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Robyn's Pond Newsletter March 2002

Last Updated: 2/5/14

Introduction and Miscellaneous:

Welcome to my ninth 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!

I couldn't come up with any interesting animal sightings or pond humor this month. If you have any stories, etc. to tell, let me know for the next newsletter! What strange animals have you encountered? What neat ideas do you want to share? Do you have any pond-related jokes? Which pond web sites are your favorite? What questions do you want answered that I can put in the newsletter? I'm low on ideas so I'm eagerly awaiting YOUR input!

My pond book may finally be completed. I sent in the remaining five corrections from the forth galley (sample book) that should have taken them less than five minutes to fix on 2/1/02. They finally finished on 2/25/02. I checked the fifth galley and found that the error I asked them to fix after the first, second, third, and forth galleys was still there along with two new errors! After many days, they finally responded to my e-mail and said they would take care of it. On 3/2/02, I checked the sixth galley, and it was almost correct. So, I sent in the book approval on 3/4/02. It should be an e-book within a week and a real book within 2 to 8 weeks if all goes well.

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

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/animalphotos.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/wildpond.htm
3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/plants/plant3.htm
4. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/talk.htm

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. The photos of vultures in our yard can be found on the pond pictures page under birds. I also put the pictures and some information on my wildlife page too (http://www.fishpondinfo.com/animals/wild.htm). The photos were taken 1/6/02. The photo files are vult1.jpg (turkey vulture close up), vult2.jpg (black vulture close up), and vult3.jpg (two turkey vultures on the ground, a black vulture on the swing, and the 153 gallon pond on the left). The quality isn't that great.

2. This is a new page called The Wildlife Pond. It is mostly links to other pages but there are some new sections including creating a pond for wildlife and a step-by-step guide for a simple wildlife pond.

3. I added a few more plants to the edible plant list.

4. I added in a new discussion on my pond talk page on the benefits of algae that I had with Christine of Pine Creek Hollow Fish Farm in Canada.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 2/1/02, high winds of 30-50 mph roared through. A tree fell just 10 feet in front of the dog and I while we were on a walk. I had to fish a million leaves out of the ponds. Afterwards, the temperatures dropped back to near normal (20's-40's).

2. On 2/2/02, I changed the sand in with the tropical lily tubers. They were starting to stink bad. I washed them well. There are now four nut-like balls and all the extra "flesh" has fallen off.

3. As of 2/2/02, the only surviving plants in my basement pond are the water hibiscus which is doing okay and salvinia and the green taro which are barely alive. The dwarf papyrus and tropical canna are definitely dead.

4. The horrible 30-50 mph winds came through again on 2/4/02. When I got home from work, the ponds were full of leaves. I pulled out three buckets worth as the water was taking on a slushy appearance. It was freezing as I worked. The next morning, it was 15 degrees F. The ponds were frozen solid, except for the waterfall in the 1800 gallon pond and over the Luft pump air stone in the 153 gallon pond. Both the de-icers were frozen solid under two inches of ice!! This has happened in the past. I used to think it meant the de-icers were dead so I threw them away and got more. Then, I found out that high winds mess up the thermostat so they won't kick in when they're most needed. Once the ice thaws, I can pull the de-icers out, put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes, and then when I plug them back in, they get hot immediately. That means they all work. I have five de-icers but only use one in the 1800 gallon pond and one in the 153 gallon pond. When the pond needs them to work the most, they don't. I wish the manufacturers would come up with a way to prevent wind from essentially turning off the de- icers. So, on the morning of 2/5/02, when I was already running very late for work, I couldn't put in another de-icer since the pond was totally frozen. The only open spot was the top of the waterfall, over the bio-filter. This is one spot where I fear freezing and have to remove ice. If that spot freezes, the pond would pump out. So, I put a spare de-icer up there. I hadn't tried one there before since I didn't think the cord would reach (it does), I couldn't run one up there and one down over the pump intake since it would overload the circuits (irrelevant when the one below was frozen in and then unplugged), and I thought the de-icer might move and jam the waterfall. The de-icer was actually sitting on top of the mesh bags of media so it didn't go anywhere. The area below the falls started to open up within 20 minutes of putting the de-icer there. I might try it there more often or even instead of the other location. After the ice thawed, I put the de-icer back where it was and cleaned up the one that had been frozen into the pond.

5. On 2/9/02, I got in the pond to pull out the floss for cleaning. The thermometer read 44 degrees F. The winds returned on 2/10/02 and 2/11/02 and 2/13/02 filling the ponds with leaves AGAIN!

6. This has been one of the warmest and driest winter ever. According to the local weatherman, we are 11.6 inches behind on precipitation for the last six months. The coldest it has been this year is the day described under Number 4 above. We've only had one real snow, and it was not much. Normally, we get at least one big snow storm (there's still a month left to get it). Aside from that, it has been unusually warm. Plants are up much earlier than usual but are already drying up from lack of water. As if it were August instead of February, wells are drying up and water restrictions are going up. Considering that we live in a normally pretty wet area, this is distressing. The plants and animals have gotten their internal clocks messed up. Normally, salamanders would be breeding now but all the local vernal pools and non-huge drainage ponds are 100% empty. There will be few or no baby salamanders this year. I'm using quite a bit of water to top off my ponds as so many animals are drinking from them, and the humidity is so low you can almost see the water evaporating. Hopefully, the frogs and toads will find my ponds so at least they can perpetuate their species. The ponds are unusually unclear (I can see to the bottom but the water is tinged brown and now a little green) for this time of year because normally rain and snow dilutes the water. It's all I can do to keep them full since we have a well, and I can't risk doing large water changes and having the well go dry. It's so dry now that the local Catholic church is asking their members to pray for rain, and others are doing rain dances.

