Written by Industry Expert Marcus Harris, Fisheries Biologist
Algae are an omnipresent organism in any aquatic environment. They can be unsightly and can even affect the taste and odor of drinking water. For decades, copper based algaecides have been used to treat algae in ponds. While this approach works in some instances, there are many other strategies that are more cost effective and environmentally conscious. One of those strategies is to target specific algal species vulnerable to ultrasonic waves.
SonicSolutions is a proven technology used to combat algae without the use of chemicals. Using ultrasonic sound waves, the device pops gas bubbles in algae cells and breaks bonds along the cell walls. It does this by honing in on the resonance frequency of algae cells, effectively vibrating the cell to the extreme. To kill and control diatoms, think of taking a raw egg and shaking it vigorously for a few minutes. When you crack the egg open, there is no longer a separate yolk and white. SonicSolutions “scrambles” the insides of healthy diatoms.
Blue-green algae cells are full of gas vesicles that allow the cells to regulate buoyancy and move throughout the water column based on ideal growing conditions. The ultrasonic waves produced by SonicSolutions breaks these vesicles, causing the cells to sink to the bottom of the water column where they get no sunlight and die. In most cases this quickly clears the water column. Once the water clears, a second algae bloom usually occurs, and it can be worse than before the device was installed. This is because SonicSolutions has killed the algal bloom that was present, the result of which is that the water is now clear and allows for sunlight to reach remaining algae spores, causing a bloom. This bloom will die off and in rare cases a third bloom may occur. After these subsequent blooms, the SonicSolutions device proves very effective in controlling any future outbreaks.
Filamentous algae are also impacted by ultrasonic control. In this case the ultrasonics break the chemical bond that keeps the cytoplasm attached to the cell wall. By breaking this bond, the cells are unable to take in nutrients or excrete waste. As in the case with blue-greens and diatoms, a secondary bloom can be expected. If possible, it is recommended to rake off dead algae mats before they decay. This reduces the total nutrients in the water which is what fuels the algae growth to begin with.
Devices can be placed just about anywhere that algae growth is an issue. They are perfect for aquaculture settings, water tanks, golf courses, retention ponds, private ponds, drinking water sources, and the list goes on. They work in a line-of-sight, similar to a flashlight beam, so multiple devices may need to be placed to eliminate “dead zones” on the back sides of islands or deep coves and points.
Several different sizes are available and more than one can be used to maintain control in large lakes. One unit can kill and control algae in up to 8 acres, depending upon conditions. They run off normal 120V power and there are even solar kits for places where running power to the pond isn’t an option. Installation is simple and with a quick cleaning every month, they can provide year-round algae control.
The most important thing to remember when considering installing a SonicSolutions device is that it is not a magic solution to all problems. There are a handful of algae species that are not affected by the ultrasonic waves. This is why it is crucial to have an algae ID sample taken to verify that the device will in fact work in your given situation. It is also best used in conjunction with other pond management strategies. Consult with your professional lake or pond manager to determine what other products to use with SonicSolutions to eliminate any algae problems. This may include the addition of beneficial bacteria, diffused aeration, and shading dyes.
If you’re looking for an alternative to algaecide treatments that can target many common types of algae, SonicSolutions may be your fix. They are easy to install, easy to maintain, have low operating costs, can kill many different species of algae, don’t make any noise, have no effects on fish, waterfowl, and other organisms, and can operate in virtually any aquatic situation. SOLitude has installed and used this technology on multiple sites to date and have found, in most cases, a reduction in the need for herbicides and overall maintenance costs.
Contact your professional lake and pond manager to find out if SonicSolutions is a good fit for your waterbody!
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
Marcus Harris is a Fisheries Biologist with SOLitude Lake Management. Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Services are available throughout the Eastern United States. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.