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Water Gardens: Spring cleaning of my pond

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melsalz
Mooresville, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 18, 2011
7:53 AM

Post #8434211

This is my first full year of having my pond. I was the poster of the "Green Water" topic last year. So yesterday I decided it was time to clean out. Ugh I found 3! THREE dead toads. Actually one might have been a tree frog. It had decomposed so much, well... I won't go any further with that. Is this what I get to look forward to every spring? Dead toads and tons of leaves. Not my idea of a fun hobby.
Thanks, Melanie
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 18, 2011
8:22 AM

Post #8434283

Melanie

How big is your pond? Do you have a skimmer?

If you net your pond, you won't end up with as many leaves. Typically this is done in the fall before the leaves fall from the trees.

From time to time, you may end up finding a dead frog or the like in your pond when you clean up. We have found dead voles some years, but other than that - nothing. My biggest fear is to have found that some poor unfortunate squirrel or cat has fallen through the ice and in 11 years of ponding, this has not happened.

We vacuum our pond every fall before putting the pond to bed for the winter and also in the spring when the pond is starting up. Our line of thinking is we don't want our fish to spend the winter in a lot of crud and also in the spring, we need to take care of whatever crud has occurred during the winter.

Cleaning the pond is not always a pleasant job, but in my eyes, it marks the passage from Winter into Spring and the ponding season, therefore it is an exciting time.

pondlove
Lewes, DE

March 18, 2011
9:24 AM

Post #8434366

Major spring cleaning starts this weekend in my pond. I'll be trying out my new Oase Pondovac 4. I'll let you know how it works.
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 18, 2011
10:19 AM

Post #8434435

We started up one pump yesterday. The rest will be started up this weekend. I know DH wants to get the vacuuming done, but I don't know that the pond will be clear enough of the murk in the water to lift the lily pots... time will tell.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 18, 2011
3:47 PM

Post #8434985

Carolyn, remind me what the size of your pond is? Rubberliner? Gravel bottom? I just checked mine. Had to remove a conked out deicer and replace it. Pond water is rising so ice must be melting. YEA!!! No walking on the pond this spring -- scared me enough when I fell in last spring. Not funny when covered with ice. Still a lot of snow on top, maybe 1'. But two holes well open in the ice and I started up the aerator again. It had frozen up on me earlier this year (Feb). I would love to start a pump going but it would just freeze up over night. Besides the lines that the water would feed into from the submersible pumps are probably frozen. Although D put a heat trace up the one to the biofalls so maybe... well, at least it will bet started up sooner than last year. Have to talk about that tonight. I am assuming you have no ice on your pond. And you have lily pots down there in the bottom.
melsalz
Mooresville, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 18, 2011
5:06 PM

Post #8435159

Thanks Carolyn for your advice. I used my pump to remove as much water as it could. I then took my Shop-vac and vacuumed up the mud that had collected at the bottom. I like your advice about using a net come next fall. I will definitely be looking into purchasing one. The only problem I see with that, is my dogs like to drink out of the pond. Even when frozen, one of my dogs will chew a hole through the ice. I suppose I would only need the net when the leaves are falling.
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 18, 2011
7:42 PM

Post #8435535

mstella

My pond is just under 5000 gallons. I don't have gravel at the bottom of my pond, but my lily pots sit on the bottom of my pond and the liner is the 45ml epdm. We had problems with one of our deicers about a month ago, but it really didn't owe us anything because it was at least 3 years old if not older.

melsalz - I would definitely get a net. I found mine on ebay and didn't pay very much for it - the woman was trying to unload the nets that had come in because all the labels and wording on the packaging was in German. Kind of made me laugh!

Thumbnail by Carolyn22
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Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 18, 2011
7:47 PM

Post #8435546

I got some stuff from Lowe's - it is to keep birds and such out of a garden. Then I cut it in lengths and rough stitched it by hand together. Three lengths for my 14x19 pond. worked quite well, but not sure it was worth the effort. I just didn't know where to get (other than online) a net.
pondlove
Lewes, DE

March 19, 2011
2:39 PM

Post #8436720

After spending 1 1/2 hours in yoga class this morning and the entire afternoon mucking out the pond, I'm one tired lady. I scooped a lot of leaves out of the pond and tried my new pond vac. So far, so good, but the water is so murky that it will take a few days to get to "clean".

