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Robyn's Pond Blog for August 2011

Last Updated: 8/31/11

1. On 8/7/11, I did the usual. The pH meter said the 1800 gallon had a pH of 6.92 at 77.4 degrees F, and the 153 gallon had a pH of 7.21 at 77.1 degrees F. The pond thermometers read 78 degrees F for the 1800 gallon and 77 degrees F for the 153 gallon (wow, they totally agree!). The waterlilies are in horrible shape with only two to ten leaves for each. The fish keep ripping them up. They don't flower. They don't cover much of the surface. I added some pea gravel to a few of the pots as most of the tubers were dug up by the fish.

I tried to fertilize the waterlilies, lotus, and some marginals but the only pots were I cut break through to the dirt were those waterlily pots that had little pea gravel left in them. So, for most pots, I just put the fertilizer pills on the surface. I wonder if that's why most of the plants are doing so poorly because I can't get the fertilizer to them. The gravel is just impenetrable even in pots where the root growth is not really a factor. The other possibility is that I'm just getting too old and weak to jam the pills in. The day will come when I'll have to sell the pond off piece by piece since I have nobody willing to help me maintain it. The few pond maintenance companies that would help insist they will not do things the way I want but their way which is, of course, the right way.

2. Here are some more old photos:

Here are some iris in bloom on 5/21/11:
Blue flag iris in the 50 gallon tub pond. You can also see duckweed on the water's surface.
Yellow flag iris in the 20 gallon tub pond

These two photos taken on 5/21/11 are of the new walkway that my brother and I put in alongside the east side of the pond.
Walkway facing south
Walkway facing north

Sick pond - the 1800 gallon pond on 5/21/11 when it was being treated with MelaFix (hence the foaming), facing southwest, water celery at the top right of the photo.
Sick fish - one of the dying fish in the 1800 gallon pond on 5/21/11. You can see the white film on this goldfish. The white thing is the tubing coming out of the main pump.

Purple flag iris in bloom in the 153 gallon pond on 5/25/11.

3. Sunday, 8/14/11, was a very sad dad at the pond. It was pouring rain. I found my gorgeous purebred koi, Kojak, dead. He was a Kujaku koi. Twice a day during feedings, I always look for the three koi, Maggie, Colin, and baby Kojak as well as the two adult orfe. There are too many goldfish to tell apart or check on. Only my single shubunkin goldfish is unique enough for me to tell from the others. I had noticed that Kojak was not easily found the last few days but usually sighted near the bottom instead of feeding. Kojak was in the shallows this morning. I could not net him as he was too heavy, maybe 10 pounds. I tried to grab him but he was ubber slimy. I finally got him out. I examined him. He had dropsy. Remember, I check for him daily and had seen no signs of anything physically wrong. The cause of the dropsy was evident once I got the right view. He had a large gash/hole at the top of his dorsal fin. It did not appear to have originated as an illness and was sudden as he was fine a few days before. I think either the heron put a hole in him there, or he cut himself by getting stuck in the black hiding area meant to protect the fish from the heron. Either way, the gash led to infection, dropsy, and death. I got the ruler and camera. He was an incredible (to me) 17". I had him just under three years. He was the only fish in my pond worth any money but, more than that, he was gorgeous. In death, his metallic silver was gone replaced by a septicemic white. Here are the photos. Please do not look at them if dead fish bother you.

Dead Kojak - right side, shows he was 17" long.
Dead Kojak - left side with ruler; you can see the sudden onset septicemia and dropsy on his stomach.
Dead Kojak - top view; note the gash at the beginning of his dorsal (back) fin that is gray from infection. The hole is too large and too sudden (definitely not there more than three days previous) for it not to be due to a physical injury.
Dead Kojak - another top view of the damage. Note that the fin there was ripped off which makes me think he got stuck in the plastic black heron hiding box and scraped his back and fin trying to get out. Dropsy is visible at the bottom of the photo.
Dead Kojak - his beautiful head; he has lost his metallic color, and his eyes are clouded over but otherwise, he was still beautiful to me.

