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Robyn's Pond Newsletter September 2003

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?

A newsletter about my server, UMBC, from where I graduated in 1994 and 1996 said that all non- current students/faculty/staff would be informed that their accounts would be deleted in 60 days from notice. I have yet to receive notice and don't know if/when I will. If/when that happens, my umbc e- mail and web site will cease to exist, no forwarding, no nothing. So, I decided to act before I had to and bought hosting space at my web site fishpondinfo.com. Over the next few weeks, I will be renovating and moving my web site. For now, continue to use my old site and hopefully, by the next newsletter, the initial move will be complete. I will update you then. Until everything is moved/edited, there's no need to change links to my site but soon that will be the case. This newsletter is not effected by my web site move. Thank you to the whooping 7 of you who filled out the survey asking what to do about my site which is now a moot point. Banner ads won, and that's what I'm doing.

I'm sorry this newsletter no longer seems to have tidbits, etc. The reason is I simply don't have time! I welcome article submissions! Have a story or neat info to tell? Become famous and send it here. Try to keep it under 500 words. Thanks.

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

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/pictures.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
2. 7 new photos at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/
3. http://s2.invisionfree.com/Fishpondinfo/index.php

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. I added three new digital photos from July. They are both under the big pond summer 2003 photos. One shows water lily flowers from the side as I squatted into the water to take the photo. I'm just glad I didn't drop the camcorder in the pond (it takes digital photos too)! The files are overload.jpg, flowers.jpg, and lotsplants.jpg and the dates and descriptions can be found on the pond pictures page.

2. I have added some photos to my UMBC site but have not linked them to any pages. I am not making any more edits to my old site until the work on the new site is complete so changes will not show up until then. It'll probably take a month. Just add the photo name to the URL above to get to them for now. These are the 7 new photos you can view: froglet1.jpg and froglet2.jpg of a 1" morphing green frog (has legs and tail!) on 8/8/03; tigercanna.jpg and tallcanna.jpg of my yellow and orange canna flower on 8/16/03; frogfalls.jpg of a bullfrog in my waterfall on 8/16/03; and pickbab.jpg and pickbab2.jpg of a tiny baby pickerel frog on 8/17/03 (so cute!). (Note, once you are seeing this on my new site, these photos are on this site now and linked in).

3. I created this message board on ponds. It's not moderated since I don't have the time to read the messages. I don't like other boards because you have to register, etc. This is completely open, meaning anyone can see it and use it. Feel free to chat with your other pond buddies there and complain about me if you want! It'll take a while to get going and may never get going but it was something I felt like doing. Once my new site is up, a link to the board will be on every page so more people will visit it.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 8/3/03, I did my usual chores. I also tore out a ton of dying watercress from the upper waterfall. Before I did it, the entire falls were covered, and water did not flow where it was supposed to. Afterwards, the top part of the waterfall has visible rocks and water. Underneath it all was this white chalky stuff, some sort of insect eggs (look like ant eggs but are not), and aphids galore. Watercress normally dies off in late summer after flowering. I cut the ends off of some still-green pieces and stuck those back into the falls so I didn't remove all the watercress. The water celery has advanced up the falls where I don't want it but my mother loves it so much (she eats it), that she won't let me get rid of any of it. It is tough and crazy, and I'm afraid it could puncture the liner. The 1800 gallon was 79 degrees F, and the 153 was 77 degrees F. My carefully mulched gardens around the pond are now a crab grass and bamboo grass garden. I can't keep up. Once a year weeding and mulching per garden is all I have time to do. I have 3 major gardens yet to be done this year at all.

2. When cleaning the mosaic pond out front on 8/9/03, I again saw the one baby fish. I held it in my water-filled hand again and now see red, blue, and stripes so it IS a paradise fish. So, they have one surviving baby who is darling. The bullfrog was hanging out by the waterlily flowers, and ripped them up probably when he snagged some unsuspecting butterfly. Two black swallowtail larvae were eating my mother's parsley. Our orchard bee nest box which is just a chunk of wood with holes drilled in it has about five full holes. I happened to see the mother fast at work but she was no bee. This little dinky wasp was carrying a piece of mulch bigger than herself and jamming it in the hole. A few days earlier, I saw a caterpillar in one open hole which was sealed the next day. The wasp most likely puts a caterpillar in there, lays an egg on it, seals them in, and when it hatches, her baby wasp eats the poor pillar. The back pond has daphnia in it. This wouldn't be unusual since I added some in 2001 except that four times (I think) since then I have emptied, shop vacuumed, and refilled. I guess a few survived. I'll let them be and not feed them to my fish. I feel sorry for them!

