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Robyn's Pond Newsletter April 2002

Last Updated: 2/5/14

Introduction and Miscellaneous:

Welcome to my tenth 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 have only gotten input from a few people (the same ones each time, thanks!) and would like to hear from more of you!

This newsletter is dedicated to the most gorgeous and heroic rooster ever, Pepper and a little hen named new Henri who died with much suffering. I cared for four chickens that my mother got. They had a nice fully enclosed cage but my mother wanted them to have freedom and began letting them out during the day. I told her a hundred times not to do it and said, "It's only a matter of time." She wouldn't listen to me. On 3/7/02, a hawk attacked. New Henri vanished and was probably carried off by the hawk(s). Pepper died defending Salty who sustained moderate wounds and got staples put in (an infection later got worse). Pepper loved Salty so much. They were inseparable since their hatching together a year earlier. He gave his life to save her. Our other hen, Clarice, was smart enough to hide and survived without harm. Pepper was a hero. I tried to hatch Salt and Pepper's babies. I put in six eggs that were all alive at about five days of incubation but then they all died soon after, one not until about 16 days along. If you care to see photos or read more about the chickens or their lives and deaths, see http://www.fishpondinfo.com/birds/mychickens.htm.

My book (Robyn's Pond Book) was finally put up for sale as an e-book on 3/12/02. The e-book costs $4.95 and is 1350K. It is being sold at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/8794. The real book should be ready in about four weeks if all goes as they say (it is now ready). The final price for the book wholesale from 1stBooks is $16.95.

I'm sorry that this newsletter doesn't provide as much information as past newsletters. I've been extra busy (fretting over those doomed eggs among other things). I also can't think of anything to add.

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

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/amphphotos.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. I took a photo of frogs waiting in a Lerio pot while I cleaned out their pond and also some of the tadpoles waiting in a kiddie pool. They are under the amphibian section (frogpile.jpg is the adult frogs, and tadpoles.jpg are the tadpoles).

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. We finally got rain on 3/2/02, about half an inch. There's still no sign of the wood frogs yet though who normally would be quacking like frogs in my 153 gallon pond by now. As of 3/25/02, the wood frogs never showed up and probably won't breed this year. I hope enough survive to come back next year. As of 3/25/02, we have had a few inches of rain but are still 12 inches below normal. The governor finally declared a drought emergency on 4/5/02 (about 6 months too late!). Among the things they forbid is ornamental fountains. I'm not about to stop running my ponds. I do top them off but don't do water changes.

2. On 3/3/02, I cleaned out the bioballs and lava rock in the biofilter. There were two pickerel frogs in there this time. The thermometer in the big pond read 48 degrees F, and the air temperature was 60 degrees F. I fed the fish a small amount of Nature O's (like cheerios with oatmeal, brown rice, and wheat germ) and Pond Care Spring and Autumn Pond Food. They scarfed it up. This was their first meal since last year. Then, it got cold again so they only got that one meal. By 3/6/02, it was warm again so they got a little food on 3/6/02 and 3/7/02. Since there will be more and more warm days during which I can feed small amounts of spring foods, I will no longer mention on which days the fish are fed and when they're not. I use my judgement based on air and water temperatures, expected weather, and how the fish behave. By April, I am pretty much feeding every afternoon.

3. On 3/10/02, I got in the pond to take the floss out to be squirted off. The pond thermometer read 52 degrees F. The air was 46 degrees F with 50 mph winds that made it horrible to be outside.

4. On 3/16/02, I put in about two pounds of pond salt in the 1800 gallon pond. I will continue to add more every weekend until I use up the large container. I don't even come close to the recommended amount but that's fine as too much salt harms plants and smaller animals. I also finally took out the de-icers since the pond hadn't had ice in many weeks. I put mosquito dunks (if you don't know what they are, see http://www.fishpondinfo.com/insects/mosquito.htm) in my fish-less ponds as we have some days warm enough for lady mosquitoes to begin laying eggs.

