Learn about the dangers of duckweed and how to get rid of it in your pond or water feature. Living Water Aeration offers a variety of solutions for clear, healthy ecosystems.

How To Get Rid of Duckweed

Like an unexpected party guest who keeps inviting more friends, duckweed can quietly take over your pond before you realize what’s happening. 

Seemingly out of nowhere, this tiny aquatic plant multiplies rapidly, forming an emerald green layer that blankets the water’s surface. Harmless at first glance, uncontrolled duckweed poses real problems for your pond’s health.

So, how can you eliminate common duckweed in your pond – and how do you keep it from coming back? Let’s look at some duckweed prevention, removal, and management strategies.

Effective duckweed control starts with awareness – recognizing how quickly duckweed spreads, blocks sunlight, robs oxygen, and leads to a spiral of declining water quality if left unchecked. 

By balancing water chemistry, manual removal, predator stocking, and other integrated techniques, you can host a healthy pond that minimizes duckweed’s impact while keeping its presence in perspective.

What Is Duckweed?

Duckweed (family Lemnaceae) refers to the tiny, free-floating aquatic plants that commonly form green mats on still pond surfaces. Despite their small size, averaging just a few millimeters, duckweeds exhibit rapid growth under favorable conditions.

How Do You Know It’s Duckweed?

  • Simple rounded leaves with single roots dangling underneath
  • The bright green color on top, reddish-purple below
  • Clonal colonies form interconnected mats across the water
  • Floats freely or in moisture along pond banks

Growth Pattern

Here’s the big problem – duckweed spreads rapidly through budding reproduction, allowing colony size to double in just 2-3 days. Warm weather accelerates growth, triggering exponential increases. Just a few individual plants can cover an entire pond in only a couple of weeks if not addressed quickly.

Problematic Proliferation

While duckweed provides some shade and habitat value for ponds, overgrowth causes cascading issues – many of which go beyond unsightly water.

  • Blocks oxygen exchange from the atmosphere. Submerged plants release carbon dioxide and absorb oxygen, but too much duckweed causes gas build-up
  • Dies off in cold weather, sinking and decomposing - further robbing oxygen from fish and other aquatic life
  • Prevents sunlight to reach submerged plants, limiting their growth - disrupting the natural nutrient balance in a pond ecosystem
  • Indicates excess nutrients that can trigger algae blooms, leading to water quality deterioration and fish kills
  • Limits recreational activities such as swimming, boating, or fishing, making ponds unattractive and unusable

Before You Treat – Identifying Duckweed in Your Pond

Catching a duckweed infestation early is key for successful removal. But sometimes, duckweed can appear similar to other aquatic plants, making it difficult to identify. Here are some key differences between typical pond weeds and ferns:

Duckweed vs. Azolla (Mosquito Fern)

  • Duckweed leaves are round; azolla leaves have an oval-shaped
  • Azolla tints water reddish; duckweed floats on the surface
  • Azolla exhibits more vertical stem growth

Duckweed vs. Watermeal

  • Duckweed has single root strands; watermeal lacks roots
  • Watermeal leaves microscopic; duckweed visible to the naked eye
  • Watermeal flows freely in water; duckweed anchored slightly

Duckweed vs. Algae

  • Algae anchored to surfaces; duckweed free floating
  • Algae exhibit vertical filamentous growth; duckweed mat-like
  • Algae are generally greener/darker than bright duckweed

Consider The Bloom Speed

  • Duckweed colonies expand noticeably day to day
  • A sudden increase hints at duckweed over native lookalikes

Knowing what type of plant you have in your pond is key to finding the right solution for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. In each case, reaching out to a professional can help you identify the plant and determine the best course of action.

How To Get Rid of Duckweed

Once you’ve identified that you have duckweed in your pond, it’s time to take steps to remove it. There are different methods you can consider, and depending on the type of pond you have, different solutions may work better for you.

Mechanical Removal

Manual Techniques

Manually scooping or netting floating duckweed mats from the water's surface provides immediate control and containment for minor infestations. Here are some tips for getting rid of duckweed with manual techniques (that help protect your pond’s ecosystem!)

  1. Use long-handled pond nets with fine mesh to scoop up duckweed growth across the surface. Skim the net just below the surface to collect the small plants.
  2. Pool leaf skimmers mounted on telescoping poles allow the gathering of duckweed from shore, especially handy for ponds with poor access.
  3. Remove all visible duckweed 2-3 times per week to stay ahead of fast multiplication rates. Consistency is key.
  4. Transfer duckweed immediately into leak-proof containers or mesh bags. Compost offsite or discard with yard waste pickup - do not add back to the pond where it can reroot.


