Pond Questions.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

I see people mentioning Pond Vacs and beneficial bacteria. Could some one please explain how these are used.Am I missing something? JOY

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Oh my. Did you open a kettle of fish? lol. couldn't resist. For those of us who have our ponds virtually shut down for five months or so (at least), it is really necessary to do thorough cleaning in the fall, and spring in particular. Hence, the PondVac. The first one I bought was attached to my hose and was a total waste of money. Oh, I have gravel on the bottom of my pond and slabs of rock for the sides, very uneven. I bought the Pond Vac 3 two years ago and am pretty happy with that. if I had a liner bottom and walls it would be perfect, especially since I have no bottom drain. It does a good job of removing a lot of waste and 'stuff' from the bottom of the pond and cleaning up algae.

Bacteria: I use MicrobeLift PL in the summer, Fall/Winter in the fall, and Spring/Summer starting in about the first of April. Since my water is cold and bacteria really need at least 55F to live and thrive, I like the packets from MicrobLift as they are cold water tolerant, starting about 45F. They eat the bad stuff is about the best I can say. They assist in breaking down algae and waste so your skimmer and bio-filter do a better job of cleaning the water as it passes through. I also use a product called Sludge Away that breaks down the waste down in the rocks and 'clumps' it to make it easier to transport to the skimmer filters. All of these are bacteria that naturally occur in nature and are NOT chemicals. So they won't hurt my fish or plants. All of these helpful bacteria are killed in the winter cold so I have to 'recharge' each spring. I am no expert, but I have found that these things have greatly improved my pond clarity and health. It is about the best I can do with our short summers since it can take weeks to get the bacteria count back up where it needs to be in both pond and filters. I also have two UV lights to kill the floating algae to reduce the green color in my pond. It still has a green tint but that is natural as far as I am concerned.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

I don't have a biofilter or skimmer.I have a pump like you have shown in you recent pictures.I buy Barley pellets every year and that keeps the Algea under control .The water is tea colored. My helper bales the water out of the pond with a pail and puts it on my flower beds.He used to tale all the plants out and scrub the walls but last year I asked him to leave the WL in.They didn't boom.Now I have the Lotus in a bushel basket.I can't ask him to take that out....it's so heavy. Is the pond vac like a wet dry shopvac? I can't do anything about the pond myself.My balance is so bad I fell in a couple of years ago.I just leaned over to adjust the head on the fountain. What to do????JOY

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I know what you mean about balance. I have fallen in once due to balance and once due to stupidity. Walked on honeycombed ice. Went into the 4' end. Could have died of hypothermia but was able to climb out on the rock. I do not EVER walk on the ice again and am still afraid when I lean, even on my hands and knees, near the water.

So your water is just circulated throughout the pond? Okayyy. The barley is good. A friend of mine has a pond, and while he also has a skimmer and biofalls, he used the barley and says it works great. Here is a url to a site that talks about tannins. it may help. Changing water helps too. So bailing the water onto the garden is a great idea, then replacing with fresh.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Pond-Water-Gardening-731/tea-color-water-pond.htm

How deep is your pond and how far do you think it freezes. If the ice gets to the crowns of your lilies, they will not be happy. If they grew but didn't bloom, they probably got touched with ice. You might try just tipping them over to get them below the ice. But then you will have stuff dumped into your pond so that wouldn't work too well I guess. Shorter pots? I took mine out of 2-3 gallon pots (they were too heavy) and put them in dishpans just 10x15" and 5-6" tall. Then I put little wire handles on them so they can be moved to the deep end of the pond (4') more easily and easily retrieved. Maybe re-potting your lilies and lotus into shallower pans would get them below the freeze line and you could just leave them in the pond.

