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Robyn's Pond Newsletter February 2002

Last Updated: 4/18/12

Introduction and Miscellaneous:

Welcome to my eighth newsletter. If you have something pond-related that you want to share (information, jokes, web sites, something pond-related for sale), let me know, and I will add it to the next newsletter. What topics would you like me to cover? Thanks for your input!

My third galley of my pond book in early January had 17 mistakes. The fourth galley I finally saw on 1/31/02. It has five errors left. It will take them two weeks to fix that (they are so slow!) and then the book should be available as an e-book soon after that. Once approved, the book will take two more months to be available as a regular book.

Someone pointed me over to a web site on 1/28/02 where I found at least nine of my pages were plagiarized. I've added a section on this at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/intro.htm as to the proper usage of my web page information on other sites. Please at least give authors credit for their work, especially when you copy it verbatim. All original web sites are automatically copyrighted. Thanks.

Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages (explanations below, numbers match):

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/news/index.htm
2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/health.htm
3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/plants/decor.htm
4. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/snails/index.htm

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. I made a new newsletter archives page for 2002 newsletters. [Since moved so the new archives are listed.]
2. I added a new section to the health page entitled "Why Is My Fish Fat?" Many people lately have asked about fish with enlarged abdomens so I compiled a list of possible reasons for that. I have many aquarium fish that are "fat" from eggs and others that I know are "fat" from tuberculosis tumors. I can just tell the difference by the size and shape. I also altered a few other things on that page.
3. This page is the aquarium plants page so it is not really about ponds but I recently added some information on various aquarium plants and among them are anacharis, hornwort, etc.
4. I've added some information on snail eggs and their development and on increasing hardness for snails (via oyster shells, coral gravel, etc.) in soft water.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. We got our first snow of the season on 1/6/02. It was about a month late. The temperatures had been cold but on that day it warmed up enough to get rain, then sleet, and finally one inch of snow. In early January 1996, we got 3 feet of snow over two days! That was before I had any ponds. We were actually snowed in. As they say, "If you hate the weather in Maryland, wait a day." With our screwy weather, by 1/10/02, it was 50 degrees F outside! Birds are showing interest in nesting!

2. The pond was melted out enough in the deep areas for me to get in on 1/12/02. I got in just long enough to pull out the floss around the pump which I squirted off and replaced. While I could have cleaned up a bit, I didn't want to disturb any hibernating animals in the bottom. I had on hip waders and waterproof gloves but could feel the cold water burning through them. The thermometer read 38 degrees F. Then, the horrible winds returned. It would have been warm if it weren't for the wind which blew lots of leaves back into the pond. I collected what I could before the pond froze every night. I wish they made a glove that would keep my hands warm and actually allow me to manipulate a dozen leaves at a time like my bare hands. Nothing works as well as my actual fingers at getting up leaves as fast as possible. I think I've built up resistance to cold water as my hands burn but haven't fallen off yet.

3. We got 5 inches of snow on 1/19/02. The ponds weren't fully frozen so they didn't "disappear" as in the past. The next week, temperatures were in the 50's and 60's!

4. On 1/27/02, I got in the pond (in hip waders and waterproof gloves) to pull out the floss for cleaning. I also netted some debris off the bottom. The pond thermometer read 40 degrees F but the air temperature was 65 so I was actually hot! I also cleaned out the biofilter. I counted that I have 7 bags of bioballs, 4 bags of lava rock on top of those to hold them down, 1 bag of ammo- carb (zeolite and carbon which I replace twice a year, of course it's not enough to do much of anything), and 1 bag of oyster shells mixed with coral gravel (there are also sea shells in it) to add some hardness to the soft water (it doesn't seem to do much either). In the bottom of the filter were four pickerel frogs. I hand carried them to the main pond. Since I cleaned the filter out about six weeks before and removed pickerel frogs then, that means that these frogs climbed out of the pond, up the hill, and back into the biofilter all by themselves during the cold winter!! Why do they prefer the biofilter so much? Perhaps they prefer moving water. Maybe they know the raccoon couldn't get them in there. Maybe they like the dark. I wonder how they would have ever gotten out on their own.

Interesting Animal Sightings:

1. My mother put a turkey carcass outside. The vultures came. This is not that unusual (we live near the county dump; we were there first) but this time a black vulture came along with two turkey vultures. These birds are really amazing. Did you know that they will vomit on you if you scare them? Did you know they eat basically every part of a carcass? Did you know that although they are the size of a small turkey which might weigh 10 or more pounds, a turkey vulture only weighs a few pounds? Is it ironic for a turkey vulture to eat a turkey? Did you know turkey vultures have their name because their heads are pink while black vultures have black heads? I took some digital photos of the vultures but due to computer problems, they aren't on-line yet. I will tell you about them in the next newsletter once I get them on-line.

