The Horror That Is Called...duckweed!

jjohnwm

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Let me start out by stating that I actually like duckweed. I love knowing that it's always available whenever I want some to feed to a particular fish or to my turtle. I love the fact that it is working ceaselessly to remove nutrients from my tanks, and that when I remove and discard it I am cleaning the tank in much the same way as a water change. I like the look of it, both when seen from above and especially when seen from below, through the front of a tank. I do not mind the few seconds it takes to scoop it from the surface of an aquarium to keep it in check; the surface area of all my tanks combined amounts to maybe a few dozen square feet. It's not like I need to mow a golfcourse.

I love the confidence of knowing that duckweed will grow...like wildfire...everywhere...everytime!

So I am aghast to find that there is one instance where I can't grow the stuff! I have a small pond, about 10x15 feet, in my yard. It's a natural system, lots of plants, waterlilies, reeds, small fish, lots of bugs and insects and frogs and other critters, no filters or any artificial devices at all. Almost any plant I toss in there reproduces and grows like crazy throughout the summer months, including aquarium plants like hornwort, Anacharis/Elodea/Egeria (or whatever they're calling it this week...), Hygroryza, potted Amazon Swords, Riccia, virtually everything I've tried....except...you guessed it... duckweed! I introduce it over and over, and it just fades away. When I say "introduce", I'm not kidding around; I dump in a half-bucket of the stuff at a time, and it spreads out to cover several square feet...but it gradually loses colour and disappears over time. If I add some more a few days later, the colour difference between the vibrant green new stuff and the bleached whitish old is striking. There's nothing eating it in there. It just vanishes.

Now, I know for a fact that duckweed isn't the tiny dumb organism that we call it. Let's face it: we all know it, we're just scared to say it out loud. Duckweed is an Intelligence; every single piece has a tiny mind and they are all linked together into a vast network of consciousness whose only goal is to drive aquarists insane. For the vast majority of fishkeepers, duckweed knows that all it needs to do is live and grow; doing that will achieve its purpose, and those people will spend the rest of their lives fighting a losing battle to eradicate it. You'd think that the duckweed collective mind would appreciate those few of us who accept it and love it for what it is. You'd expect it to reward us by simply keeping on "being duckweed", by just growing the way we have come to expect...but nooooooo!

It's not just an Intelligence; it's a malignant and evil group mind that thrives on hatred, on being hated by everyone...so now that I admit that I like it, it does the only thing it can do to change that. It REFUSES TO GROW!!!!! It's evil, plain and simple...pure, unadulterated, unstoppable EVIL.

If the Borg Collective ever comes up against the Duckweed Master Consciousness...the Borg don't stand a chance.

So what do I do now? Give up on having a delicate tracery of duckweed floating in my pond? Nope...too stubborn for that. I want it.

Maybe I should pretend that I don't want it. Then maybe it'll grow...but I've already revealed that I like it...and in any case, it knows the truth, no matter what I say. It'll probably start growing in the pond, but dying in all my tanks.

Is this what they call a Love/Hate relationship? Or...am I actually afraid of it?

The horror...the horror...
 

Cognac82

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How much nitrate is in the pond water? Mine wouldn't grow when I didn't have enough nitrates in my one tank and wouldn't grow in another when it didn't have enough light. It also doesn't do well in my 55 gallon, I think because there's too much flow. I, too, like duckweed and I keep a bit in all of my tanks for my goldfish. Except the goldfish tanks, for some reason it doesn't grow well in there either (no nom nom)!!! Lol.
 

86 ssinit

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Not sure if you are a writer but you could very well be the Dave Barry of the aquarium world! Thanks for the laughs again you should write a book .
As said that pond is to clean no nutrients for the duckweed to eat. Is it a natural pond with it’s own water feed or a man made pond?
 
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jjohnwm

jjohnwm

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Thanks for the suggestions, but...that's not it. Light is certainly not the problem; the pond is in full blazing sunlight all day except for perhaps an hour or two in the early morning. Nitrates are always between 10 and 40, usually around 20; pH always between 7.0 and about 7.4. I've only ever checked ammonia and nitrites one time, and both were unmeasurable. The pond was initially filled 4 years ago by pumping water from a natural pond several hundred yards away. Since then it has received a single massive "water change" each spring when meltwater overflows it: I pump it out into the fields to bring the level down to where I want it. Usually do this 2 or 3 times each spring. This past winter/spring was exceptionally dry, so I only pumped once.

Each year the plants do better and better, and this is the first year that I have not experienced any instances of green water. In previous years, there were always a couple of bouts of the pea soup, but I think that now there is sufficient plant growth to outcompete the algae. I'm planning on augmenting the pond this year with a bog filter, but that will require running an electrical line out to it and using a pump, and I have always resisted that idea.

The whole duckweed thing is unusual for me, insofar as the fact that I don't normally try to compete with nature. If a plant or fish species does well for me, and if I like it, then I'll keep it. But I have little interest in keeping living species that are simply not suited to the conditions that I can easily provide. My water is a bit soft and acidic for African cichlids, so I just won't bother fighting it; won't keep them. So, if I couldn't grow duckweed in anything else, I wouldn't care.

The weird part is that it grows luxuriantly in every tank I have, including several small outdoor tubs and stock tanks I have played with over the years. There's a 175-gallon stock tank less than 50 yards from the pond, filled with water from the pond, that is covered with the stuff. The natural pond I got the water from originally grows it by the ton. The drainage ditches along my road are full of it. I am actually toying with the idea of putting a Rubbermaid bin on the little deck next to the pond, filling it from the pond, and then dropping in some duckweed and watching it take off; that might be a bit too spooky for me. The supernatural explanation is the only one that makes sense.

