harmful algae

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by swampmoose, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. swampmoose

    swampmoose Member

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    This is a situation that I was just wondering about.
    -Some blue-green algae contain harmful neurotoxins that can injur you. If a dog or any kind of animal would drink from pond containing this algae, how sick could the animal become? is it fatal? Thanks for any replies.
     
  2. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Well all I can say is I lost 5 Calves in one week because of algae in a pond :( Not good!!

    big rockpile
     

  3. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    One way to tell if your pond has blue-green algae is by the dead wildlife on the banks. It is very toxic, fatal and works fast.

    I've never had the problem, but I know what to look for and when. It usually happens when there is a fast bloom in hot weather. It looks like a sheen across the pond and if you try to pick it up, it slips through your fingers and disintegrates.

    Jena
     
  4. joan from zone six

    joan from zone six Well-Known Member

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    rock - please keep in mind i'm speaking from a position of supreme ignorance, but your experience with the dead calves has me puzzled - was cause of death determined by a vet? - i never considered a pond to be a hazard to stock and wildlife since the pondwater is essentially no different from standing water in the woods the wildlife drink all the time - UNLESS the pond has some unnatural contaminants leaching in that wouldn't be found in the wild -
    straighten me out so i'm not influenced by stinkin' thinkin' if i want to dig my own pond - thanks
     
  5. flutemandolin

    flutemandolin mark an eight, dude!

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    The blue green algae of which you speak can definitely be fatal to animals, but usually at the point an algae bloom is fatal it is pretty obvious that the algae is there. The water will look like there is a layer of bluish paint floating at the top, and the odor is noticeable. Usually this happens when water at the edge of a pond or lake is stagnant; wind and waves will break up the scum and the dead algae will sink. If there is not an obvious scum on top of the water, or if you can see a white object at least a foot down in the water, there probably are not enough algae to be fatal. It depends on the size of the animal.

    The algae blooms occur because there are excess nutrients in a water body; phosphorus and nitrogen are the primary nutrients. A pond in a pasture might get excess nutrients from animal waste, whereas a standing pool of water in the woods might not have the nutrient levels or the sunlight to produce an algae bloom. A lot of the lakes around here have excess nutrients from leaky septic systems and lawn fertilizers, and they get pretty scummy around mid July.

    It can affect humans too. I'm terribly allergic to the stuff.
     
  6. joan from zone six

    joan from zone six Well-Known Member

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    wonder if it affects ducks and geese - or, do they know enough to be selective about what they knowingly or accidentaly ingest?
     
  7. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :) Cyanobacteria Blooms are just as deadly to waterfowl. This can be one of the warning signs that the water is dangerous along with fish die off etc. Not all Blue Green Algae is dangerous. Just some release the toxins in such numbers that it will kill animals, fish and birds. Critters show weaknes in the legs, staggering around, apoxia and these symptoms progress to convulsions and then death if the injestion has been severe.

    Domestic waterfowl have very little discrimination at all when it comes to substances that can harm or kill them. In the case of wild waterfowl, if they land on the surface and drink the water or eat fish, plants and crustaceans that have been polluted that is what will do them in. I suspect it may depend somewhat on what other waters are available to them so they have a choice?

    Scary stuff...yuk! LQ
     
  8. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    Yes, it can kill them. No, they don't necessarily recognise that it will do so. Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria will look like soft spongy-thready stuff, can be green or blue-green or red-brown (rusty) in colour.

    Basically, if it's growing in water, and it doesn't have definite shaped leaves, but rather looks like streaming handfuls of thready, cotton-wool type stuff, suspect it.

    If it doesn't look like that, but it is growing, still be suspicious.
     
  9. revontulet

    revontulet Well-Known Member

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    This is why they say if your lost in the woods,dying of thirst and come apon some water,not to drink it, especially if it's not moving water.Check for dead birds/animals first. People have died that way.

    You can buy stuff to prevent or get rid that bad bacteria, making it safe for fish and other animals. Some people buy those solar powerd pumps to keep a fountain going so the waters not stagnant.
    Also putting in water plants will help since the plant will soak up the nitrogen.

    Here's a link about blue alge-

    http://216.239.41.104/search?q=cach...f+die+from+drinking+pond+water&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
     
  10. joan from zone six

    joan from zone six Well-Known Member

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    you're right - it IS scary stuff - always knew that algae blooms were responsible for fish kills but always thought it was due to oxygen deprivation - scary that it can kill large mammals - guess this all makes the old swimmin hole a place to investigate
     
  11. Jeff Hathaway

    Jeff Hathaway Active Member

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    Just remember, swimming in the algae won't hurt you, eating it does!

    Lots of algae species are quite beneficial. 'Blue green' algae is one large group of algae that would have thousands of species; only some produce toxins. In fact, without algae, life on this planet might well cease to exist. So let's not be too hasty to hate it!

    If you have an excessive growth of algae in a pond, you have one or more of these problems:

    -too much nutrient input: Runoff from fields, etc. carrying fertilizer is sure to make your algae grow nicely.
    -lack of higher plants: Have you mown the cattails that were sucking up those nutrients? Now they're all rotting in the pond creating fertilizer. Face it, plants of some sort will grow, so try to establish ones that are useful or beneficial. Livestock wandering around the shore of the pond will make higher plant growth virtually impossible, so use a water trough and keep the animals out of the water!
    -lack of shade: in peak sunlight conditions, algae will grow and reproduce much faster than any other plants possibly can, so they'll use up any nutrients quickly. Having a few trees to shade the pond can be a big help- less light, plus if the water is a bit cooler that will help too.

    Jeff Hathaway
     
  12. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    The Vet said it was the pond I had Hogs in there before to try and seal it,Vet said it was the Manuer in the water making the algae grow.

    big rockpile