I also did a partial water change, tossed in some pond salt and beneficial bacteria. The fish are so happy, they are chasing each other around as if they are spawning.

I spotted six bullfrogs and sucked up 4 snails. I don't know if the snails are alive, but I tossed them back in just in case. They are trap door snails.

I'll be back at it tomorrow.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 19, 2011
3:03 PM

Post #8436759

Boy, shades of things to come, minus the frogs and snails. lol. I will be happy just to see live fish. I have the PondVac 3 and it does a great job, but still exhausting hauling around that hose full of water.
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 19, 2011
8:39 PM

Post #8437463

Pondlove -

Odds are the snails are alive. I would have tossed them back in too. I have not seen any frogs or snails yet.

Our water is clearing day by day. When the water has cleared enough we will lift the waterlilies, fertilize them and vacuum the pond. We will have to do some partial water changes at some point.

What I love, is each year when we start up, the fish start up where they left off and swim over to see me when I stand by the edge of the pond...

Thumbnail by Carolyn22
Click the image for an enlarged view.

pondlove
Lewes, DE

March 20, 2011
5:26 AM

Post #8437797

My fish follow me around the pond, too. They also come when called:
"Fishies, fishies, fishies"! They know it's feeding time. They really crack me up.
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 20, 2011
9:28 AM

Post #8438249

Mine do that during the ponding season as well. I am just surprised when we start up, that they pick up where they left off. :-)
melsalz
Mooresville, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 20, 2011
7:12 PM

Post #8439469

I don't have any fish, however I have loads of toads. As soon as I cleaned the water I counted 6, 4 males and 2 females. Then the next day, mounds of eggs. I will have tadpoles soon.
sylvi74
East Bethel, MN
(Zone 4a)

March 22, 2011
5:54 PM

Post #8443822

Carolyn - do your fish stay outside all winter?
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 22, 2011
6:06 PM

Post #8443838

Sylvi

Yes, my fish do stay out all winter. In the last week or so they have been waking up and swimming over to the side of the pond to see me, but now we are supposed to get 10" of snow...

Thumbnail by Carolyn22
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 22, 2011
6:10 PM

Post #8443848

Sylvi

Yes, my fish do stay outside in the pond all winter. In the last week or so they have been waking up and swimming over to the side of the pond to see me, but now we are supposed to get 10" of snow...

Thumbnail by Carolyn22
Click the image for an enlarged view.

sylvi74
East Bethel, MN
(Zone 4a)

March 22, 2011
6:13 PM

Post #8443853

They are beautiful! I had a little pond in MI and brought the fish inside every winter. Now we are building a bigger one here in MN (about 6000 gallons we think) and realize that we haven't planned for winters yet. We're about 4 - 5 feet deep in the center. What do you do to make sure the fish survive? It gets really cold here!

My biggest fear is dead fish in the spring. I think deicers might break the bank. Circulating the water should keep it liquid, but isn't too much movement bad for hibernating fish? Breaks up the natural stratification in temperature?

We don't have any fish yet, by the way!
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 22, 2011
6:23 PM

Post #8443875

Sylvi

Thank you. I took that picture last week.

Our pond is just shy of 5000 gallons. The deepest part of the pond is 4 ft and the shallower end is 3 1/2 feet. We don't run the pumps in the winter - as you said, there is a stratification in the layers of water with the bottom layer running about 34*F. We do have 2 deicers we put into the pond for the winter.

My first winter, I was very anxious about the fish. I still think about the fish during the winter, but I am not quite so anxious in the winters anymore. One thing I am anxious about though is the health of the fish come spring... We have had some pretty sick fish in the early spring. Last Spring into the Summer was seamless. I am hoping this year is the same...

I do know that your temps are colder than ours, however there are a number of people in MN that have ponds. You may want to see if there is a local ponding club in your area and see what they all do.

