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Robyn's Pond Blog for May 2012

Last Updated: 6/4/12

1. On 5/1/12, I put 32 of the 33 tropical house plants out on the porches for the year. My brother has to come move the heaviest one. I did not empty out the basement pond yet but hope to do that and put out the tropical waterlily in a few days.

2. The great blue heron is at the pond every morning as of 5/2/12. I try to scare him off but he comes back. Maggie, my largest fish and oldest koi, has been hanging out at the surface, sometimes in the shallows in the last few days. She has no obvious physical problem but I'm worried that she's not going to make it. This is very abnormal behavior for her. I've been using the pole net to coax her back to the deep end in the morning so at least the heron doesn't peck holes in her. Years ago, he put some holes in my other old koi, Colin, but he survived.

3. I was worried it was the end for Maggie, and, unfortunately, I was right. She was dead the morning of 5/3/12. I took photos and measurements and examined her. She was 26" long and 12 pounds. I used the human scale by weighing myself holding a net with her and then without her and subtracting. She had about three small Aeromonas-type lesions on her, some minor fin rot on her caudal fin, and one large scale was missing. She was a Doitsu so she only had a dozen scales or so on her entire body. None of those things was fatal. From her vent, there was swelling, protrusion, and blood. I surmised that she died of a long-term internal bacterial infection. I do not normally bury dead pond fish and considered burying her but it would have been a lot of work. So, I put her at the back of the property so that, in death, she could feed various animals such as cats, foxes, raccoons, maggots, and even provide "chew toys" for the squirrels who chew on bones to wear down their teeth. I have many times heard a strange noise only to find a squirrel chewing on a deer bone or a box turtle shell. On 5/5/12, I went back to look at the body, and it was still there. Some animal(s) had eaten her vent area out. Inside, I could see a few cups of roe. I saw no signs of tumors. I know for sure that she was female. Since I have never seen a baby koi, I am wondering if maybe I am wrong about Colin. If Colin is female, that would explain the lack of fry and also could explain Maggie's death. She could have died at least partially from egg binding. She was always grossly fat, much more than svelte Colin. I had Maggie for 14 years so she was probably 15 years old.

On 5/3/12, I potted up the one gallon pot of the growing tip as well as five hard nut tubers in to a single five gallon pot and put them in the big pond. I think the tubers were dead but the growing tip was alive. There was only one tiny piece of parrot feather still alive, and it fell apart when I was moving it. The parrot feather in the 1800 gallon pond never died due to lack of winter this year so it's fine but, if I had to depend on the indoor supply I overwintered, I would have been out of luck. I also put out the rest of the Cyprio biothings that were floating around in the basement pond. I bailed out the 50 gallon basement pond and put it up for the year.

The fish were spawning. Not only was Maggie dead but I found another dead fish about 20 feet from the pond. It was a 9.5" female common goldfish. She was orange with a little white on the tips of her fins. She had just spawned as her abdomen was collapsed from expelling eggs. She had no physical damage at all, no hemorrhages, no dirt from flopping around, no wounds, no sores, nothing. I think the heron ate her whole and then couldn't swallow her so he spit her out. I put some MelaFix and salt in the pond for good measure.

4. I linked in these photos and videos from the 3/14/12 cleaning of the 153 gallon pond.

Ponds - the ponds as I got ready to clean the ponds, facing north
Ponds facing northwest; new mulch in the day before; my cat GK sitting there; 50 gallon tub pond farthest away, then 20 gallon tub pond, and then the 153 gallon pond
Cranefly larvae
Juvenile rosy red minnow with duckweed floating above
Juvenile rosy red minnow - the same fish

Video of the Eastern newt

Eastern newt - top view in bowl. The bowl's entire bottom width is 3.5" and about 2" inside so that is about how long he is.
Eastern newt - side view in hand
Eastern newt - top view in bowl
Eastern newt - top view in hand
Eastern newt - top view in hand
Eastern newt - side view in glass bowl; this is a GOOD photo!
Eastern newt - view of stomach looking up through glass bowl
Eastern newt - another view of stomach
Eastern newt - top view in glass bowl

153 gallon pond mostly empty while I was refilling it
153 gallon pond facing north, right before I started to put plants and animals back in the pond
Kiddie Pool #1 with anacharis and duckweed during the cleaning
Kiddie Pool #2 with anacharis, duckweed, and wood frog eggs during the cleaning
Wood frog embryos - just about to hatch
Kiddie Pool #3 with more ancharis and duckweed during the cleaning
Depotted waterlily tuber
Ponds after the pond was done, facing northwest

Here are photos of 15 green frogs, 4 wood frogs, and 2 bullfrogs waiting in a bucket while I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond. Yes, some were amplexing with each other. Frog Party - wood frog at the bottom center
Frog Party - male wood frog amplexing male green frog
Frog Party - frogs all over
Wood frog - back in the pond
Green frogs - back in the pond
Green frogs - back in the pond

Video of the Frogs in the bucket

5. On 5/6/12, I squirted off all the flosses. The 1800 gallon pond was at 68 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 65 degrees F. I changed the bag of oyster shells in the main filter. I put additives and water in all the ponds. I tried to count the goldfish. There are now less than 30 large ones. I don't know how many the heron got.

