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Robyn's Pond Blog for January 2016

Last Updated: 2/2/16

1. I did a little bit of pond work on 1/3/16. It was about 45 degrees F outside. The 1800 gallon was at 40 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 49 degrees F. I didn't get in the pond. I topped off the big pond but the others were full. I found the huge goldfish that finally died and removed him/her. He/she was 10 inches long and had been dead about a week and smelled horrible. The water-filled body was partially hidden which is why I didn't remove or find him/her sooner.

2. The morning of 1/5/16, it was finally cold, 12 degrees F! The pond flash froze overnight leaving holes in the new ice only at the base of the waterfall and where the air stone bubbles up.

3. I changed some of the water in the 20 gallon basement pond on 1/9/16, and I saw a mayfly larvae squiggling by! I also caught a heron on my big pond. It is netted except for a foot wide section by the waterfall where it is the deepest. The ONLY reason the pond is netted this time of the year is because of herons.

4. On 1/10/16, the air temperature was 56 degrees F at 11 am, not too bad but starting to get windy. I got in the pond while I could. The 1800 gallon pond thermometer read 46 degrees F while that in the 153 gallon pond read 50 degrees F. All the ponds were topped off from a few inches of rain that had just fallen. I squirted off the main filter materils. I changed the Ammocarb in the mesh bag in the main biofilter. I threw in a few cups of salt as we have had a lot of rain making the water more devoid of ions and salts than usual. The great blue heron has been around for a few days, and I keep finding him standing in the middle of the net. He keeps pulling the stakes out from his weight. Most of my goldfish have vanished. There are not a ton of places to hide but they must be jammed in somewhere.

5. The morning of 1/11/16, it was below freezing, and the heron was still there. One of my four koi, Riley, decided she was scared of the heron (who couldn't get her through the net) and jammed herself in the plastic hideaway. The problem is that she is way too big! I couldn't budge it with a 5 gallon waterlily pot on top which must weight 30 pounds so I had to put on hip waders and get in the pond around 7:50 am to go rescue her.

6. The heron stuck around. He was always standing on the net. On 1/13/16, the pond was mostly frozen except for where the waterfall comes out and the deepest end (26") where the air stone is. It's a strip next to the waterfall that varies from a foot to two feet out from there where there is no net. Since herons supposedly don't go in to water that deep unless they can walk/wade in, the fish should have been safe. Yeah, well herons don't follow the rules. When I got home, at 5:30 pm, a huge maybe 8-10" goldfish was in the waterfall overflow area in an inch of water. There is absolutely no way that the fish could have gotten there him/herself. When I went out, the fish was still alive since the water was flowing there and didn't freeze so I put the fish back in the pond. He/she promptly went to the most shallow area under the ice where the two orfe were hanging out. It is my presumption that the heron jumped from the waterfall overflow straight down in to 26" of water and then fished in the deep end. The goldfish are mostly out of sight. I can only find a couple of them but there is the plastic hiding house where Riley got stuck a few days ago. I don't know how many goldfish are in there. I can only see three fish including the injured one, all in the shallows which are both covered in net and ice. I can't see any fish in the plastic house. It used to be that if all the goldfish went in there, some bodies stuck out. Their numbers must be down. Luckily, the fish I found stranded today had no spear injuries, just a couple of scrapes which means that the heron tried to fling him/her down his/her gullet, and the fish was just too big. How many goldfish did the heron eat? I don't know but I do know that no matter how I try to protect the fish, I never have to worry about too many goldfish in my pond. In fact, I may run out. The koi should be safe simply due to their weight (although they could still be speared or injured fatally) but they are petrified. I can't pull the net up over the waterfall due to winter issues (keeping the water flowing and so on). Oh, herons also aren't supposed to be problems in ponds in the winter. This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last.

7. I spoke too soon. The next morning, the heron was in the waterfall overflow, and the huge damaged goldfish was floating in the deep end. I think maybe the heron did more damage to the fish but I'm not sure. I used the net to push the goldfish under the ice. When I came home, she was back floating by the waterfall, and I netted her out. I thought she was dead. Her gills weren't moving, and she wasn't moving. I looked at her on the ground (yes, female) for a minute or so and was about to leave when she moved ever so slightly. So, back in the pond she went; however, I only give her a 1% chance of survival. In case you're wondering, I leave dead fish on one of the piles where I dump dead and discarded pond plants and collected leaves. The raccoons, foxes, etc. come and take the bodies to eat.

