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Robyn's Pond Newsletter January 2002

Last Updated: 2/5/14

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Introduction and Miscellaneous:
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Welcome to my seventh newsletter. If you have something pond-related that you want to share (information, jokes, web sites, something pond-related for sale), let me know, and I will add it to the next newsletter. What topics would you like me to cover? What don't you like? Do you like the newsletter? Did it help you any? I would love some feedback. Only a few people have told me what they think. Thanks for your input!

I received my second galley (that's the sample book) for my pond book. All the tables are still portrait-facing when I sent them landscape-facing. The galley is full of errors that were not there in the original I sent. This will set back the release date for my book another month. The third galley is ready but it is on-line only. I haven't gone through it yet but I glanced at it and saw a few errors already. If I had known all the trouble and expense it would be, I would not have published the book.

A study was done to determine which phrase most unsolicited commercial e-mails contained. It was found that most had, "This is not SPAM." I removed this phrase from my bottom banner in hopes fewer of these newsletters will be blocked by SPAM guards. Remember that I will remove you from this list at any time if you send me an e-mailing saying so. I also have and will never give your e-mail to anyone else.

This newsletter is dedicated to our sweet chicken, Henrietta. She died instantaneously on 12/14/01 around 7:20 am when our over-zealous rooster, Pepper, accidently broke her neck against the fence while trying to mate with her. We got a new hen on 12/23/01 and another on 12/30/01. My chicken page at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/birds/mychickens.htm has photos and information on our chickens.

Happy New Year!

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Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages (explanations below, numbers match):
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1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/misc.htm
2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/pictures.htm

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Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:
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1. I added/altered information on roach and rudd.

2. I added three new pond photos. Under winter and fall photos is a photo (frozen.jpg) of the pond on 1/01/02 when it was frozen over except for the de-icer and waterfall. Under the fish section for winter 2001/2002 are two photos (fish2001.jpg and fish22001.jpg) of the pond fish on 12/26/01. You can see goldfish, koi, and orfe. The minnows are too small to see.

Note: I haven't forgotten about the other new sections I promised to make. I've simply been too busy at home and work, and it's only getting worse. Also, my free alumni account at UMBC is at about 80% capacity so if I add too much more, I will have to buy a site somewhere.

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Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:
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1. After I released the injured goldfish back into the main pond on 12/1/01, I disinfected everything with which he had contact by soaking in dilute bleach followed by fresh water with dechlorinator. This is how I disinfect most non-living things.

2. On 12/9/01, I removed the net from the 153 gallon pond. I also pulled out a lot of terrestrial mint that had grown extensively through the brick edging and into the pond. It's very strong and might even be able to penetrate the liner. The pond temperature in both the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds was about 48 degrees F. It's cold now (down to freezing at night) so the fish are officially off food for a while now.

3. The dwarf papyrus in my basement pond appears to now be 100% dead. I thought it didn't need strong light (I have two four-foot fluorescent grow lights) but that's the only reason I can think that it died. The taro which is in a 2 gallon pot next to the basement pond is struggling to stay alive with a single leaf. The tropical water hibiscus is doing well and has new growth but other parts of the plant further from the light died. The tropical canna was doing great but now seems to be dying. A few pieces of salvinia appear to be surviving.

4. On 12/16/01, I cleaned out the bioballs and lava rock in my biofilter. There were five pickerel frogs in the bottom that I moved to the main pond. I do not know why pickerel frogs like the biofilter but they (and not other species) are always in there in winter.

5. On 12/16/01, I removed the net from the 1800 gallon pond. It looks so much clearer and different! The thermometer in the 153 gallon pond read 44 degrees F. I cannot read the two thermometers in the 1800 gallon pond because the insides are covered in algae. I bought a new one to replace the old ones. Does anyone know how to get rid of algae inside thermometers? Bleaching won't work because it's inside!

