Last Updated: 7/9/07
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?
Significantly Altered or New Pond Web Pages, Photos, or Videos on Fishpondinfo:
1. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pictures2.htm -
Under fish are two photos of rosy red minnows from Di, a photo of a male fathead minnow from Lizzie, and two photos of a strange fish that Hannah found in a pond in the UK. I am not sure what it is. Do you know? Under frogs and toads are three photos of American toads mating that Michelle sent me, three photos of a tiny green tree frog and two photos of male American toads calling (sacks inflated) that Daniel sent me, and a photo of a gray tree frog that Joe sent me. Under miscellaneous at the very bottom is a photo of a water snake that Candy sent and a photo that Joy sent me of some "eggs." I think it's a bryozoan colony (also called moss animals) which is made of single-celled sponge-like animals. If you think otherwise, let me know.
2. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pictures5.htm -
Under Spring 2007 are two photos of my deceased goldfish with large tumors on its head. Under Summer 2007 are three photos of the pond fish.
3. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/pictures3.htm -
Under Summer 2007 are photos of the following: water lettuce, flowering yellow snowflake, impatiens floating island, flowering white Albata lily, flowering frog fruit, water celery, the marginal area of the pond, flowering lizard tail, flowering pickerel weed, three photos of my Fabiola pink waterlily flower, and a photo of my marginal area with some of the plants that keep falling over.
4. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/birds/index.htm -
After working on my birds directory since October of 2006, or rather not working on it, I decided to link in what I've done even though I never added all the information I wanted to add about birds such as herons, ponds for songbirds, ducks, and so on. I had to give up on the renovations. I linked in the bird pages but there's really not much new to look at.
New Pages on Pond Showcase:
1. http://www.pondshowcase.com/kimmiesbignsmallpond/index.shtml - Kim's Pond
I went with my family to Dutch Wonderland on 6/19/07. I put the few photos that were water- related onto this page including some waterfalls, a Canada goose, and some ducks.
3. http://www.pondshowcase.com/Gandalf/index.shtml - Gandalf's Garden
4. http://www.pondshowcase.com/Judy/index.shtml - Judy's Pond
Happenings at Robyn's Ponds:
1. On 6/3/07, it was supposed to rain hard later in the day so I did my pond chores as soon as I finished feeding the animals at 9:10 am. As soon as I went out, it started to rain lightly. The 1800 gallon was at 73 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 72 degrees F. I tied up the purple iris that the raccoon has smushed with some plastic ties. Both the leaves and flower stalks were kinked over, and two flowers were bitten off. I squirted off the flosses, the main filter bioballs and lava rock, and the Cyprio biothings in situ. I had intended to fertilize the marginals but it was raining too much (turns the fertilizer pills to mush). As I could have predicted, when it came afternoon when I would have normally cleaned the pond, the rain was less than it was earlier. We needed the rain really bad after a drought this last month but I wish it wouldn't rain on my one day I have to do work outside. So, I got no mulching, weeding, or mowing done. But, my fever, chills, congestion, and cough came back in force by the late afternoon.
2. When I looked out at the pond first thing on coming downstairs the morning of 6/5/07, I could see the Cyprio filter's waterfall was not going. I figured it had come off near the filter as before despite new hose clamps. When I got out there, that was not the case. For a few seconds, I thought maybe the pump was dead. Luckily, I keep a spare. Then, I realized that the raccoon had disconnected the pump from the tubing. That meant I had to get into the pond with hip waders. After feeding all the animals, that's what I did. It made me even more late for work where it's in the 80's degrees F even on a 75 degree F day (the air conditioner never works, and the machines generate heat). The raccoon also knocked over the tropical water lily in the medium-depth area next to the Mag-Drive that runs to the Cyprio. I guess he wanted to swim a little deeper. Nothing came out of that pot but a few one gallon pots in the shallows were totally knocked over. Those were the new Tricker plants. The free plant has already bit the dust with others close behind. The four-leaf clover was the target of this latest raccoon attack. I don't know if it'll recover.
