The natural pool cleaners

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Using tadpoles to keep your pool clean can provide huge savings on chemical and power use, writes John Hermans.

For the last year our family pool has been home to hundreds of tadpoles, which has benefitted our household and the local environment. Having tadpoles has helped to eliminate energy and chemical use and propagates a multitude of indigenous frogs. An article in ReNew 110 (Easy Swimming Pool Filtration p37) suggests alternative ways to clean your pool with a solar Floatron, resulting in significant energy savings, but consider turning your pool into a frog pond swimming pool and you can also save lots of electricity.

Before the taddies, I used to place a large sheet of black plastic over the surface of the pool each winter to stop any light from entering the water, which then minimised algal growth. This means I don’t need to use chemicals or electricity to pump and filter water. Last spring, when the plastic was removed for the start of the hot season, there were already dozens of tadpoles in the water.

Keep the taddies

When I asked my two children whether or not I should run the filter and add chlorine, the answer was defiantly ‘no’, as they knew this would kill all of the highly desirable tadpoles and the potential to have our own frog breeding pond. As algal growth is most prolific in the summer months, I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be, but I knew from previous years that as summer warmth and light increases, the concentration of chlorine diminishes and the algal growth soon starts appearing on the pool walls.

Last summer, with lots of taddies chewing away on whatever algae they could find, the water stayed crystal clear and algal growth was not easily visible. We were on an experimental adventure, using native wildlife to reduce our pool chemical and power use to zero and, as a bonus, boost the local frog population to a new high.

As each frog or tadpole species has a different food niche, finding the most suitable frog species to keep your pool clean could be hit and miss. In our case it was Litoria Ewingi (Southern Brown Tree Frog) that found our pool and since that first hatching of a few dozen taddies, their number has grown considerably. At times there were over 100, which is quite sustainable for a water volume of 20 cubic metres receiving filtered sunlight. This species of tree frog is the only one listed in my field guide that breeds all year round, so this is why I have had tadpoles in my pool right through the winter. In a confined vessel such as a pool, there is little to no predation of the taddies, so a high percentage end up metamorphosing into frogs. Once the frogs have formed they hop off to a new life, under leafage, singing and snapping up mosquitoes!

Instead of mechanically filtering the pool water, the taddies filter it and then drop the nutrients to the bottom. So there is still pool cleaning to do, such as vacuuming or siphoning off the organic build-up from the bottom, preferably into your garden, as we do.

When I did use chlorine (before the taddies) I only ever used a minimal amount, but chemical use is always a concern. My first swim preference is the dynamic ocean, then our local river, with its own aquatic life and compost bottom, and last of all a chlorinated pool, no matter how artificially clean it is. But now we are happy to swim with the taddies in our naturally filtered pool.

This article is from ReNew 114.

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