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Robyn's Pond Newsletter April 2003

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 extensively quoted in the May 2003 issue of Aquarium Fish in the article, "Best & Worst Pond Plants" by Larry Maupin on Pages 18 to 26. My web site is mentioned on Page 24. Larry had it right (I made sure he did!). But, wouldn't you know? I finally hit the big leagues, and the editors added a www in front of my URL. My web site URL has no www so anyone who tried to visit my site got a 'site does not exist' message! A few smarter people might enter my name or website title into a search engine and find it but so far, only one person has contacted me (in guestbook) as a result of the article. Them's the breaks!

My mother saw a rabbit in the newspaper in an ad for the animal shelter and wanted to get her (even though after our rabbit Jimmy died, she said we'd never get another since I have too much work anyway). She and I had to go through a lot of work for them to okay the adoption but our new rabbit arrived the evening of 3/25/03 after being spayed that morning. Her name was and is Sweetie. Her previous owner only cleaned her cage every 2 months! I change the rabbits' litters twice a week! She is about 1.5 years old. My page at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/rabbits/sweetie.htm has a photo and information if you're curious.

I'm sorry this newsletter is so long but I've been busy, busy, busy! I'm using the newsletter like a diary of my pond activities. I had wanted it to be more like a regular e-newsletter but I'm just too busy to write beyond what I have here.

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Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages (explanations below, numbers match):
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1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/talk.htm
2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/pictures.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/frogs/frogspecies.htm [Link updated with later frog page move.]
4. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/frogs/frogwinter.htm [Link updated with frog pages moved later.]
5. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/myfish/myponds.htm (URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
6. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/orfe.htm

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Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:
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1. I added a very short section on heterotrophic and autotrophic bacteria.

2. I have six new pond-related photos. Under fish and spring 2003 is a photo of my pond fish, alive and well, after the worst winter in a hundred years (alive.jpg). Under frogs and toads, the first five photos are new (wfegg2.jpg, wfegg1.jpg, wfegg3.jpg, woodfrog.jpg, clean.jpg). They are photos of the wood frog eggs, the female wood frog, and the 50 gallon lotus tub pond before and after its cleaning.

3. I updated my sections on green frogs and wood frogs with new information (as found in this newsletter), and the wood frog and her egg photos are also on that page.

4. I added a little to this page also about the saga of the missing green frogs.

5. I updated this page on my 50 gallon lotus tub, 153 gallon pond, and new mosaic pond. Basically, the updates are the same as in this newsletter.

6. I updated the breeding section on orfe now that mine are spawning.

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Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:
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I did a lot this month so this is a long section. I hope that reading it gives you some ideas of what to do and not do and also gives you a laugh or two at my expense.

1. On 3/2/03, the pond was still too frozen to tend to it. I did use the leaf grabbers to get some leaves out of the waterfall and even in the deep end. My white and red comet who is swollen on one side severely (like the basketball goldfish on my health page) seemed dead but moved when touched with the grabbers. I can see on the bottom but it's a little murky. It's supposed to warm up sometimes I hope (not this weekend though) so I'm hoping to get in in two Sunday for the first time in 3 months! It really needs it! I located and dug out the two 20 gallon tub ponds and 50 gallon lotus tub pond, just the surface so I can at least see where they are at and not step into them. I also uncovered the rest of my pond light fixtures. The two that are tallest and most fragile broke from the snow (actually from the previous snow before the two feet!) but luckily I only used half the fixtures in the light kit back in 1998 and will replace the three fixtures if the snow ever melts, and the ground dries out enough. I also have three solar lights which I much prefer to the electrical ones which I never turn on (no visitors, lights are dull anyway). The rosy red minnows in my 20 gallon basement pond are improving and are very feisty! After I clean out my 153 gallon pond in another month, they will go outside.

