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Robyn's Pond Blog for March 2013

Last Updated: 3/31/13

1. On 3/3/13, I needed to get some pond chores done because I have been neglecting my ponds ever since I got a new part-time, low-paying job. I don't have a set schedule since the job is in a grocery store so things are all over the place. The 1800 gallon pond was at 38 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 42 degrees F. I had to get in the big pond to remove the floss to squirt it off. It was pretty filthy. I also had to remove a bunch of dead frogs. There was a dead pickerel frog in the waterfall overflow but the other three dead frogs were in the deep end, and I couldn't reach them from outside the pond. There were a total of three dead ~2" pickerel frogs and one ~3" male green frog. I didn't even know the green frog was in there until I was trying to find the others in the murky water (after I had stirred up the debris). I topped off all the ponds and picked up some leaves. Spring is fast approaching but certainly not today! It was about 35 degrees F with moderate winds.

2. On 3/6/13, we were supposed to get a huge snowfall, perhaps over a foot. The weather men were wrong per usual. It did snow all day here (not rain like nearby) but it pretty much melted on the ground as fast as it came down. At the worst time, there was about 3 to 4 inches on the ground here but nothing stuck to the pavement so plowing the road was never needed. It was mostly melted by the next day and all gone within a few days.

3. On 3/11/13, at 10 am, I did some pond chores. The air temperature as 46 degrees F. The 1800 gallon pond was at 45 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 46 degrees F. I removed some leaves and topped off all the ponds. As it has warmed up (almost enough to feed the fish), and the big pond is taking on some haze, I put in a lot of additives - pond salt (low dose), BZT, PondZyme, KoiZyme, koi clay, and baking soda. I didn't use full doses on most of them. I put the BZT and PondZyme in the 153 gallon pond as well. I even put a little Bt liquid to kill mosquitoes in the 20, 30, and 50 gallon ponds even though I hope to clean them this week. I removed two more dead pickerel frogs from the 1800 gallon using the long net. One was the usual 2" or so but the other was a large (for a pickerel frog) 4"! I sure wish the frogs would stop dying. In a few weeks, I will be cleaning the 153 gallon pond, and I hope to find some healthy frogs in there. Finally, I removed the Rubbermaid tub lid with lead scuba diving weights off of the biofilter above the 1800 gallon pond.

4. On 3/11/13, it went to almost 60 degrees F. I fed the fish for the first time this year that afternoon. It started to rain overnight, and, by dawn, the male wood frogs were calling in my 50 and 153 gallon ponds. They had already laid a few bunches of eggs. It poured rain most of the day 3/12/13. On 3/13/13, I had to take my mother to the hospital all day for a transfusion; it was a nice 50 degrees F out that day. So, it wasn't until 3/14/13, that I could get to clean out my smaller ponds including the new 30 gallon liner pond, 20 gallon tub pond, and 50 gallon tub pond. Alas, it was 37 degrees F with winds from hell (sustained 30 mph or so with gusts to 50 mph). I really had to clean the 50 gallon pond regardless because in a few days, the wood frog eggs would fall apart, and in about two weeks, they would hatch. It is impossible to clean a pond with hundreds of loose eggs and/or minute tadpoles without killing at least half of them.

I started with the new 30 gallon liner pond at 11 am on 3/14/13. First, I raked up most of the leaves within five feet of all sides of the pond, and there were tons (two wheelbarrows full). It was hard as the winds were throwing them back in my face. I had to break the ice off the pond and threw that in a wheelbarrow. I then netted the massive amounts of leaves, sticks, pine cones, and black cherry pits out of there. I found one beetle (the same one who was in there when I netted the pond back on 11/25/12). I also found two pieces of anacharis which I moved to the 153 gallon pond along with the beetle. I used my Pondovac to suck the pond dry, squirted it down after running three hoses out there, and refilled the pond. I finished this pond at 12:07 pm. A few hours later, it would already have a dozen more leaves blown in there.

I ate lunch and went back outside at 12:30 pm. I then cleaned out the 20 gallon tub pond. I pulled out the huge mass of yellow flag iris which filled the entire circumference of the pond and half the depth. It was too massive for me to try to reduce its size with a utility knife or shovel. I vacuumed out the rest of the water, put the iris back, and refilled it. This pond only took 15 minutes.

