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Robyn's Pond Newsletter December 2004

Last Updated: 2/17/14

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?

Fishpondinfo.com went over 1 million visitors around Thanksgiving. I can't imagine who all these people are. If just half of them gave me $1 in appreciation, I'd have enough money to save the house, land, plants, animals, and ponds when the time comes.

The holidays are coming up. I hope you all have a happy, healthy holiday! Consider buying some fishy things from my fishpondinfo store as gifts from http://www.cafeshops.com/fishpondinfo.

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

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/videos/videos.html
2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/insects/ant.htm#pond
3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/bigpondphotos1.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
4. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/animalphotos.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
5. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/fishphotos.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
6. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/chem.htm#poison

Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:

1. I still can't believe it! My host, Net Nation ( http://www.netnation.com), now has unlimited bandwidth! Not only do I save $50 a month from bandwidth charges (too many visitors!) but now I can stop asking people NOT to visit my site to save me money AND I can finally put up a public link to a few videos. This index lists three videos I did early this year. You won't see me but that's my voice. One shows my aquariums, one shows the ponds, and one shows my poor rooster Beebee and hen Salty (who, little did I know, both would be eaten by a fox just weeks later). The videos are really short and lame but maybe I can do some more later. Enjoy!

2. I put in a small section on controlling ants by ponds.

3. There are six photos under Fall 2004 of the 1800 gallon pond including five following the day of 11/7/04 which you can read about below.

4. My father took three photos of an adult great blue heron that was next to my 153 gallon pond on 11/8/04. Look under the birds section.

5. There are two photos of the new fantails I bought on 11/5/04 which I talk about below. The photos are under Fall 2004.

6. There is a new section on dealing with poisonings. I added this after someone had workers dump paint in their pond.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 11/5/04, I had to go to Aquarium Center to get live blackworms for my African dwarf frogs. It's their main food, and I was out which happens every few months. Now, I mail order basically all my animal, aquarium, and pond supplies, going to a chain store once a week for CareFresh (litter for my rabbits, guinea pigs, and hedgehogs), crickets, and mealworms. Since the chain store's fish are really sick, I'm not tempted. But, going to Aquarium Center, I was bad, bad, bad and bought four small goldfish for my basement pond. They will go into the 1800 gallon pond in the spring unless something changes the aquarium situation. I know I shouldn't get any animals since I don't have time, and I seem to kill them off but I did. I got two red and white fantails, a calico fantail, and a chocolate telescope-eyed fantail which I worried would be too delicate for the pond but got anyway. These guys were less than $3 and only about 1 to 1.5 inches long. I put them into my basement pond with all the right additives. The next day, the filter was hardly flowing. I dismantled it. I shouldn't have worried about the chocolate telescope-eye because out he popped from the U-shaped filter intake. How in the world did he get in there? Oops, I forgot the intake is cracked. Dumb me, killed one already. At least I keep old busted filters and rubber-banded on another intake (busted at where it holds on and not the grates). The other three won't get sucked in. They are doing really well and are cute as buttons when they come out of hiding.

2. On 11/7/04, I squirted off the flosses (filter material) around my main pump as well as all the bags of bioballs and lava rock. The 1800 gallon was at 50 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 55 degrees F. The air was about 70 degrees F (little wind thankfully). Then, the leaves, oh, the leaves! The net was completely sunk into the pond. My father had been running the mower to pick up leaves so leaf and dirt dust covered the pond and everything. I couldn't lift the net at all so I had to go into the pond to hand collect bucket after bucket off the net. I also netted a little of the bottom, cleaned off the falls, started pulling out more water celery, and tidied up. I pulled over all the remaining water hyacinth out to where the net was off (I fold it over so only a corner for me is open). Then, I practiced my swinging as I swung dozens of hyacinth out. I took some photos then of the pile of leaves and hyacinth as well as the pond before and after the leaves were off. After I got one end of the net free of leaves, I had to go to the other side and use my pole net to pull more leaves over to bucket off. I lost count of the number of times I filled our huge wheelbarrow with leaves, hyacinth, and other plant debris after half a dozen times. After the deeper areas were clear including all my remaining floating hoops and ornaments, I covered that part back over and pulled the net off the marginals. I cut everything down except the two recently repotted water iris that I wanted to let grow some (they weren't that tall anyway). I flung tons of hardy canna, zebra rush, common rush, cotton grass, pickerel weed, and more than I can remember out. While in the shallows, I found another poor dead goldfish that was previously hidden by vegetation. This 8" red/orange goldfish had been dead for weeks! PEW, so BAD!!! No wonder the pond stunk like dead fish! I finally anchored the net fully down. It's a good thing since earlier in the day, the great blue heron was hanging around. Then, I did some running of the rake over the mulched area around the pond and raked down a huge pile of leaves to the edge of the weeds. After four hours of this, I actually felt pretty good! Later I realized I had half a dozen cuts on my hand but oh well! The pond looks really empty now. My two koi and four orfe are still alive along with about 30 goldfish. I cleared out most everything since it's finally supposed to go below freezing in a few days so I figured next week, everything would be mush.