3. Beginning on 6/6/07, something strange is happening with my pond fish. It's mostly the goldfish. The orfe are normal, and the koi almost normal. The goldfish instead of swimming around the deep end as normal have gone to the crevices in the shallows and other hiding areas to lay still. Some of them have obvious septicemia (you can see the blood in their veins). At first, I though it was because they were scared, perhaps by the raccoon that had visited, or maybe the heron came by. But, when that happens, they normally head for the deep end to lay low. I don't know what's wrong. I will test the water just in case. It's not been too hot so they should have plenty of oxygen with the two waterfall systems going. I'll probably hook up the Luft pump tonight anyway (it's supposed to be in the 90's tomorrow) for extra oxygen.
4. When I got home on 6/7/07, I put the Luft pump into the 1800 gallon pond for extra aeration. I also tested the water. I didn't expect to find anything. I always tell others to test the water but rarely do it myself. When I have, it's always been fine, until now. I started off with the oxygen which came in around 8 ppm. At 77 degrees F, oxygen saturation is 8.3 ppm so the oxygen level was not maximum but just fine. Then, I used an ammonia strip and got zero. Then, I did a multi-dip stick which read - 0 ppm nitrate, 0 ppm nitrate (expected some, the water celery works that well I guess), ~75 ppm GH hardness (fine), 300 ppm alkalinity! (that's high for my pond), and then a pH of 8.4? That's way too high! My pond pH normally runs 7.5 or so. It's really hard to read the color matches so the pH could be higher. I think I may have added too much baking soda although I only put in a few tablespoons per week, hardly anything. Then, I did a liquid pH test and got a pH of 8.6. I stuck in another old dip test and got 50 ppm hardness, 180 ppm alkalinity, and a pH of 8.4. I ended with another ammonia test (liquid this time) that gave <0.5 ppm (zero). So, it seems the fish were hanging around due to high pH although I can't prove that. I happened to have some "pH down" in the basement which contains sulfuric acid. I followed the directions and put 180 mL of it into two gallons of water and spread that around the pond. I will re-test the pH in a day. I'm going to buy a new pH kit for comparison as my test kits are all old. I won't be adding baking soda or koi clay for a while.
I thought of how I would reply to an e-mail about my problem. First, I would say test the water which I did. I found a problem and addressed it. It's good there was something off in that I could try to fix it. It was bad because why did it happen? If I were helping someone else, I would ask if the pond has any interaction with cement, mortar, cinder blocks, limestone, etc. My pond does not. What about other runoff? It's hardly rained at all but it did a little last weekend so that could have caused some runoff. What do I have that could have runoff? We use no fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc. so those are out. I do have mulch but it's been there over a month. I'm not sure if the mulch would raise the pH; wood tends to lower the pH from things like tannic acid. So, in this case, my increase in pH is a mystery. I think it may be a combination of natural processes, baking soda, and maybe spilt dirt (from the raccoons escapades). What do you think?
5. The morning of 6/8/07, the raccoon had left more messes. Both the fountains in the 153 gallon and 50 gallon ponds were knocked over. Three of the one gallon pots in the 1800 gallon pond were tossed again. I think that finished off the four-leaf clover. All my ponds are plant deficient thanks to the raccoons and deer. Since I'm not allowed to fence the ponds, I guess I'll just have to live with it. The ponds would be so much better if they had healthy plants. The 153 gallon has gone green since the raccoons destroyed the iris, and the tadpoles ate all the submerged plants.
6. I tested the pH of the pond Friday night, 6/8/07. The pH was 7.8. I added another half dose of pH down acid. I forgot to test the pH on Saturday, 6/9/07.
7. I had bought four anacharis at Petco on 6/8/07. I gave my turtle one piece that he completely ate. I put one bunch in my Tricker pond and three bunches in my 153 gallon pond on 6/9/07. The tadpoles ate most of the submerged plants. The raccoons attacked most of the water lilies and iris. So, that pond has wads of hair algae floating on the surface. I also put a fresh barley straw pad in there the day before. The old one fell apart or maybe the raccoon attacked it too.
