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Thread: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    I APOLOGIZE FOR VERY LENGTHY POST. But at this point, I feel it's necessary to provide a little background on our situation in hopes that we can get some help (also have prior thread on this).

    OK, so we'd had our pool for one month, with near perfect balanced water (although we hadn't started BBB yet - didn't know y'all existed!) and lots of kiddos swimming in it. THEN, we had 2 neighbor kids over, who've had MA problems in their own pool (and they swim in the lake all the time). The next day, we had these little "spots" of mustardy-colored sand here and there - not much of it. We didn't think anything of it and went our merry way for a couple of weeks. It seemed to multiply. I'd brush and vacuum (not to waste) and within an hour or two, it would be back..in the same spots pretty much (divets and crevice where happy bottom meets)!

    So, after reading that MA can be transferred from swim suits, and knowing that our neighbor kiddos had MA troubles, we determined it was MA and went to a few pool places for help. We did the Yellow Out and Power Powder Plus (Leslie's) and the whole routine they gave us, along with LOTS of backwashing. We bought an in-ground manual vac head (without the bristles) and used it, because the bristles on the above-ground vac head kept dusting up the stuff and it wouldn't get vac'd. We finally got ALL of it vac'd out to waste, backwashed and sprayed the ladder (which had been removed) with full bleach! Turned the pump off for the night, for the first time in a couple of weeks. Got up the next morning with a CLEAN pool! Did a "rinse" on the filter before turning it back on, just in case anything was still in the pipe. Turned filter back on and a couple hours later, the stuff was right back on the bottom of the pool!

    So we've been assuming all this time that it is mustard algae - ALSO, because we keep getting some Water Boatmen. (seems like they come and go, but we try to catch and kill them when we know they're in the water!) But now that I finally got a GOOD kit (TF-100) on Tueday, 8/5, we bought lots of Wal-Mart bleach in preparation for the KILL! Brought FC up to 7ppm and called it a night (I didn't verify the FC 7, but this is my standard routine now).

    Wed, 8/6, I tested and was still FC 7. After discovering at 3:30 that I'd not turned on the pump, I rushed out and looked at the water. It was very still....WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF "STUFF" ON TOP OF IT! But the bottom had almost nothing on it! Only tiny remnants of the "sand" here and there. And this was after almost an entire day of the filter not running. I'm now thinking, pollen (given that our son's nose alerts us routinely!) So I turned the pump on and later that evening, added enough bleach for maintenance only - to bring us up to FC 7 (I bring us up to 7 each night in anticipation of a 2-3ppm drop during the following day). I have been keeping the pool brushed a couple of times each day. I verified my FC 7 before going to bed Wed evening - and let the pump run all night, since I'd missed nearly the whole day. Checked it again Thur, 8/7 at 6:30a.m., and it was STILL FC 7. While this is the 1st time I've ever done the "check it late P.M./early A.M." thing, it seems we don't lose FC during the night, whether we run the pump all night or not. I've never had CC, since I started the BBB method.

    So could this only be pollen, that's been plagueing us since the first week of June, and NOT mustard algae? I started using the skimmer sock about 6 weeks ago and it's been great! I clean it each night when I service the pool. The "sand" it picks up doesn't seem to feel slimy. It seems if I vacuum a couple of times during the week, there's not very much of it - but it's still there. I never have a clean pool anymore.. I'm only vac'g once a week at this time (health reasons) and it seems there's a lot more of it - but not like a sheet or anything.

    We have the bleach necessary for an MA kill. Should we go ahead and do it, just in case? After listening to 3 different pool stores (in the beginning), we already have a slighltly bleached liner, especially in the deep end.

    For those who can make it through this long explanation, thanks and we'd appreciate your help/advice/opinion!!
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    OOPS! Our results for tonight are:

    FC 7
    CC 0
    pH 7.4
    TA 90
    CYA 40

    Last vacuumed on Saturday, 8/2
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    AnnaK's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    You could try a science experiment.

    Get a clean Mason jar. Invert it over the water surface, then push it down as far as you can into the water. Turn it over to release the trapped air and allow water in. Set it aside. Get an eye dropper or a bulb syringe. Put your goggles on and swim down to a patch of yellow stuff. Squeeze the air out of the eye dropper or the syringe [b]away[b] from the yellow patch, then suck some of the yellow patch into your device. Squirt it into the Mason jar, cover loosely, set it in the shade.

    If, after 24 hours, there's an obvious increase of yellow stuff, you probably have mustard algae.

    You did say the water surface was covered with stuff. That leads me to think it's dirt and dust blowing in. I don't know enough biology to know whether trees and plants are pollinating this time of year. In my part of the country the catkins of the paper birches are beginning to disintegrate and tiny bits of them collect on the pool surface. As well, we have a lot of dust in the air from farming and mowing and there are days when it seems ALL of it winds up in our pool.

