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Robyn's Pond Newsletter June 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?

Instead of telling you about the cicadas in the newsletter (not really pond related), if you're interested, you can read more and see links and photos I took at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/insects/cicada.htm.

This is a long newsletter! I hope you have more time than I do because I wouldn't have time to read this all! My site traffic went up 50% this month (2700+ daily hits) so my costs doubled. I'm still looking for a sponsor or two to help pay the costs. If you have any ideas how I can break even on my site, let me know!

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

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/bigpondphotos1.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)

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

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

4. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/frogs/frogcare.htm#fish [Link later updated for moved frog pages.]

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

I added 22 pond photos alone this month!

1. Under Spring 2004, there are 9 new photos of my 1800 gallon pond, watercress, water celery, and water forget-me-nots. Two photos show the fishing line I mention.

2. This page has 11 new photos. Under frogs and toads for 2004, there are two photos of male American toads and one of a female green frog taken 4/18/04. These are nice, clear photos! Then, I added the head of one of the female green frogs taken 5/13/04 as well. Finally, there are green frog eggs and two more of a female green frog from late May. Under insects, there are four photos of three dead dragonflies that I found and identified. Full descriptions are on the page.

3. Under other ponds and spring 2004 is a photo of the basement tub pond on 5/5/04 which shows a bad photo of the young goldfish that were in there (I released them 5/15/04 into my 1800 gallon pond). There is also a photo of my 20 gallon lotus tub pond.

4. This is a new small section on the interactions (inter-eatings) of frogs and fish.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. I got tired of the net collapsing into the pond and messing up plants and not being able to see or get into the pond without a hassle so I removed the net on 5/1/04 even though the heron was around just a few days before playing in the shallows (I had pulled the net off part of the pond).

2. On 5/3/04, I squirted off the flosses and the Cyprio things. Every two weeks, I clean the Cyprio bio-things. I alternate just squirting the hose down into them and trying to catch the outflow and actually taking them out into a kiddie pool to clean them better. This was the first cleaning, just a squirt. Lots of black stuff and insect larvae came out. The top has a piece of floss that had large bloodworms embedded in it. The 1800 gallon pond was up to 70 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 68 degrees F. That night, the bullfrog moved to the 153 gallon pond. The two female green frogs tried to stay hidden. There are no small frogs around. That might explain the huge bullfrog's fat gut!

3. On 5/5/04, I put my black taro into my 2 gallon pot pond on the pool deck. The next morning, the raccoon had messed it up (thanks, and for the poo too in the pond and on the porch Mr. Cooney). It was still in the commercial pond "soil" (it's more like cat litter). I put the last of my regular taro into my 20 gallon tropical tub pond. The tropical water canna had grown up out of the sphagnum moss and up a foot! Of 12 pieces I had last fall, I found 2 to put into the 20 gallon tropical tub pond and 3 I potted into a 2 gallon pot I put into the marginal area of my 1800 gallon pond. I removed two dead pots (there are about 5 more). I'm not sure what they all used to be! I wanted to also put the goldfish in my basement pond outside but with the heron living there most of the time, I don't want them all to get eaten so I'll wait a little while for more plant cover.

4. Ok, herons this is war! I ordered the overpriced "pond reef" from Willow Pond Aqua Farms (http://www.willowpondaquafarms.com) that lets fish hide (and has a planter in it) even though I have PVC pipes, pots, etc. for them to hide in already. The morning of 5/6/04, the heron was in the pond AGAIN and this time another one (probably a mate) was in the tree right there too! The net was removed the previous week. The pond can't function as I want it to with a net. So, I'm going to try another deterrent. I am stringing fishing line attached to net pegs across the areas where the heron is most likely to move around. These lines will at the least restrict his movements or better yet freak him out and hopefully give the fish another edge. Plus, they don't get in the way of the plants or look too bad. I am scared now for my fish since my favorite oldest goldfish, Jill, is no where to be found! I'm sure many of you have dealt with herons and lost fish (I've not noticed any particular fish missing but don't "know" them all) but this is the first year a heron has been actually in my pond (others have stood next to it) since 1997 so it's new for me. All these years I've been saying my pond is heron-proof but I guess we were just waiting for a mature pair with brains and hunger! The others I think were all juveniles passing through. When I got home that day, I found that my new floating plant island with 5 terrestrial annuals in it in pots had been flipped. My mother had fished out the bareroot plants (they've had it). The pond planting soil, gravel, and mesh in the bottom were all over the place and most were not recovered. It was good I had only used non- messy fish-safe stuff in the pots instead of dirt. I am pretty sure the only way this would have happened would be if the heron had landed on it as a landing pad. I don't know why I bother to try to grow land plants at all! If the deer don't eat them because they can't reach them, the heron shoots them all over. I don't know if I'll try that again. So much time and money wasted again.