8. The pH of the pond at 9 am Sunday, 6/10/07 was 7.6.
9. On 6/10/07, I squirted off the flosses. The 1800 gallon pond was at 72 degrees F. I forgot to check the thermometer in the 153 gallon pond. I took out the four-leaf clover and cotton grass pots. After re-sitting the remnants of those plants, I put in some aquatic planting media and a fresh topping of pea gravel. Last year, the cotton grass filled out the entire pot. This year, there was a huge dead root clump which I removed and just an inch around of live leaves that I replanted. Most of the pea gravel had been dumped by the raccoon. The four-clover is just one tiny sprig left that's wilted. I also put a covering of fresh pea gravel on two other recently potted one gallon pots. One was the free plant with no sign of that plant left but some parrot feather in there. The other was the water hawthorne that has just a few leaves that are completely riddled (aphids sucked them dry I think). Someone (raccoon?) ate the green leaf off the new bog bean but it's trying to send up a new leaf. The water wisteria is completely gone. My pond is deficient in plants. There are only a few that are doing well, like weeds - water celery, yellow flag iris, sweetflag, and dwarf cattails. I have one good cattail, one good lizard tail (down from two or three), one good pickerel weed, and the hardy canna which normally grow like weeds are barely alive (update: by the end of the month, they are growing well). The other kinds of iris are hanging on barely. The blue flag iris collapsed and sags in the water even though I tied it up so I propped it up against the yellow flag iris. The lotus has one pathetic leaf. The lilies have few leaves and zero flowers. The water hyacinth and water lettuce are barely hanging on. I think the abundance of water celery is using up all the nutrients.
The fish aren't acting as "funny" as they were but still something seems off. When I was yanking some water celery out of the waterfall to just find the waterfall, I moved some of the water celery that's overhanging into the pond. The fish nibble on that. Out from that mass popped a dead goldfish. It was the one with the large growths on its head that has been laying on the bottom for almost a year. So, I don't think it had anything to do with the other fish that were acting weird. He'd been dead a few days. He was 9 inches. The tumors felt hard. I took a photo. I didn't add any baking soda or koi clay this week but put in some salt and Koi-Zyme. I tested the pH again (1:32 pm). It was ~7.7. I'm not going to play with it anymore but will test it more often to keep an eye on the pH level.
10. The morning of 6/11/07, the tubing was off the Mag Drive 700 pump again that goes to the Cyprio filter. There wasn't much raccoon mess around so I think it just popped off. I had to get my hip waders to go in and reattach it.
11. When I got home from work on 6/11/07, I found a poor dead goldfish. It was about 3.5", a mostly orange common goldfish. To me, it was just a baby. The fish had no symptoms other than minor fraying on the end of the fins. The other fish are still acting weird. The fact that now two have died really worries me. I may be in for a repeat of what happened two years ago when 14 goldfish died over 3 months without any symptoms. I wish I had the ability to scrape the fish and identify any parasites under the microscope but I was never taught that. They did it at the aquarium store (for in house sick fish only, not customers) that I worked at in 1996 but that (like using the cash register) was for the experienced important employees (not one like me with a graduate degree) so I wasn't allowed to learn. I tell others to contact their local pond or koi club because they'll often do microscope slides for the sick fish. There is not a single club in my entire state so I'm out of luck. I tend to think the problem is not due to parasites but it would be nice to rule that out. The pH that night was about 7.8.
12. The pH at 5:30 pm on 6/14/07 was still 7.8. I will go back to testing less often as it seems okay now.
13. On 6/17/07, I squirted off the flosses. I squirted the Cyprio biothings in the kiddie pool. The 1800 gallon was at 74 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 72 degrees F. I cut down the yellow flag iris growing in the overflow in the pea gravel and over the liner. It takes over, and I'm worried it might puncture the liner. I cut it down each year after it flowers to enjoy the flowers. It's well rooted and can't be removed easily. To cut it down, I have to use a saw! I have three pots of yellow flag iris in the pond. Two were the free plants I was hoping were not yellow flag iris. The fish seem okay now. They spawned the morning of 6/18/07. Temperatures are in the high 80's and low 90's degrees F this week!