3. When I came home on 11/8/04, I realized that the floating plant island that I'd removed from the 1800 gallon pond the day before and left on the porch to dry had been ransacked by the baby raccoons. They tossed the pots all over, dumping stuff all over but at least I found the pots. I guess I should have dried it inside after all! The babies are such trouble makers. They come around after dark. We could watch them for hours if we had time. One little one jumped towards me growling, scared but so funny doing it when I went outside for a minute last week. They have to mess up everything they find! But while they do it, they gurgle and make funny noises to each other. It's so cute that it makes most people wish they could pick them up and cuddle them (which they can't because they'd bite of course).

4. We had our first real frost the night of 11/8/04, and, the morning of 11/10/04, there was the first ice in the tub ponds. On 11/10/04, I put a little azolla from my 20 gallon lotus tub pond into the basement pond.

5. On 11/14/04, I squirted off the filter floss, collected some leaves, topped off the ponds, pulled some water celery, and did a few other things. The 1800 gallon was down to 40 degrees F and the 153 gallon to 47 degrees F. I pulled the tropical water lily out. It had now had a few cold days to help it set its nut-like tubers. After running my hands through roots, mud, and stones, I only found two walnut-sized nut tubers which are the part that overwinters. The main plant and root had grown from last year's "nut" and would just rot if stored. I discovered that I didn't have the reptile sand I thought I had to store it in so I just put them in some damp sphagnum until I go to the pet store on Friday (where I'll pay twice what I do mail order; I just made my monthly mail orders last week!). I used up the last of the Microbe-Lift Autumn Prep in the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds. By pushing a bucket sideways into my 50 gallon (dead) lotus tub pond, I managed to rescue a few dozen green frog tadpoles of many sizes. I wish I could get them all out before the pond freezes but the tub is full of mud and thick plants (water poppy and hornwort mostly).

6. A few of my ~5 inch goldfish have popeye and dropsy in my 1800 gallon pond. The others seem okay, although some seem to have the white cuts they get from spring spawning which is weird. Since I've never successfully treated popeye/dropsy, I'm not going to try to treat these two (maybe three) fish. The stress of moving them a tiny tank would probably do more harm than the treatment did good. The only real treatment that could help the fish would be antibiotic injections. Since there are no fish vets in my state, I can't do that. Without the plant cover, I still cannot see the new shubunkin so I thought it hadn't made it until 11/20/04 when I spotted a dark shubunkin. The fish was hard to see and about 5" long. It sure grew fast! Even though I did a long quarantine, I wondered if it introduced something to my pond that months later led to the 14+ goldfish die en masse. Since I've found that fish is fine, that doesn't seem as likely.

7. On 11/21/04, I didn't get into my main pond since I'm now cleaning the filter floss around the pump every other week. The 1800 gallon was at 54 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 57 degrees F. I removed the PondMaster filter from the 153 gallon pond for the year and put the Luft pump with air stone in for the winter. I decided to bring out the Pondovac to clean the back pond and to try to clean up some spilt dirt and debris in my 1800 gallon pond. There was nothing positive about the experience. The back pond has nothing but leaves and water. The Pondovac can't even suck up a single leaf; it just jams so I had to net the stinky pond first before sucking the water out. Being far from the house, it was mostly hauling out water hoses and electrical cords that makes doing this a real pain which is why I only do it about three times a year. Then, when I tried to use the Pondovac in my actual pond, it kept jamming. Leaves and plant debris won't go in. Rocks go in all right and jam it up. It would suck a few seconds and clog, spitting slop back into the pond. So, unless your pond has zero debris, forget it. All I ended up doing was stirring up a mess and turning the water chocolate. I probably killed a few tadpoles in the process too. From start to finish JUST for using the Pondovac, setting it up, hauling it, cleaning it up, took three hours!! I hate saying negative things (don't want to get sued) but this thing is worthless. I could right, in detail, a few dozen things I really don't like about it. I was hoping the only other time I used it maybe was just a bad day but really this thing turns a good day into a bad one. I think I'll go back to the regular shop vacuum for the back pond and a net for the main pond. Without much time left, I topped off the ponds and raked up a few leaves but tons need to be moved.

8. On 11/28/04, I squirted off the filter floss, netted the bottom a little, and spent about 30 minutes in the high winds removing leaves from the mulch around the pond. Both ponds were at 50 degrees F. I put a de-icer in the 153 gallon pond but it's still not really cold yet. Technically, the nets should come off next week but I'm worried that the herons may visit again. Also, there are so many leaves that I simply haven't had any time to remove from around the ponds. If left there, they will simply blow into the water. The nets have to come off before they freeze in simply because then, they get ripped up, sunken into the water (where fish can get caught in them), and frozen in.

9. The morning of 12/4/04, today, there was the first ice on my 1800 gallon pond in the marginal area. I put a de-icer in that pond too.

Pond Tidbits:

1. Winter, when the pond is not frozen, is the best time to see the fish. This provides a great opportunity to photograph the fish. It allows you to count your fish and check them over to see if they have anything wrong with them. After a summer of feeling like the pond has no fish in it due to plant cover, it's nice for me to spend time with the pond fish.

Web Sites of Interest:

1. An article on winter and summer fish kills in large ponds: http://ohioline.osu.edu/a-fact/0008.html

2. Another page on pond winter care: http://www.bestfish.com/wntrpond.html

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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