5. On 3/24/02, I removed the floss to squirt it off. The water temperature was 48 degrees F. I also wanted to clean out the 50 gallon lotus tub pond. The problem is that it is half-filled with dirt topped with pea gravel, and I don't yet want to repot the lotus (it has been two years but I'm severely lacking time and have no help). So, I first moved my arms in the water and grabbed whatever I could and sifted out the hornwort and anacharis and tossed the invasive water celery and mint (from the ground, not water mint but it thinks so) and leaves and twigs. I picked out a few tadpoles too. Then, I bailed the totally black water. I ran it through a net and hand sifted little by little over about 45 minutes (we're only talking 25 or less gallons of water!) to hand remove hundreds of tadpoles. I put them in a little water to wait. When I got near to the bottom, I tried to re-disperse some of the pea gravel (there was a hole where I pour a bucket of water in daily to top it off). I then filled it with a hose aimed at a rock to avoid stirring up too much dirt. Then, I put the tadpoles back in. After a few days, the water was clear enough to see to the bottom. The tadpoles were green frogs laid last summer. In a normal winter, the tub pond would have frozen solid and killed them but not this year. The 153 gallon pond has tons of green frog tadpoles too. It's the next on my cleaning agenda!

6. The big day was 3/29/02. I had the day off. It took six hours (seven hours last year) but I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond. The good news is that I found no dead frogs! Last year there were many so I tried an air stone in the bottom all winter this year, and I guess it worked! There were a total of 13 live green frogs in the pond (no other kinds this time) including 4 males, 7 huge females, and 2 babies. The bad news is that I only found 7 live fish. There were 2 dead fish. I'm not sure whether they were female red shiners, bluntnose minnows, or Southern redbelly dace. Of the live fish, three were large and all Southern redbelly dace. They were in breeding colors with bright yellow fins (I took photos with my regular camera as the digital camera was full so it will be months before they photos are developed; I hope they turn out). A fourth large fish may have been a female of one of the three mentioned species. There were also three babies that were blah looking but had long pectoral fins so I think they were Southern redbelly dace. If I had to guess, I would say that all I have is 7 Southern redbelly dace left that bred last year. I saw the babies last summer but thought they were red shiners. All the adult shiners and bluntnose minnows have almost definitely died off. I also found hundreds of green frog tadpoles (which is why it took almost 4 hours to sift through bucket by bucket and pick them out along with the other animals), hundreds of ramshorn snails (most of them dead/empty and turned white for some reason), and eight baby trapdoor snails (where did mommy go?, raccoon snack?). As for the plants, I didn't repot them this year. Not that they didn't need it! The lily pots (only one gallon in this pond versus 5 gallons in my other pond) were bulging and warped from the rhizomes. The iris pots were completely hidden by overgrown iris and roots (there's a pot in there?). I wanted more iris flowers this year so I didn't repot which would drastically limit the number of flowers. All of these plants are in only one gallon pots since this is a small pond. It is possible to jam them in there though! These were all overflow plants from the main pond that I would have tossed otherwise. Finally, I hand picked out one small dragonfly nymph and a mayfly larvae. There were also hundreds of strands of anacharis and hornwort among the hair algae and slop. I noticed a lot less pond "black gold" than last year. This may be in part due to the air stone but also using the BZT (http://www.united-tech.com) more extensively this year. I do have a photo of the frogs in their waiting tub and the tadpoles in the kiddie pool that I took before I filled up the digital camera. You can see them in the above mentioned altered pages section.

Interesting Animal Sightings:

1. This is an un-sighting. This is the first year in three years that wood frogs did not show up to spawn in early March. It has been abnormally dry and warm with fluctuating temperatures. I hope some are still around and come next year so they can continue on! So far, the spring peepers, gray tree frogs, and American toads haven't shown up either when normally they would be starting to breed as well in my ponds and a nearby pond which is now completely dried up.

2. I pulled out the first dead frog this spring on 3/18/02 which was a medium-sized pickerel frog. There seem to be fewer frogs than usual. I don't know where they went. Usually, this time of year, I'm pulling out a dead frog every day from one pond or another. After cleaning out the 153 gallon pond, I know that there are 13 frogs in there (and no dead ones!).

