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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Koi pond March 12, 2015

Koi pond
March 12, 2015

Arizona is experiencing a really, really early spring. Today it is 87 degrees and the weather is beautiful. February was the second warmest on record for the state. March looks as if it will be the same.

one fish

Butterfly Koi, white and gold

The pond lillies are starting to grow new leaves. The Iris are getting ready to bloom…and there is plenty of string algae.

I have found the best way to get rid of most of it is simply to pick it out manually. I have also started using peroxide and and Koi Clay once a week to get rid of the string algae I cannot get. You can get a quart of peroxide at WalMart for 88 cents. I get six at a time and dump all six quarts into the pond. It doesn’t hurt the fish.

The Koi Clay I got online at Amazon for $10. A little (6 teaspoons) goes a long way.The Koi love it. Where ever I put it in the pond they all covy up and eat away. It doesn’t harm them and is supposed to

More Koi March 12, 2015

More Koi
March 12, 2015

be good for them by replenshing minerals, enhancing their immune systems and their coloring. I just started so time will tell. I am also using — of all things — kitty litter with no perfumes or dyes. WalMart has a 25 lb. bag for $4. The really cheap kitty litters are pure bentonite clay. It acts as a flocculent, binding with debris which then settles on the bottom. I’m trying to use only natural remedies because they don’t harm the fish and I learned my lesson about adding chemicals to the pond.

In the next couple of weeks the Koi should start spawning. I made myself some DIY spawing mats. The directions were online. I went to the trusty WalMart and got the cheapest, thickest yarn I could find for $4. Then I went to the local drug store and got 4 travel size plastic bottles for $4. Cut the yarn to lengths of your choice. I went

Four spawning mats

Four spawning mats

with 20 inch lengths. Put together about 24 of them, fold them over the bottle and secure with a plastic zip tie. I made 4 of them, attached string to them (so that I can retrieve them easily) and strung them across the pond. I also obtained a square, breeding net. If I have any success I will put the Koi eggs in the breeding net that will be anchored to the side of the pond. It’s just another experiment. We’ll see if it works.

I will be doing a water change this weekend. We will drain about a third of the pond water and replace it. I plan to spend the next few weeks cleaning up plant debris from the landscaping around the pond. Believe it or not we did have a few nights of frost. I got lazy this year and did not cover up the plants. I will pay for it by trimming dead foliage. Once that work is done bring on the summer. The pond is ready.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Shade over the Koi pond

Posted by Joyce Clark on August 9, 2013
Posted in fish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , | 2 Comments

Another lesson learned from our visit to some California Koi farms was that our pond needed shade. California’s temperatures are much lower than those of Arizona yet every Koi farm had shade. Shade covering serves several purposes. It keeps the water cooler, it inhibits the growth of algae that is aided by direct sunlight and it prevents debris from going into the water. We plan to use the shade cloth during the summer (July-August-September) and take it down for the rest of the year.

This project was perhaps the most difficult we have tackled due to the very size of the shade needed. The Koi pond itself is 15” X 25” which necessitated a shade cover larger than those dimensions. We planned on a cover 18’ X 33′. The 18’ dimension would cover the pond proper – not the main waterfall or the stream waterfall. The 33’ dimension would allow the necessary posts to be set to the left and the right of the Koi pond.

diagram

Shade cloth diagram

Shade cover assembled

Shade cloth assembled

Grommet corner

Grommet corner

Our first chore was to find shade cloth. It’s readily available at big outlets like Home Depot and Lowe’s but they carry cloth no wider than 6’. I called a lot of stores and all had 6’ wide cloth. We ended up getting two rolls of shade cloth 6’ X 50’ (at a cost of $69 each) which would require cutting and piecing together to end up with the right size. Since I do not own a sewing machine I started assembling the shade cloth by hand sewing. It took a day or two for me to realize that I might finish the job by next year. So I started calling upholstery shops. I finally found one that could do my rather unusual job in a week at a cost of $75. My fingers were very grateful!

Posts in concrete

Posts set in concrete

Cables attached

Cables attached to posts

Cover attached to house

Shade cloth attached
to house

In the meantime my husband was acquiring the necessary hardware and would be setting two posts in concrete. His list included grommets – many, many grommets, turn buckles, cable, nuts and bolts, 3 pieces of rigid pipe and several bags of concrete mix at a cost of about $150. The total cost of the project was about $365.

It took a week to assemble the shade cloth and another two weeks to set the posts, string cable, insert grommets on the shade cloth and assemble pigtails, etc. We worked on it periodically and didn’t rush.

