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153 Gallon Pond Cleaning On 4/1/09

Last Updated: 1/22/14

Diary of Events 4/1/09

Photos from 4/1/09

This is just the cleaning list. To see information on the 153 gallon pond's statistics, history, and past cleanings, go to my 153 Gallon Pond Section.

I used the 2008 pond cleaning page as a guide to write this 2009 one but did change everything that was relevant or changed.

Diary of Events 4/1/09

Overview of the Day:

On 4/1/09, I cleaned out my 153 gallon pond. It went pretty much as planned except for after which I will get to later. I got up at 6:30 am and finished the morning animal feedings at 8:11 am when I started collecting supplies. The air temperature was 44 degrees F, and it was raining a little bit. The rain started to kick in more at 10:12 am but never was too bad. It was cloudy with little wind. The 153 gallon thermometer read 48 degrees F (same as last year). I was ready to start bailing at 8:55 am. I bailed water into my two old kiddie pools, the smaller kiddie pool, and two holding buckets (one for the fish, one for the frogs). The water was very green (more than I remember). The rosy red population was down this year but I found six frogs. The bottom of the pond was full of the aquatic plant soil and pea gravel because the raccoons had de-potted most of the pots and made a huge mess (like last year). I cut some mint around the pond by standing in the empty pond. The mint grows in to the pond from all directions. I replaced four bricks under water that had fallen apart and also two of the brick cap stones (pavers). I also reset a few of them that had shifted.

When I clean the pond, I bring up buckets and then go sit down on a gardener's kneeling pad. When I start, there is little debris so I pour it through an aquarium net and then look for movement. This year, that meant a lot of minute newly-hatched wood frog tadpoles which I had to pick up delicately. I lost an untold amount because they tend not to move when they are out of water which makes them even harder to see among slop. By the time I get to the bottom of the pond, there is so much debris that I net what I can and sift through that but eventually just have to pour blobs of gravel and slop on the ground and pick through it to find the animals I list below. I hand pick out the snails, tadpoles, minnows, worms, and insects. In the process, I miss a lot of the snails, tadpoles, and insects. I am pretty sure I did not miss any frogs or fish.

By 11:56 am, the pond was fully empty and vacuumed with the OASE Pondovac. I went inside to eat lunch and clean up a little. By 12:14 pm, I was back outside. The air temperature was up to 50 degrees F. Since my father still has not fixed the outlet, I had to clean the back 18 gallon liner pond first in order to use two long extension cords and three hoses put together to reach back there. I hand lifted out probably 10 gallons of leaves and ew. Using the Pondovac and hose, I cleaned it as best I could and refilled it.

Once that was done, I could go fill up the 153 gallon pond. I refilled it to the level it was from the bailed water. I added the following additives:
about 1 cup of pond salt (52% of the recommended dose on the container for ponds with plants), a half teaspoon of BZT, 5 mL of heavy metal pond neutralizer, and a dusting of baking soda. I got the PondMaster filter and bell fountain going and let the Luft pump heavily aerate. I had to use a power strip on the extension cord.

While the pond was aerating, I put up the Pondovac, put the hoses in the bathtub, and cleaned and put up the supplies that I no longer needed. That took about a half hour.

Then, I repotted the plants. On the bottom were two two gallon pots with waterlilies but only one was alive. I potted that lily with clay dirt from our old garden instead of Aquatic Planting Media. I topped it off with pea gravel and gave it two Pondtab fertilizer pills. In order to put it back in the deep end of the pond, I had to take off my pants and put on water shoes so I could step in to the very cold water. I brought a towel to dry off but it fell in the water! So, I had to go get another one. It is a good thing nobody sees me running around outside in my underwear!

The other pots consisted of two species of water iris in two two gallon pots as well as a one gallon pot with sweetflag or so I thought. When I went to do the repottings, that "sweetflag" magically vanished so maybe it was an iris as well. I had a lot of iris. I potted up four pots from those two pots. I used Aquatic Planting Media for those in anticipation of the raccoons tipping them over. I put two two gallon and one one gallon pot in the 153 gallon pot. I put one two gallon pot in the 50 gallon tub pond. I put a piece of bareroot iris in the 20 gallon tub pond.

Once the plants were redone, I bailed the water, animals, and plants from the three kiddie pools back in to the pond. The only "plants" in there were terrestrial mint which grows hydroponically quite well. I put some back but tossed a lot as there is a ton.

All the saved water, mint, snails, tadpoles, insects, fish, and frogs were back into the pond by 3:08 pm (much later than in past years!). The water temperature was up to 52 degrees F.

I only had a few cups of pink quartz gravel left which I rinsed and put on the old gravel. I put about a bucket of new rinsed pea gravel at the south end of the pond where there is pea gravel. I tried to cut out some mint (mostly old or dead) and remove leaves. I then filled up the front mosaic pond with water.

I put up most of the stuff that I had hauled out and was not done with that until 4:26 pm. Here is where things did not go as planned. A few minutes before 4 pm, I was putting up the battery air pumps. I had to move four boxes to get to the drawer where they go. Then, boom, explosion! Two fluorescent aquarium lamps that had been propped up between the boxes and other things hit the cement floor and exploded. Glass and phosphorus powder went all over. I got a few minor cuts and spent 20 minutes cleaning that up.

After that, I did my afternoon chores, showered, and came to write this page up (first pass through) at 5:30 pm. After I do that, I plan to eat dinner, do my e-mail, and watch tv.


The pond had no anacharis and no hornwort left! I need to order some. There were multiple clumps of terrestrial mint growing into the pond. I decided to put most of back in to provide cover for the tadpoles and some plant filtration.

I used the Shultz Aquatic Plant Soil and Microbe-Lift Aquatic Planting Media this year to repot all the pots in the 153 gallon pond except for the waterlily. I pre-wet the aquatic "soil" in one bucket and pea gravel in another. I filled each pot with the "soil" and then put in the plant, a PondTab fertilizer pill (one per gallon), and topped off with pea gravel. Because iris bloom in May, in repotting them in early April, I get very few flowers. Here are the plants that I repotted.

I started with five pots. One was the blue iris which was in great shape and sits in the small marginal shelf by the overflow (it takes up the entire shelf). In the deep end of the pond were two two gallon pots. One had a strong waterlily tuber, probably Albata white waterlily. The other waterlily was dead and spungy. It was the pink WalMart lily that I put in there last year which never flowered. In the main marginal area, there were one one gallon pot and one two gallon pot. The one gallon had sweetflag or so I thought. I could not find it later. The other pot had iris.

In the 153 gallon pond.


Here is what I found in the pond! I had to hand pick through every bit of slop to get all these animals.

Photos from 4/1/09

All of these photos were taken on 4/1/09.

153 gallon pond before starting, facing northwest. I took about four more photos but they were all blurry!
Spring glories blooming at the edge of the pond.
Bucket with ramshorn snails, pond snails, wood frog tadpoles, green frog tadpoles, dragonfly nymphs, and crane fly larvae.
Bucket with ramshorn snails, pond snails, wood frog tadpoles, green frog tadpoles, dragonfly nymphs, and crane fly larvae.
Dragonfly nymph - close-up from the last photo.
153 gallon pond empty from a distance with supplies all around.
153 gallon pond empty, facing north.
153 gallon pond empty, facing southwest.
153 gallon pond all done, facing east.
153 gallon pond all done, facing north.

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