Web Sites of Interest:

1. I've had this link for a while but didn't know where to put it on my web site as I don't really have a page on do-it-yourself mechanical devices for ponds. Anyway, it's plans to make your own Venturi aerator at http://www.whom.co.uk/pond/venturi.htm

2. Here are a couple of sites that have nothing to do with ponds but I thought you might find interesting. A lioness adopted an oryx calf that she normally would eat. See the story and photo at http://www.care2.com/go/redirect/2/3026. There is an on-line IQ test at http://www.ivillagehealth.com/quiz/iqtest/pages/0,12910,261445_295384,00.html (what a URL!). I don't know how accurate it is. I got a score of 148.

What's your favorite pond-related web site(s)?

Pond Tidbits:

1. Ron asked me about my bioballs and how I contained them and cleaned them. The bioballs and lava rock in my biofilter are in mesh bags. Some I bought as media bags from Aquatic Eco- Systems I think. Those have large holes and a tie closer. The others are zippered nylon laundry bags from the local drug store that are sold to wash delicates in the washing machine. They work great. I fill them most of the way and zip them shut. I've had mine since 1997, and they're still intact. When the "experts" put in my pond, they said just fill the biofilter with lava rock, I think it was five or six bags worth. Well, I did that. It only filled the filter up a third of the way. The filter soon clogged and needed cleaning. Just trying to get those rocks out one at a time that one time was enough to make me find an alternative fast. Buying bioballs (I got a BOX for about $120 and still have half of them in the basement) and the laundry bags were the answer. There are seven bags of bioballs and four smaller bags of lava rock on top of them in the upflow filter. Without the lava rock, the bioballs would float to the top of the filter. Once every five weeks or so, I remove the bags from the filter. I then put one at a time in a kiddie pool and squirt the bag in all directions. Lots of black crud comes out and many insect larvae (mostly midges). Despite this, the media never gets that clean so I never squirt off all the debris or good bacteria. I simply remove some of the gunk and clear some room for new bacterial growth which won't grow on top of the gunk. I have well water so there's no chlorine or chloramine in my water about which to worry. For those of you with city water, you can wash the media in a kiddie pool full of pond water and just swish it around. Other pond keepers have said that the quantity of good bacteria killed off my washing with city water is not all that significant because you don't clean the media that well anyway and because the hose coming out at high pressure forces off some of the chlorine as a gas. Another option is to only clean some of the media at any given time so you don't kill off too many good bacteria at once.

2. Ann asked about pond fish having places to hide and feel comfortable during winter when there is little or no plant cover. You can add pieces of PVC pipe, clay pots on their side, and other pots and containers on the floor for fish to hide in. I have those but my fish prefer to stay above them. They feel comfortable because they are in a large group. You can also add floating pieces of anything non-toxic and safe like certain logs, styrofoam pieces, plastic storage box lids, etc. Sometimes, the pond edging of rocks may overhang the pond creating a place to hide as well. My fish stay in the open. Since the edge of my pond is a foot drop off, they have never had reason to fear herons like many fish. If your pond freezes, often the ice is partially opaque, and some of the fish will hide under there. That reminds me of my fear of a fish freezing into a pond by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. My fish like to swim under the ice in the shallows as well as in the open in the deeper areas. If the temperatures are dropping fast like at dusk, the fish may get stuck in an area of water that freezes. Well, so far that's never happened. I've also added water to the pond when frozen over if the water level drops too much. The extra water flows over the ice. Once a minnow decided to swim up there! I had to catch and move him before he froze solid on top of the ice!

3. Snow over ice on a pond also provides places for fish to hide. On the other hand, you don't want the animals and plants under the ice to be in total darkness. If too much of the pond is blacked out, the semi-dormant plants like anacharis may begin to suffer. Animals also don't do well in total darkness for a long time. If too much of the pond is covered over with ice topped with snow, you can use a broom to brush the snow off of part of the ice. This will let some light into the pond. My fish tend to stay in the lighted areas or right at the edge of them.

Pond Humor:

What did the chicken say to the duck after the chicken flew over the pond but the duck wouldn't fly over the pond?
"What, you're not chicken, are you?"


Two turtles are sitting by a pond.
EPT: What's your favorite TV show?
RES: Sliders but it was canceled. I thought I'd come unhinged.

(EPT = Eastern Painted Turtle, RES = Red-Eared Slider. I had two indoor goldfish named Quinn and Wade and a koi named Remmy. I still have koi named Maggie and Colin. These were all Sliders characters which was a show having nothing to do with turtles.)


This joke comes from a Christmas cracker (author unknown). I translated it from French.

"Waiter, do you have frog legs?"
"No sir, I always walk that way."


Do you have some better pond jokes? My jokes (make fish) flop. E-mail them to me, and I will put the best ones in the next newsletter. I'm out of jokes so this section of the newsletter will be discontinued if no one sends me any more.

Top 10 Pond Addicts New Year's Resolutions (I hope I can keep them!):

10. I will not take a million photos of the pond.
9. I will stop to pet the frogs.
8. I will not forget to stop and smell the water iris.
7. I will not buy more new pond plants than I have room for.
6. I will repot the water lilies before the pot splits open.
5. I will not buy more fish.
4. I will not fall into the pond.
3. I will not plan another pond.
2. I will not dream of building another pond or of the pond pumping dry.
1. I will not build another pond.

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