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Robyn's Pond Newsletter December 2005

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?

Happy Holidays!

Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages; New Pond Photos:

1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/bigpondphotos1.htm -
Under Fall 2005 are two photos of my 1800 gallon pond from 11/24/05.

Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:

1. On 11/6/05, I squirted off the flosses and tidied up. The 1800 gallon pond was at 55 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 60 degrees F as it was in the 70's most of that week but very windy this day. Some green frogs and the bullfrog were all out, looking a little discolored but otherwise thinking it was an early spring. Because of the warmth, I'm still feeding the fish a little too. I collected about 10 buckets of leaves off of the net. I moved the hardy calla in the Tricker tub pond to the 1800 gallon pond. It had been depotted most likely from the raccoons so I just threw some rocks in its pot on top of it. I don't think it'll make it. Outside the pond, I cut down my marsh mallow vegetation and dug up the peacock orchids and one red canna to store inside for the winter. I brought in a lot of the pond ornaments (statues, etc.) around the pond.

2. On 11/13/05, before I could even get into the pond to do any work, I had to collect a ton of leaves around the pond and at the edge of the net before I could go under. I spent an hour bucketing, raking, and otherwise moving leaves. Then, I pulled the net back and got in. I squirted off the flosses and the bioballs. About a third of the way down the filter was a pickerel frog which I moved to the marginal area. On the very bottom was a male green frog. I moved him too. That would not be a great area to overwinter. Although it will not freeze, the frog could not get out, could get squished by the filter material, and if the power went out, the biofilter empties in which case the frog would have frozen.

The 1800 gallon pond was down to 48 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 53 degrees F but the air temperature was in the low 60's.

I pulled out the tropical waterlily. Rooting through it, I only found one large and one small nut tuber which I overwinter in damp reptile sand.

I have been neglecting the tub ponds. I dealt with the Tricker pond this day, a tub pond of about 12 gallons. First, I hand lifted salvinia, java moss, and anacharis out of the pond and set it in a bucket. We had yet to have a killing frost so the salvinia was still green. Then, I bucket bailed the dark water through an aquarium net and hand picked out animals. I retrieved/saved about 200 green frog tadpoles and one two inch goldfish who all went into my 1800 gallon pond. The other goldfish and rosy barb fry were no where to be found. After all those goldfish fry I hatched in buckets and then put into two tub ponds, I saved just one to go home. Due to the tight floating plant cover in this pond, they may have suffocated over the summer, been eaten (by a frog say), or jumped out. With the tub empty, I was about to set it back up and realized why? There was no reason to refill it really so I set it out to dry. I put the anacharis with some attached java moss and one stuck tadpole into the 153 gallon pond and threw the salvinia over the hill to die a slow and painful death.

The few pieces of salvinia in my basement pond were doing but I don't think they'll make it all winter. The fantails have also been breaking off the dwarf tropical waterlily leaves in there with them. Hopefully, they won't kill off the water lilies entirely.

I took out the floating plant island with dying impatiens and cleaned that up for winter storage. I of course topped off the ponds and put in some additives which I always do but usually don't bother to mention. In the end, I spent about 3 hours on the ponds that day.

Next week I need to bring in the filter in the 153 gallon pond and set out the aerator, bail/sift the other two tub ponds for tadpoles to save, and cut down all the marginals.

3. The morning of 11/17/05, we finally had our first frost that was cold enough to wilt and dry up the remaining lotus leaves and kill off a lot of plants. The next morning (25 degrees F), there was the first ice in the shallow tub ponds. Winter is here.

4. On 11/19/05, I took the PondMaster filter out of the 153 gallon and put in the Luft pump air stone and the de-icer. I also put a de-icer in the biofilter of the 1800 gallon pond.

5. On 11/20/05, I squirted off the flosses and spent 3 hours doing more winter preparations. While the air was about 60 degrees F, the 1800 gallon was down to 42 degrees F and the 153 gallon (which being smaller, warms up faster) was at 50 degrees F. I cut down all of the rest of the marginals in the main marginal area to about an inch above the water line, filling three industrial wheel barrows with plants. I kind of felt like a bad pond animal "killing" all those plants. I tried netting up some debris but invariably pulled up tadpoles and such so I didn't clean that much.

I spent some time raking and collecting more leaves but it never ends!

I bailed out the 20 gallon tub pond. First, I removed and trimmed down the blue flag iris. With each bucket of water I removed, I hand pulled out a lot of hornwort and some anacharis. Then, I ran the water through an aquarium net. I started picking out tadpoles but there were so many, and they were so small, that I changed my tactic and instead picked out the larger debris and dumped the rest with the tadpoles into the 153 gallon pond. In all, I put some dozen wads of hornwort, a few hundred green frog tadpoles, and at least one mayfly into the 153 gallon. In the bottom was one warped spilt one gallon pot that used to have a waterlily in it (nothing left), a brick, and some dirt. I cleaned that all out. The last bucket I had to hand sift out the tadpoles because there was too much yuck to just dump into the 153 gallon. A few tadpoles lost their lives but I tried not to be too upset over that because I saved a few hundred that otherwise would have died when the tub pond froze solid. I put the brick back and the iris (on the bottom and not on the brick this time) and refilled the tub pond. I mostly refilled it so that the birds can drink from it as it's their preferred watering pond, at least until it freezes.

