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Robyn's Pond Blog for March 2011

Last Updated: 4/4/11

1. Here are some pond photos I uploaded.

These photos are from 1/12/11 after two inches of snow:
153 gallon pond facing northwest.
1800 gallon pond facing southwest.
1800 gallon pond facing southwest.
1800 gallon pond falls area and deep end from above the pond.
1800 gallon pond facing north.

On 2/20/11, Judy sent this cute photo of a female rosy red minnow named Peach eating a plant.
Female rosy red minnow

2. On 3/6/11, it was raining all day. I did not get in the big pond. The 1800 gallon was at 49 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 50 degrees F. I collected leaves. Nature topped off the ponds. I removed two more dead pickerel frogs, a 1" and 2". The next day I would see yet another in the deep end and another in the marginal area. Every single frog in that pond died, and I have no idea why. The fish are fine. I put a few pounds of pond salt in the 1800 gallon pond.

After a day of rain, the wood frogs started calling that night. There were two egg masses in the 153 gallon pond the next morning! I am thinking of putting the eggs in a mesh bag and putting them in my indoor pond before they hatch so I don't have to deal with them when I clean the 153 gallon pond (set for 3/30/11) which would result in most of them dying. I would put the tadpoles back outside before morph time. Based on my records, it takes 11 to 15 days for the eggs to hatch outdoors. I figure I'll leave them out in a fine mesh bag for a week and then bring them in so they don't hatch too quickly/abnormally. Why mesh bag now? The eggs will quickly start to fall apart even before hatching, and there will be little single eggs all over the place by the time that they hatch. The outer gelatin quickly degrades.

3. I rained all day on 3/10/11 again. The wood frogs were out quaking and laid more eggs.

An "expert" from a landscaper came out to evaluate my pond to see if some of the problems it has can be fixed. After talking to him for an hour, I do think that he's an expert, and together we may get some things fixed up. It looks like I may have him replace the piping, filter, and redo the waterfall. This would involve turning off the falls, leaving the main basin with animals untouched while removing everything from the waterfall. Then, any liner repairs could be done. The new filter would be installed (he suggested a 70 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank which he could custom make). Then, using the waterfall foam, he would expertly put the stones back so that it was structurally sound and visually pleasing. He wants to use my current OASE Nautilus pump and its backup (the same pump). They no longer sell them! He told me that they are the best pump which I already knew. By using both, he can double the filtration and turn over in the pond. He says the single pump is not enough, the filter is way too small, the waterfall is way too weak, and the entire hill is collapsing. Those, of course, were the things that I knew and why I wanted something done. The fact that the pump pops off the tubing all the time was just the one thing that I couldn't take anymore. He said he'd make it so I'd never have to worry about that, or the waterfall diverting, or the filter running out on all sides ever again. We'll see if we can get this done. It looks like it would be two days and a few thousand dollars at least. I had been told it would take $5000 (labor costs only) to redo my pond but this guy (the only one who saw it and said he would NOT suggest redoing the entire pond) said $15,000 to $20,000! That's ridiculous in my mind. If I could just lift large rocks (5 tons of PA fieldstone) and had infinite time, I could do it all myself. I finally had to call in help. For once, I found someone who speaks the same language and knows what he's talking about. When I removed some rocks to show him how the waterfall liner has collapsed away from the filter, there was a massive bullfrog in there! Later, he told me that he had seen a leopard frog and two pickerel frogs in the waterfall too, hiding in there. I wanted to see what he thought was a leopard frog since I've had no confirmation of them at my pond. The biggest worry for me with redoing the filtration and waterfall is about all the plants, mostly terrestrial that will die. I can transplant some but many plants won't survive transplanting. Some I can buy new and hope they aren't eaten by the deer or destroyed in a drought but, many plants, I don't know what they are! I think I can live with sacrificing some plants to improve the pond overall. It's just too bad I can't get more depth without that total overhaul.

4. On 3/12/11, I removed the de-icer, Rubbermaid tub lid, and lead diving weights from the 1800 gallon pond's filter. My mother saw the great blue heron that morning. I did not see him.

5. I linked in these photos of the ponds from 2/22/11 after four inches of snow.
153 gallon pond facing northwest.
1800 gallon pond facing southwest from afar.
1800 gallon pond facing southwest
1800 gallon pond deep end.
1800 gallon pond facing north towards the falls. I can see my big white koi, Colin, in this photo and the next.
1800 gallon pond facing northwest.

6. On 3/13/11, I did a lot of work. First, I removed the netted back of wood frog eggs laid the week before and put them in to my indoor 50 gallon pond.

Back outside, I decided to test the pH of the ponds using my pH meter since I don't test it often enough. The pH of the 1800 gallon was only 6.55! The 153 gallon was a little better at 6.75. The temperature according to the pH meter was 47.4 in the 1800 gallon and 49.6 in the 153 gallon. The pond thermometers read 46 degrees F in the 1800 gallon and 50 degrees F in the 153 gallon so they pretty much agree!

I squirted off the flosses. I collected just a few leaves. I removed three pickerel frogs (one around two inches and two around three inches long) but saw yet another the next morning that I missed. The huge female bullfrog was still sitting under the lip of the biofilter. She is holding the liner down there so water is being lost more than usual at that spot. Water is now being lost from the edges of the biofilter, where it comes out with the frog, and at least two locations down the falls (northwest side) where it is being diverted and wicked out in to the dirt. I have not yet heard back from the pond expert about redoing the filter and waterfall.