Pond covered 1

Shade cloth covering the pond

The shade cloth is up now. It looks like a giant parachute. It looks homemade and is not elegant but it is doing its job. The cloth was rated at producing 80% shade but we think it’s more like 60%. Since putting it up the surface water temperature has never risen higher than 85 degrees. Prior to putting it up we were seeing surface temperatures of 92 to 95 degrees. The water at the bottom of the pond is now between 75 and 78 degrees. Previously the bottom water temperature was 82 to 85 degrees.

There were definitely lessons learned on this project. The next time I will order the shade cloth online so that I can obtain a wider bolt of cloth that does not require so much piecing and assembly and perhaps find cloth that is denser to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the pond’s surface even more. The grommets were placed on the outside hemline of the shade cloth but there are tears next to a few of the grommets due to the tension created in stretching the cloth. I would reinforce the areas where the grommets are placed.

Would we do it again? You bet. With the new external filtration the water is incredibly clear and with the new shade the water temperature has lowered. These were the outcomes sought and we achieved them.

fish

Fish grazing on the bottom

When the pond water was clouded with algae and the fish were not to be seen I assumed they spent the day underneath their “fish shelf.” Now that we can see them we realize that they are busy all day grazing on the algae. I am happy and the pond is happy until I dream up the next “honey-do” project.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

In July my family and I vacationed in California. While we were there we visited two Koi farms. Lessons learned from those visits were that we needed to beef up our filter system and we needed to add shade.  Our adult children committed to working on additional filtration. My husband and I would work on the new shade component.

Our Arizona summers with temperatures over 100 are prolific breeding grounds for algae. When the temperatures rise above 100 you can see the algae practically multiplying before your eyes. In dismay the water turns dark green and murky. We know we have fish. We just can’t see them anymore. We knew we were on the right track with our small external filter.

12. filter system running

Four barrel external filter system

It just wasn’t large enough to handle the job. The small external filter was a waste receptacle with holes drilled on the bottom of one side. It was filled with polyester batting and a small pump and hose pushed water into the receptacle. The water filtered down and exited through the holes at the bottom side of the receptacle. It works and would work well in a small pond of perhaps no more than 500 gallons. But our pond is large. It is 15’ X 25” with a depth of 2’ to 4’. It is 7,000 gallons and the little external filter was like the little engine that could. It could do the job but didn’t have enough horse power to do the job well.

8. Water to bottom

Each barrel has different media
with a layer of A/C filter pad on top

The first thing the kids did was to yep…surf the internet. They got a lot of great ideas from You Tube. Many other ponders have apparently faced the same problem and shared their ideas.  They decided on a four 55 gallon barrel system. A heavy duty submersible pump would deliver water from the bottom of the pond. It would go to the bottom of the first barrel filled with lava rock which would filter out large clumps of algae and other junk. The water would then move to the bottom of the second barrel filled with ordinary kitchen sponges. The water moves to the third barrel filled with A/C filter mats and lastly to the fourth barrel filled with polyester batting. In each barrel the water is forced to the bottom and must move up to the top of the barrel so that it can move to the next barrel in line. From the last barrel an outtake hose takes the filtered water to our little creek and into the pond proper.

10. Intake hose and pump

Intake hose and pump
at bottom of pond

11. Outtake hose

Outtake hose dumps
water into the creek

 

 

 

 

 

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Pond update…July 25

Posted by Joyce Clark on July 25, 2013
Posted in fish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , | 3 Comments

Those wonderful monsoon rains we experienced recently were great…except for the pond. We had a “gully whomper” one day and another entire day when it rained off and on. The rain cooled everything and washed away the dust and dirt…into the pond. Rain water, so I am told, does not contain oxygen and so it depleted the oxygen level in the pond. As a result we lost 3 fish after the rains.

We lost this goldfish. When my husband bought it, it was no more than 2″ long. It had grown to a whopping 8″.

goldfish 2

Goldfish

goldfish 1

Goldfish

 

 

 

 

 

The same fate awaited this metallic black and white skeleton Koi. He was no more than 3″ or 4″ when we got him and he, too, had grown to 8″.

skeleton fish 1

Skeleton Koi

skeleton fish 2

Skeleton Koi

 

 

 

 

 

The saddest loss of all was one of my favorite Koi. This guy was also 3″ or 4″ when we bought him and he had grown to a foot long. The coloring on this fish was really good. The front half was red and the back half was predominately black.

red white black koi 1

Red White and Black Koi

red white black koi 2

Red White and Black Koi

 

 

 

 

 

It’s always sad to lose pets whether it is a dog, cat, hamster or fish. I guess that’s nature’s plan and sometimes even with one’s best efforts, we cannot prevent their loss.