6. I knew it! As soon as the nets came off, a huge wind storm would blow through. The winds were up to 40 mph on 12/18/01 and 12/20/01 so when I got home from work, I had to use a net and grabbers to collect as many leaves as I could reach from my 1800 gallon pond, in the dark by moonlight or waving a flashlight in one hand. I put my bare hands in the smaller ponds to remove leaves from those. I use my hands because it's faster, I can't fit the pond net among the plants and other pond stuff anyway, and if I wear gloves, I can't manipulate the leaves properly but my hands sure get cold in 40 degree F water! But, it has to be done because I have no time in the morning (I get up at 6 and leave at 8; it takes that long to feed all the animals), and the leaves tend to sink after about half a day. Then, they're out of reach until I get into the pond on Sundays. It's finally getting cold so the net had to be off before the pond freezes. When that happens, whatever is in there is trapped for a while at least.

7. The 153 and 1800 gallon ponds had their first ice on them on the morning of 12/21/01. A thin layer of ice could be found in their shallow areas only. The smaller ponds were covered in a thin layer and had been a few mornings before as well.

8. On 12/23/01, I got in the 1800 gallon pond to remove the floss to squirt it off. I also removed some debris from the bottom with the net and tried to clear off part of the waterfall by removing two buckets full of watercress which was still alive, growing, and filtering. The pond was at 38 degrees F according to the new thermometer I put in.

9. Winter has arrived! Beginning around 12/23/01, the ponds have begun to truly freeze over. By 12/28/01, the four small ponds are frozen solid (or they seem so) so any remaining tadpoles or insect larvae in there were killed. My 153 gallon pond is mostly frozen except where the air stone and de-icer are. The 1800 gallon pond is about 60% frozen but the ice is progressing quickly. Temperatures are ranging between about 20 degrees F at night to near 40 during the day.

10. By 1/02/02, the 1800 gallon pond is completely frozen except for about an inch around the de-icer and where the waterfall moves. In the mornings now the top of the biofilter is iced over, and I remove that. As long as the lip stays open, the water goes where it is supposed to go. If a piece of ice jams that, then the pond will pump mostly dry. I take that risk so that the plants, animals, and bacteria living in the waterfall and filter may remain alive and so that the pond can "breathe." So far, in five years, the waterfall and biofilter have never jammed, pumped out, or failed to work when it's freezing out. I will also begin pouring a bucket of hot water down the falls once a day when it's cold to melt some of the ice formations. Last year, I had to pour hot water where the falls come out as an ice wall formed. I also used a shovel to dislodge the formations. As of now, the formations are still pretty small. I can break some of them with my leaf grabbers. Hitting the ice over the actual pond is harmful to the fish but doing so in the waterfall should not harm them. Also, the hot water is cooled quickly before it gets anywhere near the fish in the actual pond. I no longer put my bare hands in to collect leaves off the ice and open areas; I use the grabbers. I do use my hands to get the ice off the biofilter because I have to break and catch it before it runs down the falls. When it does, I have to remove some rock work and remove the ice blocking the waterfall's flow.

11. Due to freezing and thawing before the pond completely froze over, most of the ice over the actual pond is white and bumpy so it is hard to see the fish under there but I do see them slowly moving around and can tell which fish are which. Now, if I needed to rescue one, there would be no way! This also means the end of squirting off the floss over the pump every two weeks as I've been doing. As soon as the pond melts enough for me to walk in the that area, I will do it but until then, it cannot be cleaned. As my pond problems page states, this is not what I would have wanted. Pond pre-filters and filters should be able to be cleaned from outside the pond. The "experts" who built my pond didn't even put a pre-filter over the pump or anything in the biofilter. I did that. So, I guess I can blame myself for having to get in the pond every week or two to clean it!

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Interesting Animal Sightings:
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1. On the morning of 12/5/01, I looked outside, when what to my wandering eye did appear but a fawn. Huh? A fawn, maybe four WEEKS old! White-tailed deer breed in November or December and give birth in May or June. The many fawns of the year had long since lost their spots, are 6 months old, and are as big as their mothers. What in the world happened to have a doe breed in late spring and give birth in the fall? I've never seen this before!