6. On 11/24/05, we had an inch of snow overnight but it melted quickly. The morning of 11/25/05, the 1800 gallon pond had ice over half the surface. It was about 20 degrees F that morning, the coldest this fall. On 11/26/05, I put out the Tetra winter island heater thing which doesn't do much but I put it out.

7. On 11/27/05, I squirted off the flosses. The 1800 gallon was down to 40 degrees F and had a little ice in the shallow area. The 153 gallon was at 46 degrees F. I spent more time raking and picking up leaves. I've gotten too lazy/weak in my old age to spend hours hand picking up thousands of leaves around the ponds. I covered over the biofilter (top of the waterfall) with the green Rubbermaid tub lid and held it down with two 4-pound lead diving weights. This keeps the wind and snow off of the de-icer and top of the falls. In the deep end, when I ran the net a few times over the bottom, up came what seems to be one of the tropical waterlily nut tubers. This was strange as they should have been deep in the pot from whence I pulled two such tubers on 11/13/05. All I can figure is that it ended up down there either when the koi rooted it out in early summer or when the dogs flailed all about a few months ago, knocking all the lily pots to the bottom. The nut as I call it (it's walnut-sized and hard) was hard meaning it should be viable. I put it in the damp sand in the basement with the other two.

This year, I think I'll leave the net on the 1800 gallon pond even though that means with ice/snow, it will collapse into the pond water and freeze in. I took it off last year, and the heron made some kills in February. It's too much to worry about. This will be the first year I've left the net on all year. I will pull it back off the waterfall though so it doesn't interfere with water flow and help create ice blockages. I will remove the net on the 153 gallon though, probably in a week or two. I'm sure as soon as I do, the winds will toss a billion leaves in, and then it will freeze them in as this always happens.

8. When I got home on 11/28/05, I saw something weird floating in the pond. It was the plastic fake fish "reef" from the bottom of the pond. The pond is fully netted so this means that Maggie or Colin (my koi) must have gotten under it and pushed it up to the surface to catch air which is the only way it would float. My other fish aren't strong enough. The thing will have to float around until Sunday when I get in. Of course, snow is coming so I don't know yet if I can get in!

Pond Tidbits:

1. I have read and heard a lot about ponds in the last 8+ years so I have heard many opinions about all the different facets of pond keeping. Normally, I say to each his own and consider each opinion/idFor example, in one pond newsletter I got recently, the advising pond "expert" stated that frogs do not overwinter in the bottom of ponds. I sent them an e-mail to say that some frogs do (bullfrogs, green frogs, pickeral frogs) and some do not (wood frogs, tree frogs, leopard frogs, etc.). In a later e-mail, the expert printed a question from another ponder who said they could have sworn they'd seen bullfrogs overwinter in the water in their pond. The expert said that no, bullfrogs specifically cannot overwinter in the water of a pond. She says that if they stupidly decide to do so, they always drown. Well, someone should tell my huge bullfrog who overwinters in the depths of my 1800 gallon pond year after year, still alive. I find him while in the pond in the winter doing chores, even when there's ice over part of the pond. He'll look yucky (darkened) but low and behold, he doth move! As things warm, he does just fine as do the dozens upon dozens of green frogs and few pickeral frogs who have overwintered in the bottoms of my ponds for 8 years. During the winter, frogs that overwinter in the water get their oxygen from the water, through their skin.

The expert says that fish are more important than frogs so that no debris should ever be added to allow frogs to overwinter in the pond (huh, you said they can't overwinter in the water). Frogs do NOT require things added to the pond to overwinter. I have read that they do, and yes, it is helpful to them to have a few leaves or some clean dirt to hide under but they no sooner want a foot of toxic pond slop to burrow into than the fish do. Such debris can result in too low oxygen levels to support the frogs as well as toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfide and methane. My frogs often overwinter on bare liner or in a little bit of debris. I try to consider all points of view but this is one case where I know this person is simply wrong. And that irks me because this information is taken by others as truth.

In a later e-mail where a person had some large goldfish eaten/missing and mentioned raccoons and plecos, the expert said that the plecos probably did it. Huh? Plecostomus are about the most docile fish there are. I have a 14" one with a 1.5" severely ill (tuberculosis) zebra danio (and previously other danios). A pleco will not eat goldfish unless they're dead. Now, he will suck on their sides if they're weak or sick which can injure them and lead to deadly infections but he won't eat them outright. The person in need of advise had fenced in their pond but the expert never mentioned that a heron might be at fault in which case a fence alone serves to simply reduce their competition.

Her advice just keeps getting funnier. When asked about a "shark" added to the pond, she didn't have a clue what it could be. It was probably a hi-fin banded shark. Anyway, she said that many freshwater fish "mate for life" meaning they can continue to lay eggs even when there's just one fish alone. While some live-bearing fish can retain sperm for months and still have babies, female fish that lay eggs directly, as far as I know, require a male present at that time in order for fertilization.

Aha, she did give good advice on algae.

Web Sites of Interest:

1. None this month.

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