Another method for getting rid of duckweed manually is to use a pond vacuum or pump. Specially designed vacuums allow sucking up duckweed through surface agitation and pumping out a removable collection basket. This element is great for larger ponds, where manual methods might not be easy.

  1. Choose an aquarium vacuum gravel cleaner or water pump with a surface skimmer fitting to effectively suck up and transport duckweed mats.
  2. Use extended hollow poles with adapters to attach vacuum heads for easy access across wider areas.
  3. Set up removable collection baskets or attached mesh bags to collect duckweed so water can drain back into the pond.
  4. Vacuum duckweed film from the surface weekly during peak growth periods, adjusting frequency as needed.

Biological Control Methods

Introducing natural duckweed predators promotes self-sustaining balance. Some options for using natural/biological removal include

Koi & Goldfish - These hungry grazers constantly forage for food and will nibble on duckweed colonies, helping limit runaway spread. Their grazing also agitates surface films to allow gas exchange. Introduce compatible numbers for your pond size.

Tilapia - Many types eagerly consume duckweed directly. Their stirring of bottom muck also reduces nutrient availability that would fuel future duckweed growth. Control reproduction.

Pond Turtles - Turtles will snack on abundant duckweed when other favored foods become scarce. Having a few non-aggressive species aids overall balance without relying on them solely for duckweed control.

Aquatic Insects - Water beetles, backswimmers, and similar aquatic insects will feed on duckweed, especially younger colonies, before they expand. Attract them by minimizing pesticide use and growing native marginal plants.

Proper Pond Balance - Maintaining ideal nutrient levels and aerating conditions for a diversity of plants, fish, and wildlife keeps any single species like duckweed from dominating habitat resources. Develop this equilibrium through conscientious water quality management.

Preventive Measures

While removing existing duckweed is vital, prevention is the best way to prevent future infestations. Here are a few tips to keep duckweed from taking over your pond:

  • Implement Nutrient Control - High nutrient levels that fuel algae can also trigger duckweed overgrowth. Reduce runoff sources and use phosphate removers to limit food availability.

  • Enhance Water Circulation - Fountains or pumps that gently agitate surface water prevent stagnant zones where duckweed accumulates and spreads.

  • Incorporate Natural Shade - Floating and emergent plants to shade 30-60% of the water surface block light needed for duckweed without limiting other life.

  • Schedule Routine Removal - As part of seasonal maintenance, skim and dispose of any duckweed that starts to appear before colonies expand.

  • Stock Native Species - A balanced mix of natural predators and competitors helps suppress invasive duckweed through checks and balances refined over time.

  • Test & Adjust Your Methods - Monitoring water chemistry monthly and making corrections maintains pond health and reduces the likelihood of a duckweed bloom.

With a proactive systems perspective guiding your water feature maintenance, duckweed can be caught quickly before it becomes a recurring nuisance!


What naturally kills duckweed?

Unfortunately, nothing specifically targets and kills duckweed alone. The key is biocontrol through predators that eat it and competitors that outcompete it by limiting nutrients and light.  Physical removal and water chemistry management also help suppress exponential growth.

Does salt help or hinder duckweed growth?

Salt generally hinders freshwater plant growth through osmotic stress. However, since salt stays in substrates long-term, repeated use risks building to harmful levels for fish and other aquatic life dependent on appropriate salinity gradients. Other control methods provide better duckweed solutions without adverse effects.

What are the ecological impacts of too much duckweed?

Excess duckweed blocks light, prevents oxygen exchange, dies off en masse, and risks oxygen crashes – all of which can subsequently trigger algal blooms after duckweed peaks. All of these distort balance.

Can humans eat duckweed, and what are its uses?

Yes! Duckweed is highly edible and nutritious for humans and livestock. It is a protein-rich fodder and can be eaten as a foraged green. Cooked duckweed resembles spinach. Scientists are also developing further applications from biofuels to water purification. Harvesting overgrowth puts it to good use.

Fight Back Against Duckweed In Your Pond with Living Water Aeration

Left to overtake pond surfaces, duckweed poses real threats to water quality, recreation, and aesthetics through its rapid nutrient-fueled growth. 

As the old saying goes – an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. Staying vigilant for early duckweed growth and exercising integrated control measures balances its presence with the rest of the ecosystem.

For personalized guidance on the best duckweed and pond management solutions for your unique water feature, explore Living Water Aeration’s extensive selection of aeration systems, treatments, pumps and controls, biological additives, and maintenance tools to create a clear, healthy ecosystem with minimal undesired growth. Visit us online to get started today!

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