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Robyn's Pond Blog for April 2010

Last Updated: 5/3/10

1. While it has been warm, I did not see the goldfish spawning until the morning of 4/3/10. The water quality will now quickly go down as they stir up the debris and clog up the filters.

2. On 4/4/10, I squirted off the flosses. The 1800 gallon was at 59 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 60 degrees F. I set up the Cyprio filter perhaps a bit early because the water was all murky from the goldfish spawning. I dug the cardinal flower out of the ground and potted it in to a two gallon pot in to the marginal area of the big pond.

3. On 4/7/10, I got an order from Tricker that included 12 Japanese trapdoor snails, 6 freshwater clams, and 6 tadpoles. One snail had given birth (common during the stress of shipping) to 13 babies. The tadpoles were large and active so probably bullfrogs. The clams were my first clams or mussels. I found a long, curved pond basket with holes. I put in a bag of small aquarium gravel in the bottom. They suggest sand but that would be quite the mess. I set the clams in the basket. I then covered the basket with a piece of vinyl-coated hardware cloth which I had cut to fit. I held it down with six plastic cable ties which can later be cut and replaced when I need to get in to the basket. I deliberately left an opening of about an inch down one end so that the bitterlings can get in there. The bitterlings are still in the basement pond until I dismantle that in about a month. I sunk the basket with the clams in to the 1800 gallon pond. The snails and tadpoles also went in there. The benefits of the basket include keeping raccoons, larger animals, the koi, and the larger goldfish away from the clams; allowing in small fish, tadpoles, and the bitterlings who use clams to spawn; letting me know where the clams are; allowing me to move them if need be; and allowing flow through of water. I just threw this idea together after I got the clams. It helped to have spare, "useless" supplies around which were now very useful.

I had to get in the 1800 gallon pond to place the clams where the lotus pot used to be so I also squirted off the filter material, etc. around the 700 gph Mag-Drive pump that runs the Cyprio filter. It is sitting next to the clams' basket. That waterfall had slowed to a drizzle from the goldfish spawning. The water is remarkably clear for all that spawning. The 1800 gallon pond was at 74 degrees F! The air temperature was over 90 degrees F that day. Where is spring? I don't want summer. I also added water to the big pond which was low from the heat.

Over at the 153 gallon pond, I also took that filter out and squirted it off. I hadn't done that the previous Sunday thinking it wouldn't need it just having been set up the Wednesday before. But, the filter kept floating up despite rocks in the bottom of it. Once squirted off, it stopped doing that. The 153 gallon pond is having a suspended algae bloom which it was having before the cleaning too.

Doing all this work after work didn't feel right and cost me almost an hour. I need more time off!

4. On 4/9/10, I found a dead ~4" all orange goldfish in the shallows of the 1800 gallon pond. I saw the fish in distress there the day before. I have no idea why he/she died. He/she was probably one of the feeder fish that I put in there a year ago.

5. The photos of the 153 gallon pond cleaning are up on that page.
My family went to the Baltimore Conservatory without me on 4/1/10 and took this photo of an indoor pond and waterfall there.
Conservatory Pond

6. On 4/11/10, I squirted off all the flosses (two sets in the 1800 gallon pond, the 153 gallon PondMaster filter, and the little 50 gallon pond filter). I pulled the big net off the big pond and replaced it with the half net just over the deep end when all was done. I used to fold and clean the big net but, without help, I just waded it up in to a trash bag with all the leaves and sticks included. The 1800 gallon was at 61 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 64 degrees F. I repotted the two pots of lizard tail. One was a two gallon pot while the other seemed to be a three gallon pond (although it says two gallon in my pond inventory list which is not on-line although I did hope to one day put it on my web site). Anyway, I hacked up the lizard tail and saved two bunches to be potted in to new two gallon pots. I had to use the utility knife to cut the old pots off which were severely warped by the huge tuberous roots. I dug holes at a low spot on the property and planted the remainder of the lizard tail there. When I've done that previously, they seem to live for a few years before dying off. That area floods when there's heavy rains but also dries out too much for lizard tail. Hopefully, I can keep repotting a few plants each week and eventually get them all done this year without any help. So much work!

7. I moved the clam section to a new freshwater bivalves page. That gives me a bit more room to add information about the clams that I got, photos, and so on.

8. I took the day off on 4/14/10. First, I spent an hour putting all the pond and garden dewhickeys outside such as resin animals, toad houses, pinwheels, signs, and so on. I also replaced three of the solar lights with new ones and put four small fake waterlily flowers in the 153 gallon pond. Then, I mulched a bush for an hour and started on the 1800 gallon pond garden from 11 am to 2:13 pm. I did about a sixth of that garden. Finally, I repotted two of my four surviving hardy water lilies. The changeable hardy waterlily, Comanche, just had one small tuber since I bought it new a few years ago (the original having died). The yellow hardy waterlily, Chromatella, was full in the pot. I cut it in to three pieces and cut off most of the roots. I put back two pieces. The third I gave to a coworker whose father has a pond. Next week, I'm going to repot the other two hardy waterlilies.