14. The morning of 6/20/07, the raccoons had again left their mark. The poor remaining tuft of cotton grass that they pulled out a few days ago that I'd stuffed into another pot was again free floating. That grass was like a weed the previous year and here it is on its last legs. A few of the one gallon pots that used to have the new plants were also turned over. Those new plants are all pretty much gone. A one inch newly morphed green frog was dead by the side of the pond along with shiny pieces of broken up Japanese trapdoor snail shell which was there for a few days. The dead frog, most likely killed by the raccoon and then not even eaten(!), may have been from the tadpoles I bought and added a few weeks earlier.
15. On 6/24/07, I squirted off the flosses and tidied up. The fish are all behaving normally now and no more have died. I put some (maybe a cup) pond salt in the pond since I found that I only had 0.01 % pond salt in there according to the test kit. I tell people to use 0.1 % for ponds without fish and 0.05 % for ponds with fish if they use salt (you don't have to use it but it helps with some things). The test kits says twice that amount so I'm conservative with the pond salt. The 1800 gallon pond was at 73 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 72 degrees F. I took some photos of a Fabiola pink water lily blooming (I only get a flower or two per year) as well as flowering lizard tail and pickerel rush).
The anacharis was sticking out of the submerged plant protectors. They have a draw string. If I leave it loose, the fish get in. If I tie it, I can never open it again without cutting it. So, I do a very loose tie to it. The problem is the fish just untie it! I stuffed the anacharis back in and tied it as tight as I feared (any tighter, and I'd not be able to untie it). The next morning, Maggie (my 1.5 foot koi) had her head in there rooting around! As I've said many times, you'd think I'd give up by now trying to keep plants of any sort! I also put the barely alive remnants of the cotton grass back into its 2 gallon pot and put more pea gravel around it. I don't think it will survive the latest round of playtime with Cooney (raccoon).
I fertilized all the water lilies and many of the marginals. The fertilizer pills kept falling apart as soon as they hit the water (some were already wet) so most ended up in the top of the pot and not pushed into the gravel and dirt. For more than half the pots, I couldn't push the pills down anyway since the rocks were solidly in place and/or other pots were root bound. I so need to repot pond plants and have done basically none this year but a few lilies. I used to repot after doing most of the mulching for the year but I've only done a quarter of the mulching at most. The mulch now is full of fungus. I put a little bit of it around the north side of the pond. Only two sides of the pond garden have been mulched. My other gardens are mostly weeds. I hate having no time!
The solar pump in the 50 gallon tub pond doesn't work at all anymore even with direct sun. It may be clogged. The wood frog tadpoles that were in there are long gone. The two iris in there have pretty much been taken care of by Cooney. The lily is still alive but the deer eat most of the leaves that come up. That pond is mostly covered now by duckweed as is the 20 gallon tub pond that just has an iris in it.
16. On 6/30/07 around 5:40 pm, the pH of the 1800 gallon pond was about 7.7 so that's good.
17. On 7/1/07, the 1800 gallon was at 76 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 75 degrees F. I decided to change the filter material around my main pump (Nautilus 60, 2600 gph) instead of just squirt it off. I was due a week later since I change it four times a year. It was really heavy with pond gold (that thick dark brown slop that gets all over filters) and some hair algae. There's very little hair algae in the pond itself but it likes the filter. It was time to squirt off the bioballs and lava rocks in the mesh bags. There was an inch of pond gold on the top and hair algae. The bags were so heavy full of so much gunk. I squirted them all off. I need to replace the bags the lava rock are in since they're all torn up. I can't find a source for large (about 14" square) mesh bags for ponds that don't cost some $20 each. CVS stopped selling the large mesh laundry bags with zippers which I love. My bioballs are in those. I also have one around my Mag-Drive pump that pumps into the Cyprio filter. Does anyone know where I might get some big mesh bags? I'd prefer zippers but tie bags are okay too. [Update: On 7/5/07, I mail ordered a few kinds of bags so I'll see if any of those are useable.]