8. On 1/16/16, I did a few things at the pond early while it was still pretty warm. First, I unhooked the pond net. I netted out that poor goldfish that the heron had beat up. This time, she was definitely dead. And, she was a lot bigger than I thought. I measured her at 12"! She was orange with white fin tips. I then grabbed the pond net and pulled it up so it was closer to the waterfall. I've had to tighten it so many times from the heron landing on it that the area that's not protected has doubled. I fixed that. I also hooked up a new candycane light. This lets me know if there's power out there, not only when I look out the window, but the instant I round the bend on my drive home. Around 11:20 am, I saw the heron fly away from the waterfall overflow area but this time with something in his mouth. It looked like a frog. I guess that's why he's sticking around, cleaning out the frog population. I'm getting mad kiddo!

9. We got a dusting of snow on 1/17/16 starting at 11:40 am, the first snow of the season. The heron was still there in the morning and must have come after the snow stopped as the net was collapsed yet again! By collapsed, I mean that it is in the water instead of suspended above the water. This usually includes a few of the plastic anchor pins being pulled from the wet ground. The 1800 gallon pond was at 40 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 44 degrees F. I found and removed a 2" dead pickerel frog floating in the 153 gallon pond.

10. When I got home on 1/19/16, the air stone was not bubbling in the 153 gallon pond. It was so cold that the humidity in the air that was in the line froze and blocked the flow. I cut another piece of line. I had to bring the aerator inside because I just could not get the line over the barb even after blowing hot air on it over and over. It was just too cold.

11. On 1/21/16, there was an inch of snow on the ground, and the airline in the 153 gallon pond was frozen again. I put the old line (which I had put in the bathtub to dry) back in. It was hard to get it on again.

12. I actually had a few minutes to link in photos. I am so far behind, that these are from last April!!

Photos from 4/12/15. My koi's names are Colin, Nikita, Alex, and Riley.
153 gallon pond facing northwest.
Water strider in my 153 gallon pond.
Big pond facing south.
Big pond facing north.
Nikita (bottom), Colin (left), Alex (middle), and Riley (right) - also two orfe and a bunch of goldfish.
Nikita and an orfe.
Riley and an orfe.

Photos from 4/15/15 after fresh mulch around the south side of the pond:
Pond garden facing northeast.
Pond garden facing north.
Pond garden facing northwest.

13. From exactly 2:08 pm on 1/22/16 until about 10 pm on 1/23/16, we had a blizzard. I measured 14" at 8 am on 1/23/16 and 19" by 4 pm. The news says we got about 26" but I went out in my hip waders and stuck the ruler in dozens of times on 1/24/16 at 8 am, and I got 19" not just for an average but almost every time I stuck the yard stick down to the ground. The ponds did very well as we didn't lose power. I posted photos on the Fishpondinfo Facebook page, and I don't know when I'll have time to put them on my web site. Needlesstosay, I did not get in the pond on 1/24/16 to squirt the filter materials, clean the bioballs, etc. I couldn't even get to the thermometers for a reading. I wear my pond hip waders to walk outside in the deep snow, and I use my pond gloves to dig snow away. With regular gloves under them, my fingers didn't get cold. I fell down countless times but except for one fall on the road after it was plowed due to ice which will leave a few good bruises, all the falls were soft in to the snow, more of a sitting event really. When snow is above your knee, it's kind of awkward to walk and fall. I fell in to the waterfall overflow of the pond early on 1/23/16 but at least I didn't fall in to the main pond! I have to go from experience to know where everything is because it all looks like snow. I walked out on to the waterfall that morning as well to clear out some snow and ice but, by the next day, the snow was so deep that I didn't want to risk that I wouldn't step in just the right spots to avoid falling down in to the waterfall or pond. There are only a few secure rocks on the falls themselves, and I couldn't see them of course.

14. Time for more old pond photos from April 2015!

These photos were take on 4/26/15 to show the pond and the garden around it after I did some mulching.
Big pond facing southwest.
Big pond facing south.
Big pond and garden facing south.
Big pond facing west.
Big pond facing north.
Big pond facing north.
Big pond facing north.
King Tut in my pond garden.

15. On 1/31/16, the air temperature was up to 58 degrees F! The snow is down to under half a foot in most places. The thermometer for the 1800 gallon pond is still buried in snow and ice. The one in the 153 gallon pond read 46 degrees F.

Continue to the February 2016 pond blog.

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