9. When I went out to feed the chickens on 4/16/10, up flew a massive bird from the front yard. He's back! Since I took the full net off, the heron has returned. The larger fish and smart fish are safe under the half net in the deep end. Fish in the shallows and all my snails, tadpoles, and frogs are all at risk in the 1800 gallon pond. All the animals in the smaller ponds are at risk too. I've given up on ways to keep the herons away so I will have to accept some losses. I especially lament the loss of green frogs.

10. I got my Aquamart order on 4/16/10. To the floating plant protector, I added three water hyacinth, three water lettuce, and a hitchhiked piece of salvinia. I also got a white snowflake which actually had a flower on it, a blue lobelia (first time ever), and a colorific iris. I had that one before and loved it but it died. I thought I'd ordered a sensitive fern too but it was not listed on the receipt or in the box.

11. I found a large mass of green frog eggs in the 50 gallon tub pond on 4/17/10. No tadpoles have ever successfully overwintered there so I tried to scoop some out and put those in the 153 gallon pond. I got maybe a third out. In the fall, I always have on my list to remove tadpoles from the tub ponds but usually don't get to do it because of all the debris in there by then.

12. On 4/18/10, I squirted off all the flosses and the bioballs. The 1800 gallon was at 55 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 57 degrees F. I replaced two of the old bioball bags with new mesh, nylon laundry bags. I also put the smaller bags (oyster shell, crushed coral, and some Chemi-Pur I got for free) in to a new mesh laundry bag so they'd be easier to handle. The filter materials and bioball bags were heavily laden with pond slop.

I removed the dead pots from the pond. It was a record - four one gallon pots and eight two gallon pots no longer had any signs of plant life. I'm not sure which plants died besides from the pickerel rush which never seems to overwinter for me (just a few times it did). Checking my pond inventory list, I find that the following hardy marginal plants are gone that I added last year: one blue pickerel, one white pickerel, and marsh marigold which I've tried half a dozen times with zero luck (the plant always dies right away). Going back to plants added in 2008: white water snowflake, spike rush, monkey flower, and flowering rush are all gone. In 2007: water hawthorne, bog bean, water wisteria, four leaf clover, and white pickerel are all gone. Going back farther only confuses things and looks like a plant graveyard. I used to have horsetail rush too. The marginals were all (except for the iris) repotted in April of 2008. So which marginals survive? Survivors include the already repotted two pots of lizard tail and two pots of golden club as well as tons of sweetflag (six pots?, regular and variegated), two pots of hardy canna, two pots of dwarf cattail, one regular cattail (I could have 20 pots by now if I didn't just keep one pot's worth), one water plantain, one pot of arrowhead (no growth but I think it is alive), one strand (yes strand) of zebra rush (from the first plants in 1997 I think!), half a dozen water iris, and the plants added this year. So, it looks like repotting this year won't be a big deal since half the marginals died! I think the four feet of snow didn't help. It's also funny (not) that the only surviving four hardy waterlilies that I have left are the four ones I started with in 1997 (although one was replaced a few years ago after it died). The dozen other kinds I've tried over the years have never survived. I've tried red hardy waterlilies alone half a dozen times. I think I have to stick with the plants I started with years ago.

I tried to fertilize the surviving marginals excluding those repotted this year. That mostly meant the iris since I would like some flowers this year (aside from the yellow flag iris which grows like a weed). I couldn't really jam the fertilizer pills through the roots, rocks, etc. but I tried. I didn't fertilize the lilies since I just repotted two, and I'm going to repot the other two later this week.

I received the plants from Aquamart that I ordered this year. The floating plants I added on 4/16/10 as mentioned above. On 4/18/10, I potted up the white snowflake in a one gallon pot and the blue lobelia and colorific iris in two gallon pots. I had wanted to repot the water plantain and the regular cattails but only did the water plantain, throwing out two thirds of the plant in the waste pile. I could have potted another pot of it but I'd rather keep the extra room in the pond for future plants and the animals. Maybe next year I buy more marginal replacements.

After the pond work, I did a little mowing, and when I opened the 153 gallon pond's electrical outlet to plug in the electric push mower (to get spots where the riding mower can't go), I was greeted by an avalanche of ants! They are back yet again to destroy the outlet. I put in a chemical ant motel-type trap. I hate having it so close to the pond but nothing else has worked long term so far.

