Home > Ultrasonic Algae Control - Does It Really Work?

Ultrasonic Algae Control - Does It Really Work?

Do UltraSonic Algae Control Systems Live Up To Their Claims?

sonic algae controlLate in the summer of 2006 and into the spring and summer of 2007 we began getting questions about using ultrasonic waves for pond algae control. Some pond owners thought it was a great idea overall but had concerns about what it might do to fish or other aquatic wildlife and really wondered if it worked.

Other owners wrote to us about the use of beneficial bacteria products and in their feedback indicated that they were using a sonic system with very good affect.

This fact peaked our interest in the product as well since KLM Solution's business and philosophy is based on using non-chemical algae controls whenever possible. And it appeared that the sonic systems would fit into that model.

One thing that's true of all the products we sell is that we don't market or suggest the use of something we have not had success with ourselves. So one of our first priorities was to test out a brand of sonic algae control and compare our results to the claims that surround these units.

In late May of 2007 we decided to do several short run tests on ponds measuring approximately 1/2 acre or less in size. We wanted to evaluate how the sonic treatment worked on not only green water, but also string algae and other mass types of growth.

Our findings were encouraging...

Although we decided to test out a mid-range unit for a 1/2 acre pond, there are systems available that can treat small water garden and koi ponds and others up to multi-acre lakes. We were particularly interested in the large water capacity models since treating these types of ponds with additives can get very expensive over time.

Each sonic system, regardless of it's recommended pond capacity, is made up of several parts. There is an electronic box that is land based and plugs into an electrical outlet. A transducer cable connects the electronics with the transducer or "emitter" that actually goes in the water.

In the larger units the transducer is suspended under a float to keep it at the correct depth. For smaller ponds the transducer is simply lowered into the water. This is one aspect we liked a lot. The unit is very easy to install in even the largest ponds. You simply need to get the emitter into the water and have it point out from a corner of the pond. Plug it in and it begins working.

Other very positive things that came away from our testing was the fact that the product seemed to work very well on green water, or planktonic algae and it did not appear to affect the fish at all.

In terms of green water elimination the sonic system worked quite quickly. Usually after a few days of running the unit the water was much clearer. It makes sense in a way that this would be the case. UltraSonic algae control uses sound waves at specific vibrational frequencies. Like an opera singer can hit just the right pitch to break a wine glass, the ultrasonic vibrations pass through the water in an all around pattern causing the vacuoles inside the algae cells to resonate and break. It's in this way that the unit actually kills or damages the algae.

algae chartSince green water is made up of many, very small individual algae cells, the sonic wave cuts through this growth very quickly. String algae on the other hand is very dense and it can take more time for the sonic sound waves to work it's way through this thicker mass. It will continually work to damage the "outer wall" off the algae growth and slowly work to eliminate the algae over time.

One of our big concerns early on was what affect the device might have on fish. We're happy to report that we couldn't find any indication that the fish were bothered by the sonic waves at all. In most applications they swam up to it, looked it over, then swam away in an unhurried fashion. This observation, which we quite frankly, trust more than anything one might read, does back up the scientific reports that the product is safe for aquatic wildlife.

Is this the perfect tool for algae control?

So is sonic algae control the best remedy for algae in a pond?

This system has quite a few advantages and benefits.

  • It's easy to install
  • It's one of the most cost effective algae treatments for large ponds of up to 4.5 acres and sometimes more
  • It's safe for fish and other aquatic wildlife
  • It works quickly on green water
  • It can limit film and surface algae as well as underwater string algae
  • Kills root parasitic fungi like Pythium and Fusarium(in water)
  • Sonic systems work great with aeration and beneficial bacteria products
  • Low power consumption (from 7 to 10 watts); Solar Capable
  • All the products carry a two-year Limited Warranty against defects in materials and workmanship

But sonic algae control isn't the one stop solution to algae control. It really should be looked at as one tool in an arsenal of options, either alone or in combination that can help rid a pond of algae.

Sonic devices attack algae growth directly but they are limited in what they can do for the aquatic environment.

Pond aeration will always be one of the most useful ways to add oxygen to a pond system which benefits the fish and the pond greatly.

For smaller ponds, adequate filtration is an absolute, particularly if you have fish.

If you've used or are using beneficial bacteria products which are highly recommended for helping reduce organic sedimentation in a pond, the sonic system works well with that as well. In a sense, the sonic waves help to stimulate a hyper activity in the bacteria which helps them perform better and more efficiently.

