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153 Gallon Pond Cleaning On 3/14/12

Last Updated: 1/22/14

Diary of Events 3/14/12

Photos from 3/14/12

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 2011 pond cleaning page as a guide to write this 2012 one but did change everything that was relevant or changed.

Diary of Events 3/14/12

Overview of the Day:

On 3/14/12, I cleaned out my 153 gallon pond. It went pretty much as planned except it was exhausting (I am getting too old), and I had one big surprise. I got up at 7:00 am and finished the morning animal feedings at 9 am when I started collecting supplies. The air temperature was 60 degrees F, and there was some wind that came and went. The 153 gallon thermometer read 51 degrees F. I hauled out all the supplies. I topped off my tub ponds. I taped over some holes in the kiddie pools. I was ready to start bailing at 9:40 am. First, I bail filled a bucket (I use plastic litter buckets) and hand picked out as much duckweed as I could to save. 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 green from suspended algae despite a near total covering of the pond with duckweed. There was a TON of anacharis in the pond. It normally dies back over the winter but we really had no winter this year. I cut some mint growing in the pond from underwater bricks. I did not need to replace any bricks that had fallen apart this year. There were two brick cap stones (pavers) that had moved so they were overhanging the bricks by two inches. I removed them and dug out the dirt and pea gravel near them so I could reset the bricks. I ended up with about three gallons of rocks, and yet, the space looked filled! I need to redo the edging of this pond at a later time.

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, I had moved the wood frog eggs to other ponds ahead of time but I missed three large masses and a few select small globs. The eggs were nearing hatching and falling apart. If I had cleaned the pond 16 days later (the normal date), those tadpoles would have been impossible to easily save. That would have meant a lot of minute newly-hatched wood frog tadpoles which I would have had to pick up delicately. 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 some of the snails, tadpoles, worms, and insects. I am sure I did not miss any frogs or fish. I pulled off a few cascades of terrestrial mint growing in to the pond. They are a great filter but they will take over if not trimmed. It will not take long for them to regrow. Plus, this year, there is so much anacharis and duckweed (unlike most years) that plant filtration in the pond is no problem.

The pond was mostly empty at 12:05 pm when I went in for lunch. I came back at 12:23 pm. I went to look at the last half inch of water and rocks left in the pond when I saw her. I just kept repeating "Oh, my God." I had found the first ever salamander on our property. On 5/25/09, I had released two Eastern newts in to this pond but none were found with the cleanings in 2010 or 2011. This guy seemed much smaller, only a few inches and seemed solid brown on her back, not spotted like an Eastern newt. I say she because her tummy was bloated, perhaps with eggs. I took some photos and videos. I put her in the 50 gallon tub pond because I was afraid the frogs might eat her. Once I examined the photos, I determined that she had to be the surviving Eastern newt due to the bottom pattern, tail, etc. even though her back was missing the telltale red spots. Animals can change color a bit with mood, stress, and temperature.

I squirted out the pond and used the OASE Pondovac to get all the rest of the stuff out. I then filled up the 153 gallon pond. I refilled it to the level it was from the bailed water. I added the following additives:
About 1/2 cup of pond salt (~25% of the recommended dose on the container for ponds with plants), a half teaspoon of BZT, a half dose of Stress Coat, and a dusting of baking soda. I also put in the little barley straw pad in its holder. I got the PondMaster filter and bell fountain going and let the Luft pump heavily aerate.

I squirted off the fake koi and three clay pots (spawning sites for the rosy red minnows) and put the pots back. The koi's weight broke so I brought it inside.

Then, I repotted the plants. On the bottom was one two gallon pot of waterlilies. I potted the lily with clay dirt from our old garden. I did not need to prune it. 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 rolled up my pants, took off my boots and socks, and put on water shoes so I could step in to the water. I brought a towel to dry off.

I bailed the water, animals, and plants from the three kiddie pools back in to the pond. This year, there was a TON of anacharis. I did not save any mint this year. Remember, this is terrestrial mint that grows in the pond hydroponically not aquatic mint.

In the overflow was a two gallon pot of iris. I repotted it in dirt and pea gravel. I did divide it.

The other pots consisted of two two gallon pots of blue and purple water iris. I had a lot of iris. This year, I divided the iris (they were overgrown). They were repotted in dirt and pea gravel. I put two two gallon pots back in the 153 gallon pond. I put the extra iris in a bucket of water and have to figure out what to do with those. Unlike yellow flag iris which will grow on land, the blue and purple will not survive if too dry.

I had never had wood frogs, green frogs, and bullfrogs in the bucket all together during the cleaning. I had to take photos. The male wood frogs were amplexing (grabbing on and squeezing) the male green frogs. The two bullfrogs are from tadpoles I put in the 1800 gallon pond last spring so they are still green frog size. I would not put a full size bullfrog in a bucket with other frogs, or I might end up with just one frog! There were a record 19 frogs in the 153 gallon pond when I cleaned it!!

All the saved water, plants, snails, tadpoles, insects, fish, and frogs were back into the pond by 2 pm.

This year, I did not put fresh pea gravel around the pond, clean out the other ponds, set up the mosaic pond, or do any extra chores. As I am now unemployed, I will do those things at a different time.

I put the filter out in the 50 gallon tub pond. I has a sponge intake so it should not bother the wood frogs who are getting ready to hatch. The water was stagnating so the benefits outweigh the risks.

I was done outside by 3 pm. Everything was put up by 4 pm.

The air temperature got up to a warm 75 degrees F!


A TON of anacharis! How much? If I jammed it all together, it could probably fill a 50 gallon aquarium! I put three wads of it (huge handfuls) in the 1800 gallon pond for the goldfish and koi to munch on. I want it to grow in that pond and filter the water but the fish always eat it.

A TON of duckweed! How much? If I jammed it all together, it could probably fill a 5 gallon aquarium! I tossed some inadvertently so that there is a little light getting down in to the water now.

A few wads of mint but I tossed them this year. There is no need for their filtration with all that anacharis and duckweed, plants that normally die back but did not this year due to the warm winter. The mint will grow back.

Here are the plants that I repotted:

I started with three 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 was one two gallon pot. In the main marginal area, there were two two gallon pots all of iris (blue and purple iris I think).

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.

The interesting find for the year was the salamander, no doubt.

Photos and Videos from 3/14/12

All of these photos were taken on 3/14/12.

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

Back to the 153 gallon pond cleaning index.

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