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Robyn's Pond Blog for April 2011

Last Updated: 5/4/11

1. On 4/3/11, I did a lot of pond work. The pH meter said the 1800 gallon had a pH of 6.75 and a temperature of 46.3 degrees F. The 153 gallon had a pH of 6.91 and was at 47.7 degrees F (four days after its cleaning). Both the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were at 48 degrees F according to the thermometers in there.

I netted out two more dead 3" pickerel frogs.

I FINALLY fixed the pump from popping off! Why did nobody suggest this before!? The owner of Lilypons said to get a rubber coupling. It works!! It is an Ace Drain Trap Connector, 1.5" plastic to 1.5" or 1.25" tubular whatever that means but one end is larger and goes over the old tubing.

I squirted off the flosses and the bioballs. I changed the bags of Ammocarb and crushed coral. I put the new submersible air pump in the bottom of the filter but it broiled the surface of the biofilter too much, causing leaks. I have to wait until the next cleaning to remove it.

While the biofilter was empty, I measured it. It is 30 inches deep. From the bottom up to 17 inches, it is 19 inches in internal diameter. The rest of the depth, it is 23.75 inches in internal diamter. The total volume is thus 44 gallons.

I set up the Cyprio filter early so that it would seed with bacteria in case I ever get the landscaper to destroy the waterfall and filter. I set up the mosaic pond. I put the little filter in the 50 gallon tub pond. It is a Lifegard Quiet One 800 with 220 gph. It has a 10 foot cord which I need there but this is the third such pump I have had to buy (the other two died).

2. On 4/7/11, I removed the full net from the pond and put on the half net. I told my father that I bet now the heron (who had not been seen in months) would show up. Not 20 minutes later while I was mulching by the pond, the great blue heron appeared. The landscaper, however, who was supposed to come over, never appeared. He didn't call or e-mail either. At least you can depend on the heron! I'm not chasing the landscaper down again and begging him to fix my pond. I e-mailed a few others but none ever replied weeks later. I guess nobody wants or needs my business.

3. How many problems can one pond have? On 4/10/11, I tried to fix a few things. First, I went to the biofilter lip and wanted to put more epoxy around it where it oozes. The $40 of epoxy from last month came off in a big chunk; it was totally wasted. I tried to kneed a tube of epoxy using ziploc bags so it wouldn't get all over my hands. The epoxy was too sticky so I had to use my hands anyway. Then, even though I towel dried the filter edge, the epoxy just wouldn't stick to the biofilter lip which oozes worse than ever. Next up, I decided to take the rocks off the top of the falls to try to rebuild it myself. I didn't find anything deep in there where I could redirect the flow to the main falls like I want. Too much goes to the stream which is running outside the liner. When I went to put the rocks back, they wouldn't fit no matter what I do! The gap is about two feet wide and two feet long. The rocks are all a foot long! There's no way to support them. I can't figure out how they were. So, I put the rocks on the porch and covered the hole with a busted bird bath. It may be hideous like me but at least it protects the liner. I did manage to clean the filter floss per usual. At least that new rubber gasket works great! I sure wish I had that 12 years ago! The third failure attempt to fix my decrepit pond was to try to vacuum out some of the slop in the marginal area. It's mostly this thick layer of brown dirt and debris, not much obvious larger debris. Since the pond vacuum jams instantly and sucks up rocks and animals too, I decided to try the Python hose that I use for my aquariums. They also sell it for ponds but it's the same thing. I got the water flowing; it sucked nice; it jams basically instantly with debris. There's no way to clean the pond without draining it which is out of the question. The overflow seems to have collapsed even further since I tried to fix that. There is exposed liner all around the pond, dirt running in where the walls are collapsing, and leaks all down one side of the waterfall. Nobody wants to help me but my brother did come over for a few minutes to get something, and he tried to get the tubing back on the Cyprio filter which is leaking too. It's on but will probably come off again; it still leaks. He says he will fix some problems with my pond (I will pay him) but I don't believe him. I wish I had never had the pond built. I'm just too old and weak to keep it going alone. I want to give up and find homes for the fish before they suffer and die but my mother won't let me. At the same time, she won't let me have the pond totally redone.

The pH meter red a pH of 7.05 and a temperature of 53.1 degrees F for the 1800 gallon pond. It read a pH of 7.39 and a temperature of 53.3 degrees F for the 153 gallon pond. The pond thermometers read 52 degrees F for the 1800 gallon pond and 53 degrees F for the 153 gallon pond. The air temperature was 55 degrees F. I squirted off the filter floss, topped off the ponds, and added some additives to the water. I also put some small rocks over some exposed liner in the overflow.

4. It went up to a toasty 85 degrees F on 4/11/11 while I was at work. When I got home and fed the fish, I saw my super huge female bullfrog in the overflow area. She is still brown, not green. I also removed another dead 2" pickerel frog.

