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Robyn's Pond Blog for March 2012

Last Updated: 5/23/12

1. The battered goldfish in the big pond now has some fin-rot like damage to his/her caudal fins. This fish does not look good but the other fish seem fine.

2. I did not have time on 3/4/12 to do pond work so I did it on Tuesday, 3/6/12, instead since I am not working (at a paying job) Tuesday or Thursday. Both the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were at 43 degrees F. I squirted off the big pond's filter floss. I added more barley straw, KoiZyme, salt, MelaFix, baking soda, koi clay, BZT, and water to the big pond.

I cleaned out the 50 gallon tub pond on 3/6/12. I thought it would take a few hours but it took three hours! I found probably 8 wood frog egg balls in that pond and also took another 5 or so out of the 153 gallon pond. They were just starting to fall apart so if I had waited a few days, it would have been too late. I wanted to wait as this morning, it was 25 degrees F at dawn and only 45 degrees F at 2 pm when I started. The 50 gallon tub pond was iced over in the morning. Because we really had no winter this year, the plants and animals in the tub pond all survived the winter which meant a lot more hand picking out animals. I found dozens of green frog tadpoles from very tiny to ready to morph. They all hatched from eggs last summer or early fall. There were a lot of small pond snails but only a few ramshorn (two species) and Melantho snails. I took some photos of a few large leeches. Those leeches feed on debris (not fish, after all this pond is fishless). The pond was full of tons of hornwort in good condition. There were three two gallon pots in the bottom of the pond. The one with the waterlily was dead. The other two were iris. I repotted the iris in to all three two gallon pots but had to toss a lot of it as it was overgrown. I had not repotted them last year (2011) so the iris were big. I do not know if they will flower this year due to the repotting but they flowered well last year. I potted all three pots in real dirt. One was formerly in aquatic planting soil (like clay litter). I found the uplift tube for the little pump that I use in the 50 gallon pond in the summer and also the intake sponge. The raccoon removed both last summer, and I could not find them! I will wait to put the pump back in; it is still too early.

3. On 3/8/12, I removed both of the de-icers from the 153 and 1800 gallon ponds. I also put up the green cover over the 1800 gallon pond's biofilter. Both pond electrical outlets were full of ants again. It's only a matter of time before they lose power again as a result. I put a fresh ant trap in the 153 gallon pond's electrical outlet. I also sprayed the outlets with citrus oil which kills those ants that it touches. I took the white trash bags off the outlets. They were there to protect the outlets from the snow that we never got. The lids do not close all the way on the outlets when the de-icers are plugged in to them.

I cleaned out the 20 gallon pond. I pulled the yellow flag iris and did not divide it. It now fills almost the entire pond. I removed the one brick in there and put the iris back after changing the water. There were a few pond snails but no other animals.

I repotted my one lotus. It was in a 7 gallon pot in the 1800 gallon pond. I put back about five lotus tubers with growing tips in the 7 gallon pot. I put in a different feeding tube, a long one. I do not think those things work but might as well use them. I then had wads of extra tubers. I did not want to throw them away. Since I had time, I pulled out my old 12 gallon tub pond. I filled it mostly with dirt, put in the tubers, and covered it with pea gravel. If we have a mild winter next year, I will not have to do anything with this pond (aside from adding water, fertilizer, and Bt to kill mosquitoes) for two years. If we have a cold winter, the lotus in there will die, in which case, I will have to put up the pond next year or do something else with it. I am hoping that this lotus (had for four years) will bloom for the first time this year since I did all of this. When I repotted it before, I didn't have the heart to throw away any tubers so I jammed them all back in the 7 gallon pot. This time, the lotus has some grow room which is more likely to result in flowering (if the deer leave it alone, a big if).

4. On 3/11/12, I added additives and water to the ponds and collected leaves. The 1800 gallon was at 45 degrees F, and the 153 gallon was at 44 degrees F. I will wait until next week to clean the filter floss and then switch to weekly cleanings. I hope to clean the 153 gallon pond on Wednesday and repot the waterlilies next week. For the first time ever in my ponds, due to the lack of a cold winter, the parrot feather in my 1800 gallon pond and the duckweed in my 153 gallon are alive and growing. The parrot feather has never survived the winter. The duckweed normally sinks and comes back in the summer but there is a full, live covering of duckweed on that pond. There is so much that the pond is covered in honey bees getting water which will make cleaning that pond a little scary (that a bee might accidently bump in to me and sting).