Carolyn

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sylvi74
East Bethel, MN
(Zone 4a)

March 22, 2011
6:26 PM

Post #8443884

Thanks Carolyn, I'll see what I can find.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 22, 2011
6:35 PM

Post #8443910

Carolyn, sorry if I asked this before, but how long are you fish under ice? I ask because oxygen is my major problem. The water nitrate, nitrite, ammonia levels are fine pretty much all winter, but I don't seem to get enough oxygen down there. Your pond is a a couple of thousand gallons bigger and I only have a 10x7 are that is 4' deep in summer but shrinks to around a max of 3' in winter. It just slowly starts turning to ice. This year I figure the cap must have gotten to at least 1.5' thick, if not 2'. In the shallow which is about 24-30" deep, I only had about 2" of water under the ice.
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 23, 2011
8:38 AM

Post #8444922

MS -

I have 4 ft of depth on one end and the other end is 3 1/2 ft. We generally shut things down between Thanksgiving and the first week in December. There are times where it is cold enough in December to have a thin coating of ice, however, more often than not, we don't really get cold enough for ice to form over the entire surface of the pond until January. We may only get a couple inches thickness of ice - no more than 4" at the most.

Right now, my pond is ice free and has been for probably 2 weeks or so. This year, start up was late. Actually, we still dont' have all the pumps going nor are the uv lights in place yet, but looking at my blog -the previous two years our start up has been March 5th-6th.

I am thinking, providing you want to pay the elevated electric bills, you may want to look at the pondwarmers like Agedgardener has. I may be wrong, but my understanding of the pondwarmers is that they keep the water warm enough for the fish to be active and not in a state of semi dormancy.

Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 23, 2011
9:15 AM

Post #8444996

You're right. I would have to go back to work just to pay for that. In fact, I printed off the schematic of one and my husband looked at it and said that with our wiring set up, that is all that could be in the pond. No deicers, and I do not believe it would keep it ice free which is a must for the release of gases that would kill the fish. I have a 250W deicer in there now along with two 100W deicers just to keep some ice free holes open. The one can be sunk to the bottom and would warm the water a little. Even if I could keep the bottom strata to 35F that would make a big difference to the fish, while allowing them to stay dormant. with an aerator to increase oxygen circulation it might get them through. Have investigated a tank in the garage to just get them out of the pond but it is not feasible. I would have to move my car outside all winter and I am not prepared to do that. Almost 60 years in Alaska, I don't want to face the ice, snow, and misery of starting a frozen car each day. Your pond is beautiful with all the greenery around it. so natural. I am still introducing different things to soften the hard rock around mine.
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 23, 2011
10:35 AM

Post #8445207

MS

do you have a cellar you take your fish into for the winter?
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

March 23, 2011
10:49 AM

Post #8445230

Uh, no. they stay in the pond, hence the problems. Or perhaps you meant ' you COULD take you fish into for the winter'. Still, no. I just have a crawl space with a little 3x3' entry down a short ladder. Makes a great wine cellar and storage for bulbs though. :)
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

March 23, 2011
3:22 PM

Post #8445756

Yes, I meant COULD you take them into your cellar...
agedgardener
Fredericton N B
Canada
(Zone 4a)

April 6, 2011
1:12 PM

Post #8476313

Mstella Please don't tell my son that the pond de icers use a lot of power.He hasn"t complained so I have'nt asked!!LOL
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

April 6, 2011
1:50 PM

Post #8476378

Joy - I like the way you think...
FrillyLily
springfield area, MO
(Zone 5b)

April 8, 2011
6:09 PM

Post #8481542

I had to make a toad 'ramp' for my pond, as the sides are steep and nothing for them to grip and the toads jump in, and drown. Lots of them. Once I made the ramp, no more dead toads!
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

April 8, 2011
6:37 PM

Post #8481601

that cracks me up, Frilly. I can just see this parade of toads leaping into your pond and then tromping up the ramp. lol
MerryMary
Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL
(Zone 9b)

April 8, 2011
7:18 PM

Post #8481694

I love listening to everyone's discussions about frozen ponds...very rarely do I find people discussing overly hot water, which is what I suffer from. Today was 91, and the next 2 days are supposed to be low to mid 90's as well. And it's only April...yipes...
Carolyn22
Athens, PA
(Zone 5b)

April 9, 2011
1:45 AM

Post #8482068

Mary

What do you do to cool or oxygenate your ponds when the water temps are high? I know over a certain temperature, that the koi are not supposed to be fed. We have a bubbler system that we run when the water temps are over 90 degrees to add that extra oxygen during the real hot part of the Summer.