2. On the morning of 12/30/01, the bird bath and my four smaller ponds were frozen solid. The 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were open at the de-icers and waterfall/aerator. A floc´ of bluebirds was hanging around the opening in the 153 gallon pond. I assume they wanted to drink but did not see them do this ´I only watched a short time). This is an "interesting sighting" for me as we rarely see bluebirds. This past summer was the first successful brood of baby bluebirds we have ever had (in 25 years). Maybe this was the same family! Keeping openings in our ponds during the coldest of weather makes many a bird happy!

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Web Sites of Interest:
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1. The Bigsnest Wildlife Pond at http://www.sonic.net/~bigsnest/Pond

2. I was alerted about the Humane Society of the United States Urban Wildlife Sanctuary Program so I went ahead and signed up our habitat. Although they use the word "urban, " suburban and rural properties can sign up too. For a small fee, they sent some literature, a big book on wildlife, and a big sign. Our land is already part of the Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program and Maryland Wild Acres (see my wildlife page for their web site URL's). Check out http://www.hsus.org to add your habitat to the HSUS program and http://www.wildneighbors.org for their information on dealing with wildlife.

3. Do you want to know which species of animals including frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, turtles, mammals, birds, etc. that are found where YOU live? Then, visit http://www.enature.com and fill out your zip code in their list (it popped up when I went to the site) and a guide for YOUR area pops up.

4. The following site was added to my pond critters web ring. It has lots of darling graphics and animations involving frogs that I though some of you might want to see. It's at http://www.geocities.com/froggychic_13

5. The web site http://www.fishyfriends.com sells a lot of homemade fish and frog figurines and other doohickeys.

What's your favorite pond-related web site(s)?

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Pond Tidbits:
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1. I've found that winter, when the water is not frozen, is the best time to get good photos of the pond fish. The water is very clear, the fish are slow and clumped together, and the plants are not in the way.

2. My pond has been visited by at least half a dozen Odonates (that's dragonflies and damselflies). Most of the dragonflies are blue dashers or Pachydiplax longipennis. There is one huge species of dragonfly with a green head that makes a lot of noise and scares me a little! The damselflies are darling. To make your pond welcoming for these voracious mosquito eaters, include shallow areas and areas at least 1.5 feet deep (for larval overwintering); add rocks, gravel, tree branches, pots, etc. to provide hiding places and habitat for them within the pond; and be sure there is an area where the larvae can crawl out of the water when they're ready to shed their skins and fly away. For lots more information on these guys, see my insect page at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/insects/dragon.htm

3. In the summer, when I open either of my biofilters for cleaning, swarms of midges fly out. The worm-like midge larvae get sucked into the filters, or the adults lay eggs directly in the filters. The adults look like small moths. Some pond keepers mistake the swarms of bugs leaving their filters for mosquitoes. While some midges do bite, most are small and harmless and a major food source for fish and other pond animals.

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Pond Humor:
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What do you call someone who would run outside at 3 am when it's 5 degrees F outside to shine a flashlight around and then stick their bare hands in sub-freezing water?

Crazy. Oops, I mean a worried ponder. [That's what I did to be sure the biofilter didn't freeze up during the winter of 1999 when it was super cold (single digits; the lowest it's been since I got my ponds but we had -10 degrees F once in the early 1990's.). If it had, the pond would have been pumped out. I stuck my hands in to remove the ice that had formed to be sure water continued to flow over the biofilter lip and down the waterfall. Since then, if I don't want to go outside, I check the water is flowing properly by shining a flashlight through the window and out towards the pond. In the morning, I break the ice off the filter.]

That wasn't really a joke. I can't think of any more pond jokes! Do you have some better pond jokes? E-mail them to me, and I will put the best ones in the next newsletter.


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