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Thread: Stinking Mustard Algae!

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    Stinking Mustard Algae!

    OK, it appears that I have IT!

    I have kept my FC level at 25 or above for the last 3 days, my CYA is 50. I am brushing like a mad woman. I add more chlorine (using bleach and cal hypo) 3 times a day.

    Someone, remind me AGAIN why I should not use that copper stuff in my pool. If it's chelated, is there still a chance it will fall out of suspension and stain my liner, or make my hair green? Also, what is Yellow-Out? I remember that coming up at some point when talking to someone. If that is chemical that it takes alot of chlorine to get rid of, and I'm using alot of chlorine already and it's not helping, maybe I should try the Yellow-Out?

    All out of POP (pool owner patience), where can I buy some of that? Oh, and I've just had to purchase new FAS-DPD reagants, because I've used ALL of my powder and drops! And it's only the middle of June!
    Judy

    Designated "pool girl" for 18' x 40' in-ground vinyl pool built in 2006

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Take a couple of deep breaths and relax. You are doing just fine, give the chlorine a little time to do it's work. Fighting algae always takes a while, that is the way the world works. Switching approaches now is only going to cause new problems and make everything take even longer. Copper can stain your pool and turn your hair green and really won't help at all in this situation.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  3. Back To Top    #3

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    I'd make sure it's yellow/mustard algae and not pollen. If you put a bucket of water by the pool, see if it gets a similar substance floating on the water surface. Also, see if a skimmer sock captures a lot of this substance. Also, yellow/mustard algae is slimy to the touch. Under a microscope, pollen will look round with a rough or spiked surface and is solid-looking while algae looks more like cells and is semi-transparent with some internal contents visible.

    Yellow/mustard algae takes a very high chlorine level to get rid of -- if you start with the pH at 7.2, then an FC level of 55% of the CYA level is needed (if you start at a higher pH, then an FC level of 65% of the CYA level is needed). To prevent such algae from returning, maintaining an FC level of about 15% of the CYA level is needed (instead of the usual 7.5% minimum or 11% target).

    As for other maintenance options after you've gotten rid of this algae, you can use 50 ppm Borates in the pool as an ongoing algaecide (won't have the side effects of using copper) or can, expensively, use a maintenance dose of PolyQuat 60 on a weekly basis. However, maintaining the higher FC levels will work.

    Richard
    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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    I don't want to jinx myself...but when I got home this afternoon, I saw about 50% of the amount that was in the pool yesterday, so maybe I'm winning this battle. I don't know if this made a difference, but for a while, I was brushing the whole pool, and then going back and adding the chlorine. Last night and this morning, I walked around the pool, added some chlorine (using cal-hypo predissolved), and then immediately brushed the substance up into where I had poured the chlorine. I did this all around the pool, pouring and brushing, pouring and brushing.

    Unfortunately, I can't test my chlorine level now, because I'm waiting on reagents, so I just added more cal hypo, and tonight before bed, I'll throw in some bleach (just stocked back up), and hopefully my reagents will arrive tomorrow.

    And Richard, I'm pretty sure it's not pollen. I have buckets of water out for my dogs, and it doesn't show up there. It's not showing up on my skimmer socks. But it doesn't feel either slimy or grainy (like sand).

    I would really like to do the borates thing, but I have just read a post (either here or on PF) where it's bad for dogs that drink the pool water. I'm having a hard enough time getting them to not drink it with the chlorine level high. Do you or anyone else know if it would be bad for them if I used polyquat? I really would like to do that, because I go out of town frequently for a week at a time, and sometimes my chlorine level drops below where it needs to be for my CYA level.

    Sure wish I could talk my husband into an SWG!!!
    Judy

    Designated "pool girl" for 18' x 40' in-ground vinyl pool built in 2006

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    I'll have to ask the chemist at Buckman Labs about whether normal PolyQuat levels in a pool would be a problem for dogs. You are right that the Borates are "on the edge" of first showing symptoms if you dog drinks a lot from the pool. The chlorine isn't great for them either, but is below where even first symptoms appear -- in other words, the borates are worse at the typical levels recommended for pools (30-50 ppm). I'll let you know about the PolyQuat.
    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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    Guest
    Bottom line is this--the dogs need to learn that the pool is NOT their water bowl. It's not just the chlorine or the borates. The total amount of chemicals we put into pools are NOT good for them to drink. (Cyanuric acid is one of the chemicals found in the recent pet food contaminations along with melamine!) I have three dogs and a cat and they all have learned NOT to drink from the pool. I also keep a freshly filled waterbowl outside near the pool for them and they know that is their water for drinking! It took a bit of training but was really no more difficult than any other 'housebreaking" training.