I have started adding more things to the pond. I put in about three pounds of pond salt, baking soda (half the box or two pounds to bring up the pH which I will re-test next week), koi clay, BZT, and the Bt for mosquitoes in the back pond only. I topped off the ponds.

I cleaned out the 20 gallon pond. I removed the yellow flag iris but did not divide it this year. The bricks had grown in to the root system! I did a 100% water change. There was no sign of other animals or plants.

I cleaned out the 50 gallon tub pond. I wanted to do it early so that I could move the wood frog eggs out of the 153 gallon pond. Otherwise, on 3/30/11, when I plan to clean that pond, I would have to sift through thousands of tadpoles and most would die as a result. I used the Pondovac to suck out most of the water. When I plugged it in, I found a dozen ants living in the outlet. My father has had to replace that outlet half a dozen times as a result and would not be able to take that again! After I could see them, I pulled out the pots. There was an empty two gallon pot (had water celery) thanks to the raccoons. The two gallon pot of iris and the two gallon pot of a waterlily seemed okay. I was short on time so I did not repot them this year, instead just adding a little bit of old pea gravel and two fertilizer pills for each. I used my hands to lift out buckets of leaves which filled half the pond. Mixed in with them were tons of hornwort and some java moss. I did see a few pond snails early in the cleaning but never any more snails so I did not pick any out for saving. Aside from leeches, no other animals were sighted. I probably saved a third of the hornwort and java moss. There was just tons of it. The bottom was covered in dirt and spilled pea gravel from the pots. I vacuumed out the bottom, put the pots back (the iris on bricks and the waterlily on the very bottom), put the four bricks back, and topped off the pond. The, I put the hornwort and java moss back. I collected an amazing nine masses of wood frog eggs from the 153 gallon pond and put those in the pond. They sunk. I will feed them once they hatch. I will not put the pump back in for a while. The hole process took a little over an hour because I rushed it by not repotting and not bothering to try to save every bit of hornwort. Plus, although there were tons of Melantho snails in 2010, they apparently all died this past winter. When I put in the wood frog eggs, a black ramshorn and a pond snail came with them so I am sure they will soon overpopulate the pond.

I took photos of a lot of this that I will link in later.

7. On 3/16/11, I came home to find the 1800 gallon pond waterfall was off. The pump had popped off the tubing yet again. I had to get in and got dirty fixing it. It took two tries of jamming the tube on there all of a millimeter to try to get it to stay. I have to hold the pump using my thighs so I have my left hand to hold the tube and my right hand to screw on the hose clamp. I have had enough of this! I want it fixed! The landscaper has not contacted me in three days so I do not know what is going on. I told him I wanted that fixed but he just wants to redo the entire waterfall and filter system. I want that too but I cannot wait for this main, supposedly small problem to be fixed. I have a feeling he will not want to get to fixing my pond until summer when the plants will be more greatly decimated by the work. Major pond work is best done when the pond is semi-dormant, October or March.

8. I fed the fish for the first time on 3/17/11 in the evening. I put water in the pond and noticed that water was running out the overflow when the pond level was two inches below where it should be. It looks like the rocks have collapsed (like in the waterfall) and pushed the liner down there. If I could get the top rock off (probably 100 pounds), I could fix it myself. I still have not heard from the landscaper in four days. He was supposed to send a quotation and answer some questions including if he can fix the overflow.

9. The goldfish were trying to spawn in the pump basket on 3/18/11 which confirms the reason I thought the line popped off two days before.

10. I did the usual (squirt floss, top off ponds, add additives, tidy up) on 3/20/11. The line popped off the pump again when I went to put the pre-filter back. I still have not heard from the landscaper. I hate having zero help. The 1800 gallon was at 50 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 51 degrees F. The pH meter said pH 7.39 and 50.2 degrees F for the 1800 gallon pond and pH 7.09 and 52.5 degrees for the 153 gallon pond. The baking soda really worked! I moved another batch of wood frog eggs from the 153 to 50 gallon ponds. I took the de-icer out of the 153 gallon pond.

I examined the overflow after moving (pushing aside) the largest rock on top. I can't just pull up the liner to get the depth back. The rocks below have collapsed and pulled the liner down. I'd have to cut the liner to pull it up because I'm certainly not capable of moving those rocks. The liner is pulled very tight there and looks ready to tear from the pressure. If only I had somebody who was willing to help! I would shower them with money but nobody cares. So, I will just have to live with the problems. None are fatal. The worst is the pump popping off constantly. You would think it would be easy to fix.

11. I removed a dead 1.5" pickerel frog from the 153 gallon that had been dead a month and just floated up.

12. On 3/27/11, the air temperature was only 40 degrees F, I was two hours behind on chores due to more demands than I can handle, and my body was giving out so I didn't do the bioballs as I should have. I did squirt off the flosses, top off the ponds, and put in some additives. The 1800 gallon was at 46 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 47 degrees F. I also didn't re-test the pH. The wood frogs have started to hatch in the 50 gallon pond despite the freezing temperatures at night this week.

13. I took the day off on 3/30/11 to clean out the 153 gallon pond. The story is on this page. I put a new thermometer in the 1800 gallon pond and removed yet another dead 3" pickerel frog. There is even another I did not get out yet.

Continue to the April 2011 pond blog.

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