5. Since my aunt visited on 5/8/04 and 5/9/04 for only the second time ever, I squirted the pond flosses on 5/7/04. I also checked the thermometers but forgot to write the temperatures down. Since putting the fishing line up after work on 5/6/04, no one has seen the herons return. Jill is definitely gone too. I miss her! The herons must have got her. My goldfish school is smaller, maybe 20-25% are gone, mostly the larger goldfish actually! The sores on my koi Colin might be from getting pecked by the heron. I think the fishing line is working though!

6. On 5/10/04, a batch of five chickadees from seven eggs hatched in the bird house next to the pond for the second year in a row. All the other boxes in use have been taken over by English sparrows and house wrens. I had put AlgaeFix by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals in my front mosaic pond about a week ago for the first time. I wouldn't use it on ponds with life in it although it's supposed to be safe. The pond is on the porch so it doesn't get much sun but it turned green. AlgaeFix did work, and the pond is clear. The morning of 5/11/04, I finally got some amphibian eggs (there were no wood frog or toad eggs). The green frogs put a ton into the 20 gallon tropical tub pond. I will move some of them to the other ponds now (easier) and some in the fall (harder to catch the tadpoles than the eggs!).

7. The first water lily bloom in my ponds was a white one on 5/13/04. Being at work, I missed it of course. They open after I leave and close before I get home. :-(

8. Ahhh! Heron in shallows, 8 am 5/14/04. He flew over again 5/15/04 and 5/17/04.

9. I put the goldfish from the basement pond out into the 1800 gallon pond on 5/15/04. There were 17 of them ranging from about 1" to 3". I looked up my records, and that's how many I put in there last fall. I didn't lose a single one! Most were black but many have started to turn orange. One is all white. I hope some survive all the pond predators. They kind of vanished after I put them in. I put new mosquito dunks into my 6 fish-less ponds.

10. I did about 3 hours of pond work on 5/17/04. The 1800 gallon was at 77 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 76 degrees F. I will work in the pond in my swimming suit until fall. I cut new pieces of filter floss for around my main pump. I squirted off both the bioballs and Cyprio biothings in the kiddie pool. All of these were full of black pond sludge. I installed my new "Pond Reef" from Willow Pond Aqua Farms which is just a plastic box with holes in it for the fish to hide in. I hope my koi don't get stuck in the holes! I wanted to put it right on the liner which meant picking up I think 4 PVC pipes, 3 pots, an AquaMat, and a bag of barley straw. Under all that was pea gravel that the koi had moved from the marginal shallow area. I figured I'd scoop it up! Bad move! After scooping for a long time, I filled both my buckets. I put everything back and later went through the gravel I'd removed. First, I had to pour it scoop by scoop into another bucket, removing snails. I found about 6 live and about 6 dead trapdoor snails. I didn't think I had that many left! Then, I had to rinse a little gravel at a time over and over and transfer to another bucket which I keep on the porch for potting purposes. The gravel added an hour to my chore time! Alas, so many plants have died in my pond! One of my favorites, the very prolific water willow, is dead. A sprig remains in a floating barley straw planter though (that survived freezing solid, go figure!). I removed two one gallon pots and one two gallon pot. I left two other dead two gallon pots in because one might be alive (very unlikely), and the other had frog eggs in it. The yellow flag iris has taken over! From a two gallon pot last repotted in the fall of 2002, it has jumped the pot, shaded out (and thus killed) a few other pots, prevented the other iris from doing well, and grown to about an area about 4' x 5'. The flowers are pretty but it will be a big mess trying to repot it come fall. I'll have to saw chunks apart to move it! Another one that grew from seed is rooted in the shallows, and I keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't puncture the liner. I can't pull it; it's too well rooted.

