Algae Corner Fan Letter: Why Shouldn't I Use Straw to Control Algae?

Welcome back to another Fan Letter episode of Algae Corner! A common question we often get from our Algae Corner audience is: “Can't I put straw in the pond to control algae?” This is a tricky one which we’ll explore today.

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Straw Produces Chemicals During Decomposition

If you look on the internet, you'll certainly find some references to barley straw, which can potentially work to control algae in some scenarios. However, there's a whole host of chemicals that can be produced by straw when it breaks down, including things like peroxide.

Bacteria & Dissolved Oxygen

There are also many types of bacteria that start to grow after you throw straw in your pond. You really need to be careful with it. Dissolved oxygen sinks can also happen which can create a risky situation for aquatic wildlife. Plus, straw isn’t guaranteed to work on most algal species that you're encountering out there.

Straw is Poorly Documented for Algal Control

My biggest concern is the lack of good data on what is actually happening when you put straw in your pond. What bacteria are growing? What compounds are being produced? How much of those compounds are being produced and at what level? There are a lot of unknowns.

“Home Remedy” Doesn’t Equate to “Green” or “Eco-Friendly”

Even though this is listed as a “home remedy” for algae control, it doesn't mean it's necessarily safe. It doesn't automatically make it a “green” solution, and it certainly doesn't mean it's non-chemical. As we’ve seen, many potentially harmful chemicals are produced when straw decomposes.

EPA Hasn’t Reviewed It

If you see something that's not registered as a pesticide, that means EPA hasn't reviewed it. They haven't demanded the supporting scientific data to help protect human health and wildlife. I would be cautious of those types of remedies. If you don't know what's in it or what it's doing out there, you may not want your kids or pets swimming in your water while you’re treating it.

Questions? We’re here to help.

We’re here to answer any questions you may have about controlling algae in your pond. For more resources, reach out to our trained technical specialists or check out more of the resources on our website. Thanks for watching!