2. The morning of 3/5/03, it was pretty warm, and the main part of my big pond was all liquid. I could see my fish fine, and they looked okay. I did find my first amphibian casualty though, a big green frog, well dead. The high for the day was in the 50's, and it would have been ideal to clean my filters then but alas, I had to go do meaningless physical labor at the place where they give me some money. I placed two orders for some plants and supplies from AquaMart and Paradise Water Gardens. I requested the hardy plants [a yellow native lotus, a new dwarf hardy lily (Indiana), anacharis, cabomba, hornwort, jungle valisneria, parrot feather, white pickerel plant, etc.] be sent in mid-April, and the tropical ones [water hyacinth, water lettuce, water poppy, nitella, salvinia, dwarf papyrus, pink water hibiscus [mine bit the dust after 4 years of overwintering inside :-( (it seemed but later in the month, I found a few sprigs of life so I'll soon have two of them], another yellow canna (yep, mine died)] be sent in mid-May. Hopefully, it will be warm enough then! I ordered four submerged plant protectors so maybe the new submerged plants will live for the first time since 1997! The koi and goldfish love to eat them (all!!). I also got more plant pots, a new pond net for fall, a new net (I beat mine on the ice), more filter floss, barley straw, and Luft air stones. It was 50 degrees when I got home, and all but the shallow areas were melted in the big pond. The thermometer was melted out and read 42 degrees F.

3. Well 3/8/03 was a nice 50 degree F day but I spent 12 hours taking care of my animals and aquariums so I didn't have much time for the ponds. I did decide to test the 1800 gallon pond's water. I'm a chemist but at home, all I have are cheap hobbyist test kits. They do not agree with each other. First, I put in a Jungle Pond dip stick from their test kit. Dip sticks aren't very accurate but I just wanted basic information, and nothing beats the speed. The stick said the pond had zero nitrate, zero nitrite, zero hardness (yes, that's right), zero alkalinity (despite adding all that baking soda last year), and a pH of 6.5. The Pond Care pH test kit said pH 8.5. The Wardley pH kit said 6.8. What's going on here? Simply put, the test kits aren't that great and without any hardness or alkalinity, my pond had no buffering capacity. With all the rain and snow and our soft well water, the pond was like distilled water almost. And, you cannot get an accurate pH on distilled water. You have to add something to it. I would suspect my pond's true pH is between 6 and 7 as that's what my well water is. Anyway, no need to worry in that regard. The Aquarium Pharmaceuticals GH & KH test kit (liquid titration) said a KH of 2 dKH (or 35.8 ppm KH or less) and a GH of 1 dKH (17.9 ppm GH or less). Since basically the first or second drop of titrant resulted in a color change, this test only says to me that my water is super soft, which I knew. The AquaLab dip sticks (from my aquarium) gave me a quick reading of total hardness 25 ppm, alkalinity 80, and pH 7.2. While that pH sounds good, I don't think the other readings were accurate compared to the other test kits. So, as you can see, each test kit gave me a different reading. The reason I pulled out the test kits in the first place (which I basically only do once a year as you can see my intuition may be better than the test kits) was to test the salt concentration to see how much to add. The salt test said 0 to 0.02 % despite all the salt I added a little over a month ago. All the snow and rain must have flushed the pond out totally. I wanted about 0.05 % salt so according to the directions, I needed to add 9 cups of salt. I wanted 100 ppm alkalininty (the ideal) so I needed 3.6 ounces of baking soda (the ounces needed is the desired ppm times the volume of the pond divided by 5000 or for me 100x1800/5000; don't ask me where this came from; I read it somewhere.). The baking soda and fresh oyster shells and crushed coral gravel would hopefully bring up the alkalinity and hardnesses (as well as the pH unfortunately) but not all that significantly. I didn't bother to use my ammonia or oxygen test kits as I knew the ammonia would be zero, and the oxygen at saturation from the waterfall.