7. On 2/24/02, I got in the 1800 gallon pond to remove the floss to squirt it off and also netted some debris off the bottom. The thermometer read 47 degrees F. The debris yielded mostly fine muck (black pond gold), some pea gravel, and one trapdoor snail I put back. I didn't see any hibernating frogs. I saw one awake green frog in the 153 gallon pond the week before though. I was surprised to find that my 20 gallon tropical tub pond and 50 gallon lotus tub pond had living tadpoles in them moving all around. I had been unable to move them all in the fall. Any other winter and they would have frozen solid so it's lucky for them the weather is abnormal.

8. On 2/24/02, I also cleaned out the back 18 gallon pond which has no animals or plants in it now. It's mostly a deer drinking hole. They had drunk it down to just mud despite adding a bucket of water every day. With the drought, there's no other natural water left nearby. When they drink down this pond, they start on my other ponds closer to the house and can lower their levels by inches per day. To clean the back far pond, I hooked up three hoses together and squirted the sides. Then, I used the shop vacuum hooked on a 100 foot extension cord (to the 153 gallon pond outlet) to suck out the slop. I squirted and sucked a few more times. Then, I refilled with fresh water. It's a pain to do since the pond is 130 feet from the house but I do it about three times a year. The deer will be happy. Within days, the pond was already dirty again. The pond doesn't have proper edging so dirt runs in from the sides (that would be dry dirt right now!).

Web Sites of Interest:

1. One of the places I buy a lot of supplies for my ponds and other animals is from Pet Warehouse. They recently were bought by Drs. Foster and Smith. Their new web site is http://www.DrsFosterSmith.com, and they have a site at http://www.peteducation.com with lots of pet information (I haven't yet looked it over on my super slow internet connection).

2. Justin's Pond can be seen on his site at http://www.geocities.com/justinm090.

What's your favorite pond-related web site(s)?
Do you have a web site you want me to mention here?

Pond Tidbits:

1. During this time of the year, on warm days, ponds often stink. This is due to hydrogen sulfide and methane being released as decomposition occurs on whatever organic debris was left in the pond. While it is too early to give the pond a good clean out here as this would disturb the fish and hibernating frogs as well as stir up more foul gases, a few things can be done to help. The addition of beneficial bacteria never hurts. I use BZT from http://www.united-tech.com and Stress-Zyme by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals but there are others like Microbe-Lift which I put in about twice a year. Also, this is a good time to do a water change. I find that my small tub ponds (20 to 50 gallons) which have no hibernating animals really stink this time of year so I bail as much water as I can and refill. I have no worries since there are only plants in there and sometimes a few surviving tadpoles. My fish ponds don't smell as bad so they get smaller water changes. If you have city water, don't forget the dechlorinator! In a month or two, it will be time for more extensive clean outs, water changes, and the addition of salt to my largest pond for spring.

2. Speaking of salt, another pond e-newsletter I receive says that the reason ponds no longer have the concentration of salt we added last spring is due to salt "dissipating" when frozen into ice. It says Eskimos get fresh water from salt water this way. My boss and I are analytical chemists and this makes no sense to us. Water with salt freezes at a lower temperature (a degree or two) but when it freezes, the salt freezes into it and never separates or dissipates. It's still there. The sole reason there is less salt in my pond now than last spring is due to water changes and rain flushing out the pond. Salt doesn't disappear. It's simply diluted with more water.

Non-Pond Animal News:

I got seven new fish on 2/1/02 for my aquariums including a male longfin rosy barb, a female regular rosy barb, a pair of longfin blue danios, two regular glowlight tetras, and one albino glowlight tetra. They were in quarantine for two weeks during which time the rosy barbs and blue danios spawned multiple times. I left the 5 gallon quarantine tank going after I put the fish into my three tanks. On 2/20/02, I finally saw two really tiny fry which I think are rosy barbs. Anyway, I just wanted to tell someone! I saw three babies at once on 2/24/02. I've bred fish before but never rosy barbs. This has nothing to do with ponds except that rosy barbs and danios as well as white cloud mountain minnows, paradise fish, and more are all good tropical fish to try in small ponds in the summer.

For those of you that don't know, I have 1 dog, 4 cats, 2 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, 1 sailfin lizard, 4 chickens, 3 aquariums, and 7 ponds. The aquariums and ponds have dozens of species of fish, frogs, insects, worms, snails, shrimp, and more. I also take care of crickets, king mealworms, and regular mealworms and their offspring in five plastic tanks since I breed them all (I feed the adults to my lizard and chickens and sometimes bluebirds). Plus, there are infinite numbers of wild animals who get food from us. My web site tries to cover all of these animals!

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