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Robyn's Pond Newsletter April 2008

Last Updated: 7/10/08

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?

I found my poor newer green anole, Papillon, deceased when I cleaned the 20 gallon roach/anole/crab tank on 3/2/08. The poor guy had been dead a few weeks, and I hadn't seen him.

Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages, Photos, or Videos on Fishpondinfo:

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/betta.htm -
At the very top of the page, you will see a new and great photo I took of my male betta, Homer, after I moved him to the 20 gallon tank.

2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/rosy2.htm -
At the bottom of the page is a photo of a couple of sickly "feeder" rosy red minnows. See their story below. They are now in the basement pond.

3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/frogs/woodfrog.htm -
I added two photos and a video of a male wood frog calling in my 20 gallon pond on 3/16/08.

New Pages on Pond Showcase:

1. None this month.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 3/2/08, I got in the pond to take the filter material out to squirt off the floss. It was actually pretty dirty. I collected some leaves from in and around the pond. I found another poor dead frog, a 2" pickerel frog this time. The 1800 gallon pond was at 40 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 50 degrees F.

I found something sort of new (to me) in the big pond. Over in the waterfall, out of the water but among the tons of living moss that drip with water, I found some eggs. These eggs were slightly bigger than those laid by goldfish, mostly clear but somewhat opaque (white), and laid singly. There were dozens of them. This time of the year plus the fact that they're out of the water rules out fish. Aquatic snails lay eggs in gelatinous clumps. My guess at first was that they were the eggs of land snails. While there are plenty of pond snails in the waterfall area near these eggs, I haven't seen land snails there. I have seen similar eggs before when I was digging up the ground but never where it's constantly wet. Ut oh, as I was typing, I just realized what they might be. A quick Google and image search seems to verify it. They're probably slug eggs! We have tons of slugs; they're not my favorite animals, that's for sure!

2. I found a dead 3" male rosy red minnow floating on the surface of the 153 gallon pond on 3/4/08. He looked okay except his left gill cover was gone. I think the raccoon beat him up. He had white tubercles and his upper lip and the spongy head so he was ready to breed even though it is still cold out (we did have some warm days there).

3. On 3/9/08, the weather was still bad from the day before. Basically, the wind was horrendous. It sent thousands of leaves into my ponds, knocked over a dozen of the cages on the plants, and so on. We were very lucky not to have lost power but we did lose phone. I recorded the pond temperature (40 degrees F for the 1800 gallon and 48 degrees F for the 153 gallon), topped off the smaller ponds, and collected some leaves. It took a while to fix all the cages that were knocked down. I really need to repot my one surviving lotus and start cleaning out the smaller ponds. Of course, if I did, then a million more leaves would end up in there. I do not recall the wind and leaves being so big an issue a decade ago; it seems wind gets worse each year.

4. On 3/11/08, I removed poor Marge from my basement pond. She was stuck to the filter inlet and had been dead a few days. My powers of observation have waned under profound stress. I don't know if Homer contributed to her demise but I can't rule it out. I'm not going to get another betta.

5. On 3/14/08, I found a poor dead goldfish in the shallows. She had been laying around for months. She was bloated from retaining water (not dropsy since the scales were normal; she just slowly got huge). I measured her; she was a 12" female red and white comet, quite beautiful.

That evening, I bought some "feeder" rosy red minnows at Petco for my turtle Tator because he hasn't been eating anything but crickets for a few months. I always said I would never, ever buy fish to feed my turtle because I love fish, the fish are always diseased and introduce something to the tank which might end up with my other fish (shared supplies), and due to the "what if he didn't eat them" factor. He used to eat anything with gusto. The "expert" said he would scarf them right up, and yes, I really should try them. Tator maimed two of them (who later died) and then made friends, never eating them. I will probably end up trying to rehabilitate them. I'm not sure how to get Tator to eat.

6. On 3/15/08, I bought some Cheerios and fed the pond fish with those and spring pond food that afternoon. It was 60 degrees F. The fish ate some. I put some KoiZyme in the big pond and ordered more.

That night, I ordered some pond plants. I've lost so many of them that I kind of went wild. I had hardy water lilies of all 5 main colors but, last year, I only got I think one yellow and a few white flowers all year. The red one was long dead. I think the pink one died. The yellow one and changeable are barely hanging on. I ordered a new red one and a pink one. I also ordered a tropical waterlily. More than half of my marginal pots no longer have living plants in them. So many have died. My complete AquaMart plant order for $210.15 (wow! I also got dry goods for more money) was arrowhead, flowering rush (never had that), lavender musk (never had that), spike rush, bluebells (to replace my dead ones), yellow canna, water hibiscus (miss my old one), water hyacinth, water lettuce, Attraction hardy water lily, Firecrest hardy water lily, Colorific iris (to replace my dead one I loved so much), pennywort, white snowflake, 15 anacharis, 5 hornwort, 5 jungle fal, 5 cabomba, and a Mrs. Emily Grant Hutchings tropical water lily. I think I went overboard! Actually, I really wanted even more; don't you always want one of each? I won't be able to plant all those! A nice lady said she may come help me repot in late April so I hope that will help.

