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Robyn's Pond Newsletter February 2007

Last Updated: 3/5/07

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Introduction and Miscellaneous:
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Nothing is more important in our world than the world itself. Without a healthy earth that can sustain life, nothing else matters. I always envision a man, perhaps the last one, sitting in a pile of money, all the money in the world with all the petroleum in the world and all the attainable wealth and goods in the world but what good does it do him if he has no clean air to breathe, no clean water to drink, and it's 150 degrees F? They are trying to organize the biggest environmental rally (on global warming) in US history on April 14, 2007 with locations all over the US. Check it out at http://www.stepitup2007.org/ and perhaps you can join in. If there isn't an event in your area, they can help you create one.

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? Is anybody actually reading this malarkey?

I put on my 400th page on Fishpondinfo on 1/13/07. It is not that I wrote a lot but I have divided a lot of pages up in the last year to add 100 pages! When I say I have over 400 "pages" on my site, I mean separate URL's (web site addresses). Each of those "pages" is actually 1 to 20 pages or so with an average of maybe five pages long. That means if you printed out my entire web site, it would probably be over 2000 actual pages long which is four reams of paper (which doesn't seem like a lot actually). But try editing all that! I have barely begun my site renovation (still working on those birds!). At this rate, it will take a decade! By then, what I previously did will be way out of date.

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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/ponds/bog.htm -
I put up a small page on bogs, one type of water feature not formerly mentioned on my site.

2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pictures2.htm -
Under "Frogs and Toads" are five new photos that Chuck sent me in September of last year of a female bullfrog. Under insects are two old photos of an aquatic insect larvae that I added. I am not sure what species it is. Do you know?

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New Pages on Pond Showcase:
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1. http://www.pondshowcase.com/Don/index.shtml - Don's Pond

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

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Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:
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1. On 1/7/07, I replaced the filter floss material with fresh material as I do four times a year. I pulled all the bioballs and lava rocks out of the biofilter and squirted them down (every five weeks in cold weather, 4 weeks in warm weather). The 1800 gallon was at 50 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 49 degrees F. I saw a male fathead in the 1800 gallon pond while I was in there. Only a few minnows remain (at least that one anyway). There are three sick fish in the pond. The orfe, of course, has been upside down since last spring and yet remains alive. One goldfish who has had growths for years has taken a turn for the worse. The growths might be lympocystis, or (I hope not) fish tuberculosis. They seem to be readying to rupture. A third fish, an orange goldfish, seems to be feeling poorly, laying there, perhaps with the beginnings of dropsy. There's really nothing I could do to really help those three fish. Otherwise, the other fish seem fine aside from a few tattered fins. Because of these problems and the warmer weather, I added a dose of salt earlier than I usually do. I put in almost half a container (the big ones). It's not much but something. I also put in the last of the Microbe-Lift Autumn and Winter prep.

The salvinia is still alive and even growing in the 153 gallon pond! I wonder if winter will even pay a visit at all this year. [It certainly did as you'll read further into the newsletter.]

2. On 1/14/07, I just measured the temperatures and removed a few leaves. The 1800 gallon was at 50 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 48 degrees F. I had topped the ponds off the day before. The air temperature has been in the 50's and 60's every day for a few days. I was tempted to feed the fish but didn't because it was supposed to get really cold in a few days. The morning of 1/15/07, the fish were begging for food. It was almost 60 degrees F out at dawn! They don't know that the temperature is supposedly supposed to plummet in the next day.

3. Winter finally arrived, a month late. The wind was strong and heat stripping on 1/20/07 throwing a thousand leaves into my pond. It was not fun trying to get those. I changed the Repti- sand in which my tropical waterlily tubers rest in the basement. I check it weekly to see if it needs water, and it was still pretty wet. I moved the sand and stench greeted me. I think one of the tubers is compromised but put them all back with fresh, much less wet sand. A week earlier, I put an extra aquarium heater into my basement pond which raised the temperature from the mid-60's to 70 degrees F. I thought I might put some fish in there but haven't. The taro though has had a growth spurt from the added heat.

4. By the next day, 1/21/07, my 1800 gallon pond finally got some ice on, up to about 70% coverage. The ice was too thick where I normally get into the pond to remove the filter material around the pond for cleaning for me to just step on and get in. So, I didn't get in. The 1800 gallon thermometer was frozen in the ice. The 153 gallon thermometer read 40 degrees F. That pond only had very thin ice at the end opposite to the de-icer and air stone. As soon as I came in, it started to snow, more than six weeks after our first snow last year. We got a inch. I forgot how good the air smells when it's snowing. Snow makes everything that's all yucky and muddy seem clean again as it covers it over.