11. After doing the pond chores on 5/17/04, I tried to get some mulching done around the pond. I got virtually none done. While working there, the chickadees starting throwing a huge fit. I went to check it out. Sticking out of the hole was 2' of black tail. I pulled and pulled until the black rat snake stuck his head out the door. Then, I got a long stick and tried to lift him out. I jabbed, poked, pulled, pushed, and fought with him for a good four minutes at least although it seemed like forever. He finally went out the top after I pestered him enough. This was about a 5' snake. He only reared and hissed at me once as black rat snakes are not very aggressive. He went into the rocks at my pond overflow. I looked in the box and the bedding was all messed up from our fight. I took it out and rooted through to find two survivors out of the five. I set the nest back up and left. With the scare of the snake and my mother putting weird things around the box to try to keep the snake away, the parents were too scared to visit their babies. The box was supposed to be protected as sharp pieces of hardware cloth and metal jut out all around the post, and no snakes had gotten in since then. By morning, the chicks appeared lifeless but my mother called to tell me that one moved, and a parent had gone in. One baby was alive when I came home on 5/17/04, cheeping away but was dead by morning. I failed to save a single one. On checking a bluebird house 5/16/04, I found it infested with ants. I removed everything and sprayed with Citrus Magic which is an air freshener made with citrus and non-toxic to birds and mammals. The ants detest it and die if it gets on them. I also use it to deodorize various animal stinkies in the house. One place that sells it is http://www.DrsFosterSmith.com if you're interested. A pair of bluebirds were at the bird bath. I hope they don't try to nest in one of our doomed boxes!

12. On 5/21/04, I got my last pond order. I put 13 trapdoor snails with a bunch of free hornwort in my 1800 gallon pond. I got a batch of salvinia I put in my floating pond net with some "free" azolla. I stuck a bluebell plant in the one gallon pot of aquatic plant soil from my basement pond (which had the dead hibiscus in it) and put that in my 1800 gallon pond. I was equally as lazy with my new regular papyrus which I stuck into a 2 gallon pot already in the pond (with some dead plant in it). I really should have repotted them all fresh but I have no time to do anything anymore. Despite the mosquito dunks, my 20 gallon tropical tub pond with taro and canna barely alive in it is swarming with mosquitoes.

13. On 5/20/04, when I got home, my mother said she saw the biggest heron ever in my pond, in the middle. Since the fishing lines were in the medium-depth area and undisturbed, I was perplexed. She said he was deeper than that. How could that be? I strung a few more lines. Every time I get in, I have to undo and redo them. Then, on 5/21/04, at dusk, I pulled back the curtains and looked at the pond. There, in the deepest part of my pond, that's 26", stood a full grown great blue heron. Hardly a behemoth but how did he get there? Obviously, all the rules I'd been told about herons were lies. Here I've been telling others for 7 years, "My pond is heron proof. I've never lost a fish to a heron. I've never even had a heron in my pond." Now, I can't say that anymore! Little did I know when I saw a heron in my pond for the first time this year that it would change my pond experience forever and sentence my pond to a net mask forever. All those rules are lies! "Herons will only go into ponds where they have a shallow area and can walk into the deeper area. Herons won't land in deep water. Herons can't fish in water over about 1.5' deep...." All lies. This heron landed from flight into 2 feet of water and happily poked goldfish away. If only they had made my pond 3 feet deep like I paid them for! Maybe Jill and the other missing goldfish would be alive and my koi, Colin, wouldn't have about 8 stab wounds now scabbed over on him.