Web Sites of Interest:

1. The Pond Market company that sends me their newsletter has three free "e-books" on their site at http://www.pondmarket.com. I downloaded the one on fish care, and it's an executable file that is only about 10 pages long with only a few sentences per page but there's some cute animated graphics in there.

2. There is a site at http://members.aol.com/frugally4u/pond.ht ml that says you can build a pond for under $4. Most of the information seems okay. I would question lining a pond with 3 mil plastic when normally we use 45 or 60 mil liners. A 3 mil liner will surely pop a hole sooner rather than later. Also, in some cases liners of unknown origin may contain chemicals that are harmful or deadly to fish and other animals. A cheap (but not $4!) option for a pond is to bury a farm animal water trough but these too may contain chemicals in some cases to suppress algae. My first "pond" was a kiddie pool and then a buried rubbermaid storage tub. Also, the author advocates taking plants from other ponds. Be sure to have permission and be aware that you may bring in various algae and small animals with any plants you move. Also, you may not know what you have. My first "iris" turned into cattails, big ones! Finally, the author says that her fish froze solid in her pond (Quote "They looked like fishcicles!"), and they came back to life in spring. There is no documented proof that goldfish can freeze solid and thaw and survive. In every case I know of, a frozen fish is dead. To "euthanize" sick fish, one is supposed to freeze them to kill them. I figure that the author's goldfish were in fact under the ice and not in it. In the end, it would better to have a "cheap" pond than no pond at all! I've gotten just as much joy and learning from my inexpensive ponds as my expensive ones.

3. If you come across a pond web site in another language or want to convert any web site from any language to another, you can use http://babel.altavista.com/translate.dyn? which is not perfect but it is fast. Also, if you want to find or see an old web site or an older version of a web site, try http://www.archive.org/index.html which has my original web site telling viewers to visit all "8 sites!" It would also be good for viewing web sites that have since been removed from the internet.

4. There is a large site on hummingbirds at http://www.hummingbirds.net/

5. Bonnie Hill's Pond Site at http://home.flash.net/~blhill/pages/pond.ht m l provides many pond links.

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

Pond Tidbits:

1. Cloudy water is common in new aquariums but not very common in ponds. It is usually caused by a bacterial bloom. See my aquarium algae page under cloudy water for more information at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/plants/algae.htm.

2. It is almost time to repot those root-bound water lilies! All directions I've read say to gently wash off the dirt and separate the tubers. I have been unable to do that with my overgrown monster lilies! I have to first cut off the pots with a utility knife and then hack at the ball of dirt and roots with a shovel! They seem to be able to take it so you don't have to be as gentle as they say for plants that have grown too well. If the plant is tiny and/or weak, then certainly be gentle. Lotus won't take that abuse so I use my hands for those. Most of the marginals I have to hack with the shovel as well. I simply cannot separate them by hand, with a hose, or with pruners. The first few times I repotted, I took a long, painful time and was extra gentle but now I work much faster, and the plants don't seem to care! In the past, I've also potted up some of my spare lily tubers into tiny one and two gallon pots for my 153 gallon pond (they are in five gallon pots in the main pond) which everyone says can't be done, etc. Well, they did very well and flowered but didn't put out as many leaves due to the smaller space. Since I was going to just toss them with the hundred pounds of other excess plants, it didn't really matter. I've tried planting many of the excess marginals in the ground in low areas but they do poorly due to lack of water and the deer who eat everything, even plants they "never" eat according to experts. On our property, there are three things that the deer usually don't eat (all non-native) but the fawns do nibble every year for a taste test: butterfly bush, tree peonies (they do eat regular peonies), and daffodils (the fawns pop some of the flowers off and then decide they taste bad). Anything else not in a sturdy cage is fair game. For more information on potting, repotting, etc. see http://www.fishpondinfo.com/plants/plant2.htm.

3. Arrowhead is also called duck potato because the tubers taste like potatoes, and ducks love to eat it! The leaves are shaped like Native American arrowheads. Native Americans use(d) arrowhead extensively for food. My arrowhead doesn't fare too well so I haven't tried eating any of it.

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