You know, as long as your pond is clear, even if brown, and you have little fish that are happy, I wouldn't worry to much about pond vacs and such. They are pretty heavy to move around. And yes, they are just glorified wet vacs. I have seen your pond pics and it is beautiful and seems happy to me. I think just water changes is about your best bet. Oh, what do you plant your lilies in? Could it have something in the media that would leach into your water? Bark or something? Someone suggested they use kitty litter from Walmart for their media and I bought some. Going to try it out this year in place of mud. lighter and doesn't dump dirt into my pond. sorry I can't be more helpful. Unless you installed a skimmer so you could introduce filtration like the carbon stuff, I don't know that there is much you can do about the brown.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

Mstella, Thanks for your information.My water lilies just sitting on the bottom of the pond in those box type containers they sell for pond plants.They are growing in clay.I think they may be overcrowded.My pond isn't very deep perhaps two and a half feet or three deep. It is a preformed pond.It was the largest they had at the nursery12 years ago. I bought it with the money I received as gifts for my 70th birthday. I think I'll look for bacteria. I'll try to get more clay soul to plant my new plants in.It's difficult where I can do so little myself now JOY

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I really wish I could come help you. It is frustrating wanting to help and yet be so far away. It doesn't sound like the tea color is coming from your lilies. Any run off from the ground around the pond. If that is the source, then only a complete dig up, moving the preformed pond higher so the dirt around it was lower. the rock placed around it would hide the difference in height. There are bottom filters that might work for you, but you would have to clean it and that would require going into the pond. There are external filters that might be better. They would just hook up to your pump and then feed back to your little fountain. that way you could just open it up, wash out the filter mat, then close it up. Not too bad. Or maybe your helper could do that for you. It was be pretty minimal effort, and for a pond your size, the filter wouldn't be too terribly expensive. there might even be room in it for some charcoal that would take some of the brown out of the water. Let me know how it goes, Joy. We are all headed in the same direction.

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

Joy

how deep is your pond? How many gallons? We too vacuum both spring and fall. We don't have a pond vac such as a wet vac, however it is more a leaf vacuum type thing that attaches to the hose. This has worked well for us over the years. We don't have the bottom drain, however we do have a skimmer.

If your fish and plants are healthy, then everything should be ok. Not sure if you are getting the tea colored water from the barley or from something else. Seems to me I read somewhere that the tea colored water could/can be from the barley. Is your water clear even though it may be tea colored? Could there be leaves in the pond? That too would give off a tea color and the release of tanins inthe water.

We use the pond bacterias and enzymes. The enzymes eat the sludge and crud from the fish. Is this something that you have been using as well? We use the Pondzyme and buy our products in September for the following year. Everything is at a cut price in September.

As far as your waterlilies are concerned - do you fertilize them regularly? Waterlilies are heavy feeders. Also your water has to be at least 60 degrees F for the waterlilies to flower - do you have an idea as to what your water temps are generally in the summer? Also, how often do you divide your waterlilies? I don't divide every year, but probably should. I know I did not get as many flowers this past year as in previous years, but I also have not divided in the previous 2 years - this year I will definitely be dividing them up.

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Hi Carolyn. The url I put out for AG talked about the tannin in leaves and such. I don't know about the barley causing the color though. A friend who has a nice pond, and manages to keep his fish in it (koi no less) all winter swears by barley and his pond is nice and clear with no brown that I have noticed.

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

crap, the less I mess with my pond the healthy my fish are. Carolyn-remember my first year ponding and all the fish death I had? I cleaned it and put bacteria in it. death everywhere. Last year hardly anything done except water changes. This winter my dogs used the ice on the pond as their personal toilet. It melted and in it went and the fish are fine. My pond is mature! It will be cleaned out (pressure washed next week though). The thought of the dog stuff in there is so icky . . . .

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

I have had my pond for 12 years.None of my fish have died they have been devoured by a Crow and other marauders...I'm not sure which one.Yes my water is tea coloured but clear enough to see my goldfish.Michea will come and clean it out .I thought about the bacteria but after thinking it over I've decided not to use it.Last summer I had a growth of duck weed that nearly covered the surface of the pond.I didn't feed the fish but let them eat the duck weed.The ate it all.I did feed them at the end of the summer.As I said my WLs didn't bloom.They were fertilized with the spikes that are supposed to be enough for the whole summer.I just wonder if there was a lack of phosphates from the fish where they only ate duck weed.I plan on putting my Callas and some other plants in this year so I think they will benefit
from the waste from the fish.I'll have the WLs taken out and divided.I am fortunate to have helpers for my garden who take care of my pond and have since I put it in.
They also look after my water lady.Unfortunately she fell from grace this winter.My gardener is a former Baptist minister.He called the other day about some pruning.I told him I had a fallen woman in the backyard that he needed to come and save.He got a great kick out of that.As soon as the snow is all gone I'll call him and have "three men and a truck"arrive to clean up my garden.I have a new Walker with big wheels that I be able to take out.I have to watch that they don't pull out my perennials for weeds or prune the new Hydrangeas that bloom on old growth.It's hard to keep track of three.Here is my fallen woman in our April fool stormJOY