4. The big day for the big pond was 3/9/03. After nearly 3 months, I got in. The longest I had gone before without getting in was maybe half that long. For my pond, it was a mess! I will try to describe the 3 hour experience. First, I spent 20 minutes or so gathering my supplies on the back porch which I had swept off the day before (it still had corn, seed, and assorted yucky leftovers my mother put out for the raccoon plastered all over with trash). The weather was NOT fun. It dropped to about 45 degrees F, and the winds were very strong. I had some plastic litter buckets (about 4 gallons) that are great to carry stuff. I had to weigh down everything. I can't work in a coat so I put on two shirts and a winter hat. My father turned the outdoor spigot back on and brought out a hose. I put buckets, a spoon, screw drivers, grabbers, and a net by the pond's edge. I switched off the pond's power. I suited up in my hip waders and long Aquagloves that go all the way up my arms. Parts of the ground were hard snow and parts quicksand-like mud. I had to sit in some snow to get into the pond. First, on my way to the pump, I checked the thermometer which read 45 degrees F. I later checked the 153 gallon pond thermometer, and it was 47 degrees F. I slimed/slid my way into the deep end. I pulled the top piece of floss off the pump. Up flew a huge dead goldfish. I thought it was Jill for a moment but found her swimming in the water. This fish was also a foot long, red and white comet. It had been dead long enough that I couldn't tell its sex or if it had any cuts or injuries. A number of goldfish I had seen over fall and winter with nasty cuts, and this may have been one of them. I pulled up the pump. Another dead goldfish, this one a 6-7 inch badly decomposed 100% white comet. It was probably one of the first born in my pond. None of the ones I bought in 1997 were all white but many of their babies are/were. I put the spoon aside the pump intake to remove the strainer. It appeared to be 100% clogged but the falls had been running. I pulled up the plastic plant basket with the rest of the floss while trying to prevent the pump from coming off the tubing (hence the screw drivers which tighten the clamp there). Luckily, the pump stayed on, and the basket came out. It was the heaviest and thus dirtiest it had ever been. I saw the pattern of a frog in the bottom but made my way out of the pond. Off went the waders and gloves. I started moving the flosses to beside the porch. Then, I saw movement in the basket. It was the bullfrog! He was alive and HUMONGOUS! It took both my hands to hold his slimy, slow-moving self. He was happy I dumped him back into the pond. He wasn't at his best (all yucky colored) so I didn't embarrass him with a photo but you can see his other photos in my bullfrog section that I took last summer.

The floss was too dirty to clean, and the white goldfish was stuck in the fibers. So, I cut brand new pieces (from AquaMart) using the utility knife. The main piece that wraps around the pump is held in a circle with four diaper pins. I squirted off the basket and pump intake, set up the new floss, and set the whole thing back by the edge of the pond. Then, I started on the biofilter with many bags of bioballs and lava rock. They all got squirted. At the bottom, I found no pickerel frogs this year. I tried to open the drain. After clearing the snow and hosing it down, the rock over the drain valve wouldn't budge (wouldn't you know, it moved hours later when I was all done) which was a first. So, I couldn't flush the bottom all the way out but that was fine. In went the 6 some bags of bioballs and 5 some bags of lava rock, somewhat cleaner. Then, I had three bags of media I use. I only change them twice a year. They were really due! One bag was for oyster shell and coral gravel to leach some calcium and increase the pond's hardness a little. This bag had a nice hole in it. I tried to tie that corner to keep it from leaking. Another bag was for a 37 oz box of AmmoCarb (carbon and zeolite). I know; it's so little, it probably won't do much but it makes me feel better and may remove a few of the built up organics in the water. The final bag I had stuffed into the carbon bag because it had ripped in two. This was those new barley straw pellets I had tried and not liked. I still have some so without a bag, I later just strewed some over the shallow portion of the pond. I wondered if the fish thought I was trying to feed them rabbit pellets. Does anyone know where to buy large (square foot or more) nylon mesh filter bags that have holes small enough to retain carbon, zeolite, barley pellets, oyster shell, and coral gravel? My fish catalogs used to sell them but stopped carrying the larger sizes.

