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Robyn's Pond Blog for June 2020

Last Updated: 7/1/20

1. At noon on 6/7/20, it was 76 degrees F and nice. The 1800 gallon pond was at 76 degrees F while the 153 gallon pond was 70 degrees F. I squirted off all of the filter materials, added additives, and topped off the ponds with water.

I found a shed snake skin in the water, a long skin. I thought it belonged to the five foot black rat snake that was killed in my heat pump the day before. I had my HVAC uncle open it up to see why the fan would not turn, and there was the snake with its head preventing the blade from turning. Mice were nesting elsewhere in the heat pump which they often do, and the snake had gone in after them. I found out on 6/19/20 to whom the skin really belonged! See #5 below.

2. I had ordered a bunch of plants from Tricker more than a month ago when I was working reduced hours. Now, I am not. So, of course, they came on a Monday, 6/8/20 so I couldn't deal with them for six days! The next afternoon, I did put out the three water lettuce and four water hyacinth in a floating ring in the 1800 gallonp pond.

3. At 11:30 am on 6/14/20, it was a nice 70 degrees F. The 1800 gallon pond was at 71 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 67 degrees F. I squirted off all the filter materials, put in additives, and added water. Surpise, I saw three little golden orfe! So, three of the four orfe that I added more than three weeks ago are alive! They were moving like orfe, fast, in quick darting movements. I do not see how they could be hiding for as long as they were when they are so obvious now?!

I had to plant all the plants I got which was quite the chore! There were three waterlilies. I pulled out the pot of what I thought was dead Chromatella hardy waterlily but found two tiny live spots. So, I repotted those with the new one, all in the same five gallon pot. I potted up a new Comanche hardy waterlily in another five gallon pond. I still have two dead five gallon pots I need to pull out but they are heavy! I put lily protectors on those two. Of course, by dawn the next day, my koi, Riley, was stuck inside one of them. I had to use a long net to get him to go out. The protectors do not really help! The fish just go over the top and get stuck inside, destroying what they can. Since it has been years since I've enjoyed a waterlily flower due to the increasing shade over the pond, and the increasing rooting power of the koi, I had ordered a small tropical waterlily which I potted in to a two gallon pot which I set in to a 20 gallon tub pond which I put on the pool deck. I put in some duckweed too. Might it flower?

I had four marginals to pot up. I put pickerel rush, some iris (I ordered hardy canna but got an iris instead), and lizard tail in to two gallon pots. I put a mostly dead (from being inside six days?) water hawthorne in a one gallon pot. By dawn, probably a raccoon had dumped the pot which I tried to fix up to little avail.

4. On 6/16/20, I realized that my koi, Nikita, has a wound at the end of her tail. It looks to be a stab would from the heron that was hanging around last week. The four koi and one orfe have been acting listless, staying in a location that is abnormal for them, and not eating much. The goldfish and small orfe seem fine. I am worried about them. The koi seemed to be spawning late last week so maybe they are just tired? Something seems off in the pond but aside from the behavior of the fish, I cannot put my finger on it. The water is clear but half the pond is open (no plant cover since the fish kept killing the waterlilies). While the koi seemed to be spawning, I have never seen baby koi in the 23 years that I've had the pond and koi.

5. I came home on 6/19/20 to notice a snake stuck in my 1800 gallon pond net which I leave up to keep the herons out of the deep end. The snake was big. The snake was ornery. The snake was stuck. I brought out my camera, scissors, and a snake hook. It was a common watersnake or Northern watersnake. I knew something was off with the ponds; there are almost no adult frogs around! The snake ate them all! She was big, somewhere between 3 and 4 feet long but I hadn't brought out a tape measure with me. I held her biting head down while I cut her body free. She tried to death roll on me, getting more tangled. I finally cut her out and tried to use the hook to pick her up to move her to the weeds but the hook keep getting stuck in the net. Then, she bolted for the water, right through the net again! I tried to grab her and pull her but she constricted on my hand. I had to cut the net yet again, and in she went in to the pond exactly where I didn't want her. But, once in there, she vanished. I hope she leaves soon!

6. By 6/20/20, I noticed that there were gray treefrog eggs in the 20 gallon lily pond on the pool deck as well as the 30 gallon back liner/rock pond.

7. I got in the pond on 6/21/20, maybe with that huge snake even though I didn't see her. The air temperature was 80 degrees F with 100% humidity. The 1800 gallon pond was at 76 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 72 degrees F. I squirted off all the filter materials. I took out the Matala in the Biosteps filter to squirt those off and bailed out the filthy water in the bottom. I changed the PondMaster filters. It had rained a lot the day before so I didn't need to add water, just additives.

8. While going for a walk on 6/21/20, I saw the most beautiful damselfly. He was so beautiful that it was hard to imagine that he was real. He was a male ebony jewelwing damselfly. According to my web site, I saw one seven years ago, and I got photos then (not the best though).

9. I bought a koi betta on 6/23/20, and I put him in my 20 gallon aquarium. His name is Ralph.

10. It was a toasty 88 degrees F with 100% humidity on 6/28/20 when I did pond work. The 1800 gallon pond was at 80 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 74 degrees F. I squirted off all the filter materials and the bioballs. There was a two-lined salamander in the biofilter. I added water and additives to the ponds. The tropical waterlily in the 20 gallon tub pond has no leaves and no signs of life. I, however, cannot just put the pond up now because it is now full of gray treefrog tadpoles! I also put in duckweed, java moss from my 50 gallon aquarium, anacharis from my 153 gallon pond, and snails hitched rides on all of those. So, now it's its own little ecosystem! I hope the waterlily comes back to life after all that work and how much it cost.

11. I installed an ADT video camera by my pond in early 2020. It's motion triggered and has no color when on infrared night vision. Imagine my surprise to find a video from near midnight on 6/28/20 that showed three mink running past! They were definitely long mammals, too big to be weasels and too small to be river otters. That leaves mink. I believed I saw individual mink twice in the last 20 years about a quarter of a mile from my house along the road. I guess I did not imagine them! Mink are adept at eating the fish and amphibians that live at my ponds. As long as they do not stick around for too long at a time, they can visit from time to time. If mink stick around a pond for long though they can wipe it out.

Continue to the July 2020 pond blog.

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