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Robyn's Pond Newsletter August 2009

Last Updated: 2/14/14

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?

My older rooster, Sugar, died on 7/16/09 of natural causes. He was seven years old. When Pondet went broody for about the fourth time this year on 7/26/09, my mother said it was okay if I let her hatch her egg but, if it turned out to be a boy, I would have to "pay the consequences." This will be Pondet's third hatch and probably her last at five years old. Her son Speckles (along with Sprouty who was eaten by a snake as a chick) was her first in 2005, and daughter Chickie was her second in 2007. [Ut, oh, Pondet was off the nest today to eat, 8/1/09, and she has five eggs under her (two of hers, three of Chickie's). My mother's going to kill me (literally) if they all hatch! She said no to one rooster, what about five!]

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

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/bigpondphotos2.htm - (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
Under Summer 2009 are three new photos of water lily flowers and impatiens in the floating island planter.

2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/animalphotos.htm - (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
Under arachnids is a photo of a big fishing spider in my 1800 gallon pond.

New Pages on Pond Showcase:

1. http://www.pondshowcase.com/Wash/index.shtml -
I put up these few photos that I took in Washington, D.C. There is a duck next to a lifeless pond but, other than that, the photos are not pond-related.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 7/5/09, I squirted off the flosses. The 1800 gallon was at 73 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 69 degrees F. I forgot to squirt down the Cyprio biothings. I was distracted because my father was finally digging in a new electrical line to the 153 gallon pond with a new electrical box. It stopped working last fall presumably from ants but he said the line was bad too. When I looked at the connections in the basement, I pointed out that the low voltage pond lights were on the same line. How did he know that they weren't the problem? Well, he checked, and guess what! The lights (that I never use) were tripping the line. Technically, it was the GFI outlet that the lights plug in to. If he had simply disconnected the outlet with lights last year, I wouldn't have had to deal with extension cords all this time (or maybe not, see later updates below).

I tried to clear the lizard tail away from the new pickerel rush plants. The lizard tail is at the end of flowering and has grown huge, blocking the light to all the new pots. One pickerel rush had four leaves on it, three of which were dead while the other one shows no sign of life. If I had put the pots closer to the edge, then they were at more risk from the deer. Almost all of the marginals I bought this year have died! The two water lilies that I got this year though are doing well and just put out their first flowers. The water hyacinth and water lettuce are just starting to take off as things have warmed up. A female bullfrog was among the marginal plants as was a bullfrog tadpole.

2. The morning of 7/10/09, I looked out the window at the 1800 gallon pond when I came downstairs as I do each morning. The net was completely sunken in to the pond. Ut oh! My first thought was heron but I noticed there was also a mess so I went outside (without my boots so you know I was worried!). The net was collapsed with two large holes in it, over a foot across. I'll need a new one. Only a big animal could do that. So unless that mastiff from years ago came back unnoticed or a black bear snuck in when I wasn't looking, it was a deer. One doe follows me around a lot and spends most of her time right around the house. It may have been her. In addition to the net damage, two of the four surviving water lilies (two have died since this spring) had their leaves shredded in to bits as you might imagine would happen if a lot of deer hooves were thrashing about. The big lotus pot (lotus died this year) was tipped as was a two gallon pot in the shallows. The lizard tail (the predominant vegetation in the shallow area right now) was all flopped over and looked like someone ran through it. The hose was disconnected from the Mag-Drive pump feeding the Cyprio filter so it wasn't running. After I fed the cats and myself, I put on hip waders and reconnected it. The fish seemed none the worse for wear; they must have known the deer wanted to eat the plants and not them.

3. Finally, on 7/11/09, my father finished the repairs to get electricity back out to the 153 gallon pond area. He redid all the lines, all the outlets, and the connections. It was fine without a load but as soon as the pump was plugged in, guess what? It trips! So, it still doesn't work. Now, he thinks the switch in the fuse box is bad. He just put that in a few months ago but it was a refurbished GFI switch. On top of that, I found out when I went to fix the deer's mess the day before that one of the four outlets by that pond no longer works! It has black stuff coming out of it with sawdust under it. I don't see any ants but I would bet it's their fault.

4. On 7/12/09, I squirted off the pond flosses and bioballs. The 1800 gallon pond was at 78 degrees F and the 153 gallon pond at 74 degrees F. I wore my bathing suit in to the pond for the first time this year and the latest in to the year ever. I also later would go in the pool for the first time this year (again the latest I've done that but it's been a colder than normal summer).

