Last Updated: 2/6/14
Introduction and Miscellaneous:
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?
An article about my ponds and my pond book is in the Spring 2003 (Volume 3, Issue 1) Ponds Magazine on Pages 96 and 97. It is a very good article. There is an incomplete list of the animals in my ponds, and it is incorrectly implied that I do a total cleaning on my 1800 gallon pond similar to that done on my 153 gallon pond, but otherwise, there are no real errors (for once!). Fancy Publications does not offer a subscription to this magazine yet (they told me, "some day") so you have to pick one up at your local pet/aquarium/pond store.
My father found an article on me that I'd never seen. I interviewed last winter for a business newspaper but never saw the article in print when it must have come out in March. It's on-line at http://www.bizmonthly.com/3_2003_focus/f_7.html.
Sorry this newsletter is so long but since I get only get a response from maybe one person each time I send out the newsletter (who likes it), I guess it doesn't matter!
Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages (explanations below, numbers match):
(URL changed to a new directory in 2014)
Additions or Changes to Robyn's Pond Web Pages:
1. I added 11 new pictures! The first two were sent to me by Richard and Debi in April 2003. Both are under the amphibians section. The first, petfrog.jpg, is of a frog. I'm not sure what it is but it may be a different color phase of male green frog than I've seen or another species entirely. The other photo is toadeggs.jpg which is of their toad eggs. Under the big pond for spring of 2003 are five new photos (all those listed) including flowering forget-me-not (fmn.jpg), the pond in May (may2003.jpg), the pond in April (april2003.jpg), a panoramic photo of the pond area (big3.jpg), and flowering bog bean (bogbean.jpg). Under other animals and insects, the first photo is one of some dragonfly nymphs that someone sent to me (nymph.jpg). Under other animals and reptiles, the first two photos are goodbye photos of my snapper, Snappy (snaphead.jpg and snappy.jpg). Details on these photos are listed with the photos on the pictures page. Finally, under fish and summer 2002 is a photo of two male Southern redbelly dace that I took LAST spring when I cleaned the pond (dace2.jpg). Since it was on regular film, I just finally developed that roll and scanned the photo. [Note: If you want to jump right to the photos, enter http://www.fishpondinfo.com/ followed by the jpg file listed in parenthesis. Note 2015: Most of these photos have been moved.
2. In addition to these 11 photos, there are two photos of birds I added to my wildlife page (now songbird page - 7/6/07) (birdies.jpg and dees.jpg). The chickadees fledged at the end of May from the bird house aside the 1800 gallon pond.
3. I added a section on a conversation I had with an aquarist whose rosy red minnows spawned. It's under breeding and then a story section at the end of that section. There is a link to her site as well which includes a MOVIE of rosy reds spawning as well as regular photos. Here is that URL if you want to skip ahead: http://jumaka.com/aquarium/rosyreds.html.
4. On 5/25/03, in the pouring rain, 7-month-old, 7" Snappy was set free into a reservoir. I made this new section as a farewell to him.
Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:
1. On 5/4/03, I got in to remove the flosses for squirting. The OASE Nautilus 60 intake was clogged with debris stirred up by the goldfish spawning which is why the waterfall was just dripping. After the cleaning, it flowed nicely. I replaced the fine-meshed bag over the OASE air pump with a large-holed laundry bag. It may suck in some smaller animals but most are safe. This way, it won't clog daily. I tried to squirt off the Cyprio biothings (look like hair curlers) in the other filter but it was nearly impossible as a one-person job. Once all this was done, the pond was being filtering at maximum rate and by the next morning, it was much clearer. I also repotted my two two-gallon pots of hardy canna (Thalia dealbata) into new pots as I had to cut the others off. The one I repotted two years ago had broke the pot in half a dozen spots. The other one I repotted a year ago was also broken. The canna tubers are almost impossible to cut through but I managed to get a few pieces off the end for the repotting and tossed the remaining huge, heavy masses. The 1800 gallon pond was at 63 degrees F, and the 153 gallon was at 60 degrees F. I tried to attack some weeds around the 153 gallon but it's a lost cause. As summer progresses, it will vanish along with the tub ponds next to it in a see of grass, weeds, and plants. I have just a few loads of mulch left around the 1800 gallon pond. It will look good for a few weeks at least.