6. On 5/8/12, I broke ground on the replacement pond for out back. See details on this page.

7. On 5/12/12, I squirted the dirt off of a black sweet potato vine and put it in the mini pool down the waterfall.

8. On 5/13/12, I squirted off the flosses and did the usual. The 1800 gallon was at 67 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 62 degrees F. I squirted out the Cyprio biothings in the kiddie pool. The deer decided to have a water celery feast and ate half of it, tearing it out all over. That's one way to remove some nutrients from the pond. But, I'll miss it bloom. The watercress is starting to bloom.

I then spent a few hours setting rocks around the new pond.

9. On 5/15/12, I finished the back pond. See its page for details.

10. On 5/20/12, I changed the main flosses and squirted off the rest. The 1800 gallon pond was at 72 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 65 degrees F. The air temperature was 80 degrees F. I found an empty clam shell from two years earlier. I squirted off the bioballs. In the bottom of the filter were thousands of black fly larvae. I couldn't be bothered to try to save them as they were everywhere. I fertilized the lilies, lotuses, and some of the marginals. I changed the PondMaster filters. I put a clump of moss from the main waterfall in the rocks of the new back pond so it might look a little more natural. My brother says it looks like someone dumped a bunch of rocks there but I'd like to see him do any better!

There was a bud on the Albata lily in the big pond. I have a smaller one in my 153 gallon pond which bloomed for a day earlier this week. There have been a lot of green frogs in the 153 gallon pond. There were so many that I heard a ruckus and found two male green frogs fighting in a ball.

11. On 5/21/12, I tried to nail and patch together my old wooden bridge from Collections. It was either that or throw it away. I put it by my new pond. I will have to toss it after this season.

12. On 5/22/12, I looked at the pool cover for gray treefrog eggs. I found no eggs but there were thousands of tadpoles! I had not seen tadpoles in there before. There were also thousands of mosquito larvae and bloodworms (midge larvae). I tried to catch some tadpoles. Over two sessions, I got about 50 and put them in my new pond. I put mosquito bits in the pool cover. I asked my father not to drain the pool cover or at least not all of it. He said, "They're just going to have to go." For now, he's leaving it alone. When I was looking at the tadpoles in the new pond, I saw mosquito larvae and, what's this?, fish fry! There are at least two fry in there. They must have come in on the plants that I moved from the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds so they could be goldfish or rosy red fry. Since they are dark, they are probably goldfish fry that were eggs on the parrot feather.

13. I heard a toad in my big pond for the first time in years on 5/22/12. It's been rainy. When I went to feed the fish their dinner, I saw the bullfrog and then noticed that a frog was on top of her except he wasn't a frog! A toad was amplexing the poor bullfrog. When she dove, the toad hung on.

14. I linked in some more pond photos on 5/23/12:

From 3/18/12:
Ponds - the 50, 20, and 153 gallon ponds (left to right), facing north.
1800 gallon pond fish - Maggie and Colin (huge koi), orfe, and goldfish. This may be the last photo of poor Maggie (the huge orange koi).
16 gallon liner pond - the day that I would dismantle it forever. As you can see, there were really just a ton of leaves left in there.

From 3/25/12 (I know these pictures are coming months after I discuss them, perhaps I should put the photos there instead? Anyway, go to my March 2012 pondblog to read what I did the day of these photos):
1800 gallon pond - net on, facing southwest.
1800 gallon pond - net off, facing southwest. The foaming is from MelaFix.
1800 gallon pond - net off, closer in, facing southwest.
Pond snail

15. On 5/23/12, we got four thunderstorms in the afternoon that totaled almost three inches of rain. While we needed the rain, all at once was not great. We had Gutter Helmet put in expensive gutter covers that were supposed to fix the gutters forever. Instead, two thirds of the water, that is supposed to go down the pipe that is piped below my 1800 gallon pond, gushed off the edge of the roof. The water then pooled above my pond. It got so deep that, for the first time ever, the water then ran like a stream in to my pond. Mulch, dirt, roof debris, etc. all gushed in to my big pond. The water went brown. At the end of the third storm, I went outside. The overflow of the big pond was flowing like a full stream. Not only that, the water had gone in so fast, that water was gushing out at other locations for the first time ever. By morning, the water level was normal but the pond was brown for a few days. Dirt and mulch was places it should not have been.

I actually happened to get up videos of the flood when I was trying to find out if my new Kodak Zi6 video recorder is working. The screen is white so I can't see anything I'm recording (so no aim) and can't see playback but I pulled off these two videos of the storm and flood. Keep in mind I was playing with the non-working camera, not really trying to make videos! It was still raining when I did the videos but it had let up.