7. On 3/16/08, I tried to get some pond work done. The air temperature was 45 degrees F (70 degrees the few days before but never when I need it) with high winds. I put ear plugs in so my ears wouldn't hurt. The 1800 gallon pond was at 51 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 50 degrees F. I squirted off the floss material around the main pump. It was heavy and very dirty. It's amazing how dirty things get after just a few warm days presumably from the fish stirring up tons of debris. I also squirted off the bags of lava rock and bioballs. I took the Rubbermaid tub lid off of the top of the biofilter as it won't get super cold anymore. I did leave in the de-icer for another week or two, just in case. I colleted leaves in the pond as always and topped off the big pond.

The lotus was due for repotting. I got it to the edge, and, with the help of my father, I got it out. I then had to do the rest myself. At 7 gallons, the lotus pot is the largest in the pond, too heavy to lift. Before I pulled it out, I felt the tubers on the top of the pot, above the rocks and dirt. I pulled out the five foot long tuber and put it on shore. I should have waited though since that stirred up some dirt. I pulled the pot down the hill and dumped it. I cut the tuber into four sections. I was going to put all four back but couldn't really fit them in the pot. I just used the farthest two end pieces which had growing tips. The other two pieces with just roots probably wouldn't make it anyway. I was surprised the tuber looked as good as it did. After squirting the pot clean, I refilled it with dirt from the garden. I laid the tuber on top of the dirt (not in it), added the old pea gravel back after rinsing, added fertilizer, and then topped with rose quartz rocks which are really pretty (they were out of pea gravel). I was able to pull the pot into the water since it was not yet waterlogged. It fell like a rock the foot down the cliff edge with a huge splash. The lotus was last repotted on 3/26/06.

I checked on the waterlilies for signs of growth. The Chromatella (yellow) and Albata (white) both have tiny leaves. The Fabiola (pink) and Comanche (changeable) show no real signs of life but I think the Fabiola might still be alive. I think the Comanche is gone. I didn't get a changeable color lily to replace that one. I decided to open a cheap waterlily I had bought from WalMart a few weeks ago on a whim (it was like $7, and some people have said they've gotten plants there). I didn't expect it to be alive but it was! But, dumb me, it's a red Attraction lily like the one I ordered the day before! Since the directions say to leave it in the strange husk basket thing, I just plopped it into my 153 gallon pond as they said. If it looks good in 16 days when I clean that pond out, I will pot it up and keep it in that pond. The other Attraction will go in the big pond.

That morning, I heard a welcome sound! A male wood frog was out in the rain. I even got some photos and a video of him calling which I will add to my site later. Unfortunately, while in the 1800 gallon pond, I also found three deceased frogs - a 3" pickerel frog, a 2" green frog (or might have been the new bullfrog from tadpole I had last summer; too decomposed to tell), and a 1" pickerel frog. I didn't see any live frogs of those species.

8. By 3/18/08, it was evident that Tator would never eat the remaining five rosy red minnows. He had bit two of them who later died but never ate them. So, I moved Homer to my 20 gallon tank and moved the minnows to the basement pond where I began their intensive rehabilitation - aquarium salt, MelaFix, Maracyn I, Maracyn II, and AquariSol. In May when I am done with the basement pond, they will join the other rosy red minnows in the 153 gallon pond. I am afraid to harm them with anything these guys might bring over but these guys deserve a chance and would infuse some new genes into the old pond. So, my fingers are crossed that they will not be contagious.

9. Sunday, 3/23/08, was Easter, and we had guests coming. So, I took off 3/24/08 to do some pond work. The wind was light but it was 35 degrees F when I started at 9:20 am. It was 45 degrees F by the time I stopped around 2 pm.

First, I did the regular Sunday chores on the 1800 gallon. I squirted off the floss, removed leaves, etc. The 1800 gallon was at 41 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 46 degrees F. I replaced the covered-in-algae pond thermometer with a new one. I took the de-icers out of the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds. I tried to get some debris off the bottom of the big pond . Unfortunately, I found two deceased frogs, both pickerel frogs around an inch long. I did find a live frog too. This about 4" pickerel frog had reddish legs (septicemia?) and fungus on one hind foot which are both bad signs but he was still alive. I put in two new barley straw bales. I topped off the pond with water. I put some pond salt, heavy metal tap water conditioner, Microbe-Lift Spring prep stuff (dry), and baking soda in the pond. I had put KoiZyme and BZT in on Saturday, 3/22/08, and plan to do so each Saturday for a while (and won't mention it every time).

Then, I tackled the 20 gallon tub pond. I didn't expect anything to be in there except maybe that wood frog. I used my OASE pond vacuum to suck out most of the gunk and dumped the rest. I found one empty pot (rocks all over the bottom), one tiny piece of sweetflag, and the huge mass of yellow flag iris. It was free (not potted), and I left it that way. It was so big that it actually fills up half the 20 gallon tub! I cut off some of its roots and dead leaves. I figure since the deer and raccoons won't let any other plants live, I might as well enjoy the yellow flag iris. It should flower for me. The animal inventory of this pond consisted of a single leech I found (not saved).