2. On 5/7/03, I saw my first newly-morphed green frog of the year. The little 1" frog was so cute that I wanted to kiss him (but didn't as I'd squish him!). I told him not to get eaten and stay where he was (in my 50 gallon lotus tub pond)!
3. I got my order from Paradise Water Gardens on 5/7/03, both hardy and tropical even though I requested the hardies in mid-April and tropicals in mid-May. So, I'm a little overwhelmed with plants and no time to deal with them! I got 12 trapdoor snails and 2 babies along for the ride. They were shipped moist but not in water but seemed alive. I put them right into my 1800 gallon pond. Hopefully, the raccoon won't eat them right away. I ordered a native yellow lotus for my lotus tub pond, an Indiana lily (orange), a white pickerel rush, and a pink tropical water hibiscus to replace my dead one. For free, I got two water poppies, some canna, and some unknown submerged plant in with the trapdoor snails. That's a total of eight plants. I put them in a bucket of water and under my basement plant lights. The hibiscus promptly wilted. I wish I had time to plant them ASAP but I'm too busy.
4. On 5/10/03, I redid my 20 gallon lotus tub pond for the new lotus. I saved a new parrot feather and some duckweed which somehow came back on its own even though the tub froze solid. The tub was full of muck and really old, rotted, dead lotus tubers. I put in fresh dirt and topped with pea gravel. The new native yellow lotus tuber went into the gravel. I added some fertilizer too. It ended up with only about « inch of water over the gravel which is very shallow for the lotus and one green frog who hangs out there. I put one of the free water poppies in my 50 gallon lotus tub and one in the overflow area of my main pond next to some snowflake (a creeping water plant). I potted up the free canna in a 2 gallon pot and put it into my "2 gallon pot pond" which is a container with fish and stuff on it. Okay, now I have NINE ponds! The basement one though I plan to close down next week for summer. I've started to haul out the potted plants that stay indoors when it's cold. My mother keeps buying more, and with my black thumb, I can only keep some barely alive!
5. On 5/11/03, I redid the other 20 gallon tub pond. All that was left in there was dwarf cattail. I saved a bunch to pot up in a 2 gallon pot for the main pond although there's already another pot in there. I just hate wasting the plants but I tossed the rest over the hill. The dirt in the pot was super stinky. With new dirt, pea gravel, and fertilizer, in went my new dwarf Indiana lily. I've tried dwarf water lilies in that tub twice when I first started ponding, and they always died. I hope this time, it lives! In my main pond, the koi won't allow a new lily to establish itself. Even the ones I have are having a hard time. Speaking of them, my biggest fish, Maggie (Mags), a longfin koi who is at least 1.5 feet long, found a way to thwart my expensive submerged plant protectors. They should change the name to "koi dining aids." My 1800 gallon pond is now clear, almost to the bottom. On 5/8/03, I see Mags just bobbing up and down having a jolly-old time with the submerged plants. She just pushes the floating part down so the plants stick through the mesh and eats away. So much for that $100 for 4 3 gallon pots of new submerged plants! The "bodies" of the victims were floating around the pond. When I got in on 5/11/03, I thus tried to clean up the mess but there's not much left!
That Sunday, I also squirted my growing collection of "flosses" as well as the bioballs in the main filter which I do once a month in summer. They were SO full of sludge! The fish are still spawning a lot so hopefully they will take a break and the sludge will go down. The main pond was 68 degrees F while the 153 gallon was 67 degrees F. I potted up the new tropical water hibiscus and white pickerel rush into two separate two gallon pots and put them in the 1800 gallon pond. As usual, it was dirt, plant, fertilizer, and pea gravel in that order to pot up those smaller ponds. I put the submerged plant that came with the snails (nitella?) in my 50 gallon lotus tub pond. It is full of a surface algae. I don't know if there are any wood frog tadpoles left but the green frog tadpoles are starting to morph from the 153 gallon pond, and they come to the 50 gallon lotus tub pond to hang out. Only one floating lotus leaf is up so far. This pond also was full of mosquito larvae so mosquito bits were added and new mosquito dunks to my 6 outdoor fish-less ponds.