3. On 8/10/03, I went to Koi America in Chantilly, VA. I got in free since I'm a member of the Mid- Atlantic Koi Club (MAKC). I was told it wouldn't be all koi but it basically was which was disappointing. I hoped to see more general pond stuff and maybe some animals other than koi and more pond plants. I promised the fish some free fish food samples but the only sample I got was barley straw pellets. It was fun to see the huge, gorgeous koi though and a few booths were interesting. My brother came with me, and we both enjoyed a talk by Dr. Johnson (the Koi Vet). I didn't know he was so funny! All I bought was a stuffed animal koi and a MAKC shirt. We went to Great Falls park afterwards, hiked around, and saw a lot of amazing rapids on the Potomac river. We didn't see any animals until we went in a less traveled area and saw a doe with her fawn, about four turtles in the distance so I don't know which species they were, some squirrels, and a ground skink!

4. I took off work on 8/11/03 to do my normal Sunday chores which include the pond work. It rained all day. After the pouring let up, I went out in the rain and squirted all the flosses and both sets off bioballs (hard labor!). I felt bad but I had to toss out 4 buckets of water hyacinth and water lettuce. The pond is so choked, I can't find space to feed the fish, the water lily leaves have no where to grow but up, and you can't tell there's fish inside at all. I put what I could in my back pond for the deer to chomp on and the rest over the hill, for the deer to chomp on. As it gets cooler, I will toss out more. Too bad I can't sell them! The big pond was 76 degrees F and the 153 gallon 75 degrees F.

5. On 8/13/03, when I went to dump the uneaten hedgehog food outside, the raccoon was there eating cat food which was normal. But, she wasn't alone! She brought four raccoons with her! They were almost full size but must have been her babies. They probably had never seen a human right next to them before. They looked me in the eyes with curiosity, surprise, and a little fear all at once. They were so cute! While I've never found proof that a raccoon has eaten one of my pond fish, they do clear out the snails pretty well. In winter, they leave their intact bodies frozen around the edge with their footprints as proof. This time of year, they mostly dump duckweed all over, rarely knock over a pot, and fill the cat's water bowl with dirt and duckweed. The worst thing they do is try to break bird feeders, and they usually do! Suet, hummingbird, and seed feeders have bit the dust from raccoon hunger.

6. On 8/14/03, my surviving tropical water canna opened its first bud. It was yellow and orange speckled! Very pretty! (I mention the photos of it above.) This was a free one I got with an order. I also bought one just like that that I put in my 20 gallon tub pond. It's 100% dead. It was just chance that my free one turned out like the one I bought! Now, if I can just overwinter it! I think I've tried 3 times to overwinter tropical water canna with no luck.

7. On 8/17/03, both ponds were at 77 degrees F, and I did my usual chores. I tried to fertilize the pond plants but most were impossible, and I couldn't jam the tabs through the roots and rocks. The lilies aren't doing well because the water hyacinth and water lettuce block their path and light. The one tropical lily only has a few leaves and should have had a dozen flowers by now but not a single one yet! The water celery has gone bonkers and collapsed into the pond, limiting the area for the water hyacinth and water lettuce, and making the situation worse. I'd cut out some celery but my mother won't let me since she eats some. I threw out about the equivalent of an industrial-sized wheelbarrow of water hyacinth and water lettuce over the hill to try to make some room. Such waste! I finally could actually see my two koi and a few of my orfe, goldfish, and minnows for the first time in over a month. At least I know they're alive! While moving the hyacinth, I discovered goldfish eggs all over them! What to do? I had to get rid of the hyacinth and wasn't going to pick eggs off all day. I certainly don't need more goldfish but didn't want to be the cause of their demise either. I put a few in my back pond which was already jammed with hyacinth from the week before and will have to remember to check it for fry before it freezes. Otherwise, I just pretended not to see the eggs and the little eyes looking up at me in some of them and tossed them anyway. While I threw out a ton of hyacinth, I only put out maybe 10% of what was there so the others are still egg laden as well. Most eggs and fry will get eaten quickly. While at the back pond, I saw a young pickerel frog resting there. He was so cute so I took photos. My poor main pond is overgrown with weeds inside and out! The area around it is more crabgrass than anything else. Good thing we have no visitors or I'd be embarrassed. While in the pond, the darn aphids climbed up my legs, and they bite and drive me crazy!

8. On 8/24/03, I squirted the flosses and Cyprio bio-things and tidied up. I tossed out the equivalent of two industrial-sized wheel barrows worth of water hyacinth and water lettuce again. I saw one baby goldfish in my back pond where I dumped some of those plants a few weeks ago. The pond is still suffocating under the hyacinth and lettuce but now they will start to yellow and die fast as the days shorten and cool down. The big pond was 72 degrees F, and the 153 gallon was 74 degrees F.

9. The five raccoons decided that playing in the mosaic pond was great fun. They pulled out the fake plants and feeding ring (that the male paradise fish uses for his bubble nest) and chewed them up. Luckily for my pair of paradise fish and their one baby, they hid under the mosaic plate and were unharmed. The raccoons continue to "raid" the pond off and on. They busted part of the fountain and keep pulling it off.