I got a surprise when I went to pull up the pump. My first thought was "eel!" Of course, there are no eels in my pond. It was a snake. I got a good enough look at it to tell it was brown with triangular darker patterns on it. I thought copperhead but later on-line checked the water snake photos. Yep, I think it was a Northern water snake. This is very bad news for the pond fish and frogs. Water snakes are adept at eating them. The snake was two to three feet long and swam quickly to the marginal area where the resident female (and only) bullfrog chirped and hopped in to the pond. She was back in her spot the next day. There are very few frogs around. If this snake has been around a while, that could be one reason. I have not seen the snake again yet and will keep you posted.

In addition to the pond filter, bioball, and lava rock squirting, I mostly did things that I do each week and don't bother to mention. Those include removing yellow, brown, and damaged water lily leaves, pruning back vegetation (I cut back an evergreen bush overhanging where the pump is and where the snake was hiding this week), adding BZT, adding baking soda, adding koi clay, putting Bt in the smaller ponds for mosquito control, topping off all the ponds, etc. I added water to the big pond on 7/9/09 but it had already lost a few inches. I still worry that there might be a hole up where the yellow flag iris is growing in the overflow unpotted (in gravel over the liner). I also tied up the terrestrial marsh mallow and tried to tie up the aquatic lizard tail. There are two pots of lizard tail. I bunched them up in to three masses. Although held somewhat together, they are just so heavy that they collapse down and block light to many other plants that are struggling to survive. While working on the lizard tail, I saw about half a dozen huge spiders (1 to 2 inches), some of them very interesting looking.

There are darling little green frog tadpoles in the 50 and 153 gallon ponds but, most of the time, I only see maybe one frog around. Things are starting to dry out now after months of rain. The clay ground has opened fissures, and the back pond was totally dried out.

5. The Albata white hardy water lily has always done the best in my pond until a deer must have gotten in the pond a few weeks ago and ate it all when the water was low. It sprouted new leaves but, on the morning of 7/14/09, those were gone too! I tried to pull the net over that lily more but it's difficult. I only have five (four hardy, one tropical) surviving lilies in the big pond; three (two hardy, one tropical) have already died this year. Only the Chromatella yellow hardy water lily is doing well. The others are pathetic. I really do have a black thumb.

6. On 7/16/09, I went to a hospital that I had never been to before for a test. Another patient showed me a secret garden there with a pond! It was a pretty nice, typical Aquascape sort of pond with lots of rocks. It had a nice waterfall and stream to a pond of about 300 gallons. The only fish were four young koi and a tiny goldfish. The koi will soon outgrow the pond which also looks to be no more than a foot deep (may freeze too much in the winter). A man told me that they had just had it redone about three months ago because it was a mess. Now, it was very clear. There were about a dozen plants which I could identify. One plant I didn't know what it was. It behaves sort of like a combination of water forget-me-not and primrose. It has small yellow flowers. They had a lot of it so I stole a small piece and put it in my overflow to see if it would grow. I couldn't find it the next day. The goldfish have been spawning again and may have dislodged it. I have not seen it since.

7. On 7/19/09, I squirted off the filter flosses. The 1800 gallon was at 74 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 70 degrees F. I squirted off the biothings from the Cyprio filter in the kiddie pool. I fertilized the surviving water lilies and one lotus. I didn't bother to fertilize the marginals. Half are huge and pot bound so I can't stick the pills in the dirt, and half are dead or almost dead so it little matters to them.

8. The morning of 7/21/09, I found a dead goldfish just lying on the rocks by the side of the pond. There were a few scratches, and some intestines hanging out but the fish was not eaten at all. I guess it was the raccoon. I wish though that, if they're going to kill a fish, at least eat it! The goldfish was a 5.25" white common goldfish.

9. When I came home on 7/22/09, my father told me that he had installed the new GFI switch in the breaker box in the basement for my small pond outlet and that it tripped too. So, he put in a regular switch. So, after almost a year, I have power out there but no GFI at the outlet or in the breaker box. You should always have a GFI on a pond outlet but I guess this is better than nothing. I hope to put the pump in the 50 gallon pond finally which is pretty yucky. Duckweed also covers all the open area in that pond. The plants in there are not doing well. Animals at this point include mosquito larvae (great pets!), green frog tadpoles, insects, and perhaps goldfish fry since I've put a few goldfish eggs in there.