13. I took off 4/21/10 to mostly do mulching. I got up at 6:30 am and finished feeding the animals by 8:15 am. It was drizzling. I dumped the 12 empty pots from last Sunday that were on the back porch. I then planted 11 hyacinth my mother had bought recently not too far from the pond and six new perennials (mostly ground covers) around the ponds. I would later plant two small shrubs including one clove currant in the pond garden. Started at 9:13 am, I mulched the nine trees in the "tree garden" that I didn't get to do last year as well as three trees/shrubs out front. By 11:15 am, I had used four bags of mulch on those things and started on the pond from the azalea to the brick patio (a quarter of the pond garden now done). I laid in four bags of mulch after hours of painstaking weeding from about 11:20 am to 2:44 pm. I squirted out the 12 empty pots and prepared them to be brought inside. I then repotted the other two living, hardy waterlilies from 3 to 4:10 pm (yes, it takes that long!). By this point, the rain was moderate, and I was soaked (but oblivious and exhausted). The Fabiola (pink) had about five small living growth tips, and I repotted all of them in to the same 5 gallon pot. The Albata (white) was overgrown. I saved three large growth tips and tossed about 10 over the hill. I put the Albata waterlily in to the same 5 gallon which is one with a larger surface area and less depth. I removed and cleaned out the last dead pot, a 5 gallon that I'd tried lilies in the last few years, and all had died.

14. I managed to upload about 40 photos to my site by multitasking, half my photos, half old ones e-mailed to me. The problem is that I've had no time to link them in! This time of the year, things are out of control, and there's no time. I hope to get them up within a month though.

15. On 4/25/10, I squirted off the flosses. The 1800 gallon was at 56 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 58 degrees F. I repotted a plant that is either arum or arrowhead from its two gallon pot in to the same pot. It was damaged some trying to get it out of the pot. I repotted the zebra rush which literally only had three strands sticking up which I all broke off trying to get it out of the pot (dead rush made it hard to get out). Hopefully, those two pathetic plants will recover. I repotted the regular cattails from their two gallon pot to a five gallon lily pot so they should love that! I saved five pieces out of about twenty! The ones I chose had jumped the pot so they were easier to get at. All that's left to repot is two dwarf cattails, two hardy cannas, half a dozen sweetflags, and all the iris (maybe eight). I may repot the smaller ones (which won't be damaged by repotting since they're tiny) after flowering season and save the big ones for fall.

16. I took off 4/28/10 to mulch. I mulched plants by the chicken pen and in the animal graveyard which I hadn't done last year. It was 50 degrees F, cold, and windy this time. At 11:40 am, I started on the big pond and mulched from the brick patio to the outlet which is not a large area. The problem is that weed grass had sprouted all over every inch, in between all the plants. It was slow going. I didn't finish until 2:55 pm when I went mowing. I keep mulching records on my site and have decided to make them public in case anyone cares what plants there are (only the ones that get mulched are listed) or how much work I do. Here are those pages.

17. I got a few photos and videos put on my site from weeks ago. Here are copies of those from the pages on which I put them.

Goldfish Spawning - 2111 KB, mpg movie. The fish were spawning on 4/4/10.

I got a dozen adult trapdoor snails on 4/7/10. One female had given birth to 13 babies in transit which is common.
Adult trapdoor snails and babies
8 adult trapdoor snails

I got my clams on 4/7/10 and took these photos.
Six clams in the laundry tub
Clam in my hand, top view
Clam in my hand, side view
Clams in basket
Clams in basket with lid on
Clam basket - showing opening left for the bitterlings to get in and out

We went to Washington, DC on 4/8/10, and I took these photos of ponds there.
Pond at the National Museum of the American Indian. This is their natural pond. I can see cattails, water lilies, and a male mallard duck out there.
Waterfall - the waterfall out in front of that same museum. I caught a bird in mid-flight!
Waterfall - me standing in front of the big waterfall at the Indian Museum.
Ornamental pond inside the United States Botanic Garden.
Golden club in bloom outside the United States Botanic Garden in a pond there.

18. Today, 4/30/10, is Save the Frogs Day! Go to Save the Frogs.

19. Here are more photos and a video I managed to link in that I took. All of these are from 4/11/10. I also put more photos on my gardens page.

You can see my three koi (Maggie who is huge and orange, Colin who is huge and white, and Kojak who is metallic) and the three orfe in most of the photos as well as tons of goldfish.
1800 gallon pond and fish
1800 gallon pond fish
1800 gallon pond fish
1800 gallon pond fish - my nearly- invisible dark shubunkin is just to the left and above Kojak in this photo.

Female bullfrog in my pond.

1800 Gallon Pond - 3921 KB, mpg movie. - pans the pond (standing on the west shore) from waterfall, past the fish, and to overflow with my big female bullfrog.

Lizard tail - before repotting, side view of the two two gallon pots.
Lizard tail - before repotting, top view of the two two gallon pots.
Lizard tail - after repotting, top view of the two two gallon pots.

Continue to the May 2010 pond blog.

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