Beneficial Bacteria

ABOUT BENEFICIAL BACTERIA

Pure Bacteria digests decaying organic matter in your pond. Reduce muck, decaying vegetation and fish waste with this all natural pond treatment. Apply early in the season when water temperatures reach 50 degrees-continue treatments monthly throughout the season.

PureBacteria is safe for people, pets, plants, fish and wildlife; there are NO water use restrictions. One Gallon treats one surface acre of water. For best results simply pour the product in several spots along the shoreline. Use PureBacteria with PureBlue Pond Dye our all-natural sun limiting pond colorant.

Apply PureBlue as soon as the weather breaks or your ice starts to thaw. Beat the sun to the bottom of your pond.

What Is The Science Behind Organic Pond's PureBacteria for Ponds

Customers who are curious about our beneficial bacteria products frequently ask us about the science behind them. We’ve all heard of bacteria, but what exactly are they and how do they work?

Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms. Technically, they are prokaryotic cells, which means they lack the enclosed nucleus and membrane-bound organelles found in the eukaryotic cells that make up the human body. Although too small to be seen by the naked eye, bacteria are one of the oldest life forms on earth and are present virtually everywhere in the environment. They inhabit everything from water, air, and soil, to hot springs, radioactive waste, and polar ice. Even the human body contains literally trillions of (mostly harmless) bacteria.

beneficial-bacteria-02Usually we think of bacteria as dangerous entities due to their association with infection and food poisoning. In fact, however, the number of beneficial bacteria far outweighs the number of potentially harmful bacteria. Indeed, bacteria are absolutely crucial to the natural recycling of nutrients throughout the environment. Without them, dead organic material would simply fail to decompose at an ecologically viable rate. This decomposing function of bacteria—their ability to consume a wide range of organic matter, break that matter down into its nutritive building blocks, and cycle it back into the ecosystem in a more beneficial form—is precisely what makes them such a powerful tool for aquaculture and pond health.

The key to this process is enzyme production. Enzymes are protein molecules that catalyze, or accelerate, the many chemical reactions vital to life.

All living organisms produce enzymes. For example, when you eat, your body produces saliva containing the enzyme amylase, which breaks down starches into simpler sugar molecules. (Many animals, such as cats and dogs, are unable to secrete amylase into their saliva; they therefore eat significantly less starch-based food than humans do).

Bacteria use enzymes in essentially the same manner, secreting them to convert organic material in the surrounding environment into a simpler, digestible form. In fact, bacteria are capable of producing an astonishingly diverse range of enzymes to suit the food sources available to them. This is a useful trait, since enzymes are highly specific; most are capable of targeting only one kind of material substrate and breaking it down into only one specific kind of end product. Bacteria thus also benefit from being able to secrete whole teams of enzymes at once—a prerequisite for breaking down more molecularly complex materials that contain more than one kind of substrate.  At Organic Pond, we’ve carefully selected our bacteria for the teams of enzymes they produce, the specific organic substrates those enzymes target, and the harmless end products that remain after those substrates decompose.

How does all of this translate into a healthy pond?

In ponds, a major food source for bacteria is the layer of muck at the bottom, specifically the fish waste, dead algae and leaves contained therein. Typically, beneficial aerobic bacteria already exist in this muck layer, but they’re unable to begin consuming it because they’re stuck in a dormant, inactive state.

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The problem is a lack of dissolved oxygen; before they can decompose the noxious muck material through enzymatic reactions, the bacteria need oxygen, as fuel, to begin secreting enzymes in the first place. One solution is to install a water aeration system, which creates airflow and a more aerobic environment at the bottom of the pond. Another solution is to augment the already present, naturally occurring bacteria by adding our powerful bacteria blend, which contains many more times the amount of beneficial microbes already in the pond. These added bacteria attack the muck layer from the outside, eventually degrading it down to a more ecologically suitable size. Through natural enzymatic reactions, the bacteria convert the degraded muck into harmless carbon dioxide and inert, equally harmless carbon ash. An additional benefit is that the bacteria compete with noxious weeds and algae for nutrients, reducing their numbers through a natural process of competitive exclusion.

All of these aspects make bacteria the perfect, natural alternative to chemical-based applications. In short, chemicals only treat the symptom, whereas bacteria allow you to intervene in the actual, naturally occurring processes underlying aquaculture and pond ecology.

Controlling Blue-Green Algae

BEFORE TREATMENT

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AFTER TREATMENT

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Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are a nuisance that form in water and excrete Microcystin, a toxin that is hazardous to animals and humans when consumed. It also affects the flavor of many aquatic creatures commonly eaten as seafood.  In recent years, blooms of blue-green algae have resulted in sick people and dead animals. They have also caused economic hardship for communities, stemming from lost recreational revenue and property devaluation.