Another thing that is nice about the bubbler system is we can turn off our main pumps and run just the bubbler system and some of the smaller pumps if we are going out of town for any length of time. Our fear is that something would happen to drain the pond, kill the fish and burn out the pumps.

MerryMary
Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL
(Zone 9b)

April 9, 2011
5:36 AM

Post #8482240

I run 2 pumps with filters and 2 bubblers in each pond all year long. Because they are not natural ponds, they have a rubber liner, I don't turn the filters off. With this much heat, it would be green muck if the UV lights weren't running. Last year I bought one of those off angle patio umbrellas, and twirl it over one edge of the pond when the sun goes insane. It gives them a little extra shade, and my plants certainly aren't lacking from sun, so can handle being in the shade for a few days when the temps are crazy high. The fish hang out toward the bottom during the hot part of the day, and as evening arrives, they come back up to the surface.
melsalz
Mooresville, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 10, 2011
9:03 AM

Post #8484960

Frilly I have had to do the same thing. Apparently it didn't work completely because I still found the dead toads, ugh it was nasty. So far this year this is what I"m looking at. Do any of you think I'm going to have more toads/frogs than I need?

Thumbnail by melsalz
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Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

April 10, 2011
10:03 AM

Post #8485059

omg... I would love to have a jar of those tadpoles. Just to try. Doubt you could even fedex them to Alaska. lol
FrillyLily
springfield area, MO
(Zone 5b)

April 10, 2011
10:21 AM

Post #8485077

I always have thousands of tad poles, but I rarely get any frogs out of them. I suppose some just die, some are drown later on, some are eaten by birds ect, maybe the fish eat some, ect, It is a wonder any mature at all.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

April 10, 2011
11:13 AM

Post #8485147

Free protein for the fish! And I wouldn't be surprised if the toads don't eat some. Lots of species eat their young. I think this summer I can talk Damien into getting an electrician in to add a circuit. We have too much on the pond circuit, including a freezer full of salmon. When it blows, which is does several times a winter, the ice forms fast. Since I check it frequently, the salmon aren't at risk to thaw. Silly sounding. Trying to keep one kind of fish frozen and the other warm. lol. If I had a dedicated circuit I would dump a pond deicer that sinks and runs about 750W. I would still run the deicers to assure the ice is open at one end, and then run a pump sucking from the deep end (can't trust the shallow to maintain enough water not to have the pump suck dry) to a elevated pipe dropping from about 2' into the deep end to try to promote oxygen. Carolyn at MicrobeLift said that my pond was too shallow to worry about stratification. I have a thermometer in my deep end and it runs generally about 32F. Just above freezing. Not good for the koi. If I could just keep it at about 34F it would be better. Hence the 750W heater that sits at the bottom. A 1000W would be nice, but I suspect I would be breaking the bank with just the set up listed above. I still have a large ice cube, well, ice island floating in the middle of the pond. Just below the surface so the water is circulating with the water I am pumping from the shallow end and spurting just above the surface. Again, trying to build the oxygen back up.
FrillyLily
springfield area, MO
(Zone 5b)

April 10, 2011
11:25 AM

Post #8485173

It is my understanding that fish will eat frog tadpoles, but will not eat toad ones. I have no idea if that is true, or how to tell the difference in the tadpoles. All mine have ever been are toads near as I can tell.
I assume the fish eat some, but then again I have never seen them eat them, and when I feed the fish they seem eager to eat.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

April 10, 2011
2:11 PM

Post #8485460

We finally fired up the pressure filter and put a pump in the skimmer with the basket and pad. Still have a large ice cube in the middle of the pond submerged. If the weather holds as it is 41F with full sun, it should be gone in a day or so. Especially with the water movement. No sign of fish.

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