I also replaced the filter material inside the top of the Cyprio filter by cutting a new piece. I use a yard stick, board to press on, and utility knife to cut the 1.25" filter material for around the pump and the 1" green filter material that I used for the Cyprio filter. I have only changed that one three times I think after the original filter insert literally fell apart. At the time the first one fell apart, they had replacements for some ridiculous price but now they don't sell them anymore. I squirted the Cyprio biothings without taking them out, collecting the pond gold where the pump hooks on. It's comical. Squirt biothings, run (avoiding flying bees) five feet and grab the bucket before it tips over into the pond to collect the black gold, take black gold to the grass and dump it, and repeat. It's a two person job but I've learned to do things without help. While I was doing that, there were honeybees from our hives all around me. I don't mean one or two; I mean dozens. They like to alight in the top of the biofilter to drink water which seeps up into the top. You're supposed to plant plants up there but they usually don't grow well as it's not wet enough and too shallow. I have put water forget-me-nots in there before but no plants are in there right now.
I removed the floating plant protector as most of the water hyacinth and water lettuce had jumped out, and it wasn't holding plants in anymore anyway. They are growing well enough that they don't need protection. It seems that the water lettuce are beating the water hyacinth this year in spreading. Neither has covered much of the pond yet though. I sprayed some Herbal Aphid Control on the waterlily leaves, then removed the yellow and damaged leaves, and rinsed the spray off the leaves. It's an all natural aphid killer but it never seems to do much to the aphids. It smells good though.
I really wanted to repot some pond plants since dozens are due but I was exhausted after 1.5 hours of the above. I also wanted to mulch. I ended up mulching just four cages. There are over 100 cages and a dozen gardens so I'm probably 30% done. My father might get some good mulch this week so on the Fourth of July, I can lay some good mulch around the main pond garden which is still only half done. Of course, the half I did in May is now weed city.
18. On 7/4/07, I awoke to find the raccoon had dislodged the Mag-Drive pump to the Cyprio filter again so I had to get in. He/she also knocked over three pots including the "there's no way you're going to live" cotton grass. I'm afraid to repot the plants that are doing well because, once repotted, they will be more susceptible to falling over and de-potting and destruction by the raccoons. Almost everything that is doing well needs repotting.
I had some fresh mulch, and I did 3.5 hours of mulching which included about 2.5 hours around the pond. I did the north side which I've been working on for weeks. Now, the garden around the 1800 gallon is 75% mulched. All that is left is the east side which I never got to last year. It looks to be all grass but there are plants in there so I have to sift through it all, inch by inch. So, left to mulch, I only have half the cages (maybe 50), the front iris garden, the back iris garden, the peony garden and rose (ok, mostly dead rose) garden (those two comprise the gardens around the 153 gallon and 20 and 50 gallon tub ponds), tree garden, and half a dozen various other little gardens without names that I've been too lazy/busy to mulch in years left to do!
19. The morning of 7/7/07, I saw the three orfe in a line chasing each other so they have all made it. Lest you think this was my lucky day as it was for others, I had my first minor car collision that morning. You can read about it on my prius page at http://www.fishpondinfo.com/prius.htm if you're so inclined. It is going to be near 100 degrees F the next few days. I hope all of us and our ponds and animals weather the bad weather - floods in some areas, deadly heat in others, fires, and who knows what else.
1. Lorrie had this to share about filtering out pond algae:
"What works just great for me in clearing up my big fish tank and pond is removing the foam filter that comes with your filter and replacing it with quilt batting. I cut thick pieces the size of the filter compartment and push it in. It will clear your pond in a matter of days - like a miracle! I have tried all the chemicals, and always feel horrible about it even though most say that these chemicals won't hurt the fish and all. This year we bought a bigger more powerful pump and filter for our pond, and our water has been so thick and murky, we couldn't see our fish (unless they swam to the surface). I remembered what a guy from our local pet store told us about using the quilt batting for our fish tank, and thought I would try it in the pond.... in 2 days the pond was CLEAR! It was amazing.