Anyway, then the filter was done. Back went the hip waders and gloves. In I slipped. I put the floss back together and got out to turn on the power. I heard that woosh that told me all was right. The pump didn't pop off. But, I popped back into the water. I ran a sharp rock over the main waterfall rock to keep it clean. It was pretty clear. I noticed purple stuff on there. I deduced it was dead algae. It had died from the 2 feet of snow that blocked sun from the main waterfall rock for a few days for the first time ever as water ran under the snow. I ran the net over the deep end and came up with a few leaves, pea gravel, and plant stems. Into the bucket they went. The fish were all around me and seemed bigger than I'd remembered, and some of the goldfish had bright, bright red on them (it almost blinded me!). I used the grabbers and the gloves to gather some leaves from the various levels of the pond. I couldn't really pick up leaves with the gloves on as they are too thick. I got back out, changed again.

I was finally able to fix up some of the rocks where the waterfall comes out of the biofilter (I just couldn't figure it out before when everything was frozen). All my rock work is totally loose and shifts a lot. I used my bare hands to pull out some of the rotten watercress and water celery from the waterfall areas. Then, it was time to add some stuff to the water. I spread in 9 cups of salt, 4 ounces (I weighed it) of baking soda, 8 oz of Stress-Coat (for the aloe, I don't have city water nor had I done a water change; nature did that), the barley pellets I mentioned adding already, a few teaspoons of BZT, and a full dose of Pond-Zyme. The water was a bit cloudy from my work so I added in a dose of AccuClear as well just so it would look nice (this is a temporary fix that I rarely use).

5. By the morning of 3/12/03, the pond was as clear as it can be. My two koi, Maggie and Colin, seem fine except Maggie has a protrusion on her left size. It looks like something the size of a cigar is trying to poke out of her. The skin is not punctured; it's just a bump. I hope it's not tuberculosis. My aquarium fish have it but the pond fish have so far avoided it. The four orfe are fine and huge. A few of the goldfish have cuts on their side like someone ran them over a grater. A few had those last fall. I'm not sure why they had them this time of the year (as opposed to during spawning when it's common).

6. On 3/16/03, the air temperature was near 70 degrees F! There are still a few patches of snow but the last bit melted off the main pond that day. Only the back tiny wildlife pond has snow and ice still on it. The ponds both had water temperatures of about 50 degrees F. I fed the fish some spring/fall food and some oatmeal cereal (organic oats, rice flour, and wheat germ only). From experience, I knew it was safe to feed as the temperatures are supposed to stay warm for at least a few days to allow digestion. Plus, it was hot enough that I was sweating in short sleeves. According to my newsletters, I first fed the fish last spring on 3/3/02, a full two weeks earlier! Due to the horrible winter and freeze, many of the bricks that edge the 153 gallon pond down into the water had broken and fallen apart, some into a hundred pieces. I replaced 11 of them with "new" bricks. I say "new" because they are leftovers from our house being built in 1977! We still have a nice pile left. I went to buy some bags of pea gravel to redo the tub ponds, hopefully the 50 gallon lotus tub pond next week. The warm weather makes me want to repot, redo, clean, weed, and mulch all in one day which I can't so it's frustrating! I can't even finish mulching by fall but will probably start in a few weeks. The individually-caged plants are easier to do each year thanks to the mulching but around the ponds, every year more wads of grass, clover, and dandelion appear so that I can't keep up. I cheat and just cover them with mulch (it lasts like one day!).

7. On 3/18/03, the bullfrog had his head out of the 1800 gallon pond and spazed trying to hide away from me. I had heard spring peepers calling the night before. The wood frogs have not shown up. I realized that I had not seen a green frog. This is unusual since I have about 30 of them, and at the first sign of warmth, they stick their little heads out for some air. I'm worried that the worst winter may have killed them off. I saw the remains of frog flesh floating in my 153 gallon pond but it won't be until I take the day off to clean it out on 4/2/03 (it takes all day) that I find out how many live and how many dead frogs are lurking at the bottom of the 2-foot-deep, coffin-like pond. I hope it's not a grave this year. At least, I have seen many green frog tadpoles alive in there so I won't be sans green frogs for long.