6. By 5/12/03, the 1800 pond is clear enough for me to count the pea gravel on the bottom (if I had time!). Now that I've got a good view, I see that my two koi have injuries, perhaps from visits to the shallows. A flap of Maggie's skin is hanging off (about an inch square at most). Colin has two large (an inch square) black "things" on his side. I think it's scar tissue from an injury but am not sure. It could be infection related. They otherwise seem okay so I'm not going to remove them for treatment. "Treatments," in other words chemicals, usually do more harm than good to the pond so I'd never treat in the pond itself unless things were out of control. I don't have a quarantine/sick tank large enough for the koi either. I think they'll be okay. On a lighter note, the chickadees hatched 5 of their 6 eggs in the box at the pond's edge.
7. On 5/14/03, a great blue heron alighted by the pond around 6:30 pm. I don't think he saw me. He never went up to the pond and flew away. That explains why the fish have been hugging the bottom of the pond for a few days! I don't notice any fish missing although a shubunkin and the comet with a ping pong ball growth out one side are not to be found but may have died from other causes and been eaten by anybody. As far as I know, a heron has never gotten a fish in my pond but of course, I'm not there most of the time! Since the pond is gin clear now, it's a neon sign flashing red to the passing herons! The next morning, I noticed that Maggie has a sore on top of her head that wasn't there before. I don't know if it's a physical injury or an ulcer. Colin's black spots look like blood blisters over his all-white body. I will add some MelaFix to the pond (by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, contains tea tree oil, natural antibiotic and anti-fungal that's safe for the pond) and more pond salt. I am much too scared to add "medications" as they can kill a pond. I think I might try the product Lymnozyme before next spring in case these problems are related to things like Aeromonas and Pseudomonas (bacteria prevalent on koi). My pond really is not suited for koi (it was supposed to be 3 feet deep and 3000 gallons but the builders messed up royally in 1997 and gave me 24" deep and 1800 gallons) so I don't plan to get any more if Maggie and Colin pass on (despite their looks, they act normally), however much I may be tempted!
8. With the deluge of rain and wind, my huge yellow flag iris which I repotted LAST fall and is now 5 times bigger than the pot, keeps falling over. I guess I shouldn't complain. Our weather has been mild to those unfortunate enough to get caught up in the rash of severe weather that has hit the US lately. I hope all your ponds, animals, homes, and families are okay!
9. On 5/17/03, I put up the basement pond for the summer. I bailed it down. Then, I removed the 3 pots: 1 dead canna, 1 barely alive tropical water hibiscus, and 1 barely alive green taro. Then, I bailed more. After carrying it out to the back porch, I let it sit so the temperature with the outside could adjust and so I could do some other things. Later, the 5 rosy red minnows were put into my 153 gallon pond to join the others from about a month ago that I moved. I also put in a few dozen ramshorn snails that were in there. Before putting them in, I changed the PondMaster filters as I do every 3 weeks but this time, the fountain was hardly moving. All the downpours we had washed a lot of dirt into the water which jammed the filter. Barely visible, I found 3 female and 1 male guppy which went into my 20 gallon tropical tub pond where I also put in the green taro after removing the dirt and roots from the other pot. The temperature crashed into the high 40's (the weather man hasn't a clue), and all the poor guppies died (my fault; don't worry, I won't put any more tropical fish outside!). It's supposed to be almost June! I put the tropical hibiscus into the 1800 gallon pond. I will hold off putting out the tropical water lily until temperatures go back to normal, if ever. I threw in some more of my leftover barley straw pellets into the main pond.
