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#280870 - 05/19/2009 at 07:17 AM How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds?
HyperFerret Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/2006 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 36
Loc: Arkansas
Not too sure it this is where I should be posting this but... My fountain has green algae constantly growing on it. I keep cleaning the fountain and rocks but it regrows so quickly. I know it's probably because of the sun beating through the clear water, presenting perfect opportunity for the algae but I'd really like for the algae to be gone.

I was wondering if there was something I could put in the water to keep it algae free yet still safe for the birds. First I asked a plant nursery and they told me to get a Algaecide (sp?) from Walmart. There I could only find Fungicide in the Lawn & Garden department so I looked in the Pets department in Walmart. In the fish section I found a couple of algae products but it specifically stated not safe for humans or domesticated animals. Now I know the birds are not domesticated but figured it wouldn't be good for them either.

The birds love to drink from and bath in my fountain. I don't mind that at all and would like them to continue to use it. Is there anything that will keep my fountain algae free but safe for the birds?

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#280873 - 05/19/2009 at 11:31 AM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: HyperFerret]
angelblossom Offline
A Gnome's Best Friend
30k Posts

Registered: 10/02/2005 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 30001
Loc: Arlington,Texas
Hi Hyperferret
I was thinking of getting a bird bath or a fountain so I was doing research on placement ,cleaning, mosquito's etc,.
What I found on algae build up is part placement/ part lack of enough oxygen and part cleaning.
A water source placed in full sun will build algae far faster then in the shade.
Cleaning all parts of a fountain or bird bath once a week with bleach(diluted) and apple cider vinegar will kill algae. placing a table spoon of applecider vinegar(per gallon of water) in the circulatory water will help prevent buildup once all parts are cleaned and will it not harm birds.
Placing water plants in your fountain will provide more oxygen .also placing a few copper penny's will help reduce algae, or a small piece of copper tubing, (pennies dated before 1982 are 95% copper. 1982 and later are 97.5% zinc. I think I would use copper pipe instead.) But I've read where People swear by the copper penny theory in their fountain.
So In a nut shell,,
1. direct sun= algae
2. Must regularly clean all parts
3.placement of water plants produce oxygen
4. place a piece of 100% or as close to 100% as possible piece of copper in it.
5. add one Tblspn of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water.

These are suggestions,, since I've not experienced it as yet,, Hopefully someone else will come along and give their hands on advice.
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#280897 - 05/19/2009 at 05:18 PM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: angelblossom]
atokadawn Offline
Member

Registered: 03/22/2009 at 05:49 PM
Posts: 80
Loc: Tn
If it was mine, I would remove the rocks so it could be just wiped down every few days. That is what I did in my bird bath. I would go wipe it down if needed.

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#281019 - 05/20/2009 at 04:41 AM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: angelblossom]
HyperFerret Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/2006 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 36
Loc: Arkansas
Hi AngelBlossom!

Yeah I figured the location I have it in isn't the best with it providing plenty of bright sunlight. However I really don't have any other location with shade. Besides that, I really really really wanted the fountain as a center piece for my garden which, of course, is in center of full sun. Lol, so I figured I'd fight the algae for the location. I shall win!!

Definitely going to try most of your suggestions.

* Location - Again, not really wanting to change that.
* Regular cleaning - I was cleaning it closer to once a month. I'll switch to once a week.
* Water plants - My fountain is far too small. Unless there's a plant that would survive in the cavity of the vase with no sun light available.
* Copper piece - Didn't think about that, I'll get that right away.
* Cider vinegar - I'll be doing that also.

Here's a clip I read on another site just before coming back to this post:

"Preventing algae build up

Algae grow fastest in bright light so it may be a good idea to position your fountain in the shade. After this changing the water in the fountain every month will help reduce algae growth. Cleaning with bleach, Listerine, lemon juice or vinegar can also help prevent the growth of algae or you could buy a commercial algaecide such as Fountec."


The only problem with the algaecides ...so far... they are claiming they are not safe for humans and pets which I'm assuming they are then not safe for the birds either. Over the phone, a lady from Home Depot said that adding a tiny bit of bleach to the water wouldn't hurt the birds. But I'd rather go with another option that would seem to be safer.

Just thought about something... My fountain recycles it's water as it pours back in through the slit. With the water "falling" back into the pool of water in the cavity ... would that not be adding oxygen to the water? Also on the copper, I don't think I'll find any copper pennies so I'll go with a piece of copper. Yep, sounds good.

I know removing the rocks from the fountain would make it easier to clean but that would take away from the look of the fountain, in my opinion. So I would like to keep those in there as well.