The quilt batting can be bought at Walmart., and it is cheap. It is white, and comes in a big round clear bag. All you do it roll it out and cut to the size you need. I usually cut a stack of pieces and then they are ready for next time. I put several layers in, in both sides of my pond filter. Check it in a few days and probably change the batting. It should be good for a couple weeks or more without changing again, depending on how bad the condition of your water is. Works like a charm!"
2. This is kind of off topic of ponds. I have a marsh mallow plant next to my pond, only a foot
from the edge or so, maybe closer. It dies to the ground each winter but comes back 6 feet tall
and maybe 3 feet across. Despite the fact that it's one of the plants that actually does well in our
garden (deer don't like it that much; it even self seeds all over), it's always had what I thought
were caterpillars all over it in the summer. They denude the plant; it barely survives sometimes.
But, as those who really know me know, I am not smart at all. I finally asked Gardens Alive why
their Bt spray (that you've heard me mention in newsletters for years when I say I sprayed the
marsh mallow) doesn't kill the caterpillars. The response was that they're not caterpillars! Duh!
I looked into it. They're hibiscus sawflies. I had always seen the small black flies and thought
there might be a link to the caterpillars except flies don't produce caterpillars, or so I thought.
The sawfly larvae looks just like a caterpillar but it's not. So, the only way to kill them is to use
real pesticides. Even the natural pesticides like pyrethrin are toxic to fish so I can't spray them on
the plant since it is right next to the pond. When I sprayed the Bt, the aerosol would float over
the pond. I guess I don't need to do that anymore. The sawflies will have to stay. Never assume
that you know what something is until you really do. Here is a link I found on hibiscus
3. I mentioned the pond gold above when I cleaned out my filter. This thick, heavy, black/brown stuff can otherwise be called slop, goop, or gunk. I have heard/read from many people that they rarely clean their filters, sometimes once or twice a year or even never. Some web sites suggest that. I clean my biofilter every 4 weeks in hot weather and 5 weeks in cool weather. Since I have well water, I can use the hose to squirt the materials off with force in the kiddie pool. Those with city water can swish the materials in pond water so I imagine that's a ton more work. They might be able to attach a carbon filter to the hose somehow. The chlorine or chloramine in city water will kill some good bacteria. At what point is the benefit of cleaning the filter material with city water greater than the loss of good bacteria? I don't know. I clean off the materials to remove the pond gold for a number of reasons. Good bacteria grow on hard surfaces where they cling. They need two things - oxygen and food (ammonia and nitrite). If they are buried in pond gold, they don't get much of either. Sure, there will be some good bacteria in the pond gold but there's also bad bacteria, harmful gases (hydrogen sulfide and methane from further decomposition), often insect larvae, and the "pond gold" itself. So what is this slop/gunk/pond gold? It is the nearly end product of the decomposition of organics in the filter. That means, it used to be fish foods, fish wastes, other animal wastes, dead animals and plants, and so on. There will be some further decomposition but that gunk is never going to miraculously vanish as some ponders would have you believe. So, I clean the gunk to free the good bacteria so they can have a more clean surface on which to garner oxygen, ammonia, and nitrite. The other big reason to clean the filter is more obvious. When the filter is full of pond gold, the flow slows. Sometimes, it can stop altogether! If the flow is slow, the good bacteria are not going to get the oxygen, ammonia, and nitrite that they need. So, free your poor good bacteria from the pond gold and get your systems flowing! Pond gold makes a good plant fertilizer I've been told.
Web Sites of Interest:
1. http://www.windstar.org/knowledge_center.php?articleId=413 - Backyard Pond Losing Fish? Try Looking to the Skies. An article on birds that take fish.
2. http://www.itchmo.com/read/recall-hbh-fish-food-for-pets_20070613 - Recall of HBH fish foods and other aquatic animal foods due to melamine. Check the list to be sure you don't have those products. You can subscribe to Itchmo to get e-mails about any recalled animal foods. Luckily, it has been quiet on that front for a few weeks. The HBH page on the recall is at http://www.hbhpet.com/newsrecall.htm
3. http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/potd/2007/07/unidentified_algae.php - A photo of some strange algae that the Botany Photo of the Day people cannot identify. I think it might be marine since it was at the beach in CA.
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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