10. On 5/18/03, I squirted all the flosses as usual. The 153 and 1800 gallon ponds were both at 56 degrees F. I bucketed out and squirted out the Cyprio green bio-things. They were covered in caddisfly cases made of soft green sludge. To the average person, it just looked like the usual gunk. The itty-bitty insect larvae would stick their heads out and some were crawling about. Perhaps these guys helped clear the green water. There were also some bloodworms in the sludge. In the bottom of the Cyprio filter was pure pond "black gold." I repositioned the hugely-overgrown yellow flag iris (that I just repotted last fall!) so it hopefully won't fall over again! The submerged plant protectors were smushed around again. It think it's a lost cause! I had ordered some Terra Pond Calcium Montmorillonite Clay and put a dose in my main pond to see what happens. Of course, now it's already gin clear so it won't help with that but the koi could probably use the minerals. At the end of my chores, something caught my eye. My "dead" red water lily had a shoot! I had repotted it last spring into a 5 and a 2 gallon pot. This was the 2 gallon pot. I'm glad it's still alive. All the other lily leaves are torn up. I'm not sure if it's solely do to the very rambunctious and ravenous fish or perhaps snails and/or insects are having some effect. There are no buds yet either. I also finally finished mulching around my main pond. Of course, the areas I already did are now weed city! No time to re- weed, 30-some cages and a dozen other gardens to weed and mulch! Around my 20, 50, and 153 gallon pond area, the grass (that's IN the garden over the mulch) is so high, the ponds are hidden. Anyone know how to get rid of huge mounds of crab grass over top of mulch in a garden without chemicals? It's among good plants and rocks so digging is out of the question too! I give the grass mounds hair cuts for all the good that does!
11. It was a lucky for two goldfish that I had 5/23/03 off from work. When I went to feed the fish, these two were stuck inside a submerged plant protector. I suited up, got in, fumbled with the double knot underwater for a while, finally got it open, chased the fish with my hands inside where they wanted to get jammed between the net and pot, and finally got them out. I didn't double knot it this time. A short time later, Maggie unknotted it and tore out the last few pieces of hornwort in that one. The other three are almost devoid of plants either since she just pushes the net down and eats through it. I rarely say don't buy something but if you have big koi, these $20 submerged plant protectors don't work, and they can trap large fish. The two goldfish were large and spawning. They found a good spot I guess. It's just that they never would have gotten back out of the tiny hole they squeezed through!
12. On 5/25/03, I tended to the flosses as usual, tried to fertilize the plants that I could (mostly lilies), and did my normal weekly work. I also put the three tropical water lily "nuts" into the 5 gallon lily pot that has the dead red water lily (no sign of life from it). I'm hoping this way, Maggie won't notice the new pot and root out the tubers like she did last year (she missed one so it lived on). The 1800 gallon pond was at 62 degrees F, and the 153 gallon at 60 degrees F. There is so much non-stop rain that even with mosquito dunks and bits, my lotus tub pond, back pond, and the pool cover are full of thousands of mosquito larvae. My father drains the pool cover as much as he can daily but it is raining every single day. I haven't got a mosquito bite yet though. We're getting about 2-3 inches at least per week! Last year at this time, it didn't rain at all (ok, a few spritzes here and there but everything was dying). With all this rain, you'd think the amphibians would do well but it's the opposite. It's cool, and without the sun, they can't warm up. For the first time since my ponds started in 1997, there were no toad breedings here. My few surviving green frogs are still discolored, as if it were still winter or early spring. It's so muddy that we can't mow but I still mulch by sliding around in mud. At least the cool temperatures make physical labor bearable.
13. When I got home on 5/29/03, I checked on the chickadees that were fledging. One of the five was gone. Three were looking at me but one was dead. I was very sad and removed him. A few hours later, another had fledged. The next morning, only one baby was left, hanging to the inside of the entrance hole, looking at me. On 5/29/03, I also finally received my last plant order which was four tropical water hyacinth and four water lettuce that I put in a floating net in my 1800 gallon pond and a variegated tropical water canna and dwarf papyrus that I stuck into my 20 gallon tropical tub pond which also has the green taro (not doing so well from the cold) and a hardy dwarf lily (growing super slow but still alive). The next day was the first dry, warm, and sunny day in months! Perhaps the tropical plants will make it. It's good they didn't come sooner when they were supposed to as the cold would have killed them off for sure.
14. On 6/1/03, I squirted the flosses and did my weekly tidying up. With my brother's help, we were able to give the Cyprio filter system a good squirt out (with caddisfly larvae flying through the air and chewing on my arm (I tend to exaggerate)). The winds were very strong but at least the rain stopped. The 1800 gallon was 64 degrees F, and the 153 gallon was 63 degrees F. The tropical plants are in bad shape. The lotuses are not growing at all (not even one real leaf on any of the three). I saw my first underwater water lily bud of the year (a month behind!). The high winds blew a lot of leaves and debris into the ponds so that took some time to try to clean up.
