My Pond-a place to relax and reflect.

My Pond-a place to relax and reflect.
Fall is here! Already......

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tis the Season!

Its the end of November already and the weather has been pretty awesome so far. In fact, Thanksgiving day they are calling for lower 60's. Water temps in the outside ponds have been in the mid 40s in the lower pond and staying close to a steady 50 in the covered new pond. I did wake up a couple mornings to find ice on the quiet stream area. But, no measurable snow, which is just fine with me. Fish in the basement seem to be doing fine so far. I know I'm way overstocked down there, but the drip through water seems to be helping so far. Its been over a month now since we brought them inside. This is the mark where I start getting a little nervous about them breaking out with something. I'm feeding them some mandafu soaked in a vitamin water concoction I mix up. They seem to enjoy it, so am hopeful it will help boost their immune systems while being so crowded. The fish in the open lower pond, seem OK so far, too. They are doing their normal fall/winter behavior. Harry has the stream blocked off already so they can't go up into the shallow/colder water. We'll probably put in the heater and after Thanksgiving shut down the water falls and pull the pumps down there, also. We'll turn down the air to just a trickle and pray for the best as winter will surely come with full force shortly. The new above ground pond is totally experimental. I'm hoping that it will not freeze and that I won't have to use a heater in it at all. That's my hopes for the winter covering. We'll see, I'll give updated reports as to how its behaving. Just don't want the pipes to freeze. I feel like I have fish just everywhere! 3 ponds and 1 aquarium, seems like a hand full. Hate the thought of winter coming. I have something going on every weekend till after xmas already! Tis the season.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting ready for winter.

I finally have a cover!! This past weekend my ever so talented husband constructed a cover over the new pond. It's made of 2x6 lumber and covered with a large clear tarp. We placed 4" sheets of insulation around the pond and then even piled bales of hay around the parameter. Using hay as an insulation is an old trick the old timers used to do to keep uninsulated homes warmer in the winter. Harry made me a little door so I can get into the pond area, but I can also see in there through the window in the garage. Since it is a new pond and this is the first winter, we still brought in most of my favorite fish into the basement pond. Its totally packed down there and we may even have to bring some back out. I just want to see how the pond does in 20 below weather. Will the pipes freeze cause they are out of the ground? I don't know. We'll drain all that we can, but it will be interesting to see if the filter, which is above ground will freeze, or if the cover will protect and prevent that. I have about 5 fish out there as my ginny pigs. Meanwhile inside there are 19 fish in less than 1000 gallons of water, which I know is WAY too many. I'm doing a constant drip through of water and testing daily. The ammonia levels are still there, so thus I may have to put some back outside regardless if I want to or not. Even my drip through is not keeping up. Last weekend we completely drained the larger lower pond and removed the 8-10 large Black koi. I gave away 3 at the pond meeting last night. I do not need 10 black koi in my ponds and really wanted them out before winter. They were just taking up space, eating my expensive food, and adding to the water quality waste. So out they came. They were my 2010 leftover baby fish. Not sure what will happen with the rest, but am thinking I'll be putting them to sleep and they'll be fertilizer in my garden. I'll see maybe I can get rid of a couple more at the next pond meeting. I'm not keeping them through the winter, that's for sure. It's cold this am. Temps in the 40's. Suppose to get a killing frost tonight. I haven't seen ice on the pond yet, but know its just around the corner. Boo hoo...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beautiful Koi with big problems

Went out last night on a fish call. I've been out to see this fish before. The local vet was present also as we were going to give the koi an injection of antibiotics. We visited this koi several months ago regarding a open spot between its pec fins. At that time, we felt it appeared to have a thin layer of skin growing over it, so we were optimistic that it would heal itself. The koi's owner has some of the best water quality around, which has helped this koi immensely. It has been in a qt tank all summer. Just recently it has developed some sores along its back and tail and just seemed to be stressed in general. The smaller koi in its tank were continually picking at its sores which made the mater worse. The owner has since separated the koi from the pickers and they now share a split tank. Last night we again pulled the koi, put her to sleep to examined the sores, gave it an injection of antibiotics and cleaned and dressed the ulcers. About what we did months ago. Hopefully with the help of the antibiotic, she will return to her beautiful self. The pond owner has done an excellent job of keeping this koi healthy so my hopes are high that she will be just fine by spring again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I"m sooo depressed.