8. On 3/23/03, I squirted off the main pond's floss. Hair algae is starting to grow in the waterfall but the water celery is going too, and the watercress won't be far behind. The pond thermometer read 58 degrees F, almost as warm as the air. I put in some more pond salt (not much really) and removed the de-icer.

I got wood frog tadpoles for my ponds in 1998. I wasn't sure any had made it until I saw an adult the next year. From 3/9/00 to 3/12/00 and again on 3/21/01, I had those wood frogs lay eggs in my 153 and 50 gallon ponds. I saw adults, eggs, and the itty bitty tadpoles. In 2002, none showed up that I saw but it was the worst drought ever, way too dry for them. This year, it's wet, wet, wet! Yet, no wood frogs had returned by 3/20/02. I missed them! Their quacking is so cute. Then, on 3/21/03, I heard a feeble frog noise. A flashlight revealed that there was a wood frog in there! I was so happy. The next night, they laid eggs, right in my 50 gallon lotus tub pond. Unfortunately, I had scheduled the next day to redo that pond! The pond was really a cesspool after three years. The lotus were overgrown. Water celery had crept in. Since the pond had frozen solid for the first time ever, it was full of 100% dead anacharis, hornwort, insects, snails, and tadpoles (I had netted as many as I could but many evaded me in the slop since the net wouldn't even go through it). Plus, there were a million leaves, twigs, pea gravel no longer in place, and much more. The lotus had one flower the year before. So, I was determined to redo the tub. I scooped the eggs into a container and set them aside in the shade (and took a photo). Then, I bailed the water down. I found a tiny green frog (the first I've seen this year) and the female wood frog (I had her in my hands and wanted a photo but can't operate the camera and hold her at the same time). I put them in my 153 gallon pond (due to be cleaned 4/2/03). After bailing down, I used my bare hands (I can't feel well enough with gloves, hence my stained hands and black nails for a few days) to collect as much debris as I could. Sticks, leaves, unmentionables, and lotus tubers started coming up. The tubers were wrapped over 10 feet long in a circle around the outer edge of the tub. I started digging out the stinky mud, pea gravel, etc. into a wheel barrow but it was very hard to dig. It was of course saturated and a suction prevented easy digging as did the tubers themselves. Then, my brother showed up thankfully to help. He said it smelled like horse dung. He'd dig a little, and I'd pulled tubers. After a while, the pile on the lawn looked like a scene from the movie Tremors (the graboids are like big worms which the tubers look like). Some tubers were 10 feet long. I hacked them into about half a dozen 2 foot sections. I kept the best ones and tossed 60% over the hill (oh, no! That's worth $300. Yes, but it's illegal to sell them, and I have no one to give them to locally). I hate tossing plants but it's what I do during each repotting. Once near the bottom, I squirted down the sides and left the last bit of gunk. It surprised me that the old pea gravel had migrated to all levels in the dirt, and there was no way I was going to try to reuse it. We put three wheelbarrows worth of new dirt into the tub so it was almost 50% full of dirt. I stomped it down, and it became even less deep. Then, I laid in the tubers. I used some dirt to cover over parts of them. Only one had an obvious growing tip and leaf which I made sure not to cover. But all the tubers were hard, tan, and healthy. Then, bucket by bucket, I went through two bags of new pea gravel (sand and rocks are not good hand care). It was all rinsed and laid in by hand over the tubers gently. When done, I hand bucketed in a few buckets of water and then set the bucket on top of the gravel and ran the hose into it so the water ran out lightly all around and didn't stir up the dirt under the gravel. After filling, I added a dash of aquarium Stress-Coat and Stress-Zyme for the wood frog eggs and soon tadpoles. I didn't add salt as tadpoles and plants don't like it. I had planned to put my guppies in there next month but they will have to stay somewhere else until the wood frog tadpoles leave as the guppies would hurt the tadpoles. When the wood frogs hatch, I will have to feed them fish foods since the pond has almost no debris now. I didn't want the raccoon or other predators to eat the eggs, so I set a vinyl-coated hardware cloth cage around them. So far, it's worked. This pond took 3 hours to clean and was hard physical labor! And it didn't even contain any plants or animals to sift aside from the egg mass, two frogs, and lotus tubers. When I get to the 153 gallon pond, it will take all day to sift the life out.