5. On 4/17/11, I did some pond chores. The pH meter said the 1800 gallon had a pH of 6.82 and a temperature of 58.5 degrees F, and the 153 gallon had a pH of 7.15 and a temperature of 60.2 degrees. The 1800 and 153 gallon ponds were both at 60 degrees F according to the thermometers in the ponds. I moved/raised up the golden club and pickerel weed to the more shallow part of the marginal area. There are probably 8 to 10 pots with no sign of life in them, presumed dead. I put fertilizer pills in the four hardy lily pots which have a little bit of growth and in the lotus pot which has no signs of life. The white Albata lily had so much dirt and rocks removed from the pot due to the fish that the rhizomes and feeding tube were exposed. I rinsed and added a bucket of pea gravel on top of that hoping it would be good enough until next year's repottings. I used my bare hands to remove debris from the marginal area since the gravity vacuum and electric vacuum both clog instantly, and the net is too big for the tight spaces in that area. I removed another dead 3" pickerel frog from the deep end of the 1800 gallon pond.

6. On 4/20/11, I took the day off to do some pond work. I bought $179.94 worth (1340 pounds with the pallet, charged for 0.634 tons) of small pieces of what I thought was just PA fieldstone but turned out to be "trash" rocks of all kinds. The half pallet just fit on my father's truck so I saved $150 for delivery even though we live only two miles from the quarry. It was mostly fieldstone but also granite, a few slabs of sandstone, some gray rocks, etc. One man's trash is another man's gold! The smaller rocks of various sizes are perfect for the pond patching I need to do. I got a nice flat rock off another pallet that's about 20 inches by 15 inches. I put it over the hole at the top of the waterfall. I used smaller rocks to support it. I even walked across it twice to assure myself that it's stable so that deer, dogs, raccoons, etc. will never again shift the rocks such that the pond pumps itself dry. I then used smaller rocks to hide all the exposed parts. That's two problems fixed (the other being the pump popping off). I still have to fix the top of the leaky biofilter (sealant of some sort), perhaps under the edge of the biofilter (trying to find keystone-shaped bricks), the edge of the falls which leaks (lift rocks, lift liner edge, add liner?), the overflow which collapsed (brother claims he will help with that), and also the low waterfall flow (thinking of adding another pump just pumping at the top of the main fall rock).

I mulched the big pond from just past the azalea to the outlet. It looks so nice but that lasts about a week before the weed grass grows through! I put out two new solar lights and two new stepping stones that came in the pallet of trash rock I bought.

I also put out most of the pond and yard doohickeys (animal statues, signs, that sort of thing).

7. The morning of 4/21/11, the goldfish were spawning. This was the first spawning that I saw this year. They normally start much earlier. I think the heron has been scaring them as they mostly hide on the bottom.

8. By 4/22/11, both filters were just drizzling. When I got home that day, I went and got in the pond to pull the pre-filters and unclog the pumps. It couldn't wait until Sunday. They were so clogged from all the spawning. I hate doing dirty work without being able to shower after so I just changed all my clothes which got wet (it was raining) and some pond slop on them. When I squirt the filters, it always splashed on me.

9. On 4/24/11, I squirted off the filter flosses and did the usual. The filter materials were plenty dirty even though I had squirted them two days earlier. It has been very warm. The pH meter said the 1800 gallon had a pH of 6.81 and a temperature of 65.8 degrees F while the 153 gallon had a pH of 7.00 and a temperature of 65.5 degrees F. The 1800 gallon was at 68 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 66 degrees F according to the thermometers. I put the feeding ring out (not that I really use it). The bottom of the pond is very dirty but the fish are stirring it up a lot which brings the gunk to the pre-filters over time (or sometimes all at once when it clogs up). It was Easter so I didn't get too much done.

10. On 4/25/11, in the morning, I noticed a goldfish that was torn up pretty bad from spawning. When I found a dead goldfish that night, I assumed it was the same one but this one had just some bruising and not torn flesh like the other. Spawning is often deadly, especially if you are blunt force slammed in to rocks. The dead goldfish was a 8.5" common female goldfish, mostly orange with a good amount of white.

11. By 4/27/11, both pump and falls systems were trickling yet again from the mess the fish had made. Luckily, I had the day off and was able to squirt off all the pre-filters in the morning and get things flowing again. I didn't do any other pond work this day instead doing various odds and ends as well as the first mow of the year and mulching trees and shrubs.

12. On 4/28/11, I got a Tricker order (I ordered plants too but they have not come even though I need them now). I put six of those new "sunburst" goldfish which are yellow in my 1800 gallon pond along with two very small orfe to join the two larger orfe that I already have. One of the sunburst goldfish was actually white and not yellow. I also got 12 tadpoles (probably bullfrogs). One was missing a tail. They went in the big pond along with 12 adult and 6 baby trapdoor snails. There is no sign of any surviving trapdoors even though I add a dozen each year. To the 50 gallon tub, I added two Melantho snails (a kind of pond snail) and two black ramshorn snails. To the 153 gallon pond, I added 11 Melanthos and 15 black ramshorns.

Continue to the May 2011 pond blog.

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