    (Same thing applies to kids! NO,not the water bowl by the pool but you know what I mean! )

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    Was your FC dropping overnight? I thought I had some of the mustard algae based on the pictures and the descriptions that I read, but I wasn't getting a FC drop overnight. I went ahead and shocked for several days to be safe. Now I am pretty certain that it was just pollen or silt. I still get some collecting in the same spots that algae would and it looks suspicious, but it don't think it multiplies, and I never got any sort of bloom. The spots would grow, but I think that is just from more silt/pollen getting into the pool. Just some things to think about.

    Good luck.

    Riles
    16x32 IG vinyl, 19,000 gal, 1.0 hp pump, sand filter, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, diving board, slide

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riles_J
    Was your FC dropping overnight? I thought I had some of the mustard algae based on the pictures and the descriptions that I read, but I wasn't getting a FC drop overnight. I went ahead and shocked for several days to be safe. Now I am pretty certain that it was just pollen or silt. I still get some collecting in the same spots that algae would and it looks suspicious, but it don't think it multiplies, and I never got any sort of bloom. The spots would grow, but I think that is just from more silt/pollen getting into the pool. Just some things to think about.

    Good luck.

    Riles
    The first couple of days, it would drop from 25 the night before, to 22 the next morning. After that, I didn't retest in the morning, because I was running low on FAS-DPD reagents.

    Right now, I'm just guessing and adding chlorine in the pool to keep it high, trying to keep it around 25, but I can't test right now. My reagents should come today, so I can do a better job of keeping it where it needs to be.

    Last year, I got a little mustard algae about the same time of the year, and I hit it really hard with cal-hypo. I didn't know what I was doing then, and didn't have a FAS-DPD test, and didn't really know how much cal-hypo to add, so I ended up with a chlorine reading of over 30ppm (I used a DPD test and the shot glass method). My pool stayed clouded up for 2 days and I was terrified I had ruined my pool water and liner, but when it finally cleared, the mustard was gone. I think I will try the same thing, bring it up over 30, and keep it there a couple of days, to see what happens.
    Judy

    Designated "pool girl" for 18' x 40' in-ground vinyl pool built in 2006

  9. Back To Top    #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by waterbear
    Bottom line is this--the dogs need to learn that the pool is NOT their water bowl. It's not just the chlorine or the borates. The total amount of chemicals we put into pools are NOT good for them to drink. (Cyanuric acid is one of the chemicals found in the recent pet food contaminations along with melamine!) I have three dogs and a cat and they all have learned NOT to drink from the pool. I also keep a freshly filled waterbowl outside near the pool for them and they know that is their water for drinking! It took a bit of training but was really no more difficult than any other 'housebreaking" training.

    (Same thing applies to kids! NO,not the water bowl by the pool but you know what I mean! )
    You are right, and I've come to the realization that I need to do something about the dogs drinking the water. Actually, it's only one of the two, who will actually lay at the steps and just drink and drink. The other one is too afraid of falling in. They stay in a large penned enclosure for part of the day when we are not home, so they don't have access to the pool all of the time. I've started putting out a bucket of fresh cold water when I let them out of the pen, and when my pool drinker heads for the steps, I say "NO!" and then call them both to the water bucket. I may not stop her completely, but at least its a start.
    Judy

    Designated "pool girl" for 18' x 40' in-ground vinyl pool built in 2006

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    waterbear's advice about training the dogs not to drink the water is of course the right thing to do. I haven't heard back from Buckman Labs yet, but I did find some toxicity data where the 90-day no-effect level of PolyQuat was found to be 15 mg/kg/d. The normal initial dose of PolyQuat 60 is around 15 fluid ounces (about 17 ounces weight) per 10,000 gallons which works out to 13 ppm, but it's 60% so that's around 8 ppm (mg/liter). If a dog drinks two liters (roughly quarts) per day, then they are drinking at well below the rate at which symptoms might first occur (since dogs weigh more than 1 kg).

    I would put the level of toxicity as PolyQuat < Chlorine < Borates for concentrations normally found in pools (that have all three). Only the borates come close to the level where first symptoms might start to occur. All are way, way below the lethal dosage levels for animals (mammals).

