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Robyn's Pond Newsletter October 2001

Last Updated: 2/17/14

Welcome to my forth newsletter coming after a month of intense fear, pain, sorrow, anger, and patriotism here in the USA. I hope none of your friends or family were harmed. I live about 40 miles north of the Pentagon, and I was scared to death listening to the real-time radio reports at work all day 9/11/01. I wonder if any of the victims had ponds, aquariums, and other pets and what became of the ponds, etc. I wonder how many aquariums were in the World Trade Center. I found out that Petco is taking donations for animal shelters affected, both at their stores and on their web site. I donated and encourage you to donate via Petco or your local shelter. A news program said that many animals were orphaned when their owners died, many died outright, and many were abandoned when their owners were forbidden to return to their homes in the area. Volunteers are trying to retrieve these animals, many of whom are dying of dehydration and starvation. At least one owner who lived near the WTC was happily reunited with her white Persian cat left behind over a week before. Also, many animals have been given to shelters by military personnel that are leaving. Unfortunately, no-kill shelters are full in the affected areas and most animals taken to kill shelters have very little chance of being adopted. The 10/9/01 issue of The Enquirer has an article on some of the rescued cats, dogs, a rabbit, and a gecko on Pages 14- 15. I was glad to read that pets other than cats and dogs were also being rescued. While the human loss is immense, so is the suffering of these oft-forgotten victims.

If you have something pond-related that you want to share (information, jokes, web sites, 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? What topics did you not want to hear about? Is this newsletter too long (I had a lot to say this month; future issues will be much smaller, less offensive, and will cover fewer non-pond topics)? I would love some feedback. Thanks!

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

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/winter.htm
2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/pictures.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/animals/pmamm.htm (altered from the original URL since I moved it)
4. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/birds/pondbird.htm (altered from the original URL since I moved it)
5. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/animals/mammals.htm (altered from the original URL since I moved it)
6. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pondcom.htm
7. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/setup.htm
8. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/shrimp/index.htm (altered from the original URL since I moved it)
9. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/basepond.htm (altered from the original URL since I moved it)

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. I added a paragraph or so to the section on what to do with plants in the winter as I've recently got a lot of questions about that.
2. I have added three new photos to my pond pages. The first one under my main pond for summer 2001 is of some of my lilies. The first one under my other ponds section for summer 2001 is of some flowering anacharis and duckweed. Under insects, there is a photo of a dragonfly that just has come out of the water. (The three photos can be gone to directly at lilies.jpg, anach.jpg, and dragon2.jpg.)
3. I have divided up my pond mammals, birds, and reptiles page into three different pages. Minor changes were made to the information.
4. This is the new pond birds page. I added some new information on some of the birds listed.
5. This is the new pond mammals page. I added new short sections on moles and muskrats.
6. I have separated the e-mail pond comments from the other comments about my other pages. If you haven't read the comments I've gotten about my pond web pages, they're fun reading.
7. I added a section on questions to ask yourself before building a pond.
8. There is a new account of breeding ghost shrimp in an aquarium on my shrimp page.
9. I added some to the section on my indoor 20 gallon tub pond because I've started to bring in some plants for this winter (mostly the hibiscus, see below).
10. Other: Although not related to ponds, I have added two new pages on two new species of fish that I've gotten. Go to my main fish index for the new pages on bristlenose plecostomus and glowlight tetras.

Potential Future Additions to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. My pond book will be printed after all. I have sent it off to 1stbooks who will make it available as an electronic and a printed book. It's 364 pages long in a 8.25"x11" paperback with no pictures (they don't allow color!). I will let you know when it is available for sale. They say about four months (so January or February). The electronic version should be ready sooner, by early December if things go as planned. There is preliminary information about the book on 1stbooks web site at http://1stbooks.com/bookview/8794

2. After one of my bosses asked me to build him a pond (I told him I wouldn't dig), I was thinking of questions to ask him which I added as a new section (see #7 above). While looking over that page on pond setup, I realized it was woefully inadequate. So, I hope to separate the page into about three pages and expound on the topics. I need to mention at least some basics about pond building which I basically don't cover. Let me know if there's other pond topics that I don't cover well enough. Of course, every new section that I add, I wish that it would have been in the book!

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. I repotted four of my iris in my 1800 gallon pond on Labor Day. It was quite a labor. My yellow flag iris, last repotted two years ago in a 2 gallon pot, was literally five feet in diameter! It took a lot of tugging and hacking to get that thing out of there! I only repotted back about 1/50th of it! The rest I set on the ground. It may or may not take root but I wasn't about to try to pot that thing! My blue, purple, and red iris were pathetic in comparison but I repotted them so they would get fresh dirt and fertilizer and perhaps flower better next spring.