The 50 gallon tub pond was much more difficult. It was full of hornwort. In the end, I filled up an entire litter bucket to the top with the hornwort I meticulously saved. There were three dumped pots in the bottom. I found one loose water lily tuber that was mushy (deceased) and one tiny, one inch piece of tuber that was alive. There was water celery which grows like a weed all over and one minute piece of sweetflag I think. It took over an hour to get this pond empty. I bailed most of it. The bottom had a few inches of spilled "aquatic plant soil" (the brown litter you can buy for plants) and pea gravel. I had to shovel that out. I tried to also trim some of the million weeds from around the edge of this pond, mostly Japanese bittersweet but also multiflora rose and honeysuckle. I tried to get some of the edge rocks to stay in place a little better by digging out dirt and weeds. My efforts were minor as by now, I was aching all over, especially my back. It wasn't just pain but I was very weak. I'm not cut out for this kind of thing anymore. The animals in this pond consisted of about a dozen pond snails, a few Melantho snails, a colony of leeches, and one surprise one inch frog (I put in the 153 gallon pond). I thought it looked like a green frog but wonder what happened to the wood frog. I repotted the three pots with aquatic plant soil, fertilizer, pink quartz gravel, and the three plants. The lily got a two gallon as did the water celery while the tiny sweetflag got the one gallon. The lily went on the bottom of the pond while the other two pots were elevated on bricks. I put the little pump back in to this pond although it is kind of early in the year. I'm betting that the raccoon will have everything de- potted within two nights. There were two fat raccoons on the porch a few nights ago when I let our indoor/outdoor cat outside at 5 am.

The last of the three small ponds to be redone was the back 16 gallon liner pond. It was full of 16 gallons of wet, stinky leaves. I used my bare hands to pick up that slop and toss it. Running three hoses and a 100 foot extension cord back there, I was able to rinse, vacuum, and repeat until it was sort of clean. I refilled that pond. The rocks have really collapsed in as has the liner over 11 years. I would redo the pond except it's so far from the house, and I let it "go wild" anyway, only cleaning it a few times a year. There are no plants or animals back there aside from whatever bugs might be there.

I never got around to shop vacuuming some of the shallows of the 1800 gallon pond, repotting the pots in the waterfall, or redoing the edging around the 153 gallon as I'd hoped. I had to stop so I could shower, do an hour of lists including typing this, an hour of e-mail, afternoon chores, two cats to the vet, and so on. Tomorrow, when I got back to real "work," they will ask me how great my vacation was thinking I didn't do any work. My body is saying otherwise!

Next Tuesday, I clean the 153 gallon making today's work pale in comparison.

10. On 3/30/08, first, I set up the mosaic pond on the front porch. Then, I changed the filter floss around my main pump. Both the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were at 50 degrees F. I put a new box of Ammocarb in the mesh bag in the big filter. That poor larger pickerel frog I found last week in poor condition was deceased and removed. My mother had bought some watercress with roots so I put some roots in the waterfall. There is little watercress left since the water celery took over. There are three one gallon pots in the waterfall area. There are no plants in them and haven't been for years. I decided to repot them. It was about time; the last time they were repotted was when I put them there almost 11 years ago! The dirt in the bottom was hard to get out and mostly dry as the lips of the pots are above the water level. I filled them this time with Aquatic Plant Soil and topped with small pea gravel. I put a few sprigs of water celery (which grows in the gravel around and in the falls) in the pots. When I get some new plants, I can try putting some there. The two problems are the deer can reach and eat anything there, and the raccoons can also mess them all up. The plants in the middle of the pond have more of a chance.

11. On 4/1/08, I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond. The story will take a while to write down and to add in the photos but will eventually be up at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/clean5.htm within a few weeks.

Pond Tidbits:

1. None this month due to lack of time.

Web Sites of Interest:

1. http://www.eol.org/ -
The Encyclopedia of Life - a new web site that hopes to cover every species of life on earth. About 2 million species are known but 20 million are thought to exist. Seems pretty impossible! Anyway, you can learn about some pretty obscure species.

2. http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/potd/2008/03/chytriomyces_sp.php -
I get the Botany Photo of the Day. This one was about Chytrid fungus. These are of interest to us ponders because they are fungus that are killing many amphibians in the world. Yet, there are species that do no harm and may actually be helpful (cleaning up debris). Some are parasites of algae. I'm not sure how that works.

3. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23007420-30417,00.html -
An interesting news article also about Chytrid fungus, Australia, pesticides, and amphibian extinctions.

4. http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/gallery.asp?memberID=108364 -
Ray sent me this link to his photo gallery. The photos are very pretty. I do not have time to look at and enjoy them all but thought others might. The gallery includes some pond-related animals.

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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