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Robyn's Pond Blog for July 2010

Last Updated: 8/2/10

1. Send up the fireworks! It took years but I finally finalized the amphibian directory on 7/3/10 when all the site connections were put in to place! All the frog, toad, newt, and salamander pages are now found here. There is new original material mixed in there too!

2. On 7/2/10, the new pickerel rush bloomed. I had ordered a white rush which is a different species but they sent a plant labeled as "white pickerel rush." Well, just like every single mail order "white pickerel rush" I have ever gotten (half a dozen of them), it flowered purple! I did have a white pickerel once that I bought from a local pond place in flower so I knew for sure it was white. None of my pickerels survived last winter.

3. On 7/4/10, I squirted off the filter flosses and did the usual. The air temperature at 12:30 PM was 90 degrees F. The 1800 gallon was at 74 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 71 degrees F. All but one of the impatiens in the floating island have died including the three I just added a week ago. Even though the roots should be in saturated water, they all shriveled up from the extreme heat. I couldn't wipe down the waterfall like I normally do because it was swarming with our honeybees as well as wasps and hornets. Anything I left around wet (like the filter padding) soon had bees on it so I had to ask them to let me take care of things.

There were hundreds of dead and dying week-old green frog tadpoles intertwined in the PondMaster filter material in the 153 gallon pond. I couldn't think of how to help them. I only hope that there are plenty that didn't get sucked in.

4. Temperatures from 7/4/10 through 7/8/10 had high's in the upper 90's and hitting 100 degrees F in the city. The official high in Baltimore City on 7/6/10 was 105 degrees F and 102 degrees F the next day. That ties with about half a dozen days in recorded history for the second hottest day ever in the city (107 degrees F one time was the hottest).

5. On 7/9/10, the raccoon got in to trouble, nothing new. Not only did he spill some spots but he left the remains of a poor trapdoor snail by the side of the big pond. It's a wonder that any trapdoor snails survive. I almost never see them in the pond even though I add a dozen every spring.

6. On 7/11/10, I squirted off the flosses and the bioballs. The bags of bioballs and lava rock were heavy and thick with black slop (pond gold). It took a lot of squirting. I replaced the last two old bioball bags (they were draw string "media bags") with a new zippered nylon mesh laundry bag. I need to keep up with replacing the bags every few years from now on. I also cut back plants (mostly lemon balm) growing around and in to the biofilter at the top of the waterfall. The 1800 gallon pond was at 80 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 76 degrees F. The air temperature was 90 degrees F and 12:30 PM.

I cut off a leaf of the lotus because there was a black, fuzzy, large caterpillar that had eaten a few leaves off the lotus. It only has about 12 leaves and no flowers so I didn't want more to be eaten. While working in the water, removing waterlily leaves and fertilizing the lilies and lotus and a few of the marginals, I bumped my head in to the drooping hardy canna flower bunches a few times. That wouldn't be a big deal except for the mega bumblebees that were feeding on them. Luckily, neither they nor I were harmed. I got a photo. I discovered while fertilizing that the arrowhead pot had been dumped over (probably raccoon) a while ago because the plant was growing crooked as a result. I righted it but didn't repot. I still have lots of sweetflag to repot but it's just too hot, and the ground is rock solid (I dig up dirt to fill the pots when repotting). My water hyacinth are dying. They're turning black and shriveling up. You'd think they'd like daily temperatures in the 90's for weeks. The water lettuce is not doing much better. It's normally over half the pond by now.

I counted over 20 dead blue dasher dragonflies under the net. I just don't get it. The net is only over about 5 feet of the length of the pond. The waterfall and marginal areas are completely net- free. There are infinite ways for the dragonflies to fly out but they go under the net and fly east up to the corner where the net is anchored. If they would just fly an inch one way or another, they'd get out. Instead, they all go up there and die. Interestingly, we do have a few other species of dragonflies in lesser numbers, and they almost never die this way. There were half a dozen live blue dashers flying around. I prop up the corner of the net with a stick (been doing that for years). I check the net corner each evening and release any dragonflies trapped but I almost never find them still alive. Dozens have died because of me, because I put trying to save the lives of the fish (from the heron) above their lives.

The Quite One little pump in the 50 gallon tub pond was not working. I took it inside, and it started working (don't ask me how) so I had to put it back outside. I wanted to change the barley pad in the 153 gallon pond but I couldn't find it. I waved my arms all around in there. That pond is covered with duckweed and terrestrial mint growing in the water so the water is crystal clear and the barley not needed anyway.

I did a 100% water change and cleaning on the 20 gallon mosaic pond on the front porch. The raccoons use it for bathing so it was getting too dirty.

7. It's photo time!

These photos were taken on 7/2/10.
Big pond area garden - facing southwest. Yep, there is a pond down there but you cannot see it! Lemon balm in the foreground obscures most of the scene. The tall plant at the top is milkweed. The common cattails in the pond are visible, and that is about it.
Big pond as seen from the top of the waterfall, facing soutwest. It is lush with plants.
Purple pickerel rush in flower. The "white rush" I ordered came with a label of "white pickerel rush" but I got neither!
Water plantain in flower
Big pond facing north through the marginals.

