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Robyn's Pond Newsletter January 2007

Last Updated: 2/5/14

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Introduction and Miscellaneous:
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If you have something pond-related that you want to share (information, jokes, web sites, pond secrets and tidbits, 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? Do you have a question that I can answer or pose to others in the next newsletter?

I am slowly working on my birds directory. Any changes made to those pages won't show up until the directory makes its debut, hopefully this decade. After the birds, it is on to the rest of the animals and then finally the fish and ponds. I know most of the pages on my site have not really been touched in years, sometimes almost a decade and could use a lot of work but I don't have any free time.

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Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages, Photos, or Videos on Fishpondinfo:
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1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/bigpondphotos1.htm - (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
Under Fall 2006 is a photo of my netted 1800 gallon pond that my father took. I just put it up since I found it on the camera, and it shows how obvious the net is!

2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pictures2.htm -
At the very bottom are two photos of a Northern watersnake that Chuck found in his pond filter.

3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/turtles/turbreed.htm#photo -
I put up some photos that Cathy took of a painted turtle laying eggs and the resulting babies.

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New Pages on Pond Showcase:
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The first three entries I made from photos that were sent to me a while back. I asked them to fill out a Pond Showcase form but none did so, so the pages are just photos.

1. http://www.pondshowcase.com/kataire/index.shtml - Kataire's Pond

2. http://www.pondshowcase.com/Joyce/index.shtml - Joyce's Pond

3. http://www.pondshowcase.com/Teri/index.shtml - Teri's Pond

4. http://www.pondshowcase.com/Brian/index.shtml - Brian's First Pond

5. http://www.pondshowcase.com/Karen1961/index.shtml - Karen's Pond

6. http://www.pondshowcase.com/swampview/index.shtml - Swampview's Pond

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Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:
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1. The cold finally arrived. The tub ponds got some ice overnight. On 12/3/06, I removed the main filter material to squirt off the floss. I also squirted off the bioballs. The air temperature was about 48 degrees F with the 1800 gallon at 44 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 45 degrees F. When my pond was dug, they used the dirt from the hole to make the waterfall mound. Over the last nine years, the dirt has settled but the biofilter at the top has not moved so much. So, the distance from the top lip of the filter to the ground has increased more and more. Since the last time I rebuilt it, it had collapsed another 3 or 4 inches. I considered removing the rocks and adding dirt and/or pea gravel but figured that would settle and shift as well. So, I brought over six medium-sized rocks and put them under the rocks already there and rearranged things a bit so the top rocks are more stable. All the rocks are loose (no mortar or other holding material). I pulled out some de-icers and tested them by putting them in the freezer for 10 minutes and then taking them out and plugging them in. One was dead so I trashed it. I didn't have any new ones so I should get one just in case. They are supposed to last three years but only last one. After one winter, the metal is coming off, and salt is all over it. I don't even add much salt to my pond but it all deposits itself on the de-icer. Anyway, I put one de-icer in the top of the biofilter. I covered that with the green Rubbermaid 50 gallon tub lid (lid from my first pond) and added two four pound lead diver's weights to hold it down. Since I've been covering the biofilter like that, it hasn't frozen nor has the de-icer malfunctioned due to high winds.

I removed the net from the 153 gallon pond and put the other de-icer in there. The net had to come off. Earlier that day, two mourning doves got stuck in it but they freed themselves before I got close enough to help. I cut down the iris in the 153 gallon pond. The only marginals left to cut are iris in the 1800 gallon. I spent an hour raking leaves from around the 153 gallon pond. I raked up five wheelbarrows full with the rake and then hand collected another wheelbarrow full. Despite that, there are still thousands of leaves within just 10 feet of that pond waiting to move there. I figure it takes less time to remove what leaves do go into the water by hand then to remove all leaves from 5-10 feet distance from the pond. Even if I did that, leaves from 50 feet away would still blow in! The back 16 gallon pond that I cleaned and refilled the Sunday before was gone when I checked Saturday. So many leaves had blown in that you couldn't even see it! I removed many of the leaves and added a little more water via buckets.

The 153 gallon hasn't been overflowing properly so I used a hand trowel to dig out the PVC drain pipe from both ends (dirt and grass covered part of the exit end) and put the garden hose down it. It was actually not really clogged. The problem is probably plant roots right where the water comes out of the pond. I will have to work on that later.

Then, I finished mulching the back iris garden. I was supposed to have mulched everything in the spring. And, I'm not even done! The large garden by the 153 gallon is untouched, and I actually never finished the last quarter of the mulched area around the 1800 gallon pond! At some point, I have to just give up. Some gardens won't be done each year anymore since I've just got too much to do!

2. It finally got cold enough that some ice formed on my largest, 1800 gallon pond the morning of 12/5/06. The 153 gallon had no ice thanks to the de-icer while the tub ponds were iced over. The morning of 12/8/06, half of the 1800 gallon had ice on it.