15. At the time of this newsletter on 6/7/03, both koi had improved slightly with their abnormal spots. They seem fine and enjoy getting in trouble. No lily flowers have opened yet. It poured all day today. There were streams through our yard running with water and new ponds to enjoy! In fact, there are ponds all over the place! Tomorrow, it's supposed to be dry and warm (very rare; I don't believe it). The new streams and ponds will vanish.
Interesting Animal Sightings:
1. At any time, there are 20-30 whitetail deer on our 5 acres. At least half of those have fawns. And yet, after 26 years, I'd never seen a newborn which lay still on the ground alone until their mother's come to feed them once a day or so. Then, while walking the dog on 5/26/03, I passed right by a newborn fawn. It was a surprise. After putting the dog back inside, I came out and took a few digital photos which I will develop by the next newsletter. The next morning, the baby was gone, moved by the mother. If you ever come across a fawn or any baby mammal, do not ever touch it (unless obviously hurt or in trouble in which case a trip to the wildlife rehabilitator is in order) as the mother will smell you on the baby and abandon it. Most birds, on the other hand, have no sense of smell so it's okay to put baby birds back into their nests when they fall out for example.
1. You never know where you're going to find interesting pond info. This was on the back of a free card sent to me by Defender's of Wildlife: "The continental United States is home to 90 frog species. Like trees, frog bones grow a new ring every year while the frog hibernates. Scientists use these rings to determine the age of frogs. Go to www.defenders.org to find out more information on how you can save them." I guess I should have examined those frog bones I found in my 153 gallon pond a little more closely! Too bad the scientist has to kill the poor frog to determine its age!
2. Mary Jo e-mailed me that, "...Twice, I have witnessed a trapdoor (snail) give birth. Once, two babies were expelled, like pearls in membranes, and momma held the baby with her tentacles & removed the membrane, then released the baby. The second time, three were born. Both occasions were in August. And yes, trapdoors are escargo to raccoons. They will ignore the fast moving fish & eat every trapdoor they can find...."
3. Someone (I lost her name!) sent me the following e-mail: "I felt very bad about not responding to your survey but assumed that you would be deluged with people and comments. I am a first time ponder. Last summer we had two relatively small preformed ponds which we quickly realized were just not large enough! Dug out our side yard late last summer/early fall and put in a 20' by 16' lined pond. 3 1/2' deep in the center section with 12" by 12" shelves around three sides for potted plants. That is surrounded on two sides by landscaping, one end with a small paved terrace and the other a sturdy wooden bench that puts you literally a few inches above water level when seated. (Yard is on the slope of a hillside.) It gets sun all day. I am having so much fun I cannot even begin to describe it. I began gardening about eight years ago and this is an entirely new experience. Very exciting. I have twenty two goldfish, the largest being six inches. I purchased two beautiful shubunkins last fall to add to the family. Late winter I found one dead and the other I can only assume learned to walk on land or became someone's dinner. We have a 4" x 4' piece of PVC on the bottom so the fish have somewhere to hide if need be. Two frogs have adopted us this year. We had four last year and unfortunately I found them dead this spring. I read recently to place a seed flat on the bottom of the pond with several inches of soil and then sand on top of that so they can hibernate. I can guarantee you that they will not die if I can help it this coming winter! I also have four apple snails, three black snails and three gorgeous yellow snails. We do not have a bottom drain. I have one medium size fountain with a sponge filter and a spitter with the same. If I were to do anything differently I would not have settled on a rectangular pond as my husband wanted. Would have liked something without a definite shape or sharp edges. Could you please tell me what you can place under your flower pots when the pond shelves are too deep? I have heard that you should not use concrete so I have rocks without sharp edges trying to do the job now but sometimes they become wobbly...Thank you for your time and your web page. I've enjoyed reading it and have learned quite a bit also."