    Richard
    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
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    waterbear's advice about training the dogs not to drink the water is of course the right thing to do. I haven't heard back from Buckman Labs yet, but I did find some toxicity data where the 90-day no-effect level of PolyQuat was found to be 15 mg/kg/d. The normal initial dose of PolyQuat 60 is around 15 fluid ounces (about 17 ounces weight) per 10,000 gallons which works out to 13 ppm, but it's 60% so that's around 8 ppm (mg/liter). If a dog drinks two liters (roughly quarts) per day, then they are drinking at well below the rate at which symptoms might first occur (since dogs weigh more than 1 kg).

    I would put the level of toxicity as PolyQuat < Chlorine < Borates for concentrations normally found in pools (that have all three). Only the borates come close to the level where first symptoms might start to occur. All are way, way below the lethal dosage levels for animals (mammals).

    Richard
    Thanks Richard. I've pretty much decided that I need to so this anyway. If it was just a little now and then, it would be no big deal, but the one dog drinks alot of pool water when allowed to. Sometimes I think she lets herself go thirsty when in the pen, just so she can "fill up" when she is allowed to drink from the pool. Of course, I haven't allowed her to in several days because of how high my chlorine level is.
    Judy

    Designated "pool girl" for 18' x 40' in-ground vinyl pool built in 2006

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    I would also swim down to the bottom and get a sample of the algae. Once you get a sample you can place it into a couple of small glass jars (such as baby food jars). From there you will have a much closer look at what exactly you dealing with. If your still uncertain you can also leave the substance in the jar under direct sunlight. After a few days you should notice the growth if it's algae. Also...if you get samples we could try a few experiments exposing it to different levels of chlorine for a sustained amount of time.

    I would urge you to both take some samples and take some pictures! This will not only help people assist you...but also help others in the future who may have a similar problem. In addition to that...I would recommend that you start keeping a simple journal from year to year. This will help you (and others) spot potential patterns that could be useful.

    When reading all the posts (here and at pool solutions) I found it curious about many of their descriptions. The algae happening near the same time of the year. Others made mention that they really made some head way after they had some monsoon rains. Still others describe their battle with the mustard algae and they are all over the board with their treatment until one day they had finally beat it. I am not saying that any person does not have mustard algae...but I think it has been misdiagnosed and ill treated.

    That is why I would again urge you to help us correctly identify this problem. It would help if you could get some pictures from the top of the water...get some samples in small glass jars...get some pictures of the glass jars after the substance in question has settled...and then let the substance sit in the jar exposed to the sun so it's able to grow.

    Also...if what you have turns out to be something other than mustard algae this will also help people as well!

    Thanks so much!!!
    dan
    21' Aqua-Leader AGP (10,200 gallons).
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    Re: Stinking Mustard Algae!

    Quote Originally Posted by jnorris
    OK, it appears that I have IT!

    I have kept my FC level at 25 or above for the last 3 days, my CYA is 50. I am brushing like a mad woman. I add more chlorine (using bleach and cal hypo) 3 times a day.

    Someone, remind me AGAIN why I should not use that copper stuff in my pool. If it's chelated, is there still a chance it will fall out of suspension and stain my liner, or make my hair green?

    Yes because chlelated copper breaks down over time. Most chlelated copper algaecides are labled 3-month algaecides because they will keep an (almost) active level of copper in the water that long. However, if you let your pH get too high they can still stain once the chelating agent breaks down.
    Also, what is Yellow-Out? I remember that coming up at some point when talking to someone. If that is chemical that it takes alot of chlorine to get rid of, and I'm using alot of chlorine already and it's not helping, maybe I should try the Yellow-Out?
    There are generally two types of 'chlorine enchancer' algaecides that are used, inorganic ammonia and sodium bromide. Yellow out is an inorganic ammonia type. You raise the pH to about 8, add the product and then shock. It forms monochloramine. Since it is a nitrogen compound the algae uses it for food and 'decolorizes' (dies). It will require a lot fo chlorine to get rid of the monochloramine and get a FC reading after using it. Sodium bromide converts your pool to a bromine pool temporarily. These products have some use in overstabilized pools because they both take the stabilizer out of the equation. Monochloramine is somwhat reisitant to UV light compared to FC so it will last a bit longer but bromine is not but since CYA has no effect on bromine a lower bromine level will kill the algae. However both products will require frequent additions of chlorine to 'burn them off' before you can hold FC. They work well when just 'nuking' the pool with chlorine is not an option, such as with a vinyl pool.
    All out of POP (pool owner patience), where can I buy some of that? Oh, and I've just had to purchase new FAS-DPD reagants, because I've used ALL of my powder and drops! And it's only the middle of June!