It's mid September and I'm so depressed. Worked in the garden a bit last night, cutting out spent flowers and weeds. It was absolutely beautiful out. I ended the rounds through the gardens by netting out fallen leaves from the pond. It was so nice I didn't want to go inside. I wanted to savor every fleeting minute of Summer. Since Harry was wanting dinner, I relented and went inside to do the normal evening duties, cooking, cleaning up, and a little TV before bed. At 10:00 I got up to head to bed but again was drawn outside. It was still warm out and there was a reflection of a full moon dancing off the pond surface. The string lights on the new pond give off a mesmerizing blue light that reflects across the surface of the moving water. I couldn't resist and grabbed my camera to see if I could capture the beauty of it all. I walked about the gardens in the dead of night and found myself sitting in a chair in the dark all alone. The town was quiet. No traffic, no kids yelling; only the sound of crickets chirping in the background and the waterfalls singing it's calming songs. The moon was full above me and it by itself was beautiful. I see the upstairs bedroom light go on, so I know Harry has gone to bed. The light goes out again and is replaced by the soft glow of the small TV in the room. Funny, he must realize I'm not there, but didn't even come to find out where I've gone to. I can smell the tuberosa flowers. Tiny 1" white flowers that are the most fragrant flowers I have ever known. Their Jasmin like smell drifts on the night breeze and I can smell them from clear across the garden. Summer is gone, I'm thinking. The weather man is saying it will 20 degrees cooler by midweek and possibly even a light frost. The elephant ears are in their prime and now I have to be thinking about cutting their 2 and 3 foot leaves off. The whole Fall thing makes me sad. Harry said just tonight that we need to get out the leaf netting as the walnut tree is already dropping leaves into the ponds. I hate Winter. Oh there are a few nice Fall days when the leaves turn all beautiful and the season has a few high points. But, not enough to justify my preference to it over Summer. So, I sit alone in the dark and it only makes me more sad. I finally give up and make my way to bed. Harry has a fan going in the window and again as I lay there in the dark, I swear I can smell the tuberosa flowers. A last smell of Summer. A couple times a year one has a few times when something strikes them as somber or too beautiful for words. For me, last night was one of those times... I'm sad....Fall is coming...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer's End

August, and signs of Fall are already upon us. The walnut trees are beginning to drop both nuts and leaves. An even bigger sign of Fall in our household is the guys all begin to talk about hunting again. We're headed to southern Iowa over the Labor Day Weekend to "hang stands". For the next 4 months all conversations with the boys and Harry will be centered around the hunting seasons. Everyone is working frantically to clean up their "honey do" list so that they can be free to go hunting. In the gardens, the Summer flowers are starting to give way to the Fall bloomers and the pumpkin patch. Tomatoes are beginning to come on strong now as are the cucumbers.
Discussion on how we are going to cover the new raised pond this winter have begun. We've discussed everything from portable buildings to using roof trusses. Nothing seems to be the perfect solution. The water has finally turned perfect as far as clarity. You can see the fish well and the bottom of the pond too. Regardless of it's clarity, I am still getting ammonia and nitrite readings!!! While the pond itself has grown a nice little patina on it, the filter area remains super clean. Nothing growing on the liner or filter mats??? The pond water cleared as soon as I put some clay in it. I then added two floating bags of additional bio balls in an attempt to add more surface area. Still I get readings. I changed the fish food to less protein and more of a fall mix as well as limit the amount of feedings. I feel like I'm starving them at a time when I should be pouring on the food. Plus with all the water changes to help maintain water quality it is keeping the water cooler than normal. I'm adding microlift pl and am now going to change to Microlift nite-out. I've also added a small amount of salt to help with the nitrite uptake. Am doing everything I can think of. Also, am thinking I need to shut off the UV. I figure I have another month perhaps to get it to cycle or I'll have to consider bringing all the fish inside for the winter and not worry about keeping them in there all winter at all. If it's not cycling, I don't see how I can leave them out. I'm already spending a small fortune on Cloramx.
The lower pond is preforming great! Maybe its best year ever. No string algae this year, since we discovered Pond Balance. Water is crystal clear and parameters are all good despite the fish overload and feeding 5-6 times a day. Really happy there. It's the new pond causing me grief.
I've gotten a few fish calls this month. One today even. Pond owner said he had lost several small koi. Water parameters were not so bad as to be loosing fish. Suggested massive water changes as he had not done any all season and a little salt. If they don't' improve, I'll go out and do a scrape and scope on them. Call I got a month ago, described fish as lethargic, clamped fins, dieing fish, and some acting really wild. A scrape on these fish, found a massive fluke breakout. Prazi was suggested to get rid of the flukes and told them to pray they don't break out with ulcers. A third caller told of dieing fish. Pictures looked like the fish were dying from spawning trama. Those male fish can be so hard on the ladies.
Tomorrow is the first day of Sept. and the temps are suppose to be the hottest of the Summer. Nearly 100 degrees! Good thing it's only going to last one day. Fall is coming, which isn't so bad, but man we just got done with Winter, so am not looking forward to that at all.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lumps on my Fish.

