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Robyn's Pond Newsletter March 2005

Last Updated: 2/5/14

Introduction and Miscellaneous:

If you have something pond-related that you want to share (information, jokes, web sites, pond secrets and tidbits, 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? Do you have a question that I can answer or pose to others in the next newsletter?

On 2/27/05, my mother came home with a baby rabbit. She felt with our dog having died and two cats, one hedgehog, and one rabbit very ill, that I needed a healthy animal. You can read about Mister Tiny at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/rabbits/tiny.htm.

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/myfish/otherpondphotos.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/winter2.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
4. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/fishphotos.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. Under insects, there is a photo of the caterpillar I found in my pond on 2/13/05. There is also a photo of the damselfly I found in the basement on 1/1/05. Under snails, there is the empty trapdoor snail shell I took out on 2/13/05. Under birds are heron tracks I took on 2/27/05.

2. Under Winter 2005 is a photo of the 153 gallon pond on 2/13/05.

3. Under Winter 2004-2005 is a photo of the 1800 gallon pond on 2/13/05.

4. Under Winter 2005 are two photos of the pond fish on 1/9/05 as well as the dead goldfish I found that the heron tried to swallow on 2/22/05.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 2/6/05, the pond was still too frozen to do anything. A large area in the deep end was open but not enough for me to get in. The waterfalls were now running free of ice formations. The 153 gallon was at 44 degrees F. I tried to dig out the overflow tube for the 153 gallon pond and made some progress. The 1800 gallon pond's overflow was completely solid in ice and snow still. Thus, the water level is above maximum in that pond as snow and ice melt but cannot drain. This is fine as my pond has the overflow an average of a foot below the top of the rocks and liner. That was one of my complaints: that the pond couldn't fill all the way up. So, it's nice to see it a few inches deeper for once!

2. The morning of 2/8/05, I finally saw some fish in my 1800 gallon pond! Most were out of view but I saw that my koi, Colin, and a few goldfish were alive. Beyond that, I can't tell yet.

3. When I came home on 2/10/05, the pond was fully melted except for the marginal area. My two koi and four orfe are fine but few goldfish remain. The next day, I posted this to rec.ponds regarding what I found.

Heron season? What season? I've discovered that once a heron finds your pond, he's always there, just waiting for his chance. I hadn't seen ours in months. The pond finally thawed out. At dusk, what to my wandering eyes should appear but a heron, standing in the middle of my pond. I dashed to the basement to grab me net and flew like a spaz out the door to bash plastic anchors into the frozen shore in the growing dark. Of course, that night, the pond froze back over. Now, the net can't be removed to get in (yes, I was meaning to get in this weekend) unless it warms up a little more. I have maybe half a dozen big (I mean 8+") goldfish left out of the 30 some that I had just this time last year. The heron got my oldest and biggest goldfish, 10-14" last spring before I finally netted it. The heron found my pond about a year ago, not having bothered with it from 1997 to 2003 at all except to stand next to it longingly (but never got into until last year). Stupid me, if you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have said my pond was heron-proof. Now, it's their playground (yes, we had a loving pair).

4. On 2/13/05, I finally got back into the pond to do the floss after five weeks of not being able to do so. I had to deal with the net first. How I long for those net-free years! I only had to step through a small amount of ice to get in. I removed a dead ~2" pickerel frog from the bottom of the 1800 gallon pond. I found a live one of similar size in the bottom of the pot the main pump and floss sit inside. I also found a live ~4" green frog. I found a dead (empty) trapdoor snail when netting some of the bottom by the pump. There was also a live caterpillar. This was strange as I didn't recognize it as being an aquatic species but it must have been. It looked like the kind of large caterpillar that eats all your foliage up so I tossed him with the debris. I took a photo so maybe someone can later identify it. It might be one of the ones that lived in my iris and made them all mushy. The 1800 gallon was at 38 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 46 degrees F. I also sadly discovered a pair of beautiful field mice (brown backs and white stomachs) that had died inside our heat pump. That evening, the heron came back about 4:30 pm. The next morning, we got some snow which collapsed the net into the water. This is why I really don't want a net on there in the winter but with the heron around, it's better than nothing. I'm afraid fish might get stuck in the holes in the net if it's in the water.

5. On 2/15/05, the entire pond was finally melted out. I found and removed a dead 1" green frog from the shallows but at least it looks like no fish got frozen into the ice this year (one did last year).

