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Robyn's Pond Newsletter May 2004

Last Updated: 2/6/14

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?

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

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/clean1.htm
2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pictures2.htm

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. I added 12 photos from the 3/29/04 pond cleaning at the bottom. They are also on other pages but on this page, they're all together. Included are 5 red shiner, 2 Southern redbelly dace, 2 rosy red minnow, 1 cranefly larvae, and 2 general photos.

2. I added in some photos sent to me by other people including 4 of a painted turtle, 2 of red- eared sliders, 3 of toad eggs, and 3 of toad tadpoles. They are under the turtle and the frog and toad sections.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 4/4/04, I squirted off the flosses. I also changed the bag of Ammo-carb (carbon and zeolite) with a new box in the top of my main filter. I know, it's so small that it's effect on 1800 gallons is negligible but I do it anyway. Both my 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were at 48 degrees F. That's about all I did outside except plant a thyme plant and three hazelnut bushes. It was cold with horrible winds blowing. The next morning, there was ice on the ponds!

2. I squirted off the flosses on 4/11/04 in the rain. The 1800 gallon pond was at 52 degrees F and the 153 at 50 degrees F. That night, the heron was in the pond again, and the fish were plastered to the bottom. While I watched TV, I saw him sitting in a tree nearby. When I got up, I was shocked when not one, but TWO great blue herons flew off out of the trees! What now, a breeding colony centered on my pond? I still have not lost any of the fish with which I am familiar but I don't have any very many other animals left in that pond. At least I have tadpoles in my 153 gallon pond.

3. The heron was still there in the pond every day. On 4/17/04, I noticed that many of my fish had torn fins, open wounds, and a few were actually bleeding. I think this was due to them beating themselves up into the things on the bottom trying to hide. After months of clearing my pond of small goldfish, minnows, snails, tadpoles, and frogs, I thought it was time for the heron to move on so I pulled out an old leaf net and netted the pond. I'd never done that except in fall, put the net on that is. It squished down the iris but hopefully they'll recover.

4. On 4/18/04, I squirted off the flosses and bioballs. I set up the Cyprio filter for the summer. The 1800 gallon pond was at 68 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 64 degrees F. Looking at all the pots in my pond hurts! Many are dead. The rest need repotting which is so physically hard on me and time consuming. I didn't feel like starting. I checked the lily pots, and the feeding tubes were still full of fertilizer from last year. I don't think those things work! They are too pot bound to put the fertilizer in the top. I put my small pump in my 50 gallon lotus tub pond. Unfortunately, there are no wood frog tadpoles in there this year, just a lot of water celery that I don't want there. The long and hard task of mulching around my pond began, in 90 degree F heat!

5. The fish soon perked up and on the morning of 4/19/04, it was spawn city. My day-before crystal clear water was murky as they stirred everything up in their frenzy. What a mess! Now, if the net had been off, the heron would have had a grand old time gorging which is why I had to net the pond.

6. My AquaMart plant order came in on 4/21/04. I put out my floating plant loop and put in three water hyacinth, three water lettuce, and a few tiny pieces of salvinia that hitched a free ride. I potted up a white pickerel rush into a 2 gallon pot and put it into the shallows. I pulled out my four 2 gallon pots with submerged plant protectors in them. The knots wouldn't come out of the strings (I got one) so I cut them with a utility knife. Dumb me, I dropped it into the pond but it didn't seem to put a hole in the liner. After jamming the 12 anacharis, 6 cabomba, and 6 valisneria into the four pots (6 plants each), I weaved the strings around trying to hold it closed and tied it again (meaning it will have to be cut to open yet again!). These "plant protectors" don't do a great job. The fish just push the tops down and eat through the net! Plus, the loops don't always float, meaning the plants have no room to grow up. And then, the inevitable growth of algae, etc. on the protectors means the plants don't get enough light either. So, this was a stupid exercise in futility.

7. On the morning of 4/22/04, I heard a metal noise behind me while feeding the rabbits. On turning, a great blue heron flew off the roof. A few minutes later, another flew out of a tree! I guess that net's staying on for now! They don't want to move on yet! On one of the pond groups, someone recounted a story of pelicans that ate every fish out of someone's pond. They had seen a bunch of them line up beforehand and didn't think anything of it!

8. On 4/23/04, part of my Paradise Water Garden order came. I got two lotuses to replace the two of mine that have died. I only had one barely alive in my main pond. The new ones are an American yellow and a Chawan Basu. The labels weren't attached to them so I put the larger tuber with the smaller growth into my 50 gallon lotus tub assuming it's the native one and a smaller tuber with more growth into my 20 gallon lotus tub. I hope I get flowers this year! It's been too many years! Last year I repotted all my lotuses. I'd done this before but this time something went horribly wrong, and they all died. The order also included two free water poppies I put in my 50 gallon lotus tub and two free anacharis I put in my 153 gallon pond.

9. On 4/24/04, I put five terrestrial plants into a floating pond thing (I bought it from AquaMart) so they can grow in the pond hydroponically. I removed most of the dirt and roots and squirted them down. In the bottom of the pots, I put cut up aquarium filter bags (really fine ones) to cover the holes and a few small rocks to hold it down. Then, I planted the plants in aquatic plant soil (stuff I bought, some left over) and topped with more pea gravel. The pots were really tiny but hopefully the plants will come back. I included 3 impatiens (grow really well hydroponically), a red salvia, and an orange daisy of some sort. All are annuals. All would be eaten in 5 seconds if the deer could reach them. The next day when I got in, I tied the floating thing to a submerged plant protector in the deep end with fishing line so the plants would float in the same general area and not "get into trouble" by moving all over the pond. [A few days later, the line broke, the thing floating around, hit the net, and ripped out two of the plants. I got back in on 4/28/04 to tie it down again.