I went and got my old pond net and on it went after a long struggle in my nightgown. It's so big that it squished plants and sagged. The next day, I decided to take it off, measure the size I needed for just the open water, cut it, and reattach it. I tried. I added extra feet but it was too small?! I used the larger piece instead. The net had been 20' x 30'. I cut it into 20' x 12' and 20' x 18' sections. I only needed a 12' x 10' piece so why a 20' x 10' wouldn't fit was beyond me! That includes overlap. After lots of fighting, turning over the lily leaves, releasing my floating plants so the fish could eat them (not intentional), etc., I got the net in place again. It has to come off again tomorrow. The pond looks ugly. I'm embarrassed to have anyone see it. I should stop taking photos of the netted area. That means no lilies but that's ok since they hardly flower and now I can't see them anyway. And some people call me a pond expert! Hah! You'd think I'd give up by now!

14. On 5/21/04, I collected 19 gray tree frog masses off the pool cover and put them into my 50 gallon lotus tub pond.

15. The morning of 5/23/04, a small garter snake was next to my 20 gallon lotus tub pond, a few feet from my 1800 gallon pond. I let him be. Later in the day, after pulling the net out of the way, I squirted off the flosses. The 1800 gallon was a toasty 80 degrees F inside and the 153 gallon was 78 degrees F. I potted up my 3 white night-blooming tropical water lily tubers (look more like walnuts) into a 5 gallon pot. Hopefully the koi won't root them out. I repotted the five terrestrial plants that had been in the floating plant island back where they were. They had actually recovered. Since it's under the net, if it flipped due to the heron before, perhaps this time it will take. I did my best to add fertilizer pills to the various pots and tub ponds. I couldn't fertilize any lilies that hadn't just been repotted. I didn't want to fertilize the out of control yellow flag iris; that's for sure! I potted up a spiderwort into a 2 gallon pot that we got at a local nursery. It's flowering and pretty. I'd tried one before but it didn't do well. Another week, not a drop of mulching done. It was over 90 degrees F outside, and the cicadas were deafening. One good surprise: baby rosy reds in the 153 gallon pond! I had a few last year but none survived but maybe some will survive predation this year. I'm afraid Mr. Bullfrog may have eaten some of the adults. Hint: Cicadas taste yummy Mr. Bullfrog!

16. The heron still comes back daily and stands in the only spot he can in the pond that's left open in the shallow area. He can't do much harm there and keeps the fish on their toes (or is it fins?). It rained hard on the night of 5/25/04. The net then sinks into the water and is hard to reset. I found the morning of 5/26/04 that the fountain head came off the tiny pump in my 50 gallon lotus tub pond and pumped it dry overnight. Any tree frog eggs or tadpoles in there probably perished (pumped out or left floundering) although I saw none (water is too dirty). When the fountain head comes out, the pump squirts outside the edge of the pond. While I have used this thing for over a year, I knew one day this would happen. I just filled it back up.

17. On 5/29/04, I discovered that the pond net is a death trap for dragonflies. I found two dead under it at the highest point. Another dead one was on the porch. I took photos of them all for my site (three different kinds) which are up now in my insect pictures and dragonfly sections. The net is open on two ends but the insects can't all find their ways out.

18. On 5/30/04, I squirted the flosses and Cyprio biothings. The 1800 gallon was at 69 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 68 degrees F. I saw three pileated woodpeckers nearby at the same time!!! I now remove yellow and badly torn water lilies leaves weekly with my pond chores. Our resident female box turtle, Freddie, was back. More on her can be found at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/turtles/box.htm including photos. On 5/30/04 and 6/1/04, I fished her out of the pond. Although I've learned box turtles can swim and rarely can eat fish, with the rock cliffs around the edge of my pond, I doubt she could have found her way out before exhausting herself. Luckily, there are plenty of shallows areas so she was hanging on a pot enjoying herself. So far, she's dug three holes but hasn't laid any eggs yet. On Memorial Day, I finally got to get more mulch done around my pond in the rain with only one section left. It's the hardest because it's all grass! How do you weed and mulch grass with flowers mixed in? Then, it will be on to a hundred cages and about 5 other gardens (make those grass and weed piles). And repotting those pond plants, forget it! I waited too long.