10. The morning of 8/26/03, a great blue heron was standing where I stand to feed the fish in my 1800 gallon pond. He/she flew away as soon as he saw me. They are so big! My fish have not been coming when I feed lately probably due to the heron and the five raccoons. The fish are hidden under all that water hyacinth and water lettuce so they're ok but I just can't see them. Sometimes, the plants bob around as the goldfish push at them from below. The heron was back the next few days as well. My mother said it had something in its beak but I never saw. Ut oh!

11. On 8/31/03, I went to the Lilypons festival. Not much new was there but we saw a cattle egret and got some photos (perhaps I can scan those later). So, it was 9/1/03 when I did my weekly chores. That means I squirted 3 sets of flosses and tidied up. Both ponds had cooled to 73 degrees F. I tossed a few big wheelbarrows worth of water hyacinth and water lettuce out again. It seems to never end! It's starting to yellow and will only get worse as the days cool and shorten. I didn't notice eggs on it this time. I did see at least one baby goldfish fry in the back pond where I put the hyacinth from before. The water lettuce ranges from half inch babies to some 1.5 feet across! I've never had water lettuce that huge before! Must be all the fish waste as I get larger and more fish (I haven't added a single fish since 1998). The marginals are starting to have some yellow leaves (hardy canna, regular cattail, arrowhead, and yellow flag iris mostly) so I've starting cutting those bad leaves. Soon, I'll be cutting off a ton as fall arrives. My OASE air pump is dead. It just hums and vibrates with no water or air coming out. I just got it this spring. I wonder if the nasty noise it was making upset the fish? Probably! I got to see some fish and have some suck on my legs. I haven't seen much of them lately with the 100% plant cover, visiting heron, and five raccoons. The fish have been hiding well but I saw they're still there (at least my koi Maggie, an orfe, lots of goldfish, and my oldest goldfish Jill were there)! I also saw a darling half inch baby pickerel frog by the 1800 gallon pond. I don't know if it was the same one I saw out back by the 18 gallon pond (where the baby goldfish are). The two photos I mentioned above were of that frog.

Pond Tidbits:

1. This may be more aquarium-related but I wanted to share some amusing snail questions and answers. I've been asked if snails eat poo. Freshwater snails don't. I've been asked if something eats their poo. Not as far as I know. Someone said their snail left its shell and was moving around the tank. That's impossible. As with turtles, snails' shells are part of their body. If their body is out of the shell, they are dead. I suspect the current only made the body appear to move on its own but I guess I'll never know!

2. Someone else e-mailed that they had collected the waste water from their aquarium in order to raise zebra danio fry. They said they got some animals in the container that folded in half and squiggled around. My first thought was mosquito larvae but I figured they were indoors. Then, she e-mailed that the local pet store chain insisted they were tadpoles (she has African dwarf frogs which are hard to breed normally) so she was excited. But then, she mentioned the buckets were outside. Ut oh. She'd raised a nice crop of skeeters! I told her to feed them to her fish, and she did. At least they got a treat! If you wish to raise fry outdoors, add a mosquito dunk to keep the mosquitoes under control until the fry are large enough to eat them.

Web Sites of Interest:

1. The Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Identification Key is at http://www.people.Virginia.EDU/~sos-iwla/Stream-Study/Key/MacroKeyIntro.HTML (wouldn't bugkey.com have been easier! Nobody has that URL so snatch it up!).

2. Aquascapes conglomerate has started The North American Watergardening Society at http://ww.nawgs.com. What it is and does (so far, nothing) remains to be seen. As a subscriber to their magazine, I am automatically a member. My one concern is that they are going to use this, like the magazine, as a vehicle to promote the Aquascapes system which sets a lot of absolutes in pond keeping that aren't necessarily true such as thou must have gravel in the bottom of the pond and buy our products. We ponders definitely need a national watergardening group. I just hope this is it. One thing I can say about their magazine is that they have gorgeous photos!

3. The Canadian Goldfish Society has interesting articles, newsletters, and people to talk to (you don't have to be Canadian) - http://www.canadiangoldfish.com/.

4. I thought I would mention my sections on what to do when the power goes out since there was that massive blackout. Here are my links:
Aquariums during power outages - http://www.fishpondinfo.com/fcare2.htm#power
Ponds during power outages - http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pcare.htm#power.

5. Here are two articles on water striders and how they move on ponds (same story written by different sources):
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0807/p14s01-stss.html?entryBottomStory and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26207-2003Aug6.html.

6. If you like frogs and haven't been there before, check out http://www.frogwatch.org.

7. There is a pond webcam in Calgary, Canada at http://members.shaw.ca/jsherrington/.

8. The "Happy Turtle online pet turtle information site" is at http://www.web.ms11.net/happyturtle and they have a forum (where I got the idea for mine which may flop) at http://invisionfree.com/forums/Happy_Turtles_Pub/.

9. An article on barley straw is at http://www.newscientist.com/lastword/article.jsp?id=lw1034.

10. A site against spraying poisons to kill mosquitoes that may be of interest to those of you in areas where they spray against your will (but also interesting and disturbing for all of us) - http://nospraynews.org

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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