5. Overnight into 1/26/07, it got pretty cold, about 12 degrees F. In the morning, my 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were mostly frozen over for the first time this winter. The 153 gallon had about a quarter of the pond open from the de-icer and aerator. The 1800 gallon had about one tenth of the pond open, where the water splashes in from the waterfall.

I watched a squirrel come to my 153 gallon pond in the morning. He/she walked up to the edge and leaned over to drink but "Wait, this is hard,?!" I imagined him saying to himself. He stuck one arm out and touched the ice, "What is this stuff?" Then, he tentatively hopped down onto the ice. He started to gnaw at a clump of iris stuck in the ice. "I'm thirsty, and this isn't working!" Finally, he got out, walked down to where the water was open, leaned over, and took a drink. It's funny to watch animals (or kids) discover something for the first time. Most squirrels don't live long so this one was probably born last spring and had always drunk from the same position on that pond.

6. The pond was frozen on 1/27/07 but had thawed enough that day (50 degrees F) that the next day, I was able to get into the pond by stepping on the ice where I normally get in. I tossed plates of ice that were in the way over to the marginal area. The thermometer (after breaking it from the ice) read 36 degrees F in the 1800 gallon pond and a toasty 43 degrees F in the 153 gallon pond. A few flakes of snow drifted down. I squirted off the filter floss material around the pump which was pretty dirty as I hadn't squirted it off in three weeks. While in the pond, I encountered two pickerel frogs. The first was bloated, discolored, and unresponsive which are all bad signs. The second was darker and moved a little bit so he was okay. Since I wasn't sure about that first one, I put him into a pond in the deep end to keep an eye on him for signs that he's gone. Those more definitive signs would include tongue hanging out, cloudy eyes, and/or skin sloughing off which he did not have (which is why I wasn't sure). Hibernating frogs don't move much so that alone isn't the best way to judge if one is alive or not. I tossed a few handfuls of salt onto the ice in the shallow end so the salt level in the water would slowly go up as it melted.

7. Today, 2/3/07, it is bitter cold. The ponds are mostly frozen over. There is no change in the three sick fish's status, that is the last time I could see them before the ice formed. We are supposed to get single digit temperatures all this week which may be the coldest since 1996, the year before I had my 1800 gallon pond. I am worried about keeping it open and the waterfall running. I may be taking hot water out during the night like I did about four years ago.

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Pond Tidbits:
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1. I read a local newspaper article on indoor and outdoor ponds and bogs. The writer was obviously not that familiar with the subject but did some research with some quotes in the article. I always find the errors, and I think sharing them can be useful. The main article called Anacharis by Anachres but aside from that didn't have any glaring errors as it was mostly quotes from pond store owners and the like. Unfortunately, the side bar on small outdoor ponds was profuse with problems. They are referring to container ponds (not full size ones) and say, "Goldfish are easy. Mollies eat other fish. Betas fight each other but not necessarily other species. Snails - nature's vacuum cleaners - are a great addition since they eat both pond scum and fish waste." Four sentences containing six errors at least! Where to start.

2. After more than three years, I finally read one of my almost 350 magazines that have accumulated (one on ponds of course) by reading two pages each night when I went to bed. An article that I read in this pond magazine by a prominent pond expert said, "One plecostomus in a 1000 gallon pond will eat all the string algae - that's its favorite food." Plecos don't survive below 50-55 degrees F so they'd have to be brought inside for ponds that experience winter. Luckily, the author did mention that part in the article. Plecos may eat some string algae but it's not their favorite food by a long shot! I have a 15" common pleco in my aquarium; he mostly eats cucumber and sinking algae wafers. There is attached algae on the glass that he did not eat. When he was in a tank with hair algae (aka string algae), he didn't touch the stuff at all. One pleco, even if 15" long, in a 1000 gallon pond would not have much of an impact on the algae growth, even if all he ate was hair algae. Generalizations in the world of ponding tend to not be accurate. The sentence should have read, "One large plecostomus in a 1000 gallon pond over the summer might eat some of the hair algae." The article also had a section on mosquito fish, headed with a photo of a fathead minnow (oops!). The author also calls plecos "ugly as sin." Ok, now he's crossed over the line. Nobody calls my piscine children ugly! ;-)

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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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