4. Later in the day on 8/14/11, I did the usual pond chores without my Kojak. The 1800 gallon was at 76 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 74 degrees F. I squirted off the flosses, added additives, changed the PondMaster filters, and added water just to the mosaic pond. The rain had stopped but all the ponds in the open were full to the top. I did add some water to the big pond, partly to flush it a bit after Kojak died.
I took this photo of a bluebell:
Bluebell flower

5. On 8/21/11, I changed the filter material around the main pump in the big pond. I squirted all the other flosses. I squirted down the bioballs and lava rock from the main filter. The 1800 gallon was at 78 degrees F, and the 153 gallon was at 74 degrees F. I put in two new small bales of barley straw even though the pond is crystal clear. All the work took a few hours. The animals all seem fine. The water lilies are not doing well mostly because the fish have become more violent in their "play" this year and torn them up too much.

6. Hurricane Irene arrived on 8/27/11. It was windy during the day Saturday but I was able to do most of my Saturday chores and prepare for the hurricane by bringing in all the small potted plants, bird feeders, garden doohickeys, rabbits, and so on. It didn't seem like it was going to amount to much when I went to bed. I woke up at 2:30 am when the power went off for just a moment which was repeated again about an hour later. At 5 am, it went off and stayed off. The wind sounded like a freight train. The power was off until 8 pm Sunday. I was not able to do any regularly-scheduled Sunday chores. The damage wasn't too bad. The pool had hundreds of leaves and small sticks in it. Ditto for the ponds. There were leaves and small sticks and branches everywhere but we only had a few large dead trees come down and a few larger branches. The neighbor though had three 30-year-old black locust trees come down over the road and through the neighbor's fence. The neighbors cleared the road within just a few hours. About 10 years ago, the previous owners of that land stripped out most of the trees and vegetation creating a wind tunnel effect there, right where water pools as well during storms. The rain gauge said we got 5.5 inches of rain but it never really poured. The winds over night were in the 30 mph range, maybe gusts to 40 but I wasn't out there taking a reading! Almost half of our county was without power. My father ran the generator for an hour on and three hours off throughout the day. It was hooked to the well pump for water, my main pond outlet (I unplugged all but the main pond pump), and to the refrigerator and freezers. This, hopefully, has kept our food edible. We'll see if we get sick! Generators are supposed to run all day but my father wanted to conserve gas, and my mother hates the noise. I hated the noise too but magic comes out of that thing! Running the biofilter and waterfall about 25% of the time helped to keep the bacteria wet and alive, and hopefully helped the animals. The freshwater aquariums have battery-backup air pumps that run all the time and switch back and forth depending on whether or not there is electricity. I put two smaller battery-air pump driven air stones in the two saltwater tanks. I put all the aquarium biowheels in the tanks to keep them wet and bacteria alive.

7. The next day, 8/29/11, as I was getting ready to leave for work, my boss called to say there was still no power at work and probably wouldn't be until Tuesday. So, I got the day off. I was able to do my Sunday chores. First, I put back everything that I had moved for the storm. I then did the pond work. The pH meter read a pH of 6.83 at 69.5 degrees F for the 1800 gallon pond and a pH of 7.21 at 70.0 degrees F for the 153 gallon pond. Both thermometers in the pond read 70 degrees F (good correlation again!). I cut back a lot of the mint growing in the 153 gallon pond because it was disappearing in there! There were also butterfly bushes all along the sides. I love butterfly bushes but not that close to the pond. In addition to squirting off all the filters and the Cyprio biothings, I had a zillion leaves to remove from the half net and the rest of the pond. [As I type this, another brown-marmorated stinkbug is climbing a chair next to me. When I pulled in the 30 some potted plants, a few dozen stinkbugs got taken inside too. Their invasion is still a month or so away before they all try to come inside by the thousands.] I uprighted the standard cattails and two pots of hardy canna which all blew over in the storm. I tried to tie up the cattails but they are falling every which way. I put a new trash bag over the outlet (door won't shut) as the old bag was falling apart. The aerator worked for a few moments and then stopped (the one plug is no good).

After the pond work, I cleaned one of the bathrooms, vacuumed the entire house, groomed the rabbits and guinea pigs, did a little yard clean up, ran out of time to clean the roach tank, showered, put up my clothes I washed, redid my lists which includes writing this, ordered pet supplies, then I will do my regular chores, e-mails, etc. and then it will be the time I would normally come home from work to get back on schedule at home. I'm exhausted!

Continue to the September 2011 pond blog.

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