Comments from Robyn about the previous e-mail: The PVC pipe is a good way to provide a hiding place for fish from predators and to make them feel more secure. Frogs often die in the spring and over winter. I have extensive discussions on that in my frog section. The frogs may or may not use the dirt and sand at the bottom of the pond. Most of mine that have overwintered alive, did so laying among light leaf litter and debris on the bottom and were often visible just sitting on almost-bare liner. Apple snails will eat plants. They don't overwinter in areas that go below 40 degrees F or so but if you live in a warm area, be aware that adding them may denude much of your underwater aquatic plants. Another lady enquired about lily leaves cut off at the base and left. That's what my apple snails that I had in 1997 did. I didn't know they were tropical at the time so they died that winter. The above- described pond sounds like it could use a larger or dedicated biological and/or vegetative filter. Fountains and sponge filters over time will not keep up with the job for that size pond (which would be about 7800 gallons if it were all 3.5 deep but I don't know how deep it is on average but it's a big pond). As for her question about making pots sit higher, I use bricks, flat rocks, and other larger pots in some cases. Cinder blocks can be used if treated for a while [soak in a container, monitor the pH, perhaps leach some of the pH-increasing compounds with acid (acetic acid/vinegar or hydrochloric acid/muriatic acid)]. If the pond is large enough (over 5000 gallons I'd guess), they may not have much impact anyway. Some people make benches for really deep ponds with a plank (not sure how the wood is treated) over the cinder blocks, bricks, plastic milk crates, or chimney flues (we used one of these for years as a seat by our old rabbit hutch; they don't need to be treated before use and also let fish swim into them to hide). If you have any experience with any of the things I've mentioned, let me know, and I'll add it to the next newsletter.
4. I saw a TV commercial for a gardening place where this woman is always pushing all sorts of chemicals (fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, etc.). She said, "A good pump is the secret to the perfect pond!" What? That is so ridiculous. You can have a great pond without a pump or a failure of a pond with the best pump in the world! Certainly a good pump helps with a healthy pond but having a good pump is not a "secret" nor is it going to give you a perfect pond in and of itself. She went on to try to sell a brand of pump that I would consider moderate in price and quality. I have some of them myself but they are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I prefer OASE because of the energy efficiency. Anyway, she gets paid, I don't.
Web Sites of Interest:
1. Someone posted this website to rec.ponds showing photos of a snapping turtle that came to this person's pond during the nasty storms most of the country has been getting: http://www.popperian.com/pond/page15.htm.
2. The "Ultimate Potassium Permanganate FAQ:" http://www.arborman.com/pproarky.htm.
3. I came upon these two state sites on frogs and toads. While they are made for those states,
share many species with my state of MD and other states as well. The sites contain photos and
recordings of the calls. From listening to calls of the gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) versus
treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) on the Georgia site under gray tree frogs, the ones I have sound like
Cope's gray tree frog! I have always assumed I had Hyla versicolor! I'm still not sure! The
site even shows photos of some of the tadpoles!
The Frogs and Toads of Tennessee:
The Frogs & Toads of Georgia: http://wwknapp.home.mindspring.com/GAFrog.Toad.html
Also, check out http://www.frogwatch.org which has a lot of frog information and links over to http://www.enature.com which also has photos and recordings of frogs and toads.
4. The mosquito fish page: http://www.gambusia.net.
5. Algal control in waterways using barley straw in Ireland: http://www.irishscientist.ie/P67.htm.
6. The neat "Buglopedia" (an Australian site, although the groups of insects are the same for the US) contains a lot of drawings of aquatic insects and information at http://www.bugsurvey.nsw.gov.au/html/buglopedia.html.
7. Do-it-yourself muck mop (vacuum), silt brush, sucker things, etc.: http://www.geocities.com/waterbugdesign/diy.html.
8. Kathy Thirtyacre posted this URL on rec.ponds about a two-headed baby painted turtle: http://www.local6.com/orlpn/news/stories/news-221918820030521-110559.html.
9. This site has some do-it-yourself stuff and a few other things: http://www.misterpond.com/index.html.
10. To see tons of good photos of a huge garden which includes a huge pond that has a 50,000 gph pump powering a huge waterfall as well as terrestrial gardens and an aviary in Jersey, UK, see http://www.reg-garden.com/.
What's your favorite pond-related web site(s)?
Do you have a web site you want me to mention here?
Wind & Weather sells neat things for your garden!
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