Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Barley Straw for Ponds
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Barley Straw for Ponds

Barley Straw

What does barley straw do? We have sold many units of these product in the past few seasons, and have heard from many customers that the proper use of barley straw led to much cleaner, clearer water in their ponds.

Is barley straw an algicide? No, it is not registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency as a pesticide, and therefore no claims are made regarding it's use in preventing, removing, controlling or eliminating algae. This is an all-natural product, and does not contain any known pesticides, chemical additives, or even "ingredients" - it's just straw, already.

How does barley straw work? The process is not well understood, but it is thought that as the straw decays in the presence of oxygen (and possibly sunlight), chemicals are released or produced that help clear water.

How much should be used? If used proactively, 1/2 pound bale we currently offer could treat a pond up to about 1000 gallons. In ponds with a history of problems, two or three times that amount may be required at first, and even ten times that concentration could be used.

Can it be overdone? The straw is not known to be directly hazardous, but anything that decays in water in large quantities will reduce dissolved oxygen levels. This in not a likely problem unless the barley is massively overdosed (more than ten times normal) and the pond is already oxygen-limited by overstocking fish, medication or the decomposition of other organic materials such as leaves.

How is straw applied? Straw may be used unbundled or packed loosely in mesh so that water flows freely through the packet. It should be placed where moving water will oxygenate it and carry its byproducts to the rest of the pond. It's best to anchor it by weight and line, and then to add some sort of float to keep it from sinking to less-oxygenated water as it becomes waterlogged. WE have also heard of success when the barley straw was placed inside a filtration system.

How long before improvement can be seen? This depends on several factors, including temperature, quantity of straw, and how well it was applied, and the specific type of problem the pond has. Once the water temperature is in the 60's (Fahrenheit), the straw should begin fermenting within a week or two, and its effect should become noticeable.

How often should it be added? The first dose is best applied early in the spring, before problems begin to arise. A second dose can be applied when the first straw appears to be mostly biodegraded, or when poor water conditions appear to be returning - usually in midsummer. Here in the northern half of the U.S., it is rarely necessary to dose more than twice.

Does it always work? We do have a small percentage of customers who have tried barley straw and not achieved the desired results. We of course have no way of knowing whether or not the straw was properly applied, or if there were some other factors that reduced its effectiveness.

What reduces barley straw's effectiveness? Since aerated (moving) water and sunlight are required for the proper decomposition to occur, these must be given adequate attention. In particular, a heavy growth of algae or "blanket weed" needs to be removed to allow water circulation and sunlight penetration. The beneficial chemicals may also be rapidly absorbed or inactivated by the presence of mud and other organic debris.

Is straw harmful to fish, invertebrates or desired plants? There are no reports of harm to either fish or invertebrates, other than the overdose/deoxygenation precautions mentioned above. Higher plants appear to also be unaffected, in fact may well benefit from the improved conditions.

Advertisement for "Barley Bales", distributed by Plantabbs Products.

For a Healthier Pond, Give it a Double Shot of Scotch.

Now you can promote a healthier ecosystem for your pond by giving it a double shot of Scottish Barley Bales, a technique which has been employed since the Middle Ages. Best of all, it's simple to use and 2 bales treat a 1,000 gallon pond up to 1 full year. (Important: remove any existing blanket weed before application.) Here are some other important features:

  • They're made from High-Grade Scottish Barley
    (the same kind Scotch is made from)
  • They're fully biodegradable
  • They provide natural food for your fish
  • Each 1/2 lb. bale comes with its own mesh bag
  • This method can be started at any time
    (most effective when continuously maintained)
  • Complete instructions included

Order this item Online! Though we really aren't a mail order business, we recognize the fact that this item difficult to find in many parts of the U.S., and we can and do send them via U.S. Mail or UPS.


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All rights reserved.

Click here to order online.

We now offer both the imported and the inexpensive domestic barley straw products.

barley straw
Barley Straw
Aquatics Unlimited | 3550 S. 108th Street | Greenfield, WI 53228
Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m., Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. | Phone: 414-543-2552 | Fax: 414-543-4929