5. On 3/13/12, I raked and collected three wheel barrows full of leaves from around the 1800 gallon pond. I weeded and mulched half of the peony/butterfly bush garden which is next to the 20, 50, and 153 gallon ponds. I hope to do the rest next week. This garden is one of the oldest on the land but it has never been fully mulched and was in bad shape. It is easy to do this time of the year with the weeds just starting. Even so, it took three hours.

6. On 3/14/12, I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond, 16 days early. Yet, it was in the 70's all day! We skipped spring and went to summer. For a complete detailing of the cleaning including photos and video, see my 153 pond cleaning on 3/14/12 page. There was a major surprise animal in the pond. I also topped off the three tub ponds. We need rain badly. The ground is cracked, and I want to do some digging to replace the back pond.

It has been so warm, I feel like I should put the Cyprio filter and extra pump out in the big pond already (not normally done until April) and put the half net on. I have to restrain myself a little bit!

7. They may have found a new species of frog in New York that looks just like a leopard frog but has different DNA and a different call. See http://www.sciencenewsblog.com/blog/31420121. There's still so much to discover in nature. Let's hope we're able to do that before destroying it.

8. I have been working on moving the shrimp and snail pages since 7/13/10 and started back up on them a few months ago when I got more time. I hope to finish them soon (just reviewing the snail pages and then all the link changes must be made). I decided though on 3/15/12 that I really needed my pond pages to be separated now. So, instead of a complete move (where all links to those page are moved, all photos are moved to the photos directory, and all pages in that directory are done at the same time), I did a quick move. I am leaving the "mypond" pages in place until later with links to the new pages. I will renovate the moved pages later as well. It was just getting too hard for me to make out what was what as the pages were crowded.

9. On 3/18/12, I squirted off the flosses. The 1800 gallon was at 60 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 58 degrees F! I brought out the 1200 gph pump and hooked it up to dump water at the top of the main waterfall. It went from drizzle to nice flow. This will help with circulation (the pump is at the other end of the pond) and aeration. Only a little filtration is added by the filter floss around this pump. It's been so warm that I plan to put out the Cyprio filter next week and put on the half net. I plan to put the three koi in the basement out at the end of the month, way ahead of schedule if things stay this warm!

I put out the feeding ring. I saw a mayfly larvae in the 153 gallon pond. I hadn't found any when I cleaned the pond but this one survived and was probably in among the tons of anacharis. The wood frog tadpoles have all hatched; there are a ton!

I set up the mosaic pond on the front porch.

We're having a drought so the ground is hard as a rock. I would love to dig my replacement pond for the back 16.5 gallon liner pond but I will wait for rain. The back pond was just a cesspool, and I'm so over cleaning it which requires three 50 foot hoses and two 50 foot electrical cords to reach it. I pulled up the rocks, all but the largest one. I cut the liner at the edge of that heavy rock. I will move all the rocks and liner away and leave the hole until/if I can dig another pond closer to the house.

10. I linked in these photos.

Here are the photos of the wood frogs from 3/1/12:
Male wood frog and eggs in the 50 gallon tub pond
Male wood frog and eggs - another view
Wood frog in the 153 gallon pond

I took these photos on 3/6/12 when I cleaned out the 50 gallon pond.
50 gallon tub pond before being cleaned.
Wood frog eggs
Wood frog eggs in my hand
Leech - one of the leeches from the pond stuck in the bucket.
Hornwort in my hand

11. On 3/20/12, I did some pond work. I tried to check the pH's of my 50, 153, and 1800 gallon ponds but the pH meter was acting up so I don't know if the readings were correct or not. At first, the meter kept saying the pH was 5.3 so I stuck it in some of my reef's water to bring the pH over 7 and then back in to the pond water. The readings were for the 1800 gallon pond, pH of 7.41 at 65.3 degrees F; for the 153 gallon pond, pH of 7.47 at 63.3 degrees F; and, for the 50 gallon tub pond, pH of 7.37 at 62.4 degrees F. If those numbers are true, then they are good. In the past, the pH of the ponds was always around 6.5 but I don't trust the pH meter at this time!

