrease algae development in water. However, check out this post to know why low pH can still cause the growth of algae in your pool. Maintaining a balanced pH keeps chlorine consumption in check, which, in turn, reduces the growth of algae.
Knowing your pool well will give you an insight on how well to combat algae growth. Algae use carbon (ii) oxide for photosynthesis, and this accounts for an increase in the pH of the water.
High pH also means that the water is highly alkaline, and this can disrupt the balance of all the chemicals in your pool. High alkalinity does not necessarily spell doom for the water, but it shows that the water is not in a balanced state, a condition that all algae species love!
Does warm pool water cause algae?
Under normal circumstances, warm weather boosts algae growth in water. Thus, on a hot summer day, the possibility of algae developing rapidly is high. Coupled with the warmness of the pool, algae can also grow in large amounts when nitrates are present.
It is important to note that algae spores are almost impossible, or better yet, difficult to eliminate in most waters. The best option is to ensure that your pool is created in an area that does not support algae development. This way, you will be able to gain full control over your pool.
In addition, you should note that algae grows happier in warmer or, better yet, hotter temperatures (above 84.5 degrees). Most pool owners prefer to keep their pools at a “moderate” temperature of about 82-84 degrees.
Sunlight also makes a pool warmer by transferring heat in the form of sun rays into the pool. As such, it is important that you keep your pool at a lower temperature to avoid algae from thriving in it.
How to maintain an algae-free pool?
Maintaining an algae-free pool is not as herculean a task as it seems to be. With proper sanitation, correct application of chemicals, and regular checking of equipment, you are good to go against algae. Ensure that swimsuits are disinfected, as well as your tools. Never forget to regularly run tests on your pool.
It allows you to keep track of the quantities of different chemicals present in your water (try testing your pool 2 or 3 times a week).
Speaking of chlorine, chlorine granules are enemies of algae. Making use of chlorine granules (in the right quantity) will not only combat algae formation but also help keep your pool clean. For best use, ensure that you drop the granules at the walls, sprinkle the liquid on the wall tiles or wherever you might want it. After that, the cleaning commences.
Do not forget that your pool’s chlorine level and pH are two factors that work in conjunction. When your pool’s pH is balanced, casualties (such as algae) can be avoided. As discussed above, high pH can result in algae growth. pH works best in keeping algae at bay when kept in the range of 7.2–7.8. This range shows that the chlorine level in your pool is balanced.
You should note that algae grows as a result of the presence of chloramines. What are chloramines? Your best bet should be chlorine and amines. However you guess it, you are right. Do you remember visiting a gym and a “pool” type of smell caught your nose?
This is due to the presence of chloramines in the water. Chloramines develop in water as a result of organic compounds (sweat, salt) in the water. In that case, there will be an advantage to shocking your pool to increase the level of chlorine by about 10 times.
In addition to these tips, you can sign up at a pool maintenance agency if you do not have the time. Getting professionals to maintain your pool will cost money, but it is beneficial as nothing can be done better than pros. In the event of an algae bloom, trained personnel are your best bet.