I had forgotten how difficult cleaning the 50 gallon pond is! I first bailed a little water and used the suction of that water going in the bucket to remove the one wood frog egg mass in this pond. I couldn't use the shop vacuum as the pond had tadpoles in there. They are probably green frog tadpoles from last fall but might be pickerel frog tadpoles. I bailed water and poured it through a net, and then I hand picked out the tadpoles. For solids (tons of leaves, sticks, pine cones, dirt, and rocks), I used my hands to remove solids and then hand sifted those for animals. This took a few hours. I ended up finding the one wood frog egg mass, one female wood frog, one male wood frog, a ton of hornwort, a few hundred green frog tadpoles, and fewer than a dozen pond snails. I put the female frog in the 153 gallon pond but kept the male with the hornwort and tadpoles as I worked. I got the pond cleaned and mostly refilled it. I then borrowed the Luft air pump from the 153 gallon pond to aerate the water in the 50 gallon pond. With so many tadpoles, I didn't want them gasping for air in newly-pumped well water. There were three two gallon pots in the pond on six bricks. One was dead. The other two contained one yellow flag iris and one purple iris. I repotted them in to the same three pots, splitting the purple iris in to two pots. I put the animals and hornwort back in the pond and the pots when they were done. I found and moved five wood frog eggs masses from the 153 gallon pond to the 50 gallon tub pond. If I didn't do this, it would be nearly impossible to clean the 153 gallon pond in a few weeks, at least not without killing most of the wood frogs due to their minute hatchling size. The egg masses were already falling apart, and it's much easier to move one mass than hundreds of individual eggs. Everything was put up by 3:30 pm. My back really hurts!

5. Here is a video of the wood frogs calling on 3/12/13.

6. On 3/17/13, I did more pond work. The air temperature was a nice 40 degrees F but with almost no winds. The 1800 gallon pond was at 43 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 45 degrees F. I topped off all the ponds, removed leaves, and put in additives. I squirted off the floss and the bioballs.

I took out the mesh bag of lotus tubs to pot them up in the lotus tub pond. I thought I had a lot of tubers in there and was going to Ebay some. It turned out that I only saved four tubers which would fit nicely in the tub pond. They had some slimy growths on them and black dots indicating that the tubers were degrading. Yet, they were still hard, and there were fresh, live growing tips on them so I think that they will be alright. I filled the 12 gallon Lerio tub pond with dirt a little more than half way, put in the tubers, and topped off with a bag of pea gravel. I also pulled out the 7 gallon pot of lotus. I didn't want to do a full repotting but I wanted to fix the top. I removed as many of the rocks as I could, repositioned the two good tubers a little bit deeper, removed a dead tuber (it was white and smushy), rinsed the gravel, put it back, and put the pot back in the pond.

When I finished cleaning up and went to take my shower, the water pipes started to make loud noises, and the sinks started to violently spit when turned on from air in the lines. The well pump had pumped in a lot of air meaning that the well is running dry. That is a nightmare thought. We are trying to conserve water to allow it to refill and hope that it was a one time thing. Yes, I used a good amount of water this day (but only one load of laundry) but it certainly wasn't close to the top water uses for a day. It was only a bit above typical.

7. On 3/24/13, the air temperature was 45 degrees F. The 1800 gallon pond was at 43 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 45 degrees F. I didn't get in the pond for any cleanings. I removed some leaves, put in some additives, and topped off all the ponds.

8. The morning of 3/25/13, there was snow all over everything. This is supposed to be "spring!" There was 3" on the grass and 4.5" on the pond bench which stays cold. It is now noon, and it is snowing pretty well still but the clumps of wet snow on the trees and branches are now falling off as it warms up a little bit. I sure hope it's warm enough to do my yearly 153 gallon pond cleaning which is due this week. The only day I'm not working or taking my mother to the hospital (and it's not Easter) is the day before Easter, Saturday 3/30/13 so that's my goal.

9. On 3/29/13, I removed a 10" common goldfish from the shallows of the 1800 gallon pond. I think she was female. She was all white except for some red over her nostrils. It looked like she had been dead a week or so. Later in the day, two vultures came and ate her. I got photos of the vultures.

10. On 3/30/13, I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond. Details from the day are on this page.

11. On 3/28/13, KC sent these three photos of animals in a stream in Idaho for identification. The small black animals with bulbous rears attached to the stream bed and plants are blackfly larvae. There are also a lot of air bubbles which other people have often confused with eggs.
Blackfly larvae
Blackfly larvae
Blackfly larvae

Continue to the April 2013 pond blog.

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