2. I put the net over my 153 gallon pond on 9/23/01. Intense storms came through the next day so lots of leaves have fallen already. The storm spawned a rare F3 tornado in Maryland, destroying portions of Laurel and College Park, causing over $30 million in damage, and killing two sister students. Luckily, the violent cell of tornado-spawning clouds missed us by over five miles.

3. The net on my 1800 gallon pond was brought out and set up on 9/30/01. The tropical water hibiscus was brought into my indoor pond. It has flower buds for the first time in three years! The first one opened on 10/3/01 and is a pale pink. It was quite the ordeal to get the hibiscus indoors. Last spring, I potted it from a two gallon pot into a five gallon pot and put it in my 1800 gallon pond. It grew, and grew, and grew! A few months ago, it flopped over, not the pot, the plant. I tried to stake it upright but it was too big. On 9/30/01, when I went to bring it in, it was hard to move because of weight and size. I was pulling on it when the plant came out of the pot! A few gallons of dirt got into the pond. With my brother's help, I managed to get the plant and then the half-empty pot out of the pond. The dirt soon filled the entire pond and for the first time since 1997, the fish couldn't see me and I couldn't see them. It took a few days for the dirt to settle. Hopefully, it won't spawn an algae bloom from the fertilizer that was in there. Anyway, the hibiscus monster was hauled, bare root, into the basement and put into my 20 gallon indoor "pond" for the winter. The plant was simply too big to pot back up! I left it bare root in the indoor pond where it hopefully will still flower. Beyond that, I wouldn't be too upset if it died as I never wanted a monster tropical plant (I bought it thinking it was a hardy hibiscus that could stay in the pond but found out later on the label that it was tropical). The plant, without being potted, kept rolling around in the pond and wanted to go upside down so I had to anchor it still using lead diving belt weights. The next few weeks, I have to bring in the other tropical plants. This is so much work!

4. I was spooked on 10/2/01 when I went to fill the pond. As I reached for the spigot, a thud hit the house. *It was a female fawn that was injured and resting in a bush by the house. She had been shot around 9/27/01 when I first saw her. Her shoulder was bloody and now infected. She limped off, avoiding falling into my pond's leaf net where a fawn fell the previous fall, perhaps to find her mother who had been trying to comfort her. The pain was evident in her eyes. There was nothing I could do for her. A wheelchair-bound hunter that we know was recently asked why he killed deer. He said it was because "they were meant to die." I was shocked last year to look up while on our land to see hunters with two bows and arrows trying to kill our deer. While I feared for my own safety, the fear for the deer on our land was even stronger. I couldn't sleep that night. All around us are hunters. None of them follow the laws. They all try to sneak onto our land with their weapons. They tend to kill the large male deer first. But for them to kill a fawn is hard to fathom. One of our neighbors hired the hunters that were on our land. His reasoning was that he hates them and will not stop until "every last deer is dead." Our deer thought they were safe on our land. I know them personally, and they know me. They have names. I don't always get along with all the deer, but in times of crisis, I do my best to protect them. To the hunters, they are just objects and not individuals, and they feel they have the right to kill them. Now, each day they and I live in fear of the next attack.*

The above is all true. While writing it, I couldn't notice the similarity to recent events. If you are one of those people who have no sympathy for the deer, I want you to go back and between the two *'s, replace "fawn" with "child", "shot" with "terrorized", "9/27/01" with "9/11/01", "hunter(s)" with "terrorist(s)", "deer" with "American(s)", "last year" with "last month", "on our land" with "in New York City", and "bows and arrows" with "planes". Maybe then you will understand better how I feel. I'm sure this offends those of you who hunt and those of you that believe animals can't feel but I don't care. Most of my friends are non-human animals, and they agree.

Interesting Animal Sightings:

1. When I was pulling out the huge iris, I felt a spot of pain on my arm but didn't know what it was. It happened again when I got the iris out of the pond. I saw that it was a saddleback caterpillar moth caterpillar. The scientific name of the saddleback is Sibine stimulea, and they grow to about an inch long as caterpillars. They have green saddles with brown and white and each end has sharp spines full of poison. When I put some calamine lotion on it a few hours later, it actually bubbled from a chemical reaction. There must be acid in the spines. Anyway, don't touch one! The two that got me were hanging out in the water iris. Two days later, my arm was super itchy and looked like I had poison ivy where the caterpillars got me.