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Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

Joy -

too funny about your fallen lady.... Your garden looks much like mine looked for so very long. We are now getting just the rains, which is more than fine with me...

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

That sure looks like it would put a serious chillin on that lady.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

My big news is that the large diseased maple tree is coming down next week,I called a tree service I've used before and the price was so low I couldn't refuse.It shaded my pond and flower beds..I'm having a cataract operation on Monday so I'll have it done the next week.The cleanup will take place the same week.Surely my Lotus will bloom this year!! JOY

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

Joy

Hope all goes well with your cataract surgery. Are you having one eye done at a time? I think that is how they do it, isnt' it?

I'd love to see pictures of your lotus when it is flowering. I received lotus seeds that I have not done anything with yet. Perhaps soon I will be able to get to them. I have not started any of my other seeds yet either. Just not enough time in the day.

Let us know how your surgery goes.

Carolyn

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

The birch tree is messy..lots of leaf dirt and twigs. But i tolerate it because it shades the water. Trying to keep the algea down...it would take longer than we have to grow another cleaner shade tree to take its place!!

Its a fortune here to take down a tree of any size beyond what most can manage alone. And no clean up without an additional huge amount charged--- and most will cut up but not haul. Its tough to find help-- it used to be so easy.
Opps feeling old and cranky...whine..whine...better get up and hide the eggs and spread ot a few clumps of easter bunny butt fur around the garden....watch the snakes come when I do...whine....whine.....

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

Well my surgery went off well.My vision is much better but may have to wear glasses for reading.I went out to the pond the day after and checked it out...saw three adults and three baby fish.Then the next day I had pains in my chest.The Dr. saw me that day and I have another chest infection so I've been taking it easy since.Spent yesterday in bed.My son and family went to Grand Mannan on Friday so I`ve been alone.My GS,GD,DD and goo
d friend have been dropping in with food and flowers. The tree will be coming down next week. A man from the Reserve is taking it down for me.His father has taken huge trees down for me in the past.He worked with his father and remembered me.He is only charging me $750. They always clean up after themselves.They sell the wood for firewood.The men who look after my garden said they`d be here this week too. My son just called me from GM.They are having a good time and have had a good feed of Lobster.All for now. JOY

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

Oh Joy, I hope you are feeling better soon. I am sorry to hear about the chest infection. How long do you have to stay in bed?

Glad your catarct surgery went well. I would love to only need my glasses for reading. I should probably wear them all the time, but I hate doing that as well. Have to be honest, I still have a touch of vanity. I can see to drive though without them, so maybe I don't need them too badly ^_^

Happy Easter everyone.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Happy Easter to Joy and everyone.

Hope you're feeling better today, Joy. Please keep us posted so we don't worry.

Arlene

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Happy Easter everyone! Arlene, are those your flowers? Wonderful.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks. It's from years ago.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

I spent most if the weekend in bed.Today I felt a bit better.The weather was fine for a change so I sat on the porch until l was too hot,then ventured into the back yard.My gardeners haven't been by yet so the heaters are still in the pond.It must be getting warm.....the water is looking green.They are coming this week.It will be a busy week out there.The tree is coming down too.The only beauty spot is a semiwild garden.I have bloodroot and violets etc that come up on their own each year...followed by hosta and ferns in the summer.I wonder if I should start feeding the fish now?Here is a picture of my only blooms out back. JOY

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Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

And a close up of the Crocus

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Joy, when your water reaches over 50F you can feed the fish, but not before. Their digestion doesn't work when it is colder. I keep a little thermometer in my pond so I know when to add bacteria, algae killer and then when I can start feeding the fish. It reads about 42F in the morning and maybe 55F in the afternoon, so I am still waiting. Poor guys are probably starving. But they do have algae to munch on if they want. I saw two gold fish the other day. They sure are bashful.