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Pond Update…end of June

Posted by Joyce Clark on June 24, 2013
Posted in fish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Time for another pond update! The pond water, despite temperatures of over 100 degrees in Arizona, remains clear enough to enjoy watching the fish feed every evening. We find ourselves spending about an hour every evening watching their antics.

Water clarityWe also have Gambusia (Mosquito fish) in our pond. The females grow to about 2” to 2 1/2” and the males are about 1 1/2”. They live for a year, year and a half. They breed prodigiously and breed at least 2 times during our summers. They are our “canaries in the coal mine.” If something is going to happen to the water quality, they will die off first. So far, so good. No losses of Gambusia, Goldfish or Koi.

FeedingThe hula hoop aka feeding ring is working. It now sits about a foot from the edge of the pond, over the fish cave. The big fish, being ever wary, took a few days to get used to being so close to us but now they all come into the ring to eat.

Hand feeding 2Hand feedin 1We find that the littlest Koi are very curious and will come over and check out our legs when we are working in the pond. So the other day we decided to try to hand feed them. No problem! They readily came over and joyously ate to their hearts’ content without being bothered by the big guys.

Globe 1The Aqua-Sphere that we purchased several weeks ago is not a hit…yet. When floating food is placed within it the Gambusia will readily enter and eat the food. The Koi want no part of it so far. We have also discovered that it has to be taken down and cleaned about every 2 weeks. Since we get so little rain in Arizona it becomes quite dusty on the outside and whatever algae is in the pond tends to collect within it. We will hang in there for awhile longer, waiting for cooler weather to see if that makes a difference.

Yerba ManzaWe also did some work around the pond. We have discovered that Yerba Manza is almost weed-like (or else it really likes our pond environment). So we ruthlessly cleaned it out and ended up with at least 3 large trash bags of cuttings and root balls and still have plenty left around the pond.

In July I will be in California and plan to visit Andrews Koi International in Anaheim and the Laguna Koi Ponds in Laguna Beach. I plan to take plenty of photos and will share them here. I have also visited EBay’s auction site and checked out the Koi that they auction on that site. So far I have not been successful in acquiring a fish because I often forget to go back and check my bid status. I do not want to pay “an arm and a leg” for a fish when the shipping charge for overnight is $35.00 so I tend to be a very cheap bidder!!

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June fish pond update

Posted by Joyce Clark on June 12, 2013
Posted in fish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

Surprisingly we can still see the bottom of the pond and the fish despite the fact that the temperatures have been running in the 105 to 110 degree range. We have a new addition to the pond and it seems like I have to stop trolling the Net for pond information for awhile or we will go broke.

I visited YouTube and can spend hours watching videos of koi fish spawning, feeding, etc., or I can watch fish growing or just swimming around. Everyone once in awhile a video leads to some new discovery. That’s how I happened on the Aqua-Sphere. I saw it on a video, went to the site, bought it and it is now sitting in the pond. While a neat idea, I would not recommend getting it until the company does some modifications. The concept of putting floating food into the ball and seeing the fish magnified is a very good one but their equipment needs modification. The base is too short and not wide enough to provide stability. Since the opening in the sphere is only supposed to be a few inches below the water line we found the base legs to be woefully short. The company should supply taller base legs that can be cut to your appropriate height. So we took an old, plastic tub turned upside down, drilled holes in it and wired the base to in essence, another base. Here is the tub and the Aquasphere:

base for stand

Tub used as base for
Aqua-Sphere stand

Globe 1

Aqua-Sphere in pond
at dusk

 

 

 

 

 

The base ring that the sphere sits on should be wider as well to provide more stability. The first day I discovered that cleaning the pond and creating a strong current will tip the sphere over. Solution is to be more gentle and careful in my movements to clean around the sphere. Have we had fish in the sphere? Yes and no. If you count our hoard of Gambusia (mosquito fish) attacking the floating food, the answer is yes. The Koi are very wary of it so far. One of our Goldfish has exhibited great curiosity and may be the first to venture into it.

Here’s our current Fish Roster. We currently have about 20 fish but I am only going to share photos of half of them. I classify them as Large (between 12” and 24”); Medium ( between 6” and 12”) and Small (up to 6”).

First up is “Big Alice”, an all white, Large Koi. We were calling her “Big A” but during breeding season we realized that she is a female.

Big Alice 1

Big Alice
White koi

Then there are “Ying” and “Yang”, both are Large Butterfly Koi. Ying is orange and Yang is white with black spots.

