Mustard Algae or Metals

Smaccarone

Silver Supporter
May 23, 2020
28
Dallas, GA, United States
Hi everyone,

I am new to TFP and have recently started trying to maintain my own pool and have been struggling with something that is either heavy metals or mustard algae I presume?

We have been dealing with multiple pool maintenance companies with some success but have always found debris in our pool so given the monthly costs we decided to maintain ourselves and get a Nautilus CC Plus pool robot and water test at Leslie's.

From doing the research it looks like we need to try the TFP slam method but I just wanted to double check with you experts to see if we really need to do that when Leslie's advice was somewhat similar? I have also ordered a test kit so I can do measurements overnight for our next course of treatment.

We had this last year (see pictures) and it never seems to go away but was not in the pool over the Winter. Now that it has warmed up, it has come back again. I believe it is Mustard Algae but am not 100% sure as despite my shock efforts and using yellow out and running the pool 24/7 it is still there! It does seem to have changed color from an orangy brown to a greenish gray so I'm wondering if it is dead but cannot be removed with a pool robot and instead must be manually vacuumed out on waste?

Our first reading before we did any treatments was...

PH - 8
Alkalinity - 100
CYA - 76
FC - 0.16
TC - 0.16
Phosphate - 391
Calcium -183
Iron - 0.1
Copper - 0

Leslie's advised us we need to lower our phosphates using no-phos, add 3 bags of shock, and 5 chlorine tabs. So that is what we did and as a result, the matter (likely mustard algae) in the pool came back with a vengeance and grew to levels we hadn't seen before. this confused us because Leslie's told us that phosphate is what algae feeds on and getting rid of it will help get rid of the algae. This is where I discovered TFP because I was starting to wonder if Leslie's really was knowledgeable and their advice to us or if they were just trying to get us to buy a ton of their products.

I researched and discovered that we likely had mustard algae and went back into Leslie's. Our second reading two weeks later was:
PH - 8.2
Alkalinity - 87
CYA - 75
FC - 2.14
TC - 2.4
Phosphate - 0
Calcium -195
Iron - 0
Copper - 0

On some initial reading on TFP and watching YouTube videos, I knew we needed to shock the heck out of the pool. According to Leslie's we had to add 15 bags of shock (5 bags every 12 hours) in addition to a large and small container of Yellow Out. After this treatment the matter like I mentioned above change color but despite multiple attempts to vacuum it with the Nautilus and using a brush to scrub the pool everyday we have not been able to clear the matter out of the pool. During this process I also left our equipment in the pool so we would not recontaminate thanks to your forums!

I have spent hundreds of dollars at Leslie's and I'm feeling like I'm being ripped off. So I know it would be more beneficial to have the test readings after adding the shock but I just wanted to get some initial feedback before I go into Leslie's to buy more product.

Any insights you guys could share would be greatly and appreciated because at this point I feel like draining the pool!
 

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Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
I have spent hundreds of dollars at Leslie's and I'm feeling like I'm being ripped off.
In a nutshell, that's exactly what's been happening. Welcome to TFP! :wave: We've all been there. You need your own test kit. Which one did you order? TF-100 or Taylor K-2006C? See Test Kits Compared. Make sure to add it your signature along with all of your pool and equipment info. Add nothing else to the water except liquid chlorine (regular bleach) until you get that test kit. Once we have your own test results, we can give you exceptionally good advice and help you determine if the discoloration is algae or metals related. Something you should be able to do easily right now it maintain an FC of about 5 ppm and keep the pH in the mid 7s.

Make sure to review our ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry and those Vital Links below in my signature. We'll watch for your test results. Thanks for posting.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
23,630
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
It brushes away super easily which is why we are thinking mustard algae. It looks like it is gone only to settle again within 24 hours or so.
Mustard algae prefers the shady side of the pool. That may help you decide if it's mustard algae or just algae with a lighter color. Who knows, maybe it;s green algae with malnutrition from no phosphatres? :mrgreen:

The cure is a SLAM Process If you feel it's mustard algae, when the regular SLAM is done, then you raise FC to Mustard SLAM level for 24 hours. Given the persistence of this stuff, you'll probably want to be sure to pull the light out. Check out the pictures. Think I may have found my FC demand issue?

The good news is, it's not algae or metals embedded in Calcium Scale. That wouldn't brush off. And metals tend to leave blotches on the walls, not small drifts. They won't brush away either.
 
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Smaccarone

Silver Supporter
May 23, 2020
28
Dallas, GA, United States
In a nutshell, that's exactly what's been happening. Welcome to TFP! :wave: We've all been there. You need your own test kit. Which one did you order? TF-100 or Taylor K-2006C? See Test Kits Compared. Make sure to add it your signature along with all of your pool and equipment info. Add nothing else to the water except liquid chlorine (regular bleach) until you get that test kit. Once we have your own test results, we can give you exceptionally good advice and help you determine if the discoloration is algae or metals related. Something you should be able to do easily right now it maintain an FC of about 5 ppm and keep the pH in the mid 7s.