My crocus are just forming buds, although lots of little green sprouts. Another day or so and they will be popping all over. Can hardly wait for the tulips and daffodils. Also planted some hyacinths last year. Hope they make it. I lost a lot of my bearded iris. They are very prone to rot here. Never should have moved them. They were very happy and healthy where they were. I just cannot figure them out. Moved two feel one direction and they rot. Bummer.

Glad you are feeling better. The flower and warmth does wonders.
Mary

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

So glad to hear you're feeling better, Joy.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

I used to keep a thermometer in my pond too but now I can't bend over to see it.I think I have another one that I can put on a stick.The pond is filthy.I just hope the gardeners get here this week JOY

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I have the same problem. I got a 36" stick, tied a 36" string to it and then to the thermometer. It works great. Just put the stick where I can reach it and retrieve the thermometer.

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

Joy

Glad you are feeling better. Please take it easy.

I have seen thermometers for sale that are inside your house and you can monitor the pond temperature while in the house.


(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Carolyn, I would love to have one. It doesn't have a wire on it? Maybe I can find one if I google.

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

MS - I beleive there is a wire. The one I had been looking at was at Dr. Foster and Smiths.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Oh drat. I just ordered a new pump and UV (55w) from them. My husband didn't note the size (he looked at so many for a variety of things) and the silly UV is 48" long (looks like a bazooka!) ; we will have to attach it to the fence by the pond to stabilize it -- lol. Ought to do a bang up job. but the pond is a good 25' from the closest wall of the house. Hmmm. Maybe I could install it, bury the wire in the rock and such, then put it under the bench by the pond. I could still just go out and glance down to see the temp. On the other hand, if I have to go out, my thermometer on a 'fishing pole' also works. Nice idea though. Thanks. I can see the pond from my bedroom window and the water is crystal clear (though the bottom is mucky yet) and we saw six gold fish (some white and red, some standard gold) swimming around munching on algae. Hope it warms up soon so I can feed them. I am sooooo excited to see who made it through the long winter. Lost another gerbil yesterday. Is so sad to watch their last hour or so. NO MORE MOUSIES. I just feel so badly for them. They have such short lives.

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

I could never do mice or mice like creatures..... Not my cup of tea. Years ago, one of my daughters' friends had gone to the pet store and got 3 of them. She was shocked when their cat ate one.... I'll never forget that.....

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

THAT would be awful. I think it is desperation on my part. I can't have a dog or cat due to Damien's allergies. I started with a hedgehog (bad experience), got two or three hamsters, then 'rescued' two gerbils from the animal shelter, then was given two more by a mother whose daughter wouldn't take care of them. No more. I even feel badly when my fish die.

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

I do understand that - I feel horrible when a fish dies too.

I have cats - The ASPCA contacted me and asked if I wanted to foster homeless cats and I mentioned to DH, if I did not have him, I would do it in a heartbeat. He did not take it in the spirit in which it was intended.....

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

lol. Damien did admit he would be jealous as I do tend to be disgustingly loving on my critters. We used to have a cat about 20 years ago and then he became allergic. Your kitties are sooo cute. so you do take in (foster) homeless kitties?

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

MS - no, I wish I could. DH finally put his foot down after the 4th cat.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

well, give him credit for lasting that long. I can't budge D since he has the perfect 'excuse'.

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

I cannot complain. DH went through 10 years of allergy shots so I can have my cats. I do try to push the envelope though.....

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Oh my. He is definitely a 'keeper' -- lol -- which it sounds like you have for many years. congrats!

Athens, PA(Zone 5b)

Thank you.

Fredericton N B, Canada(Zone 4a)

:I've had pneumonia again.The doctor said my lungs are clear Friday but I'm still feeling rotten.I did get out to look at my pond today.The WL are growing and the pads are up on the surface of the .water.There is no sign of life with the lotus.The pond hasn 't been cleaned yet so I'm still hoping it made it through the winter.I want to be out in the garden working so very much but can't Old age sucks.JOY

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