My fish have lumps. That's the recent phone call I received. A friend of mine was calling to say several of her really large goldfish had these huge lumps on them. What do I do? she asked. She was already buying Melifix to put in the pond and thinking about big parasite treatments. She emailed me these pictures of her dead fish and was worried that what ever they had would be catchy to the other fish in her pond. I asked her to quit throwing her money away on these sort of pond additives. While I couldn't say what caused the fish to die, the lumps were probably not the cause. Possibly a symptom of a poor immune system, but not the cause. I have seen cases like this before, usually always on goldfish. To the best of my research they are actually skin tumors. They are hard pimple like lumps that are often bumpy in texture also. Being tumors they are not life threatening and a fish may live a normal life so long as they don't get too large. Still do not know why they died. The pond owner had not a single water testing kit. (As normal) The rest of the fish in the pond seem to be doing fine. There were no other ulcers, but the fish looked grossly bloated in one picture. So the mystery of their death remains.
On another note, it will soon be August. July was brutally hot. I heard one pond club member's pond was 97 degrees! Surprised he didn't loose all his fish. At home we've been doing water changes to help keep the water cool. I brought the last of the baby fish out of the basement pond and put them outside. Basically, got tired of taking care of them. Put them in the bottom pond where they will find lots of natural algae on the pond walls to munch on. Surprisingly they have joined right in with the rest of the fish. Usually they stay alone and hide in the deep corners of the pond. The outside pond is actually warmer than the inside pond, so they have to be liking that. Bottom pond continues to do fine, actually looking a little crowded again with all the little fish bouncing around now. Upper pond still shows low signs of ammonia and nitrites. Still has a little green cast in the water. Its killing Harry to not be able to feed them several times a day, like he wants to and does the lower pond fish. Took the net off the upper pond for a recent pond meeting at our house and haven't put it back on. So far, so good. No jumpers. I'm loving the new pond and being so close to the fish. Easy to flush the filter, and well...I just like it all around.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hot, hot, hot...Got to Love July

July 1st, and the heat index is only 105 degrees out. Both ponds have been doing ok. Still trying to cycle the new pond to get the ammonia and nitrites out. I'm still getting low readings, but with these high temps and my high pH any ammonia is almost twice as toxic. Just because your test kits read say .25 ppm it really depends on water temp and pH. With water temps in the 70's-80's and a pH of 9 or more, I'm really looking at almost twice that reading which is very stressful if not lethal. So, I'm adding Amquil and now that I'm out of that will be adding the cheaper ClorAm-X. I've been adding Microlift PL and gel to try to get the bacteria going faster and even a little salt to help with the low nitrite reading I'm getting. I have nitrites in my well water, which doesn't help. So, its very important to get my bacteria going as soon as possible. It's been a full month now since I put the fish out there and while the levels have held pretty steady, they have not begun to go away. It's hard to get a brand new, never used filter material to start growing bacteria. I keep watching the liner for signs of a growing patina. The water is taking on a slight green tinge, which I don't like, but know it is probably good for the fish. And, while Harry wants to feed about 6 times a day, they get just a small amount once a day. Not good for growing. But a dead fish won't grow at all, so water quality comes first.
The old lower pond is doing great. Maybe our best year in a long time as far as string algae. I got to give "Pond Balance" all the credit. Using it has taken all the string algae out of our pond. Filters have been half as full and pumps are a lot easier to keep clean. I've had no problems with that pond this summer so far. Knock on wood!!! Usually when we leave for the 4th of July weekend, we come home to a creek and pond full of the stuff. Not this year. Yaaa whooo!
Getting ready for the 4-H fish club's debut at the Linn Co. Fair next week. Kind of excited and getting some good press, too. A lot of work. Thank goodness for the help of Carol and Dennis Sindelar and Greg Bickal. They're the best!!!!
Gardens are doing ok, tomatoes and peppers are slow to grow though. We'll be gone for the next 4 days, fishing in southern Iowa, so I suppose I'll come home to shriveled up plants with all this heat and no rain.
Both pond clubs will be holding their pond tours on the same day, July 10th. Unfortunately, I can only work at one, and that will be EIPS. It is also during fair week, so I'll be busy, busy.