These photos were taken on 7/3/10.
Chromatella yellow hardy waterlily flower. You can also see the dying water hyacinth on the right.
Purple pickerel rush in flower.

These photos were taken on 7/4/10.
Floating impatiens island - only one barely alive! You can also see some goldfish down there. What a difference a year makes! This is the same floating island on 7/12/10.
Hornwort - I took out a wad for a photo op on land (just for a second) since I have no good hornwort photos.
Chromatella yellow hardy waterlily flower close-up.
Fabiola pink hardy waterlily flower

8. I woke up at 4:50 am on 7/16/10 and couldn't go back to sleep. Something felt wrong. At about 5:05 am, a roaring rumble came up through the ground, my bed began to shake, and then all the knick knacks on my shelf rattled. It was an earthquake of magnitude 3.6 on the Richter Scale, about 10 miles from us. It may be small to those in earthquake zones but it was the largest one in our state since they started keeping records 36 years ago. I felt like I was expecting it.

9. On 7/18/10, I squirted off the flosses. The 1800 gallon was at 77 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 80 degrees F. This time, I did find a large dead dragonfly, not a blue dasher. I changed the PondMaster filters and didn't see tadpoles in there this week. I removed the floating plant protector because the raccoon I think had already removed most of the plants. The water hyacinth are mush. The water lettuce are just starting to show growth. I think they had to wait for the water celery and watercress to die back after flowering (and also be consumed by the deer).

10. The sweet potato vine that I had put in the mini pool half way down my waterfall was thriving. It was large and lush the last I saw it on 7/18/10 because the next morning, all that the deer had left was one leaf of about 20. Sigh.

11. On 7/21/10, I removed a 13.5" dead female comet from my 1800 gallon pond. She was orange with white fins. Her abdomen was distended, and she seemed full of eggs. I am not sure if she died from spawning or egg problems or had a fast onset internal bacterial infection. She was in distress the day before but fine the day before that as far as I knew.

12. On 7/24/10, the air temperature went up to 98 degrees F at our house in the shade. It was over 100 in the city. I found the pond that morning with the main pump spouting up instead of down the waterfall. It came off the old, dry rotted "flexible" hose. The fish were spawning in there, and it doesn't take much to detach. I had to put on hip waders and get in to re-tighten the hose clamp on it. I wish bad things to the men who made my pond so this happened. There's no way to fix it without hiring some stranger to rip out the entire hill (they buried all the lines) and kill the plants there. If it recurs, I will have to think of something.

13. On 7/25/10, I squirted off all the flosses and the Cyprio biothings in the kiddie pool. The 1800 gallon was at 84 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 81 degrees F. The air temperature at 12:30 am was 94 degrees F. When I went to pull up the filter basket around the main pump, my oldest, 13-year-old orfe was jammed between it and the wall. I thought he was dead but when I got in and moved him, he swam off crooked and bent and spazy. He ended up in the shallows to rest. I wish I knew why my orfe have to die such horrible deaths. I'm sure the heat didn't help. Even after cleaning the filter materials and pump intake, the waterfall is just a drizzle. I am hoping it's just that a lot of the water is flowing behind the rocks due to all the plants (it's fully lined so it ends up in the pond). The last impatiens in the floating island have died from the heat. I will remove it next week. This is the first time in a decade that the floating island has been a 100% failure. The water hyacinth are 90% dead. The water lettuce are alive but not reproducing. Normally, this time of the year, the deep end is half covered but it's still all open. The lilies including the tropical one have very few leaves and aren't spreading either. Now, the pond is getting clumps of green algae on the liner which it has never really had. Perhaps my pond is reaching the end of its life.

14. I linked in some more photos.

Some plants in the pond on 7/11/10.
Bluebell flower
Hardy canna flowers already going to seed; bumblebee on them.

Dead goldfish - 13.5" female comet with distended abdomen next to ruler; the black stuff is just dirt, 7/21/10.
Dead goldfish - another view, 7/21/10.

On 6/19/08, Chance sent this photo of his pond. Note the exposed liner that could have been hidden if a shelf had been built in to the pond.
Chance's pond

15. On 7/28/10, when I got home, I found a shed snake skin in the overflow of the pond. I took it out and measured it at 29". That's a bit too big for a garter snake so I'm guessing it's a black rat snake. I hope it's not a water snake, or the fish will not be happy. The dying orfe was under the falls of the Cyprio filter. I didn't see him the next morning and wonder if the raccoon took him out. He would be easy pickings there. If he's gone, then I won't have an official measurement on him but he's about 16 to 19 inches long. I also found another caterpillar on my lotus and tore the leaf to move him away from there. The caterpillar was large with black spines, perhaps some species of buckmoth. The waterfall didn't sound quite right so I moved some rocks and found wads of roots where the water drops out of the filter. I yanked them out, and it sounds like it should now.

16. I still haven't seen the orfe so I am assuming he was eaten the night of 7/28/10. He was my last old orfe. I only have two orfe left who are just three years old. I'm not sure if I should get more.

Continue to the August 2010 pond blog.

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