My father replaced the three six-year-old light fixtures by the pond that had fallen apart from all the snow and aging. I turned them on to test them, and the new ones worked. A little while later, the waterfall was off. The circuit was tripped. I guess the lights did it so I won't be using the lights anyway (I rarely turn them on anyway). I realized the last patch of snow melted. I miss it but I don't. I'm working on the game of "find the spring bulbs when they sprout before the deer do and cage them quick." So far, I'm ahead!

9. The morning of 3/25/03, I put a big wad of hornwort from the 153 gallon pond so that when the wood frog tadpoles hatch, they will have someplace to hang out and maybe find some natural food. All the submerged plants in there from years ago died this winter from the extreme weather. The bullfrog was calling last night. The male green frogs should be up and making a lot of noise but not a peep. I am very worried about them. I think they're goners.

10. I had intended to squirt the floss, repot the lotuses in my main pond, and do some mulching but mother nature had others plans. It snowed! Most of it melted but about a half inch accumulated on the cars and roof and patches on the green grass. Then, it went below freezing overnight. All the flowering bulbs were knocked out. Both my 1800 and 153 gallon pond thermometers read 48 degrees F but the air was in the 30's. I decided to not do much outdoor work that day! It was 70 degrees the day before, and I had fed the fish! While the cold stays, the fish won't be fed.

11. My big day off work came on 4/2/03 so I could work on the 153 gallon pond. I worked on it from 8:30 am to about 5 pm (with time in there to tend to other animals, etc.) before everything was put up. It took over a half hour to put all the supplies outside. Then, I bail filled the two kiddie pools and three buckets with water from the pond. It was yellow but clear. I put air stones run off of battery air pumps in two buckets, one for frogs and one for fish. Then, I grabbed wads of hornwort (tons of it) with a little anacharis mixed in. I shook it out in the pond and then put it in one of the kiddie pools. I bailed the pond down. Each bucket, one at a time, I had to run through a net and hand remove the hundreds of green frog tadpoles and snails (mostly black ramshorns with a few tiny ramshorns, Melatho, and pond snails; all trapdoor snails were empty shells). As I got deeper, it got thicker but not as smelly or thick as I expected. Once the shelves were bailed down, I removed the three one gallon pots of iris, one one gallon pot of sweetflag, and the five one gallon pots of water lilies. These are all from the ones in my main pond, sort of a back up in case they die in the main pond as I think my red lily did. As I neared the bottom, I was sure I would find lots of dead green frogs. There were no live ones playing in this stifling 80-degree-F day (didn't it snow a few days ago?)! I did find the same female wood frog and young emaciated green frog that I found in the 50 gallon lotus tub pond a few weeks before. Last year, I found 13 live green frogs and no dead ones. The year before, there were live and dead ones, but always some. Well, I never found a single intact dead frog! I found two leg bones and a vertebrae though with a little slime. This tells me that none died over winter, in fact none overwintered at all! They all died before then. I'm not sure if the raccoon, cats (my one cat pulled out a frog last fall and killed it, a first), or other predators got a lot of them or perhaps they all starved to death from the lack of insects during the worst drought in 100 years. I hope it was the drought because if a predator has learned how to efficiently hunt green frogs, then the few hundred green frog tadpoles left in that pond have no future. They are the future to bring back green frogs to my ponds. I have that one sickly young frog (who I should have fed before releasing him but I didn't think of it) and one lonely male in the 1800 gallon pond. The bullfrog has been eyeing him as a possible meal. With no female green frogs in sight, he will be lonely indeed. It looks like for the first time in five years, there will be no green frog eggs this year. Hopefully, next year some of the tadpoles will be large enough frogs but it takes years for them to reach maximum size. Last year, I had some that must have been five years old, huge. All gone. I'm very upset because they were so beautiful and sweet (I would pet them) and make cute squeak noises, and the male's banjo twang is a sound that I'm so used to, the ponds just don't sound right. I used to have them lined up around my ponds like they were having a party or a meeting (I have photos on my web site of that). The ponds seem so dead without them. Speaking of that, I found only three live fish and one dead one. One was an amazingly colored Southern redbelly dace. The other ones were a male and female red shiner (I'm not positive but think so). The dead one seemed to have also been a shiner. I took photos of the empty pond, frogs, fish, and tadpoles but don't have time to process them before this newsletter goes out so they will be in the next one (something for you to look forward to).