Pond Flood Video
Pond Flood Video - a gray tree frog calls at the end

As if problems with that pond were not enough, the other ponds didn't get away without effects either. The 153 gallon brick pond was full to the top. The problem is that the overflow is two inches below the top. It was also brown. It was normal by the next day. The new 30 gallon liner pond in the back was a disaster. It was full of mud, and the liner had fully inverted. By that, I mean that there was water under the liner that displaced 70% of the volume. I had to wait until the end of the next day to refill the pond which by then looked nearly empty as the water under the liner went down. I don't know how many of the gray treefrog tadpoles died as a result.

16. On 5/25/12, in addition to doing those things mentioned above, I discovered that about four of my large goldfish have dropsy. I mean full blown dropsy with scales sticking out and wacked out eyes. I don't know how I couldn't have noticed that before! Perhaps it came out of no where? The others seem okay. The condition is not treatable (at least it never had been for me) but nobody has died as of yet so hopefully it will pass.

17. On 5/26/12, I mulched for a few hours in the morning before the heat. I weed wacked the animal graveyard (clearing the path and grave stones) which I only do once a year only to discover something writhing a few minutes later. It was a poor male American toad. I had lacerated his mouth and one toe off. I wished I could fix him or would have saw him. Countless animals are maimed and killed by lawn mowers and weed wackers every time they are used. I wanted to be punished for doing this to him. I placed him safely away from where I was working, and he was still alive an hour later. His wounds look healable. When I was hand cutting some plants (safer on the animals), I discovered a wood frog. This was only the second time I have seen one outside of spawning season in March and sometimes in to April. I wanted to get photos but he hopped away quickly.

It was 85 degrees F in the afternoon. I pulled out the Little Giant Pondworks Aerator (fully submersible air pump) and put it in the 1800 gallon pond. I also pulled out an old Solar Flow Mini Pump which is a 40 gph (when full sun hits it) solar pump. I put it in the new 30 gallon liner pond in the back. The water spit a tiny bit but mostly did nothing. It only runs in full sun but that's better than nothing so I figured that I might as well use it. It stopped working by the next day (clogged I guess).

18. I initiated "Operation Tadpole Rescue" the morning of 5/27/12 and did another round the next morning. I set a plastic colander in a plastic litter bucket and ran the water waste from the pool cover through there. In that way, I rescued hundreds of gray treefrog tadpoles which went in the new 30 gallon pond. I also hand removed more egg masses, dozens of them. My parents want the pool cover off soon, and it still has probably 1000 tadpoles in there. My mother says, "You can't save them all" but I can try to save as many as I can! If it were up to me, I wouldn't take the cover off until they left. Neither one of my parents has even gotten in the pool in years; they want it open for my 7-year-old niece. I have so many tadpoles in the new pond now that I am feeding them fish food, and I put in some more anacharis from the 153 gallon pond.

19. On 5/27/12, I did the usual pond work such as squirting off the flosses, putting in additives, and topping off the ponds. The air temperature was in the mid-80's, too high for me! The 1800 gallon was at 79 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 74 degrees F.

20. On 5/28/12, I got all of my old (not good) videos from my web site put up on my You Tube account, all 100 of them!

21. On 5/30/12, the first waterlily flower in my 1800 gallon pond opened. It was the white Albata hardy waterlily. I have been collecting more and more tadpoles every day. The new pond is now overloaded with them. I hope some get legs and leave soon.

22. I linked in some more old photos and video.

Pond fish video on 3/18/12.

Here are photos of the three new koi on 4/4/12 when I moved them to the 1800 gallon pond.
Alex (top left), Nikita (top right), and Riley (bottom) in the basement pond before I went to catch them.
Nikita (right), Alex (left), and Riley (top) in a bucket, ready to move.
Nikita (bottom), Alex (middle), and Riley (top) in a bucket, ready to move.

These photos are from 4/17/12:
Male green frog in my 153 gallon pond
Sweetflag flower
Stones at the entry are to my big pond
Pond Garden - part of the pond can be seen, creeping phlox and daffodils in bloom
Gazing ball - my new gazing ball

I took these photos on 4/21/12 at the 153 gallon pond in order to get photos of the white tree peony flowers but there was a male green frog in there too.
Peonies and green frog
Peonies and green frog
Male green frog - a zoom in of the previous photo.

I took these photos on 4/21/12 at the 1800 gallon pond of a pair of green frogs hanging out.
Two green frogs
Two green frogs - close-up

More photos from 4/21/12:
Water hawthorn flowering
Water hawthorn - close- up of the flower from the previous photo.
Golden club flower

Did you know that in addition to the photos above, I am linking in countless non-pond related photos which I do not report in the pond blog? Photos of the plants and animals that are not pond-related only go on the relevant pages. For example, my garden photos are on this page.

23. On 5/31/12, I went out to mulch the rest of the pond area. Our resident wild female Eastern box turtle caught my eye so I went to see here. Near here, there were a lot of flies. I found the reason, a large fish head. It had to the raccoon who hauled her body 20 feet from the pond and ate all but the head. The raccoon left his other calling card, a large pile of feces. I am pretty sure the fish that he got was one goldfish with dropsy who had been hanging out in the shallows. The other fish with dropsy seem to be a bit better and are still schooling.

Continue to the June 2012 pond blog.

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