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Thread: Pictures look like pollen or algae? It's POLLEN!

  1. #1
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    Pictures look like pollen or algae? It's POLLEN!

    I have been thinking that I have a pollen problem because my overnight FC test had a zero drop, I have no CC, my white wedding cake steps keep turning yellow, the pool water is clear unless the gunk gets stirred up, I saw nothing green when I sucked up a spot into a turkey baster, and because we have had high pollen alerts for the past few weeks. In fact, we have high pollen alerts from different sources pretty much all year long and this has been happening in varying degrees since we got the pool a few months ago. Anyway, it's driving me crazy. I will vacuum the pool and within 12 hours it has gunk all over the bottom again. I took some pictures for some help from you great folks. It looks yellow on the white steps but green against the blue bottom of the pool. It brushes away in a cloud.

    What do you think I have? Pollen or algae? Thanks in advance for any and all comments and observations!





    In this picture I brushed the middle step. It reminds me of a teeth whitening commercial.
    This is what your teeth look like now. This is what your teeth will look like after 5 applications of our whitener.


    In this one you can see the little yellow stuff.


    24' Seaspray Evolution CLX Above Ground Pool (~13600 gallons)
    Pentair Sand Dollar SD60 / 22.5" filter / Maximum Flow Rate 60 GPM
    Pentair Dynamo Pump 1 1/2 HP

  2. #2
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    If it is pollen there should be a noticable film of pollen on every surface outside of the pool. If there isn't, then I'd measure your CYA and bring the pool up to the appropriate mustard algae shock level, brush, etc.

    FYI - in late spring we had pollen everywhere. Tables on the deck were covered with it -- but the pool was sparkly clean despite pollen floating on the surface of the water. So I don't think it is easy for pollen (at least Iowa pollen) to overwhelm a good skimmer/filter system. By contrast, in July I developed my first mustard algae but thought it was pollen at first (no CC's), until I realized that there wasn't any pollen on the deck. Dealt with it assuming mustard algae and have had no further outbreaks.
    15X30 AGP, Lomart beaded liner;
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  3. #3
    Senior Member polyvue's Avatar
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    Quote Originally Posted by kjcole
    I don't think it is easy for pollen (at least Iowa pollen) to overwhelm a good skimmer/filter system.
    Iowa pollen?

    With my untrained eye, it would appear you have an algae problem -- I don't see clumping of debris so much as an organism growing. So, if there's no pollen on the surround, I must totally agree with kjcole on this. This will be interesting (for us, anyway! - sorry) to see the outcome once you've figured this out and beaten it.
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    Try to collect a sample and look at it under a microscope.

    Or put the sample in a jar and see if it grows or multiplies...

    I agree, you would likely see similar pollen dust on the outside surfaces like patio furniture, etc., but it could be a case of mustard algae.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    Here's one of several pictures I took of ours from last summer. We are 100% certain that our problem turned out to be pollen. In fact, after a big rain, I took pictures of it laying on top of our solar cover this year.

    We did this: (1) added a skimmer sock (you'll be surprised what that sock catches); (2) started using the Aquabot Turbo, with the 2 micron filter bag. This is a self-contained robotic cleaner where the pool water, as it is filtered, goes directly through the bot bag, which then captures the pollen instead of it going through your pool filter and right back into the pool. This summer, we kept a clean pool - I only dropped the cleaner in once per week and rarely even brushed it (since I didn't have time anyway).

    You'll see lots of threads on trying to figure this stuff out if you search "pollen". There are plenty of pictures on the threads as well, to compare your picture to.

    Hopes this helps.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    When you look at the pollen searches, you'll notice a lot are mine! I put on a skimmer sock and it turned yellow. I started thinking the pollen was accumulating because my filter wasn't catching it. I used to always backwash when I would drain the pool (from all the rain we get). I have recently been draining to waste instead to help my sand filter get a little dirty so it will catch stuff better.

    Questions:

    1. I am wondering, should I vacuum to waste also? If it is mustard algae, does the filter catch it or do you have to vacuum to waste to get rid of it?

    Honestly, I believe it may be a mixture of both pollen and mustard algae. I have three sets of wedding cake steps so there are lots of places for it to hide. I've seen posts talking about adding algaecide stuff. I understand that if I already have mustard algae that it will be hard for just chlorine and brushing to get rid of the algae when I have so many places for it to hide. Places I can't reach to brush. I can't count on the water temperature getting below 60 degrees at all this winter. If it does it won't be until January probably and it will be brief.
    2. What could/should I use to help get rid of it for good? It seems some are better for prevention while others are better for eradication. Obviously, I need the latter...

    3. I've searched mustard algae and have read a ton, but I need something that gives me steps on what to do exactly. Like a Pool School lesson on mustard algae. Is there something like that I just haven't found yet?

    As always, THANKS!!!
    24' Seaspray Evolution CLX Above Ground Pool (~13600 gallons)
    Pentair Sand Dollar SD60 / 22.5" filter / Maximum Flow Rate 60 GPM
    Pentair Dynamo Pump 1 1/2 HP

  7. #7
    Senior Member polyvue's Avatar
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    Quote Originally Posted by numberonenole
    1. I am wondering, should I vacuum to waste also? If it is mustard algae, does the filter catch it or do you have to vacuum to waste to get rid of it?
    Though I can't easily vacuum to waste (cartridge filter on my system), if I had algae and pollen together I sure wouldn't want to see it clog the filter.