Once I got to the bottom, I shop vacuumed the last few gallons and sifted tadpoles and snails out of that as well. I squirted the pond but didn't scrub it down (left algae for the tadpoles and snail eggs) and shop vacuumed the last of the gunk out. I refilled the pond partially. Then, I repotted the five water lilies into five one gallon pots with a few fertilizer pills and new pea gravel. Two of them had broken the pots as the pots really aren't big enough but all that will fit in this small pond. I set the PondMaster filter into the deep end and three of the lily pots. The other two lilies, one sweetflag, and three water iris went on the two higher shelves. I filled the pond up to where I had bailed it down with the water I put aside and saved. I added in a half cup of pond salt, some aquarium stress-zyme (they don't make it for ponds anymore), pond stress-coat, and BZT. The Luft pump air stone was put back in to aerate the water, plus I turned on the PondMaster filter to aerate the water and warm it a little. I also put in some new barley straw. The animals were getting kind of hot in the kiddie pools and buckets since by then it was 80 degrees F! In 2001, I did this cleaning when it was in the 30's! While the pond aerated, I ran cords and hoses to my back 18 gallon liner pond (really a deer drinking hole) and shop vacuumed and refilled that. Then, back at the 153 gallon pond, I bailed back the water, submerged plants, tadpoles, and snails into the pond. I put back the wood frog and sick baby green frog. After taking photos of the three fish, I put them back too. This weekend, I plan to put the rosy reds I have in the basement pond after a few months quarantine into this pond to liven it up. Hopefully, they'll get along with the three surviving native fish (so much for native fish doing better in ponds; I started with over 30 and now have 3!). Then, I set up the new mosaic pond on the front porch. It has a light that runs whenever the pump is on but it does look pretty at night. I may put a few of the guppies from the basement pond in there to eat mosquito larvae. I can't put the guppies in the 50 gallon lotus tub pond since the wood frog tadpoles are in there, and the guppies might nip them; they were hatching the morning of 4/3/03 after 12 days (I didn't think it would take that long!!) and are so precious, cute, and increasingly rare in this world. I ran out of time to start mulching around the big pond. In addition to all of this, I have a new rabbit to care for and my oldest cat is now getting subcutaneous lactated ringers twice a week for early kidney failure (that means I stick a big needle in her back and push in water with salts). Unfortunately, I'm good at it as I've had to give it to two cats and two rabbits before, more times than I can count!