I moved most of the rocks and the liner from the back 16.5 gallon to our brick (and other such things) pile. It took three wheelbarrows full to move it all.

I had the bucket of blue and purple water iris on the back porch. I potted up one two gallon pot and put that in the shallows of the 1800 gallon pond. I buried the rest of the iris on land in a low-lying spot where I had previously planted excess water plants including those iris plus yellow flag iris and lizard tail. Only the last two have survived being on land. The lizard tail even thrives in wet years.

I got in the big pond. I removed the three two gallon pots from the deep end of the pond. They were about a quarter full of gravel, the submerged plants eaten long ago.

I started to repot my waterlilies. I thought I could do all five before lunch time but I only got three of the five done by 12:30 pm. First, I did the Chromatella lily. It's a hardy yellow waterlily. I just discovered that I misspelled it Chromella in my pond inventory and all over my web site but an internet search confirms it's Chromatella. There are too many of those to fix on my site! The Chromatella lily had a lot of tuber. I cut off four chunks and tossed the heart. I put one piece in a two gallon pot and put that in my 153 gallon pond because I felt bad throwing it all away. I potted the other three pieces back in to the five gallon pot. I then repotted the James Brydon waterlily. It's a red hardy water lily. I just bought it last summer but I need to pot while I have time. It was just one tiny tuber, and the fish had messed with the gravel anyway. There was a clump of jungle valisneria in the pot as well that I had stuck in there. I repotted it in to a 2 gallon pot that I set next to the lily. The last lily I repotted was the Comanche waterlily. It's a changeable hardy waterlily. I bought this replacement for my original Comanche on 5/21/09, and it was last repotted on 4/14/10. There was only one tiny tuber left alive in there! The gravel was really torn up from the fish. The last two waterlilies are the worst as far as having been stripped of the gravel on the top exposing the tubers. In one case, I even had to put a rock on the tuber to keep it in the pot. I will repot those last two hardy waterlilies next week, I hope! When I put the lilies back, I stepped on and flipped the pot of jungle valisneria, and all the gravel came out. I was doing the job of the raccoon. I had to get out, take off the hip waders, put new gravel in the pot, put on the hip waders, and get back in again.

I found a toad stuck in the net of the 1800 gallon pond and helped him out (and in to the water). This is the first toad that I have seen in my pond in many years. In fact, it has been so long that I don't even have a "my toads" section on my web site I just discovered. The last photos I have are from 2004! (I created a my toads section on 3/30/12.)

After that, I continued mulching one of the oldest gardens on our land that has not been mulched in at least a decade. It is just north of the 20, 50, and 153 gallon ponds.

12. I have always had a lot of pickerel frogs in my biofilter and 1800 gallon pond in the winter. I have also lost many of them in the winter. I did not, however, ever hear a male calling for sure until 3/20/12. This male pickerel frog called for days from a crevice in the rocks. I compared the call to those on-line, and it is definitely a pickerel. Maybe now they will even lay eggs in my ponds!

13. The goldfish started spawning on 3/21/12. The pond went from gin clear to hazy in less than a day from all of the gunk that they stir up. By contrast, looking through my old pond blogs, they first noticeably spawned last year on 4/21/11! Everything is a month ahead due to the very warm weather. As such, my next tasks are to get the Cyprio filter going, get the half net on, repot the rest of the waterlilies, repot all the marginals, mulch everything, put out all the yard doohickeys, and it goes on and on! I am glad to be unemployed at the moment; I hope I just don't jinx myself.

14. The morning of 3/23/12, I found a female green frog stuck in the net. She had tried to get through it so badly that she had worn off her face. Her lips were gone so her tongue was exposed, and her eyes were severely damaged. I doubt she will survive but she was alive so I put her in the pond. She was a big girl. I feel so guilty for having that death net on but, without it, the heron would eat all the fish and frogs in no time. I also saw that the fish had depotted some plants but the water was too murky for me to tell what exactly they were. I will check it out in a few days.

15. On 3/25/12, I did some pond work. Both the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were at 59 degrees F. First, I squirted out the filters in the 50 and 153 gallon ponds. The 50 gallon's pump just has a sponge over the intake but it was nearly 100% clogged. The small ponds were all looking good. I put additives in them for various things from BZT to Bt (for mosquitoes) to AlgeaFix in the 12 gallon lotus tub pond and front mosaic pond only. Some ponds get some things and some get others but they all get water if needed.