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    I agree, I think there is a tendency to have knee jerk reaction to this type of algae. I know because that is the reaction that I had. I had silt/pollen in my pool that I had trouble getting rid of. I would vacuum and the next morning it would be back, not as bad, but back none the less. Some pictures and descriptions that others had matched mine so I went ahead and cranked up the FC and held it for many days. Needless to say, when I finished I would still get the silt/pollen in patterns that looked like algae.

    I think for me, in the future, I will rely more on how well my FC is holding overnight. It has always held well overnight and I wasn't experiencing excessive chlorine usage. Normally this would indicate that you are not fighting an outbreak.

    After reading back through some of the posts, I have wondered whether many of the folks who thought they were fighting mustard algae were just fighting a dirty pool (silt/pollen) then lo and behold it cleared after the aggressive treatment. Was it the chlorine, or just the extra brushing/vacuuming/cleaning that was being performed during that time?

    I have no doubt many people battle this type of algae, I am just saying maybe people should start posting how well their FC is holding up overnight before they undertake aggressive treatment and that might give some insight into whether or not the FC is being consumed.

    my $.02.

    Riles
    16x32 IG vinyl, 19,000 gal, 1.0 hp pump, sand filter, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, diving board, slide

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    One factor that raises the confusion level is that the particular type of pollen that gets mistaken for algae my only last a few days to a few weeks. By the time you get done with the shocking that particular kind of pollen might be gone, leaving you thinking that you beat it with chlorine.

    I agree that FC holding overnight or not is the best indicator. Telling things apart visualy hasn't had a very high success rate.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  16. Back To Top    #16

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    It looks like one can get an inexpensive microscope for around $100 (or some student models for a little less) that provide up to 400x magnification which is more than enough to see the difference between pollen and algae. You would think that a microscope might be something that pool stores would have themselves to help diagnose problems. If you type "pollen image" in Google, you get some nice color photos of some pollen plus this link to B&W photos of many pollen types. This link shows some pictures of yellow-green algae (Xanthophyta). You can see that pollen is round and solid with a rough or spiked surface while the algae looks more like cells and is generally semi-transparent and more irregular in shape and texture plus they are usually greener while pollen is more brown (though that's not definitive). I couldn't find pictures of dirt/silt, but generally these are solid and very irregular in shape (much more so than algae -- dirt has sharp edges and corners while algae has smoother corners). Dirt/silt also tends to vary a lot in size.

    The growth check is also reasonable, but not all algae like direct sunlight -- the UV rays are too harsh. Many like indirect sun so perhaps partially covering the top of a bucket so that only part of the interior gets exposed to sun is a good compromise. Certainly having a water sample where the chlorine goes away over time should "bloom" with algae growth if it's really algae.

    Richard
    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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    Last night and this morning, I'd say the "stuff" is down another 25%. There is still some there, but it's much less.\

    I'm getting what you all are saying, that we might just be fooled into thinking the chlorine is doing something, when it was just dirt or pollen the whole time. I should be getting my new test kit today, and I'll see if my FC is holding overnight now. By the way, my CC has been zero this whole time, up until I ran out of reagents, so I don't know what it is now.
    Judy

    Designated "pool girl" for 18' x 40' in-ground vinyl pool built in 2006

  18. Back To Top    #18
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought mustard algae kind of sticks in place, whereas pollen is easily disbersed with water movement?

    That's would be one easy way to tell.

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    Well whatever I have (I have been calling it silt/pollen) actually can be a tad stubborn. While vacuuming I actually have to scrub a bit, too much and it will poof into a brownish cloud and either disperse with the water or get sucked into the vacuum. It is not what I would call easily dispersed. It likes to settles in the folds in my liner, in depressions, etc. It will also settle on the angled transition areas, which had me believing at one point that it was algae since I didn't think silt would settle on these angles due to gravity. I don't see it at all on verticle faces. I don't see how that could happen. If you have something on a vertical face I would seriously suspect algae.
    16x32 IG vinyl, 19,000 gal, 1.0 hp pump, sand filter, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, diving board, slide

  20. Back To Top    #20
    I keep getting this deja vu of similar discussions each year at poolsolutions forum.

    If it dusts up then re-settles, I'm betting it's pollen/silt of some nature. I get this too, and simply vacuum it up without altering my daily bleach load with no il effects.

    I've had mustard algae in the past (pre BBB) and it's very stubborn, hard to scrub off and persistent.

    I operate on the assumption that if it's sticky and also on vertical surfaces, it's some type of algae. If it dusts up and the water is also starting to get cloudy, it's some type of algae. If it dusts up and re-settles but the water is crystal clear, it's most likely pollen/silt, etc.

    So far so good

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