Can Pools Exist Without Algae?

Algae, algae – how does my pool grow?

Algae are microscopic plant life that have been thriving on planet earth since before man. There are thousands of algae strains and most survive in or around water.

Do I Have Algae In My Swimming Pool?

For swimming pools, there are several varieties, which (for simplicity of describing) are categorized by color rather than by their Latin names. The majority of these are airborne spores sailing through the winds, falling and dropping from trees, birds, and shrubbery, landing in our swimming pools.

  • Algae spores can actually survive out of water and lay dormant for some time on our swimsuits, towels, pool care accessories, such as vacuum hoses, wall brushes, leaf nets, and so on.
  • When the spores get in contact with the pool again, they begin to multiply and flourish once again. The human eye cannot visibly detect a blossom until approximately 30,000,000 spores per ounce of water gather. Typically all it takes is the water, sunlight and nutrients to make these plants thrive.

The most common algae type is the “green”, free-floating species.

“Black” algae clusters are found predominantly in plaster or marcite finishes, although it is possible to detect them in pools of any interior surfaces. Other strains are “yellow” algae (also known as “mustard” algae) and not as common ”brown” algae.

The two additional growths (pink/red and clear/white), which are bacterial slimes and sometimes mislabeled as algae can be controlled as well. The bottomline is; it is virtually impossible to have a pool without some strain present at any time.

Are Algae Harmful?

The majority of the algae strains are harmless to humans. In fact, some strains can be found and used in our food chain. What makes algae a potential health risk is when the spores die and decay, thus creating a higher sanitizer (chlorine/bromine) demand; and when the sanitizer is not maintained, pathogens can cause health problems.

How to Keep Algae at Bay?

First and foremost, maintain a healthy chlorine or bromine residual 24/7, and shock or oxidize organic waste regularly during the warm active swim season, caused by bathers, animals, wind and landscape. Brush the entire interior surface once a week and of course,  maintain proper pool chemistry, including pH, total alkalinity, dissolved solids, low levels of phosphates, and so on.

Your pool will have a higher demand for controlling algae if it has:

  • Constantly high bather loads
  • Warm temperature, typically between 70 and 95 degrees, and

  • High phosphate concentration or heavy organic matter, such as leaves, twigs, and so on.

In these conditions, you may need to include a good, broad-range algaecide inhibitor as part of your pool care chemical routine.

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