Make sure to review our ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry and those Vital Links below in my signature. We'll watch for your test results. Thanks for posting.
I ordered some high rated strips from Amazon to get something asap (and to use for quick checks when levels are good) and am just finishing up ordering the TF-100 (which I will add to my signature shortly as well!)
 
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Smaccarone

Silver Supporter
May 23, 2020
28
Dallas, GA, United States
Mustard algae prefers the shady side of the pool. That may help you decide if it's mustard algae or just algae with a lighter color. Who knows, maybe it;s green algae with malnutrition from no phosphatres? mrgreen:

The cure is a SLAM Process If you feel it's mustard algae, when the regular SLAM is done, then you raise FC to Mustard SLAM level for 24 hours. Given the persistence of this stuff, you'll probably want to be sure to pull the light out. Check out the pictures. Think I may have found my FC demand issue?

The good news is, it's not algae or metals embedded in Calcium Scale. That wouldn't brush off. And metals tend to leave blotches on the walls, not small drifts. They won't brush away either.
This stuff doesn't mind the light at all and sits everywhere on the pool, we think we see more in the shallow end then the deep end. We also have sunlight all day! So maybe not mustard algae? I will take a picture of the contents after our robot vacuum as we soaked them in bleach just to make sure whatever it is dies. It very much looks like grey clay/sand now.
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
12,462
Houston, Texas
Crepe Myrtles were the bane of my pool. Those tiny little blossoms would disintegrate into grainy dust on the bottom of my pool. I think you are seeing a combination of organic debris, pollen, and possibly dead algae. Run an Overnight Chlorine Loss Test and see if you are burning through a lot of chlorine overnight. If you pass the overnight test, you are getting a lot of organic debris blowing in during the day. It ends up in the same spots because that is where you have seams and dips in the pool floor to catch it.
 

duraleigh

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
33,840
Sebring, Florida
smaccarone,
Your issue is not complex. That is dead/almost dead algae on your pool floor. It is from lack of chlorination and proper brushing vacuuming and monitoring your pool water chemistry.

Importantly, it is NOT mustard algae (which has completely different characteristics) nor is it metal of any kind. It is dead and dying algae.

The biggest issue you have now is trying to decide if you can wean yourself from the pool store, test with your own good kit and manage your pool water chemistry the way TFP teaches.

Right now, you are leaning heavily on Leslies advice and this forum has learned over the years that pool stores simply cannot be trusted....period.

So, I would suggest you read "The "ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry" up in Pool School. That'll get you started and then at some point, if TFP is to be of much help at all, you will have to give up entirely on Leslies and begin to learn how to manage your own pool. We can help.

By the way, as others have said, you need to SLAM the pool but you need to make a commitment to the whole idea of TFP in the first place.
 

Smaccarone

Silver Supporter
May 23, 2020
28
Dallas, GA, United States
I have read the ABCs of chemistry but I have not yet discovered on your site where I can find what products you guys recommend to use. Oh we are totally fine with doing things ourselves but I have not been able to wrap my head around pouring bleach into the pool vs chlorine even though I think they are the same thing ?‍♀ Our test kit should hopefully come sometime this week!
 

Smaccarone

Silver Supporter
May 23, 2020
28
Dallas, GA, United States
Okay so my TF-100 finally came in and I just got through testing the pool. We've managed to get rid of a lot of the algae that was in the pool there is only a tiny bit left that I can see on the stairs.

I have a link to my test results in the app below can you let me know if that works if not I can post them here too. PoolMath Logs

To ensure we keep the algae at bay what is your recommendation on whether or not we should slam? As previously we only knew about Leslie's and added about 15 bags of their shock and 2 cannisters of Yellow out after eliminating the phosphates in the pool.

The picture attached is the only debris I can find left in the pool.
 

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Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
23,630
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Okay so my TF-100 finally came in and I just got through testing the pool. We've managed to get rid of a lot of the algae that was in the pool there is only a tiny bit left that I can see on the stairs.

I have a link to my test results in the app below can you let me know if that works if not I can post them here too. PoolMath Logs

To ensure we keep the algae at bay what is your recommendation on whether or not we should slam? As previously we only knew about Leslie's and added about 15 bags of their shock and 2 cannisters of Yellow out after eliminating the phosphates in the pool.

The picture attached is the only debris I can find left in the pool.
SLAM Process it today and run the Overnight Chlorine Loss Test tonight. If all three tests pass, you're good.