10. On 7/25/09, I finally put the 220 gph pump in to the 50 gallon tub pond after 10 months of no electricity out there!!

11. On 7/26/09, I squirted off the flosses and did the usual. The 1800 gallon was at 77 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 74 degrees F. I added some liquid fertilizer to the 1800 gallon pond as the water hyacinth, water lettuce, and some other plants are yellowing some. I did a 100% water change of the front mosaic pond which, thanks to the raccoons who think it's their personal wash basin, was full of debris. They also ate some more styrofoam off the fake lilies because it tastes so good?!

12. While at work on 7/31/09, a few strong storms came through, tons of rain but not much wind. The downpour was perhaps the strongest I've ever seen. My mother called me to tell me the phone was out and not to worry but that a lot of trees were down at home. I asked about the pond to which she said, "Don't worry. You'll see when you get home." Well, I saw no damage anywhere until I got home. Wow, there were at least a dozen large trees or parts of large trees down. First, a medium-sized tulip poplar branch blocking the road that had been moved some that I drove over to get in. There were small branches and leaves all over like it was October. Then, a large tulip poplar branch fell right on the pond waterfall and biofilter. On its way down, it beheaded my fake heron that I just bought last year destroying it and split a little cedar tree there in half (I kind of keep that tree like bonsai). My father had turned the power off the pond right after the storm (amazing that the power didn't go off during the storm) which was a bad choice since that's when oxygen levels go down. He should have just unplugged the main pump (leaving the other pump and aerator on) if he thought there was a problem. I had him turn the power on first thing and could see no liner damage or water diversion. After half an hour of chain sawing, we got that tree off the pond area. Out back, a double headed 30-year-old white pine came down and took out a few trees on the way down, just missing my little pond back there. Out front, another tulip poplar portion landed in the mimosa and took out an elm. In the low dry stream area, a live tree came down and knocked down about four dead black cherry trees in a row, like dominos. My father said the wind was the worst straight wind that he had ever seen in his life. It's going to take a long time to clean up. I can't mow because there are branches all over. So, I'll be cleaning up tomorrow. We lost our three-day-old Verizon Fios during the storm and still have no phone service (but do have internet obviously). The power went out hours after the storm (no problem at that time) at 10:30 pm (woke me up) and came back on at 4:15 am. I can't sleep when the power is out. I worry too much. I did 12 hours of continuos physical labor today cleaning the aquariums and so on with two hours of sleep. I'll sleep well tonight so I can do more work tomorrow!

Pond Tidbits:

1. The weather is getting really hot now in places. Perhaps the most overlooked part of a fish pond is aeration. Most fountains and waterfalls provide aeration, and often, that is enough. But, if the pond is overstocked, small, shallow, or it's really hot outside, the oxygen levels may go low enough to cause problems. If the oxygen is just a little low, the fish will gasp under the waterfall or any other moving water. Once the oxygen levels get too low, the fish die. Sometimes only one fish will die. Sometimes, the entire pond dies off. For this reason, I suggest that most any fish pond over 200 gallons have a separate air stone with air pump in addition to the usual filter and water movement. In order of tolerance of low oxygen, are these fish: Mosquito fish, rosy red minnows, goldfish, koi, and orfe. That means that orfe need more oxygen than say goldfish. Also, larger fish need more oxygen so they may be the first to die in low oxygen levels. You can buy an oxygen test kit to measure oxygen levels. At any given temperature, water can only hold so much oxygen. The warmer the water is, the less oxygen it can hold. So, if a pond has a lot of fish, and the water is 90 degrees F, even with aeration, the oxygen may drop low enough to harm fish. On hot days, added shade (plants or suspended tarps) and/or partial water changes (with added dechlorinator for those with city water) may help lower the temperature and increase oxygen levels. I can't tell you how many people have told me that they run their waterfall, fountain, etc. during the day and turn it off at night. They want to know why their fish died. Animals always use oxygen and output carbon dioxide. Plants take up carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the day but, at night, the process is reversed. That means, at night, plants use up oxygen and give up carbon dioxide. In a hot pond with a lot of animals and/or a lot of plants under the water, the oxygen can plummet to dangerous levels at night leading to fish gasping in the morning. So, run your pump all day and get an aerator if you don't have one!

Web Sites of Interest:

1. http://www.koiface.com - KoiFace- "The social network for koi and pond enthusiasts." My local club let me know about this new site which is kind of like FaceBook for koi nuts.

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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