6. On 2/19/05, the weather report claimed we were going to get 2 to 6" of snow the next day so, since the pond was mostly frozen over anyway, I took the net off so it wouldn't sink in. The next day, it was almost 50 degrees F! The pond melted out. I squirted off the bioballs. I cut down the remains of the marsh mallow next to the pond which I was supposed to do last fall. The 1800 gallon thermometer was frozen in, and the 153 gallon was at 44 degrees F. In the afternoon, the heron came back! Ahhhh!! I can't win! By morning, there was no snow at all, and the heron was happily fishing in the deep end! I pulled the net back out and put it on. Then, I discovered one of my few big goldfish was in the overflow, sitting out of the water with a stab wound. I though he might still be alive since we had just scared the heron off, and he was. Now, if I weren't so short on time and room, I would have taken him in for treatment but I had to rush to work, late again so I just plopped the goldfish right back into the pond. I will pull out the other cut off section of the net to cover the shallow marginal area as well for now. The heron net is just my old leaf net cut in two. It didn't cover the shallow area because in the growing season, the plants need vertical room. Right now though the plants are still dormant. Any fish that venture into the shallows will get eaten. I was looking at photos from about 2000 of my pond, and the quantity and brilliance of the fish present was amazing. Now, so few fish are left, and I'm very sad, especially seeing all those fish I had named and remembered. The one positive side is that the pond used to be overcrowded and now it's not. The poor remaining fish have jammed themselves into the various things in the bottom of the pond. They are petrified as they should be. How it is that not a single heron actually got into my pond from 1997 until a year ago is beyond me. They would visit and stare at the pond but never got in. Now that the herons have found an all-you-can-eat buffet, they're never going to leave.

7. When I came home on 2/21/05, I put the other half of the old leaf net I'd cut in two over the marginal area of the pond. There, down the hill, in the mulch, was the same poor goldfish I'd rescued that morning! I ran her under a spigot, and she moved so I stuck her back in the pond. She did not respond. By morning, she was still upside down in the same spot, dead. It's all my fault! If only I'd left the net on or brought her inside or not had to go to work and found her sooner or scared off the heron. She must have swam into the shallows so the heron could attack her again. I took a photo of her. She was 10" long, mostly white with red lipstick and some red on her tail. She was my last big goldfish. The rest are all under 5" (unless some are hiding out of view). My pond is becoming more and more lifeless. She didn't seem to have any poke holes in her. Scales were missing at the front end. Apparently, the heron tried repeatedly to swallow her but she was too big. Her injuries weren't severe that I could tell; she died from being out of the water too long. How many smaller goldfish did the heron kill that he/she could swallow?

8. It snowed all day on 2/24/05 while I was at work. I went home early so that at 4 pm, there was 3" of snow on the grass. By morning, it was 4.5". The pond net had collapsed in as I knew it would. Much of the snow went through the holes but eventually, it builds up. The parts that were in the shallow end froze into the surface of the pond. Now, if any small fish swim into the holes of the net, they could get stuck. This is the price they have to pay to keep the heron away from them. Without the net, half the pond would have been open (free of ice), and the heron would have been happy. As things warm up, I will try to pull the net back up.

9. On 2/27/05, I managed to get the snow off the net so I could get in and squirt off the flosses. The 1800 gallon was at 38 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 46 degrees F. They say that herons aren't a problem in winter but that is certainly no longer the case at my pond! I found a long line of heron tracks all around the pond. The prints are HUGE so I took a photo of them (mentioned above). They were in a perfect straight line.

10. On 2/28/05, it started snowing in the late morning. By 5 pm, we only had 2 inches though as it was melting into itself. The pond net was totally collapsed into the pond and down into the water. It's now a hazard for the small fish but impossible to remove. By morning, another 3 inches had fallen. The net is hidden down into the pond. If the heron lands in the deep open which is not frozen, he'll hit the net a few inches down instead of the normal foot that it's suspended over the water normally. I tell people never to leave the nets on when it's supposed to snow but what am I supposed to do? Net off = fat heron, remaining fish eaten. Net on = collapsed net, small fish might be strangled. This is something I never had to deal with before.

Pond Tidbits:

1. Someone e-mailed me to ask if it was okay to move frogs out of filters during the winter or if that would disturb them too much. I've moved pickerel frogs out of the bottom of my biofilter a few times in the past when cleaning it out. They were dark and extra slimy but still alive and didn't seem to mind the move. So, if you want to start up a filter early that was off, check for frogs and move any you find to the shallow area of the pond if it's not frozen. If the shallows are frozen, then a deeper area should be okay.

2. Another person thought that their larger goldfish were eating their smaller ones in the pond over winter, having found a small goldfish with the back portion gone. While goldfish may eat smaller fish, it's more a matter of a big fish accidently swallowing a little one whole. They don't have real teeth so while they can tatter fins, they can't really eat chunks out of fish. With such damage, it's normally something like a raccoon, cat, predatory fish, or turtle. Herons either get the fish whole or leave stab wounds in larger fish.

3. As soon as a pond is completely thawed, if there is a problem (poor water quality, algae, dirty water, etc.), it is okay to do a partial water change. Try to avoid a large temperature change or too much water movement. Also, add dechlorinator if you have city water or aerate the water well if the water change is small to drive off the chlorine. Aeration is important for well water as well as it is usually supersaturated with gases. If they come out of solution inside the fish, it becomes gas bubble disease which is kind of like the bends that divers get.

Web Sites of Interest:

1. I had a number of requests for links to mention here this month so I will put them here. I have not had time to check them out in depth though. http://www.canadianpond.ca (a business)
http://www.practical-water-gardens.com/ ("The Pond Professor", looks like an ad to me)

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

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