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Robyn's Pond Blog for December 2010

Last Updated: 1/3/11

1. On 12/1/10 at night, I put two de-icers in the freezer for a few hours and then plugged them in. They both worked so I put them in the 1800 and 153 gallon the next morning. That night, I put the green storage tub lid over the de-icer which floats in the 1800 gallon biofilter. It is held down with two five pound lead diving weights. I wanted to plug it the lighted penguin but its legs were broken off. I bought a lighted snowman on 12/3/10 on the way home and put it out by the pond on 12/4/10. There were two problems. First, the cord is all of a foot long so I decided to chance an extension cord because, when I had the deer and penguin in the past, they would just fall over on the cliff next to the outlet. The snowman is even bigger. I used a cord connector that is supposed to protect where the extension cord and snowman plug in together. The other problem is that with the three cords coming out of the electrical box, the door won't even get close to shutting. So, I put a hole in a plastic grocery bag, threaded the three cords through it, and then plugged them in, pulling up the bag around the outlet like a diaper. I secured it with a rubber band. I sure hope it doesn't short out in the rain or snow. They don't make the outlet boxes large enough to deal with thick cords. At least one outlet goes off and on as the ants stuffed dirt in it. I need a new outlet but my elderly father can't/won't replace it since I told him a year ago and refuses to allow me to hire an electrician because he "CAN DO IT."

2. Winter has arrived! I tried to do pond maintenance the morning of 12/5/10. The 1800 gallon's water was at 39 degrees F, and the 153 gallon pond's water was at 49 degrees F. The air was 34 degrees F but the winds with gusts around 30 mph made it horrific to be outside. I wear long johns and no coat but do wear a hat. I can't wear a coat, or it will need washing. I can't wear gloves, or I can't feel what I'm doing. I do wear aquatic gloves in the water. I managed to change the filter material around the pump. The darn tube popped off the pump yet again. It is so hard to get on wearing aquatic gloves and using a screw driver and the "flexible hose" has zero flexibility to it after 13.5 years. Once again, I lamented the poor construction and design of my pond and filtration system because the builders did it their way. The pond is falling apart but I don't have the money or trust to hire strangers to tear it apart. It would have to be destroyed to be rebuilt. I just can't watch the hundreds of animals and plants suffer and potentially die (because they'd have to all come out of the pond) in order to save the entire pond. Does that make any sense?

3. We got our first snow, just a dusting during the day on 12/10/10. There was nothing at work but some at home.

4. Since it was supposed to rain/sleet/freezing rain all day Sunday, and we had to go out during the time I normally work on the pond, I decided to try to do some pond stuff on Saturday,12/11/10, instead. In the morning, with snow still on it, I pulled the net off the 153 gallon pond which I later bagged up. At 3:36 PM, I went outside even though I didn't have the time (too busy doing aquariums and other Saturday stuff). The air temperature was 40 degrees F. The 1800 gallon was at 39 degrees F and the 153 gallon at a toasty 48 degrees F. I could now actually see the pond with the net gone on the 153 gallon pond. The rosy red minnows were all over and very active. I tried to get some leaves up from around the 1800 gallon pond but there are tons. I wanted to pull the net back of the waterfall area which is necessary once there is snow and ice with which to deal. I pulled the net back despite never having collected the tons of leaves in and around the pond. Oh, well, it is a natural pond after all. There was a dead junco (snow bird) stuff in the net near the biofilter (top of the waterfall). He died because I put the net there. At least now the animals can drink from the 153 gallon and the big pond's waterfall without impediment. The deer stepped on the net every day in the small pond and ripped so many holes in it that it is useless for future use. They just wanted to drink water. The tub ponds were frozen. I hate that I have to leave the net on the big pond but, I've learned from the past, the heron will and does show up in the winter even with snow and ice.