19. My new "white" pickerel rush bloomed on 6/3/04. It's purple! So were the last three "white" ones I bought. I give up on that!

20. On 6/3/04, we found a dead bird on the porch I had seen near the pond the day before. I thought it was rare since I'd never seen it before, and it didn't easily match any of the bird book photos. I took a lot of photos. Turns out it's common - a yellow-billed cuckoo. You can see the photos at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/birds/mystery.htm.

21. Today, 6/5/04, the heron was back in the shallows and must have landed on the net as it had lowered into the water. It rained all day. Alas, I think the cicadas have been finished off.

Pond Tidbits:

1. Tom from North Carolina wrote to relate this story:
"...It was one morning as I was making my coffee, and I looked out the kitchen window and saw a large owl perched on a lower limb of the maple tree near my pond. It seemed to be gawking at the pond, though at the time it didn't dawn on me what was happening. This sight was strange - something about it didn't seem right. I'd never seen this before, and at that hour! Next thing I knew - it swooped down to the pond and grabbed a goldfish and flew up to a high limb on a pine tree out back in the woods. It was over before I even realized what I was seeing."

2. Carol sent me this question: "...When I 'groom' my water hyacinths (tearing off dead leaves, etc.), I often get bit by a tiny bug about the size of a flea, causing excruciating itching and swelling. I now wear gloves but it still happens from time to time...." I told her I thought they were aphids. Aphids climb all over me when they encounter me in the pond in the heat of summer. And, yes, they bite! Here is my section on controlling aphids: http://www.fishpondinfo.com/plants/plantpests.htm#aphids.

3. After iris bloom it's up the ponder whether they want to remove the dead flowers and pods. I usually don't bother. Some people however are big on dead heading everything. Iris flowers left on the plant grow large, break open, and release rectangular-shaped seeds in the fall. These can be planted for more iris or removed to prevent self-seeding. In the fall after they start to die back, I cut the iris and all marginals down to about a few inches above the dirt/pot line. The smaller, newer iris shoots that come in fall, I often leave those alone. They are usually only a few inches high. Throughout growing season, yellowing leaves and dead parts on plants should be removed. Not only can they fall into and rot in the pond, but they attract pests such as the fun aphids mentioned previously.

4. I received the following question from Nancy and couldn't figure it out. She wasn't able to send me a photo. Does anyone know what this animal is? I don't know if it's aquatic or terrestrial. She says it is basically see-through.

"I have searched the internet and still cannot find some info on something that bit/stung my daughter. She was digging at the water's edge on a creek in Oregon. A worm/larvae thing attached itself to her hand. She started screaming and brushed it off. At first her hand looked like it had a hornet sting on it but then her entire hand swelled. It was very hot to the touch and beet red. Over the next couple of days her hand and arm swelled, she had a fever and was put on antibiotics. Her hand ached for many days. We went back to the area and caught one of the worm/larvae things and it is about an inch long, has dark rings around it, it's translucent, when angered sticks a long needle thing out of its mouth and seems to feed on something in the mud. As I said I have searched everywhere, show to thing to everyone but no one seems to know what it is. Can you help me?"

Web Sites of Interest:

1. http://www.goldfish-care.com

2. Imagine my surprise to read this review of my own site: http://petfish.net/reviews/fishpondinfo_website_review.htm.
It's weird for me to be complimented on-line (e-mails are different since they're personal)! They listed the topics on my pond page but left out all the pond animals! I think those sections are the most unique for my pond-related pages.

3. Watch a heron snatch a fish from a pond on video. Go to http://www.tossehuset.dk/dam-nyt.htm#11-05-04 and click on "her" on this Danish page.

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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