So, on it's own, a sonic system won't add oxygen to the pond, filter the water, or work like beneficial bacteria to clean the pond bottom up (although it will help any existing bacteria to do so).

We also found that, while we try to keep things simple and categorize algae in three main types (planktonic or green water, string, and floating mat or scum) the fact is there are many other types and species as well. Macrophytic algae which includes plants like Chara make up another family of algae altogether. There are actually thousands of species of algae that come in a variety of forms and colors. And other aquatic weeds such as duckweed or milfoil which can affect a lot of ponds throughout the U.S..

Our findings indicate that the sonic systems won't kill them all and in other cases it may take longer to eliminate certain species from the water.

Chara for instance, will not be harmed by a sonic wave, and other plants like duckweed are resistant as well. As we mentioned earlier, filamentous or string algae is often found in thick clumps or masses. When you have algae like this and treat it with a sonic system, be prepared to wait awhile. It's not a quick fix. Our findings showed that it may take several months before the device can work it's way through the growth and it wasn't uncommon for the pond to look a bit worse before it started to appear better.

Also, odd or irregular shaped ponds may be harder to treat with the system. Although the units will emit sound waves over a 180 degree radius the sonic wave must have a direct line to the algae mass to kill it. Obstructions like small islands will block or divert the wave which can lessen it's effect. Mechanical devices like fountains or aerators don't appear to cause any problems.

lake algaeThe good news is that once the algae was successfully reduced, it did not regrow. We think the same could be said for treating a pond early in the season before algae starts to develop. With a sonic system in place a pond owner will likely keep algae down if they get a jump on it.

As noted earlier, most green water issues were dealt with quite readily. Normally in less than a week the pond appeared to be clearer and the treatment was not affected by a high pH reading in the test pond.

How do you know if the ultrasonic algae control will work in your pond?

Simply said, with the naked eye you probably won't know for sure. It's safe to say that your odds of success are still pretty good as the sonic system we tried worked in most of the more common algae types we see in the Midwest, apart from the more plant like Macrophytic types.

To be totally certain however, the best route to go is to do a rental/trial of an ultrasound system in your pond. Details on this program can be found below. In the end, we haven't found any preliminary test that can be 100% accurate, however actually running a system in a pond for about 60 days will provide conclusive proof of whether the technology will work appropriately for your needs.

To conclude this report on the ultrasonic algae control systems, we found that the products do work well on certain types of algae. They have the ability to limit or eliminate the use of any chemical applications to a pond, which we're totally in favor of.

You may still want to use underwater aeration or a beneficial bacteria product in conjunction with the sonic systems since they serve other purposes that the sonic treatment cannot. On a positive note, all of these applications do work well together.

In smaller ponds, things like UV filtration and Bio-filters will work fine with a sonic treatment. Other issues such as a very high or low pH which can affect bacteria treatments will not impede the sonic systems. In some cases, treating with the sonic device may also lower the pH a bit.

So UltraSonic algae treatments are versatile and can work in a variety of ponds and water applications. In most cases the units are sized according to the surface area of the pond being treated.

Update 2009 to 2011

Watch the video below to learn more about a standard ultrasonic system.

In April of 2009 we became aware of some fantastic advances in ultrasonic algae control and decided to make a change in our product line. We had been working with a product manufacturer from Europe and had good success with the devices. Despite this, we wanted to represent an American made product and found one that had more advanced technology, a wider range of effective frequencies (79 compared to 16!), and better circuitry. And so we formed a partnership with Sonic Solutions.

And we've found even greater success after making this change in manufacturers.

For small and medium sized pond and pool owners, the new SS line is actually more affordable. For example the smallest unit, the SS100 actually has approximately 3 times the range of the comparable unit on the market, which saves our customers about $500 when treating ponds up to 100 feet in length.

All in all, we expect to see better control of a wider array of algae types, improved performance and range, and lower costs to the pond owner by making the switch. And should a rare problem arise, any repairs will be done in the U.S. whereas the previous manufacturer is based in Holland, making the turnaround more quick and timely.

Update 2016

Time continues to lead to new advances in ultrasound technology and we are working on introducing an all new, significantly advanced ultrasonic algae control system to the market. The new device will have a broader range of control (due to a massive increase in specific frequency generation), better range, and more reliability.

If you'd like to be notified of when this new system is available, stay tuned to this page or go to our blog at http://pondalgaesolutions.org and sign up for our newsletter there. We'll be providing all the details on the new system in July of 2016.

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