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Robyn's Pond Blog for April 2021

Last Updated: 5/3/21

1. I did pond work on Easter, 4/4/21. At 12:50 pm, the air temperature was a nice 64 degrees F. The thermometers in both the 1800 and 153 gallon ponds read 52 degrees F. It was a bit windy which was causing the waterfall coming from the Biosteps filter to lose a lot of water. I bailed it out and moved it closer to the edge of the rock as it was too far back. That way, there would be less water loss.

First, I removed the full net from the big pond. I got in and squirted off all the filter materials. I squirted off the bioballs and found two live and two dead pickerel frogs in the bottom of the filter. I set up the auxiliary pump which makes the main waterfall go from drizzling to gushing. It is mostly for the effect but also aerates the pond more. I put on the half net over the deep end. I put up the three ropes around the three fence posts to deter deer and herons from jumping in.

There was a huge wood frog egg mass in the back 30 gallon liner pond. That is the first time they have laid eggs in there.

2. I had the day off 4/5/21 and spent three hours mulching the big pond garden from the overflow to the brick patio. I also had a few minutes and pulled out the rocks around the biofilter's lip and put eight building blocks under there left over from a wall I built a year ago. I have to put sand under them and level them. I have to rebuilt the top of the waterfall as a lot of water wicks back up outside of the lined area. I need a chunk of time to pull it all apart and evaluate it.

3. When I went to the pond the morning of 4/7/21, a great blue heron flew off. Great. It is that time of the year. Fish spawn. Herons eat.

4. On 4/11/21 at 12:43 pm, the air temperature was 70 degrees F. The 1800 gallon pond was at 65 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond was at 62 degrees F. I squirted off all the filter materials. The PondMaster filter materials were full of live and dead wood frogs and one little two-lined salamander. The filter materials in the big pond were all very clogged due to the goldfish spawning which stirs up debris. The waterfalls went from drizzling to running after the cleaning. I put additives in the ponds. I removed three dead pickerel frogs from the big pond on the bottom.

The American toads have taken over the pool cover which I cannot drain because there is a hole in it made when an oak branch punctured the cover. I found a male calling and a couple amplexing and eggs all over! I used a grabbing tool to pull in as many eggs as I could gather and moved them to the overflow area of the 1800 gallon pond. There was another male calling near there. Any tadpoles on the pool cover when we remove it are most likely going to die. I can try to save some but it will be too hard to save most.

5. I had off work on 4/12/21 but no time to mulch, repot pond plants, etc. I did, however, take a little over an hour to rebuild the rockwork around the top of the biofilter. There are 8 wall bricks leftover from last year which I had loosely place around the edge on 4/5/21 but now I lifted them, put sand under them, and tried to level them and make them look nice. I was partially successful. I pulled up the rocks around where the water comes out of the biofilter. I found the edge of the liner where the ground is always wet. The issue seemed to be wads of soaked mud and roots within the lined area that were wicking water outside of the lined area. I removed the mud and roots, lifted the edge of the liner, and tried to jam some rocks under there to left up the edge of the liner and thereby keep more water in the lined area so that water does not leave the pond. I then put a ton of rocks back to try to cover all the exposed liner and protect everything. It does not look very natural but it does the job.

6. At 1 pm on 4/18/21, it was 62 degrees F outside but it has been pretty cold recently, in the lower 40's most mornings so I've stopped feeding the fish in the morning. Both thermometers read 59 degrees F. I squirted off all the filter materials which were all filthy. I added additives and water to the ponds. I put together two new cheap metal heron "sculptures" which I stuck by the biofilter. I put in new door seal around the rim of the biofilter. I need to change the inner seal too but it's always wet so I don't see how it will stick. The old seal was chewed on, most likely the raccoons. Whoever designed the biofilter was not very intelligent because they only lowered the spill lip a little bit below the top of the tub so, with any good flow, the water makes it to the top and some is lost that way because it can't drain fast enough out the lip.

7. At 1:25 pm on 4/25/21, the air temperature was 59 degrees F, and it was windy. The thermometers in both the 153 and 1800 gallon ponds read 58 degrees F. I changed the PondMaster filters. I squirted off all the filter materials and the matala in the Biosteps filter. I was supposed to fertilize some plants but didn't. My pond plants fall in to just two categories - half dead and so pot bound that I can't stuff a fertilize pill in there! The pot bound plants are mostly iris and sweetflag. I only have one surviving water lily. My lilies used to do great but a combination of more shade and larger koi who like to root means that they now do poorly which makes me sad. Most years I don't get a single flower. I have tried waterlilies in tub ponds many times in sunnier areas but those have always just died.

8. When I opened the curtains on 4/26/21, a great blue heron flew out of the pond. When I came around the corner of the house on 4/28/21 to feed the fish, the heron flew off with a huge goldfish in its beak! No!!!!!!!! The heron was in the pond the next morning and the next too. I considered putting a full net on the pond again but it is hard to maneuver, interferes with the plants, would have made me late to work, and so on. I try to look at the good side which is the heron keeps my pond from being over capacity with goldfish. My four koi are too big for herons to eat but I worry about my three orfe. All the fish have been in the un-netted shallows each morning for a goldfish spawning party either to spawn or gorge on eggs.

Continue to the May 2021 pond blog.

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