Why's everybody laughing? I'm as serious as a heart attack here!
 

Skavatar

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jjohnwm said:
When I say "introduce", I'm not kidding around; I dump in a half-bucket of the stuff at a time, and it spreads out to cover several square feet...but it gradually loses colour and disappears over time. If I add some more a few days later, the colour difference between the vibrant green new stuff and the bleached whitish old is striking. There's nothing eating it in there. It just vanishes.
if they're coming from indoor tanks, they might need to be acclimated to the sunlight. recently I bought some red and blue ramshorn snails, the seller included about 20-30 salvinia minima. I placed them all into a 5 gallon bucket on my back porch to qt. the salvinia minima started turning brown and eventually all died.
 

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Is duckweed common in the wild where you live? If not, that may be part of the problem. I know we have it here in Texas and it likes brackish water and hot weather.
 

kallililly1973

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jjohnwm said:
Thanks for the suggestions, but...that's not it. Light is certainly not the problem; the pond is in full blazing sunlight all day except for perhaps an hour or two in the early morning. Nitrates are always between 10 and 40, usually around 20; pH always between 7.0 and about 7.4. I've only ever checked ammonia and nitrites one time, and both were unmeasurable. The pond was initially filled 4 years ago by pumping water from a natural pond several hundred yards away. Since then it has received a single massive "water change" each spring when meltwater overflows it: I pump it out into the fields to bring the level down to where I want it. Usually do this 2 or 3 times each spring. This past winter/spring was exceptionally dry, so I only pumped once.

Each year the plants do better and better, and this is the first year that I have not experienced any instances of green water. In previous years, there were always a couple of bouts of the pea soup, but I think that now there is sufficient plant growth to outcompete the algae. I'm planning on augmenting the pond this year with a bog filter, but that will require running an electrical line out to it and using a pump, and I have always resisted that idea.

The whole duckweed thing is unusual for me, insofar as the fact that I don't normally try to compete with nature. If a plant or fish species does well for me, and if I like it, then I'll keep it. But I have little interest in keeping living species that are simply not suited to the conditions that I can easily provide. My water is a bit soft and acidic for African cichlids, so I just won't bother fighting it; won't keep them. So, if I couldn't grow duckweed in anything else, I wouldn't care.

The weird part is that it grows luxuriantly in every tank I have, including several small outdoor tubs and stock tanks I have played with over the years. There's a 175-gallon stock tank less than 50 yards from the pond, filled with water from the pond, that is covered with the stuff. The natural pond I got the water from originally grows it by the ton. The drainage ditches along my road are full of it. I am actually toying with the idea of putting a Rubbermaid bin on the little deck next to the pond, filling it from the pond, and then dropping in some duckweed and watching it take off; that might be a bit too spooky for me. The supernatural explanation is the only one that makes sense.

Why's everybody laughing? I'm as serious as a heart attack here!
If your not to fond of the idea of running electric to your pond a good alternative would be a solar powered air pump or something solar powered that's stronger. I have an outdoor 29 with a solar powered airpump connected to a dual sponge filter that has been working great so far. I put 10-12 guppies in it and a bunch of plants and has organic soil capped with PFS. I also added 3-4 Ramshorns and now there is a snail on every leaf in the tank
 

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1. Something might be eating it
2. There are many types of duckweed. Maybe you have a type that's not strong for that system.
 

Elkwatcher

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Is it too brrr cold in Manitoba for the "weed" to survive? :nailbiting: Inquiring minds want to know!
Sure is amazing how Duckweed can travel, only needs to get stuck on the back of your hand to get teleported to it's next destination... I've feared it like the plague but recently had some come home in new plant bag water. I mean it is purdy...so I thought what the heck, I'll live dangerously and let it live in my shrimp tank. Low and behold it has beamed itself up into my quarantine tank now..wow! I'm hoping one day someone will discover it's a plant that can be turned into a life saving drug that can save all humanity....
 

Pescado_Verde

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Elkwatcher said:
Is it too brrr cold in Manitoba for the "weed" to survive? :nailbiting: Inquiring minds want to know!
Sure is amazing how Duckweed can travel, only needs to get stuck on the back of your hand to get teleported to it's next destination... I've feared it like the plague but recently had some come home in some new plant bag water. I mean it is purdy...so I thought what the heck, I'll live dangerously and let it live in my shrimp tank. Low and behold it has beamed itself up into my quarantine tank now..wow! I'm hoping one day someone will discover it's a plant that can be turned into a life saving drug that can save all humanity....
Personally, I welcome our new Duckweed Overlords.
 

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Duckweed is an invasive here in Texas, so I don’t allow it down the drain… it makes a fabulous top dressing for my container plants though!
 

Andy S

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You may be right about it refusing to grow once you have told it that you like it. I'm going to try the same tactic with the algae which I fight a constant battle with, maybe if I leave it alone and tell it how much I appreciate it covering my rocks, driftwood, plants, substrate and glass it will disappear just to spite me. It's worth a try, nothing else seems to work.
 

SaraCooper

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Andy S said:
You may be right about it refusing to grow once you have told it that you like it. I'm going to try the same tactic with the algae which I fight a constant battle with, maybe if I leave it alone and tell it how much I appreciate it covering my rocks, driftwood, plants, substrate and glass it will disappear just to spite me. It's worth a try, nothing else seems to work.
Andy, have you tried boiling your water and allowing it to cool before using?
 

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What plants do you have in the pond? I have a list(from the Walstad book) of plants that could have killed it with allopathy.
 

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