    Brush and flush! to waste

    3. I've searched mustard algae and have read a ton, but I need something that gives me steps on what to do exactly. Like a Pool School lesson on mustard algae. Is there something like that I just haven't found yet?
    If you follow the advice combined in this article with the discussion initiated by JasonLion in this thread you'll be in a good position to overcome a mustard algae problem. Recommend using the Pool Calculator or the chlorine/cya chart to figure out how much chlorine you'll need to shock mustard algae.

    If you've read all these articles and find the recommendations too simple for your situation, I'm sure those with more experience will have further suggestions. good luck to you
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    Can you post current test results? How did you perform the overnight FC loss test? Do you have an FAS/DPD chlorine test?
    Dave S.
    Site Owner 42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter, No SWG
    TFTestkits owner
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  9. #9
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    Thanks for the replies!

    I have the TF-100 test. Current results:

    FC 7.5
    CC 0
    TC 7.5
    pH 7.5
    T/A 60
    CH 130
    CYA 35

    I haven't been checking the T/A or CH much lately, and I'm amazed at how much it has gone down since we have had so much rain. Well over 12" of rain last week. My rain gauge overflowed last Thursday afternoon and it holds 5"! I kept a lot of liquid chlorine in the pool, drained to waste, and checked the FC levels to make sure it didn't get low on chlorine. The pH had shot up and I added pH down to get it to the current 7.5.

    The gunk and yellow stuff started before the rains, and I had hit it once with a high level of liquid chlorine for several days and it never went away. Amazingly, just in the last two days it has gotten better and I haven't done anything differently than before. The pool has consumed a lot more chlorine over the past few days and is slightly cloudy, so I do believe it was a mixture of pollen and algae and maybe the rains knocked all the pollen down? I'm just happy that it has hit 90 today so the water has warmed up and we can go swimming again. All those thunderstorms really kept us out of the pool (and the water temperature getting down to 82 degrees because of the rain!)!

    I can't add borates now because of my three year old who prefers to be underwater and tends to drink the water while he's down there. I'm hoping maybe next year to be able to add them.

    I will vacuum to waste from now in if gunk collects on the bottom of the pool.

    Any idea on my previous question #2? I'm still worried about not being able to brush the whole pool and all those wedding cake steps that have such good hiding places.

    Thanks again!
    24' Seaspray Evolution CLX Above Ground Pool (~13600 gallons)
    Pentair Sand Dollar SD60 / 22.5" filter / Maximum Flow Rate 60 GPM
    Pentair Dynamo Pump 1 1/2 HP

  10. #10
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    NON,

    I personally don't use algaecide and, generally, there seems to be more BBB'ers who do not use than those who do.....but perhaps not by much.
    Regardless of what you decide, the nooks and crannies simply need to be brushed or some water moved thru them a little more often.

    Mustard algae is no big deal and will stay away forever IF you maintain adequate chlorine levels......if the chlorine is allowed to drift too low, I'm not sure algaecide will help.
    Dave S.
    Site Owner 42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter, No SWG
    TFTestkits owner
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  11. #11
    Senior Member TravisD's Avatar
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae?

    Wow! I logged on to post the same exact question and found this thread. I too, live in Florida and I have had this yellowish looking stuff (looks exactly like the OP has pics of) that settles on the bottom of my pool. Turns the water slightly cloudy when I brush it or get in. My readings are perfect, and I have never let my chlorine level get under 3.
    My readings are:
    FC - 5
    CC - 0 (not even a hint of pink)
    PH - 7.6
    TA - 90
    CYA - 40

    I have been trying to figure out if this is mustard algae or pollen now for about a week. I have aimed my return down in hopes to keep it from settling so that the filter will catch it. I haven't noticed any pollen on the pool rails, deck, or anywhere else. hopefully we get this figured out.
    24' Round AGP | 13,600 Gallons | Waterway Cartridge Filter | Waterway 2 Speed Pump | K-2006 Test Kit
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  12. #12
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    Re: Pictures look like pollen or algae? POLLEN

    Well, I've come to the conclusion that all the gunk clumped in the pool was pollen. It looked just like the stuff in the picture Cherie posted. I just didn't trust myself that it wasn't algae because my car hasn't had pollen on it. However, everyone has been complaining of itchy, watery eyes and the pollen alert has been high so something has been out there! I think I was just not hitting the problem correctly.

    Solution:
    1. I stopped backwashing every time the pool got too full from rain. Now I dump the extra water using the waste option.
    2. It rained for days, knocking most of the pollen out of the air!
    3. I added clarifier. I think the pollen was just adding up and not getting stuck in the filter. It seemed like the problem wsa getting worse because I was getting more and more pollen in there! The clarifier helped the filter catch it. I still found a little bit in the bottom of the pool yesterday, but it was in little tiny balls and doesn't dust away. There was none today.
    4. I ran the pump 24/7 for a few days.

    The pool is now back to it's sparkling self! We have swam and swam the past two days because it is supposed to turn colder tonight and I'm afraid the water may get too cold to swim. Then again, they say the high will be back up to 86 by Friday so who knows??? I'm just so happy that the water is now crystal clear again from the above and underwater view! Thanks again to all who responded!
    24' Seaspray Evolution CLX Above Ground Pool (~13600 gallons)
    Pentair Sand Dollar SD60 / 22.5" filter / Maximum Flow Rate 60 GPM
    Pentair Dynamo Pump 1 1/2 HP

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