That's a long post ... I think I'll go now, lol.
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#281048 - 05/20/2009 at 02:12 PM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: HyperFerret]
Bestofour Offline
Patriot
10k Posts

Registered: 08/10/2003 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 16109
Loc: Monroe, NC
wonder if using copper piping when building the fountain would help.
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#281113 - 05/20/2009 at 10:58 PM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: Bestofour]
HyperFerret Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/2006 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 36
Loc: Arkansas
Hey, that sounds like a pretty good idea Bestofour! I'll take a look for some that might work for me. *Heading out to Lowe's.*
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#281118 - 05/20/2009 at 11:18 PM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: HyperFerret]
Bestofour Offline
Patriot
10k Posts

Registered: 08/10/2003 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 16109
Loc: Monroe, NC
your fountain is very pretty. Did you buy it at Lowes.
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#281119 - 05/20/2009 at 11:19 PM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: Bestofour]
Bestofour Offline
Patriot
10k Posts

Registered: 08/10/2003 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 16109
Loc: Monroe, NC
is there some type of frog to the left of it?
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#287763 - 06/30/2009 at 06:08 PM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: Bestofour]
peppereater Offline
Dr. Pepper
3k Posts

Registered: 04/23/2005 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 3086
Loc: pink, ok
Cool, I have that exact fountain I bought on clearance last fall, I'm planning to use it on the covered patio. I have a black plastic round fountain that doesn't seem to get algae that bad, that might just be luck? It doesn't run full time, though, so oxygen levels would drop. On the occasions that we see mosquito larva, we run the fountain for part of each day for a few days, mosquitoes can't survive in running water, I don't know how that part works.
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#287991 - 07/02/2009 at 12:15 AM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: peppereater]
thoughtcriminal14 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/01/2009 at 10:57 PM
Posts: 11
Loc: Michigan
Theres commercial algea removers used for fish tanks at pet stores, check some of those. They are harmless enough for fish!!
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#375434 - 08/17/2013 at 09:43 AM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: HyperFerret]
BirdLover Offline
Member

Registered: 08/17/2013 at 09:06 AM
Posts: 1
Loc: California
Interesting topic. I'm coming in late and don't know if anyone who replied in 2009 is still around.

For future visitors, however, I'll share some thoughts from the research this topic stimulated. I'm trying to determine if it's possible to have circulating water in my yard through a pump system to simulate a small creek and waterfall, without creating a health hazard or nightmare cleaning situation.

Here goes:

COPPER
I think in evaluating the safety of copper one should consider the following article which discusses how copper affects adults vs. children. Birds are very sensitive to a lot of things that even children, whose immune systems are still developing, are able to handle. Some natural oils used for deterring pests, for example, can destroy a bird's liver. Even inhaling the fragrance of such oils can metabolize in a bird and result in liver damage.

Considering that birds fly away after frequenting a bird friendly yard, one cannot necessarily determine if their property is really bird friendly or toxic to birds. If one uses the wrong treatment in water, birds may sicken or die after leaving the property. As a result, one must carefully research bird bath safety.

On the issue of copper, therefore, I found this link very enlightening:
http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/water/factsheet/com/copper.html

After reading the article, I'm even reconsidering fitting my house with copper pipes. I didn't realize the complexity of copper and how it works biologically until finding this article (after reading this thread!).

ALGAE REMOVERS
The first link should be taken with a grain of salt, because there are safe options to algae remover. I have two lovebirds that are five years old, and have added a little apple cider vinegar, a tiny amount of iodine, and a few drops of natural water clarifier without any adverse health impact.

Having said that, this article is short, sweet, and I believe sets a baseline for cautiously approaching additions to a bird bath or fountain that is bird friendly:
http://www.birdwatchersgeneralstore.com/algae.htm

This article got me to thinking that getting a setup -- whether it's simulated creeks, waterfalls, or just a nice Roman fountain -- should involve simplicity of design. Lots of rocks, nooks and crannies are going to impede fast and efficient cleaning. One should also consider the frequency of water evacuation (without undue water waste in these global warming times). That way, one can take a hose with a power attachment and "attack" the infrastructure quickly and efficiently, so you don't get discouraged in upkeep over time.

You know what scares me about researching algae remover (aka algaecide)? There is obviously such a huge industry that I cannot find any objective articles, not even from the National Institute of Health (NIH), that really give the lowdown on chemical safety. That is why I'm leaning toward that link about from Bird Watcher's General Store as a good starting point for planning a bird water source in one's yard.

However, there are natural alternatives that remove huge "algae blooms" from large lakes, that lead me to believe it is critical to research algaecide alternatives. Here is a use case of what I'm talking about:
http://www.ilsrc.com/algae-removal

Bird physiology is different from fish and other aquatic life, so I wouldn't assume what is safe for fish is safe for birds. A bird's body is extremely complex and its liver sensitive. Again, just because birds are frolicking in the bath doesn't necessarily mean it's "bird friendly," because one will never know if a particular bird stopped showing up because it moved on, or if it got sick and died.

As a bird lover, therefore, I'm willing to go the extra mile so that I have a clean conscience knowing that my yard is not toxic to birds, which are essential for this planet's ecosystem. These are my thoughts after reading this thread that I wanted to share. If anyone disagrees, by all means contradict me. shots

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#375461 - 08/17/2013 at 07:09 PM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: HyperFerret]
Bestofour Offline
Patriot
10k Posts

Registered: 08/10/2003 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 16109
Loc: Monroe, NC
BirdLover, my husband is a plumber and he says if you're on a well don't change to copper and if you do change don't use Type M which is the thinnest wall copper.


Edited by Bestofour (08/17/2013 at 07:10 PM)
Edit Reason: can't spell
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#375688 - 08/21/2013 at 05:33 PM Re: How do I keep my fountain algae free and safe for birds? [Re: HyperFerret]
plants 'n pots Offline
Purl One
30k Posts

Registered: 11/12/2003 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 31589
Loc: NY
We use hydrogen peroxide to get ride of the thick algae on our pond waterfall. It's safe for the fish, and it kills the algae in the sun.
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