5. I put some water in to the 1800 gallon pond on 12/12/10. It rained all day off and on.

6. The winds blew strong from the moment I took the nets off through the entire week. The 153 gallon pond got a few dozen leaves, and many of those I could remove. The 1800 gallon pond's waterfall area at the bottom was coated in hundreds of leaves and many went in the main pond as well as the surface froze mostly over by the end of the week with temperatures in the 20's degrees F. In the morning, I have to rush to work. When I get home from work, it's already dark, and the winds strip all the heat off of you and make any leaves that are removed blow right back in. So, I let the leaves rot and freeze in. I'm a bad pond mother.

7. It took me 70 minutes to get home from work (19 miles) on 12/16/10. We got 1.5" of snow.

8. The next morning, 12/17/10, there were no air bubbles coming out of the air stone in the 153 gallon pond. I pulled the line. There was air coming out of the pump so the line had frozen. I cut a new piece of airline tubing which worked fine. I couldn't blow through the old line so somehow maybe some water from the air froze up and clogged it.

9. On 12/19/10, I did some work around the pond but not very much because there was still ice and snow. The 1800 gallon thermometer was frozen in, and the 153 gallon one read 43 degrees F. The air temperature was about 30 degrees F at 11 am when I went out. There was still snow on the net edges so I couldn't pull it up to get in without ripping it. I could have gotten in from the waterfall if I had to but the filter floss didn't look dirty, just had some leaves around in, some of which I got with the grabbers. I could have done the bioballs in the snow (less than an inch left) but I was afraid the pump line would come off, and I would end up absolutely having to get in the water. So, I will wait until things thaw to do the maintenance.

I taped the fake heron's head back on as it had fallen off again. I guess I'll get a new one soon. I used my water gloves, buckets, grabbers, and dip net to get some leaves from the waterfall, waterfall overflow area, and the deep end. The rest of the big pond is netted. I cut down the seed heads off the cat mint by the pond which makes it easier to work around the pond. I pulled out and/or cut some of the cat mint, watercress, water celery, weeds, etc. in the waterfall and waterfall overflow areas. I cleared a path for water to flow down the mini stream and falls which resulted in removing more moss than I would like. It is important to have an open path before the bitter cold comes. The falls seemed a bit slow but, after I cleared some vegetation, they aren't that bad. There is a lot of now frost bit watercress that should die but doesn't yet easily pull off the waterfall area.

10. I linked in a few of the thousands of photos sent to me that are waiting. I should do the old ones first but always seem to put in some of the newer ones instead.

Angie sent this photo on 5/25/10 of a female bullfrog with interesting jet black eyes.
Bullfrog with black eyes

Kevin sent this photo of apple snail eggs at a pond on 6/7/10:
Apple snail eggs

Geneva sent this photo to me on 7/2/10. She wanted to know what the red thing hanging out of the green frog is. I did not think it was a cyst (what I thought before seeing the photo). I thought it might potentially be a rectal prolapse. What do you think?
Green frog with a problem

Cheryle from Alberta, Canada sent this photo for identification on 10/6/10. It is a giant water bug.:
Giant water bug

Scott in Alabama sent this photo of an "egg" in a jar to be identified on 10/25/10. It is a bryozoan.

Randy sent a photo of his pond on 11/29/10:
Randy's pond

11. On 12/26/10, it was horrible outside. While there were flurries that day and the day before, there was no accumulation. What we did get was winds 30 to 40 mph and temperatures in the mid-20's (degrees F). Leaves were flying all over. It was almost fruitless to try to remove the hundreds from the ponds as they kept blowing right back in (those leaves and ones that weren't yet in there). My ponds are magnets for leaves. The 1800 gallon was at 36 degrees F and the 153 gallon at 43 degrees F at 12:30 PM. If not for the wind, I might have tried to clean the filter but the wind made just being outside unbearable. It was all I could do to get out as many leaves from the water as I could and top off the ponds.

Continue to the January 2011 pond blog.

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