3. On 12/10/06, I needed to get the full net off the 1800 gallon pond and put on the partial net just over the deep end to deter the herons in that section where most of the fish are during the winter. First, I spent almost an hour raking leaves from around the pond and mulch area. Then, I removed all the anchors for the net and pulled it back in sections. The net had touched the water at one spot in the marginal area and frozen into the ice. I tried pouring some hot water over it with no luck. So, I stepped on the ice to break it and brought the net up with a chunk of ice (and a tear despite my attempt to avoid it). I folded up the net in a pretty poor fashion on the front lawn since I had no help. Then, I spent another almost full hour hand removing the leaves from in and around the pond, just the first foot (and sometimes a little further) immediately around the edge of the pond. In addition to the many wheel barrows of leaves, I pulled up a lot of dead weed grass. I finally got in the pond and removed the filter material and squirted that off and replaced it. Since I could walk freely in the pond which is rare these days, I removed the last of the waterlily leaves I couldn't get to before and cut down the iris which were surrounded by ice in the shallow end. You might think it was a cold day but it was almost 60 degrees F that day. It had been really cold the week before though. The 1800 gallon water temperature was 39 degrees F, and the 153 gallon was at 47 degrees F (the de-icer warms that pond up). I pulled over a 7' x 20' net to cover the deep end for the winter. This net that I bought as a pond net actually is one of those cheap "keep the birds off" nets. I hope it keeps the herons off anyway. I haven't seen them in a long time but whenever the net comes off, they just seem to know. I found a long-dead frog in the deep end of the pond and removed him. My upside down orfe is still upside down and living on the bottom as he has been since last spring. The de-icer that was at the head of the falls didn't seem to be working so I put another one in there. I noticed water seeping around the edges of my biofilter. The sealant the workers put around there almost a decade ago has kind of rotted and fallen off. I found my stick of reef epoxy which can set under water and tried to build little dams with it around the lip of the biofilter. The epoxy was almost a decade old too so I need to get some more. It is one of the few things I can use that is both non-toxic to the fish and can be set on a wet surface (and underwater). If the biofilter had been built right (with a deeper overflow lip), it would only flow out the exit lip and not the rest of the edge.

4. On 12/17/06, I had to go to my company's holiday "party" so I did the pond work a few hours early. At 10:30 am, the 1800 gallon pond was at 48 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 43 degrees F. I didn't get in or squirt the floss this week. I added water to all the ponds, collected some leaves, and that was about it. I cut down the iris in the 20 gallon tub pond.

5. On 12/24/06, I pulled back the net and took out the filter material to squirt off the floss. I tidied up but there wasn't much to do. The 1800 gallon was at 46 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 48 degrees F. I got two new de-icers and put those out on the ponds instead of the old ones. Of course, the ponds haven't had any real ice yet since it's so warm!

6. On 12/31/06, I checked the temperatures of the ponds, added BZT (which I add every Saturday; it's a dry bacterial preparation), and topped off the ponds. The 1800 gallon was at 44 degrees F and the 153 gallon was at 45 degrees F.

7. High of 66 degrees F, rain, no coats, short sleeves, bulbs coming up, snowdrops in bloom. Sound like late February? Nope, try 1/5/07 in MD. When I came home, a frog jumped into my 153 gallon pond! The fish were active in the main pond. What's next, spawning? This morning (1/6/07), it was 65 degrees F and went up to about 69 degrees F! I even fed the pond fish. The pond water was 55 degrees F. It's supposed to stay warm for a few more days so a little food will help the fish get through this warm "winter." The water celery, parrot feather, and water iris all have new growth on them. Many plants are developing buds early which is not good. I helped reduce my impact on the destruction of the planet a month ago when I bought a new 2007 Toyota Prius. I made a list of things I do and don't like about it at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/prius.htm.

Here is a photo of the snowdrops from 2/24/06 when they bloomed last year: http://www.fishpondinfo.com/photos/other/plants/snowdrops.jpg
Here are photos from today, 1/6/07 that I just put up but haven't linked to anything yet:
The snowdrops: http://www.fishpondinfo.com/photos/other/plants/snowdrops2.jpg
The vinca flowering: http://www.fishpondinfo.com/photos/other/plants/vinca.jpg
The active pond fish: http://www.fishpondinfo.com/photos/ponds/bigpond/fish0106.jpg

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Pond Tidbits:
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1. I watched the koi DVD from http://www.videokoi.com/ that was sent to me. It didn't play on my old DVD player but did on my father's new one. The video quality was very good. The koi ponds were absolutely gorgeous. Dr. Johnson's advice was very good. The only thing he said with which I remotely might disagree is that water changes are a requirement for a pond to be healthy. I certainly think it's the key to healthy aquariums. I do 50% water changes weekly on them. Since I have well water and don't want to run it dry, I rarely do water changes on my ponds, mostly just topping them off. I think I should do water changes but I don't think they are necessary to keep the pond healthy since my ponds are in decent shape.

This DVD will show you the ponds you wished you could have! In that regard, it doesn't show what us less-than-wealthy can do to have koi ponds. All the ponds they showed were well over $20,000 each, and all the pond owners were well over 40-50 years old. I want people to realize that everyone, regardless of income, age, or sex can have some pond. We certainly all can't have those gorgeous koi ponds in the DVD but, contrary to the lean of the DVD, you can have a koi pond for $10,000 or less that, while certainly not ideal, is functional. I also object to the reference to having koi/ponds as a "hobby." A hobby is something you can choose to start or stop at any time. A pond is much more than that, more than a pet, an entire ecosystem. There is no vacation from a pond or its maintenance. It's a part of your life, not a hobby. I tend to be better at criticism than praise. I certainly do recommend getting the video if you have a koi pond; it may give you some ideas and certainly will have you "oohing" and "aahing." As for more criticisms from me, I found the sing-songy narrator (apparently a hired actress) to be very artificial and the background music to be unfitting to the DVD. Ponds are as real as they get and the narrator and music made it seem fake to me. Nature makes the best music. I also would have liked to have seen more video of the behind-the-scenes filtration systems and such. This DVD is specific to koi ponds so I'm not complaining that it didn't cover more because there has to be a time and topic limit. If you love koi, get the DVD if for no other reason than there really aren't any other good koi pond DVD's out there. Just keep in mind that you may start crying because you just wish you could have a koi pond as large and as gorgeous as the ones in the DVD!

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Web Sites of Interest:
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1. None this month.

What's your favorite pond-related web site(s)?
Do you have a web site you want me to mention here?


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