These problems still occur today, as exemplified by the most recent Microcystin toxin incident in Toledo, Ohio. There, contaminated drinking water disrupted daily life for some 500,000 residents and caused undo expenses for restaurants and other organizations — not to mention the expense of treating the contaminated water to remove the toxins.  Toledo’s problems have garnered national attention at present, but they could have been spotted well in advance had greater attention been given to the increasing presence of blue-green algae blooms covering parts of western Lake Erie and many inland lakes.Control of blue-green algae is difficult because of climate conditions, the size of the water bodies affected, and – most challenging of all – the accumulation of phosphorus in the water. Phosphorous enters lakes and ponds primarily through agricultural and waste-treatment sources. In the long term, the amount of phosphorus that these sources discharge into the water will need to decrease dramatically. In the meantime, a more immediate intervention is to maintain clean drinking water by controlling algae formation directly.

This article describes one such approach and outlines its potential for combating toxic algae.It is well known that cyanobacteria cells grow rapidly by consuming nutrients from the water (nitrogen and phosphorus), carbon dioxide from the air, and sunlight. To control cyanobacteria growth, it is necessary to interrupt this nutrient cycle.  Most approaches target the cyanobacteria’s phosphorus supply.  As important as such phosphorous-directed approaches are, alternatives should be considered; for, while it is necessary to reduce phosphorus levels in the long term, doing so will likely take decades, and faster-acting solutions are at our disposal at this very second. Cyanobacteria are single-cell organisms that grow naturally in fresh and salt-water environments.  These are bacteria that can synthesize chlorophyll – hence their blue-green color. They use sunlight to manufacture carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water (the technical term is photosynthesis).  They contain small gas pockets within their cells that allow them to control their buoyancy, enabling them to sink or rise to move to where nutrient and light levels are highest.

As mentioned above, cyanobacteria need nutrients to grow, specifically nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon.  One problem with controlling cyanobacteria is that most aquatic organisms do not eat them because of the toxins they produce.  Left to grow unimpeded, cyanobacteria algae blooms can have serious ecological and aesthetic consequences. For example, as the algae die and decompose, they use up a large amount of oxygen, resulting in oxygen deficiency (eutrophication) and increased concentrations of toxic ammonia – both of which stress aquatic life and cause large “kills” of aquatic species. The odorous toxins from cyanobacteria can also migrate through the skin of some aquatic creatures and accumulate in their bodies, which negatively affects their taste when consumed by humans.

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Solutions

The dominant approach to controlling algae is to reduce the availability of phosphorus in the water.   Phosphorus can become part of any biological system, and plants that absorb phosphorus are often used in wetlands to lower phosphorus entering water bodies; however, this does not address phosphorous removal during periods when plants are not growing. When the phosphorous-absorbing plants die and decompose, they often release some of the phosphorus back into the water. The problem, then, is that the phosphorus either remains undestroyed or is transformed into a harmful substance; the phosphorous continues to accumulate, making long-term control difficult. Another approach is to use a chemical substance that permanently keeps phosphorous from re-entering the water.  This method is used to control phosphorus in certain lakes and in waste-treatment plants.  For instance, compounds such as aluminum sulfate (alum) and iron chloride react with phosphorus to form precipitates that sink to the bottom of a lake or become captured by filters. Some other natural and manufactured compounds work in the same fashion to lock up the phosphorus.  These “capturing” methods can be effective, but they only work after the fact, in the sense that they bind to phosphorous that is already present; they are therefore unviable as a preventative measure and can be expensive to implement over the long term.  For example, over $7 million was spent to add alum to treat phosphorus in Grand Lake St Mary’s (GLSM) but it did not produce clear water; alternative efforts, such as dredging and new wetlands, continue to treat this problem.

Alternative Approach

A third approach to controlling blue-green algae formation is to use sufficient and sustainable concentrations of beneficial bacteria to break down and/or out-compete the cyanobacteria for nutrients. Recent testing in water containing algae has shown that existing algae blooms can be eliminated and new blooms prevented, even when phosphorus beneficial-bacteria-05concentrations are high. One example is illustrated in pictures of a holding pond that has been continually supplied with water from a small community waste-treatment facility.  Phosphorus in this pond varied consistently between 3.3 and 4.7 ppm (mg/L) – levels much higher than what would typically be found in a water body.  For 5 summers, this pond was covered with algae, making it a smelly, odorous eyesore.  Homeowners would rake algae from the pond and dispose of it in nearby woods, but it would quickly return. In 2013, the pond was treated with high concentrations of beneficial bacteria and within weeks, the water cleared up (bottom picture). The pond has remained this way ever since, in spite of the phosphorus and other nutrients that continue to flow into it. Additional bacteria are added periodically to keep the beneficial strains active.