I took the full net off the big pond. One corner had come down. I'm hoping that was from the rain and not the heron. The cattails and land and water iris were already growing up through the net and some got pulled out to get the net off. I removed the full net two weeks earlier this year but it couldn't have waited. I moved the newly added iris away from where the Cyprio filter would spill so I could set it up. I moved the two golden club plants from the deeper water to the shallows. Even though it was earlier than usual, they're already blooming! The plant that I thought the fish had de-potted turned out to just be some sweetflag that was anchored in a pot so I won't bother with that for now. While the tops of the lotus and waterlily pots were dirty, at least the fish didn't de-pot them. I removed one spilt one gallon pot with just a little dirt and gravel in it. I don't know what plant used to be in there. I hand picked up four buckets of leaves from the edges where the full net had been.

I squirted off all the flosses and the bioballs. The plastic wire intake on the pump that I put in last week to make the waterfall go faster had collapsed! It was deformed and tiny and sunken in. The filter material was so clogged due to the fish spawning that the intake cage was sucked in and permanently destroyed. I tried to bend it back and put it back on like that but it didn't work. I will have to rely on the filter material to not allow animals to be sucked in to the line until I can try to find a new one to order. The bioballs were super heavy with black slop. The pond was pretty messy from the spawning. I set up the Cyprio filter. I put additives in the ponds. I put on the half net to give the fish some protection from the heron.

16. By the next morning, the water was gorgeous! I was afraid the heron would have found the pond with only the partial net. Instead, I saw some flopping in my 153 gallon pond and looked outside to watch a Cooper's hawk fly off with one of my big frogs (either green frog or bullfrog). I ran after him but he didn't drop the frog. My father then backed in to my 2007 Toyota prius and damaged it for the first time. So, my first day fully unemployed is not going well.

17. The morning of 3/27/12 was below freezing. We went from summer to winter. Some plants' flowers were damaged. The water celery in my pond which was doing great suffered freezer burn but will eventually recover. It looks like I will have to keep the koi indoors a few more weeks as temperatures are back to normal for now. I just hate bailing all that water every week!

18. On 3/28/12, I repotted the other two waterlilies over 1.5 hours. It was cool and windy. The 1800 gallon pond's water was at 52 degrees F. First, I did the Albata waterlily which is a white hardy lily. It was doing very well such that I had to toss more than half of the tubers. I try to throw out the older portion and keep the growing tips. This lily is in a wider pot but still about 5 gallons as it grows out over a large surface area, and it's a large lily. The Fabiola waterlily is a hardy pink waterlily and perhaps my favorite. It rarely blooms. All that was left were three tiny tubers, and the fish had removed half the dirt in the pot. It should be much happier now! I then finished the last portion of mulching for the peony garden, and it's fully mulched for the first time ever. The weeds have already regrown in the first portion though so it won't last long. Soon, I will start mulching around the main pond and doing more of the individual trees and shrubs. It's a very long process, and I'm trying to rush in case I find a job that will then be my new life.

19. On 3/29/12, I put out about half of the yard doohickeys. I may put the rest out on 3/30/12.

20. I linked in these pond photos.

From 3/6/12:
1800 gallon pond fish - I marked my koi Colin and Maggie as well as the shubunkin who is hard to see and one of the orfe.
Sick goldfish - this guy was the reason I was using the MelaFix, and guess what? He has recovered!

From 3/8/12:
20 gallon tub pond after cleaning.
Repotting lotus - 12 gallon tub pond, pile of lotus tubers
Lotus tuber - showing the starchy tuber (for energy strorage) and growing tip with leaf coming out
Lotus in dirt - being repotted in 7 gallon pot
12 gallon lotus tub pond - all potted up
12 gallon tub pond from a distance, 1800 gallon pond on the left
Three ponds - left to right the 50 gallon tub pond, 20 gallon tub pond, and 153 gallon liner pond, facing north
Three ponds facing northwest, 153 gallon pond in the front, 20 and 50 gallon tub ponds in the back

Continue to the April 2012 pond blog.

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