    My understanding of mustard algae is that it likes to creep up the sides of the pool as well as live on the bottom. Have you observed that happening?
    AnnaK

    12,500 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    This is the third case of "SparklyPoolItis" reported this week.....

    I'm betting on pollen/dust. FC holding overnight is a pretty reliable test for organics in your water.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    That sounds more like pollen than mustard algae.

    Mustard algae will spread and grow up the walls of the pool if you don't shock the pool. Dust/pollen will keep re-appearing, but will never accumulate on the walls of the pool. If you do shock the pool, mustard algae will mostly disappear as long as you are at shock level and brushing occasionally. Dust will continue appearing at the same rate when you are at shock level.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    Anna, that sounds like a winner. I'll send my 8-yr old in to collect it! He's a wringer for science...truly! I'll let you know how that experiment turns out and hopefully, my angst will subside with the right results!

    As for the sides of the pool, I've noticed that if I don't sweep them at least once each day, then when I do get around to sweeping again, I can see some (not a lot) of the "dust" sweeping off the sides. I wouldn't even know it was on the sides, if I didn't sweep. But since I'm sweeping twice daily, no, I don't see it coming off there anymore. But I did see it on our white steps before I took them out a couple of days ago. That's the first time I've seen on the steps.

    But our son, who has had a clear nose all summer, starting the nasties at the 1st of August. It could be that we've had pollen flying all summer long, but that he's now getting the pollen that he's specifically allergic to. But we've had this stuff the whole summer. So I'll try the experiment and see how that goes, before pouncing on my pool with lots of bleach. As I said, bad advice from the start has already bleached our nice, new liner. And I don't want to add to it!

    BTW, I've taken great pride in showing off our non-smelly, sparkly pool to our neighbors...AND to the folks who just bought our pool store chemicals that we no longer need now that we're on BBB! Our neighbors want to convert, and the couple who bought all those nasty pool chemicals from us (I gave him the option of backing out first!) will be joining TFP as well!

    I'll let all know the results of our experiment. But this morning, our FC held with no change overnight again.

    Thanks!
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    Well, I did the experiment. I'm attaching the two pictures. It doesn't look like any change to me, but I'm letting it sit again until tomorrow afternoon to take a picture of it against a green outdoor rug which shows any changes MUCH better than pointing it to the sky

    I'm also attaching a picture of the water itself showing what it looks like before I sweep and/or vacuum. The date on this picture is wrong - it was taken around July 13th. For three nights, I checked the FC when it got dark, and again before sunrise and there was no change in the FC, except for a .5 or less in CC on day 3.

    I think when we get The Circulator, we'll go ahead and do the MA shock, just to be on the safe side and just keep it at MA shock levels for 2 days, then allow to come down. My CYA appears to have dropped from 45 to 35 (we've been swimming a lot lately). But I'm never confident of my ability to read this test. My husband got the same result - so I'll trust his judgment! I'm still only losing about 2ppm daily, dropping down to 5ppm by sunset. I bring it back up to 7ppm before bedtime. So everthing is steady each day. Latest test results from tonight before adding my usual amount of bleach:

    FC 5.0
    CC 0
    pH 7.5
    TA 90
    CYA 35

    I hope the pictures transfer - not so good at dealing with pics online!

    Thanks,
    Cherie
    Attached Images Attached Images
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    Well, now I did it! I messed up this thread and stretched the words from here to katmandu! The 1st pic came through... a bit large I can't get today's pic to download, but will try again to transfer the pool water pic. May or may not work. Here goes!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    It is always difficult to tell from a picture, but that looks like either pollen or dead green algae. Mustard algae tends to have smaller spots with "halos" around them.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    Hi Jason. Well, the color looks green in this picture, but in person, it looks mustardy. Scott pinched some between his fingers today and said it felt gritty. We catch a LOT of it in the skimmer sock. But still every day, it's back.

    How 'bout that FAB FOUR American swim team? What a fantastic way to end the evening!!
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    Gritty is usually dirt; squishy is usually pollen; slimy is usually algae. Not definitive, but this doesn't sound like algae.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: And yet ANOTHER "Is it mustard algae, or pollen?" thread

    Well, swim season is over and our pool is cleaning up nicely! I'm thinking that what we have is, indeed, pollen. It was just a coincidence that it started the day after mustard-algae infested swim suits were introduced into our brand new pool! I've stopped cleaning my skimmer sock every day, and only clean it once every 2-3 days - at least for now. And it's catching a lot of that sandy stuff now. In fact, there's hardly any in the pool today. However, I've emptied probably over 100 bees (drowned) from the sock in the last couple of weeks. My mom suggested that they were landing in the water trying to get to the pollen. Made sense to me. The poofy stuff seems to be clearing and we have LOTS of drowned bees! I think we'll go with a cover now and see if next season brings us a nice, clean pool all season.

    Thanks for all the help and suggestions!!
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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