12. The morning of 4/4/03 at dawn, I was not surprised to see the goldfish spawning like crazy since it had been up to 80 degrees the two days before. The water is now a little foamy and less clear but there's no way around it with the fish expelling things and stirring up the shallows. So, for a month or so, now the pond will be at its least clear, but never pea soup algae, just not gin clear. I assisted a female all white goldfish out of an area I think she may have gotten stuck into. When spawning, I have to help the stuck goldfish quite a lot, or they can get stranded and die as one did last year. As I was leaving for work, late as usual, I glanced at the pond one last time as is my ritual and noticed something I'd never seen before. Next to the spazing goldfish, three of the golden orfe were doing the same thing! So, now I know that they spawn just like goldfish, ramming into each other in the shallows, coming out of the water. I wanted to go look but had to go to work so perhaps I'll see it close up in the future. This summer, I'll have to take a close look at the surviving fry, as some may be orfe for the first time! I hope I don't get too many though as they are pretty big fish (the four breeders are over a foot long, and I got them as a few inches long in 1997 and some in 1998) that need more room than my pond provides. My two koi, Maggie and Colin, were not showing any interest in spawning. They are certainly large enough. I don't really mind though because my pond certainly cannot support more koi!

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Interesting Animal Sightings:
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1. The morning of 3/12/03, when I was walking to feed the chickens, I saw a small dog running down our road, away from me (about 600 feet). It was moving strangely. Oh, it's a fox! Big deal you say? Well, on our 5 acres, I've only seen a fox twice before in 26 years. Once on the back porch in the mid-80's, and once one ran right past me with a dog chasing it about 5 years ago. That one was a shock as it was daytime, and passed very close to me, moving very fast. Foxes usually don't come out during the day in our area so I hope this one was just getting to bed late and not rabid. Fox hunters hunt near us with horses and hounds. Even if they don't kill the foxes, they scare them to death. They used to trespass wherever the hounds led them. Even though I've only seen foxes a few times, they must be around.

2. Amazingly, on 4/1/03, I saw a pair of foxes together (probably one was the one I saw a few weeks earlier). They were playing and digging in the back side yard and stuck around for at least a half hour before I went to work. I went outside to see why she (I think it was the female) was digging (making a den, getting a rodent?), and as I came over the hill, she was still there! Here was a wild fox about 15 feet from me. She didn't see me. She was looking the opposite way, got scared, and ran away to the side of me, never seeing me. The neighbor's dog was down there but when she saw me, I was more afraid of her than the fox who didn't see me. I have to wonder where this pair will den. I've never seen fox kits. The photos I've seen are just so cute! They must think they have it made near our land with all the ponds (which used to have lots of frog prey!), cat and human food on the porch, and a chicken house (I'm sure they're planning how to get in there!).

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Pond Tidbits:
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1. I asked AquaMart how to overwinter tropical water canna for next year as I've killed one off two winters in a row by trying to overwinter it. I had put it in my indoor tub pond for winter under plant lights. I figured the other method of bareroot storage was too risky. This is what the AquaMart greenhouse staff recommended. Cut back the plant to the tuber. Store in a dark, damp place in sphagnum moss. Replant in spring. Sounds too easy! Anyone know a good source for sphagnum moss? I don't know of one.

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Web Sites of Interest:
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1. The Water Garden News had a pond story-writing contest. You can read the winners at http://WaterGarden.com/wgn/JF03.php?i=103scw.

2. The Canadian Wildlife Federation at http://www.wildaboutgardening.org/index.asp may be of interest to those of you in Canada. Hopefully, they will expand their features and grow into something larger like the National Wildlife Federation in the USA.

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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Non-Pond Animal News:
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1. I have raised a longfin zebra danio fry in a net breeder in my 40 gallon tank. I put in a bunch of them but this guy is the only survivor.

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"If people destroy something replaceable made by mankind, they are called vandals; if they destroy something irreplaceable made by God, they are called developers." - Joseph Wood Krutch (from Wilderness Society Wildalert) [You can say the same about our ponds. If you destroyed my pond, I would have you reported for vandalism. If you destroyed the natural pond down the street, then you are our wonderful local developer (who we've fought so many times, we know his evil-self well). He is going to take out some more wetlands, for senior housing. I just hope the people have boats when the floods come!]

"What the world needs is a new kind of army - the army of the kind." - Cleveland Amory.


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