10. On 4/25/04, I squirted off the flosses. They were super heavy from all the debris the fish stirred up while spawning. The 1800 gallon pond was at 63 degrees and the 153 gallon at 62. I finally repotted my pink Fabiola water lily into the same 5 gallon pot and the 2 gallon pot that had the dead red water lily (it never came back). I managed to lift that 60 pound thing out myself but I'm hurting now! The lily feeder tube was clogged with dirt. No wonder the fertilizer level never goes down, and my lilies never flower! Since I can't jam the pills into the pots once they are a year old, I'm not sure what to do to get the fertilizer in. When I repot, it's very easy to fertilize then which I do. I also fertilized my two new lotuses.

11. On 4/28/04, I pulled back the net off the marginals since it was squishing down all my plants. I figured there was enough cover to keep the fish safe. Guess who was standing in the marginal area the morning of 4/30/04? I don't think he's ever going to leave! Now what. I asked my father, and he said, "Get rid of the fish." My poor koi are not in great shape. Both are about 16" long now. My four orfe are a foot long. My koi, Maggie (orange, regular, probably female), has that sharp side bulge that she's had a few years that could be fish tuberculosis. She's fat but not deformed but has been spending time in the shallows this week just sitting there (not a great spot when the heron is around!). Colin (white, longfin, probably male) over the last few months has gotten black spots (not the parasite, too big) on his back, probably blood spots from cuts on the rocks, etc. Now, this last week, the last few inches of his tail have pine-coned out. It's like dropsy of the tail only. I don't know what to do. I don't have another place to treat or quarantine them, and the stress wouldn't be worth it to them. Both are still healthy enough to eat and do koi things so hopefully they will heal on their own.

Pond Tidbits:

1. Someone e-mailed asking how to get rid of the "crud" that grows on pond liners. My quick answer is that you don't want to! The pond liner coating contains an entire micro-planet of micro-life. Things that may be stuck in there include all sorts of algae, good bacteria, microorganisms, and more. The algae in turn feed larger small animals and feed tadpoles and fry directly. Both the algae and good bacteria work to keep the pond cleaner and clearer as well. Sometimes, the liner takes on a variety of different types of coatings. My main pond often has a lot of brown to it, mostly dirt that has settled out onto the liner. The nutrients therein help feed the micro-planet. My 153 gallon liner seems to contain mostly snail egg cases! Some people's liners get covered with an excess of algae, or sometimes the worst, hair algae. In cases of extreme liner buildup, using a new plastic dish scrubber works well to remove some, but not all, of the stuff to allow for a healthier buildup of life. A complete sanitation of any pond liner will set back the pond so far as it being balanced and having the proper colonies of good bacteria and microbes to keep the pond healthy. Total cleanings can be almost done with vigorous scrubbing or hosing or by a pond bleaching but why would anyone want to do that? The only reason I could think of is the pond is 100% dead and full of nasty bacteria or parasites and beyond hope. Another benefit of a liner coating is that the life colony protects the liner from UV damage. The micro-planet gives the animals therein and the humans outside an endless source of exploration. If you put some under a microscope, who knows what you'll find!

2. Something amazing is about to happen here in the Mid-Atlantic US. In 1902, 1919, 1936, 1953, 1970, 1987, and now 2004, for the months of May to June, no opossum, skunk, raccoon, fox, dog, chicken, or teenage boy who has access to the outdoors in the Eastern USA is going to starve to death. The largest mass emergence of insects on the planet is occurring as Generation X of the periodical cicada comes out of the ground. Every year, a cicada or two makes a racket around our woods, and someone may ask, "What's making that noise?" This year, there will no question. No question as there should be up to 100,000 cicadas per ACRE in wooded areas. With males singing, in our neighborhood alone, that's over 3 million boys, each one making a noise louder than a rock concert. The cicadas have already made themselves known where I live. When putting down some wire around the chicken pen on 4/21/04 to protect them from foxes, I pulled up a few stepping stones. Under each square foot stone was 3 to 6 holes with cicada "babies" looking out. They may be sub-adults but they've been feeding underground sucking on plant roots for 17 years! I tossed a few to the chickens. They thought they were the best thing on the planet. Since the insects cannot bite or sting, they have no defenses. Any animal that includes insects in its diet will gorge on them, sometimes until they vomit. So many are waiting to come up that the raccoon has not waited. Each night, he defecates in my pond (gee thanks!) or on the net I put over part of it to keep the heron out. On 4/25/04, I noticed the feces contained almost all cicada exoskeletons. On repotting my water lily that day, I had to dig up some dirt. I ended up with another dozen cicada larvae. Again, the chickens got a few. Somehow I can't bring myself to eat one but who knows, one might just fly into my mouth next month; they'll be that thick. If you don't live where you can experience this, maybe you should pay a visit to the Eastern US and experience one of the wonders of the world! Just don't forget your ear plugs! And you were worried about the neighbors hearing all your poor frogs and toads calling! I wonder if the pond fish will eat the cicadas! When they die after a month, I have a feeling I'll be netting out a lot of cicada bodies. I'll have to report back!

Web Sites of Interest:

1. http://www.nhbirdsnest.com/pondhome.htm - I wanted to put a link in so I did a pond care search and found this personal site (Daryl and Carl's Pond). They have some great pond photos too!

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