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Submitting an Algae Sample for Identification

If there is an algae bloom in a pond you own or manage, it’s crucial to know what type of algae is growing to determine an effective response. General types of algae can often be identified by submitting pictures to either your local County Agent or the Clemson University Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic. In some cases, including a suspected cyanobacteria bloom, you may need confirmation of the algae species from the Clinic. For confirmed identification, follow the directions below.

Sample Collection:

  1. Gloves are recommended.
  2. Use a clean, plastic bottle that holds more than one cup. (Example: a rinsed, disposable drink container)
  3. Fill the bottle 90% full with the algae and pond water. The empty space is important!
  4. Place the plastic container with a sample inside a sealed, zip-top plastic bag.
  5. Fresher samples are better for testing.
    Keep the sample from overheating and limit exposure to direct sunlight. It doesn’t have to be on ice but avoid leaving it in your car for very long on a hot day.

Sample packages should include:

  1. a completed Plant/Weed Identification Sampling Form,
  2. the sample, and
  3. payment ($20 if in-state)

Sample packages can be:

  • Shipped using USPS, FedEx, or UPS. Shipped samples can be received by the lab Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, except holidays.
  • Coordinate with lab staff (864.646.2133) to leave the sample in the drop-box located at the rear loading dock in Pendleton, SC. This option is typically available Mondays through Fridays, except holidays – but you must coordinate ahead of time so the sample can be retrieved by the staff and refrigerated!
  • Dropped off at your local County office, if it is open to the public. Call ahead to confirm.

Sample results are generally available within five business days after the Clinic receives the sample and will be emailed to you.

Harmful Algal Bloom (confirmed cyanobacteria) on a pond in the Upstate of SC. Image credit: SC Pond Owner.

Harmful Algal Bloom (confirmed cyanobacteria) on a pond in the Upstate of SC.
Image credit: SC Pond Owner.

Example of algae sample, in a plastic drink bottle, to be submitted to the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic. Dr. John Hains, ©2020, Clemson University

Example of algae sample, in a plastic drink bottle, to be submitted to the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic.
Dr. John Hains, ©2020, Clemson University

Example of algae sample, in a plastic container within a plastic zip-top bag, to be submitted to the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic. Heather Nix, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Example of algae sample, in a plastic container within a plastic zip-top bag, to be submitted to the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic.
Heather Nix, ©2020, Clemson Extension

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