2. I was amazed to find a dead animal on my desk when I got home from work on 9/5/01. It was a young, male rodent of a species I thought we did not have. It was a Southern flying squirrel. These nocturnal squirrels require mature (50+ years) trees in which to nest, feed, and glide about. Our woods are only 24 years old. Our outdoor cat (a stray that showed up years ago) killed the flying squirrel around 11 am when the squirrel should have been asleep. My mother found it barely alive, it died, and she put it on my desk. I can only guess that he fell to the ground the night before on one of his first "flying" expeditions. He was 3.5 inches in body length with a 3 inch tail. He had skin membranes around his arms, a flattened tail, and huge eyes. By the way, I believe domestic cats should be indoors so they are safe and don't kill animals but my parents won't let me bring the two strays that adopted us indoors.

Web Sites of Interest:
1. http://www.koivet.com/index.html is the Koi Vet site which has lots of information on koi and goldfish health and pond information. It's a good place to go for questions on fish health and treatment.
2. http://allaboutfrogs.org is Frogland! This site has frog information, humor, and other neat things.
3. http://www.nordsieck.de/Mollusks/ is a large Austrian-based site (in English) on mollusks, cephalopods, and related animals. It covers snail anatomy and biology which is very interesting.
4. http://www.thepetstop.com/fish_shop_Miscellaneous/BI-AQUA.html is a site that sells what is reported to be the same as CSA or C&S Aquaculture but goes by a different name. The guy who sells CSA has apparently vanished as he doesn't respond to e-mails, phone calls, or mailed requests, and his web site is off-line. As someone who swears by CSA's ability to keep ponds crystal clear, I will have to try buying from this site when I run out. If you've never tried this stuff before, you should also check out this newly-found site which describes the product in depth. (Note added 10/26/01: This last site may no longer work either. You can order a product called BZT Aquaculture which is almost the same as CSA directly from http://www.united-tech.com/.)

What's your favorite pond-related web site(s)?

Pond Tidbits:

1. Putting a leaf net on to collect leaves is half the battle. Every once in a while, you need to get the leaves off the net before they weigh it down and/or rot, leaching into the pond water. If the pond is small enough to reach across, using hands to grab them is easy enough. Since I can't reach across my pond, I use a few methods to get the leaves together for removal away from the pond. It is best if at first, the leaf net can be detached from two corners. Then, it can be shaken to get all the leaves mostly in one spot on the net. Then, I usually use my skimmer net to pull them towards me and then scoop them up. If the leaves are wet, this can help. My brother came up with using the shop vacuum to collect leaves off the net and mulch. It works well for reaching stray leaves but if too many leaves are sucked it, it jams and has to be cleaned. It also tends to suck up mulch so I have to use my hands and a bucket to collect leaves from the mulch. The shop vacuum works better for dry leaves. It's a lot of work.

2. Early October is the best time to clean out the pond for winter near Zone 6/7. The fish and frogs are slowing down but they're not hibernating yet. The plants have pretty much died back and can be further pruned. I suggest a complete clean-out for ponds under about 100 gallons at least once a year. Late March or early April is the best time to clean ponds, followed by October. I give my 153 gallon pond a complete cleaning in the spring and a water change and partial cleaning in the fall. Ponds over 100-200 gallons don't need to be totally cleaned out often. My 1800 gallon is too big to change more than a few hundred gallons at once. I use a net to scoop debris off the floor. I used to use a hose-fed "vacuum" but it was too difficult with all the pea gravel the koi dumped into the lower parts of the pond. Sometimes, I use it to get up the silt in the pond that our well chucked in there. The addition of lots of good bacteria in fall helps reduce detritus build-up. Last year I used Microbe-Lift Autumn Prep. I've bought some for this year too. I can't say that the pond was any cleaner on the bottom than in previous years though. Since 1998 or 1999 when I started using CSA and barley straw and added bioballs to my big filter and added the Cyprio filter, my 1800 gallon pond has been crystal clear except for about one week in April. What exactly did it, I couldn't say. It could just be the maturation of lots of plants and microorganisms.

Pond Humor:

My brother jokingly asked how he could set up an "inorganic" pond. But, actually you can do one now. They sell fake floating koi that move in the breeze; fake turtles and frogs; silk water lilies; and fake plants including lilies, lotuses, cattails, water hyacinth, water lettuce, and water iris. There are floating wax water lily candles. These can all be put in a pond with a fountain and bleach in the water. If bleach is maintained, algae will never grow and nothing alive can live. I said to my brother that you could add inorganic Miracle Grow but that the pond would explode when you lit the wax lily candle. He said, "So, I don't need extra lighting then?"

Do you have some better pond jokes? E-mail them to me, and I will put the best ones in the next newsletter.

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