Orange Butterfly 1

Orange Butterfly koi
Ying

 

 

 

Blk Wh Butterfly

Black and white butterfly koi
Yang

Next, unnamed and Large is a Koi that is primarily white with some red and black on its back.

Wh with r b 1

Unnamed Large koi
White with red and black

“Half and Half” is a Large Koi whose front half is red and back half is black.

Half and Half

Half Black and Half Red koi
Half and Half

Another unnamed and Large Koi has red on its head with mainly black on its body but with some red and white showing.

r w b 1

Red, white and black koi
Unnamed

 

 

 

 

 

 

“K1” is also a Large Koi. He is a light, golden color.

Lt golden 2

Light golden koi
K1

In the Medium category there is “K2.” He started off looking a lot like “K1” but as he has grown he has become more orange and has lost his golden luster.

Golden turned orange

Golden turned orange koi
K2

 

 

 

 

 

Also Medium size and unnamed are our two Skeleton Koi. One is orange and black and the other is silver and black.

orange skeleton 2

Orange skeleton koi
Unnamed

 

 

 

 

b w skeleton 2

Black and silver skeleton koi
Unnamed

I will post about the pond in July and introduce you to the rest of the pack. They all appear to be healthy. I feed them every evening at about 6 PM and it is a joy to watch them hone in on a morsel of floating food. It is the best time of the day.

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Another Rube Goldberg pond contraption

Posted by Joyce Clark on May 28, 2013
Posted in fish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pond vac 1

Pond Vac

Having put together our shop vac system to muck the bottom of the pond I wanted something to combat the free floating algae in the pond water. Back to Internet surfing again. This time I found a suggestion for an external filter. Our filters are doing a good job but there is so much fine, lacy algae they simply cannot keep up with it all.

I went to Wal-Mart and bought another bag of polyfill batting, a round sprinkler and a tall kitchen garbage receptacle. Again, my purchases were under $20. The only other items needed were a piece of hose and a submersible pump. Fortunately we had both lying around.

The old pump is submersible and moves 600 gallons of water an hour and can completely recirculate the pond water in about 12 hours. We placed the pump is in a sack we made of old, screen door netting to protect it from becoming clogged by algae. We attached an old shovel handle to it so that we can pick up the pump and move it around without having to get into the pond.

External filter inside

Inside of external filter
Poly fill batting
Sprinkler and hose

External filter trash container

External filter
trash container
holes drilled in
bottom, front

External filter hose and pump

External filter
hose from submersible pump
to sprinkler in trash container

 

 

 

 

 

 

A piece of hose runs from the pump into the plastic garbage can filled with polyfill batting. Again we drilled about 9 large holes at the bottom of the garbage can on one side only and drilled a hole at the top on the side to slip the hose into. We attached the sprinkler to the hose end draining into the garbage can. We run this external filter system during the day from about 7am to 11pm. It has been working for about a week and we can see that the water is clearing.

IMG_4330

Fish in May 2013

We will never rid ourselves of all the algae nor would we want to. The fish do eat the algae and as they root around the bottom and sides of the pond eating algae they disturb it and the fine stuff floats up to the surface. We do see clumps of this fine stuff on the water’s surface. I have tried skimming with our trusty pool net it but it is so fine, it just dissolves. However, it does float over to the internal filters where it is sucked into the system.

water quality 1

Water quality in May
in Arizona

As we enter the really hot part of the year in Arizona the water is becoming more cloudy and with time, we will not be able to see the fish. The filters will not be able to keep up with Mother Nature’s algae production.  I am determined, no matter the temptation, not to use chemicals this summer for summer will end, the water will clear and we will be surprised at how big the fish became while invisible to us.

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Ze pond

Posted by Joyce Clark on April 9, 2013
Posted in fish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , | 4 Comments

It’s the beginning of April, 2013, and spring has definitely arrived. All of the plants surrounding the pond are starting to bloom and in a few days there will be more riotous color than there is now.

IMG_4305 IMG_4306 IMG_4307 IMG_4310 IMG_4312The pond seems to be in “balance” right now and one can see the pond shelf that borders the perimeter of the pond underwater. An abundance of fish is there for our viewing pleasure as well. My husband counts 18 fish. I, not being as diligent, can count maybe 14 fish. No matter, at this time, they are all healthy, voracious eatersfish and have just started spawning. This morning we observed a pod of them chasing a white Koi that my husband had named “Big Al.” I suppose the more appropriate name, given the activity we saw, would be “Big Alice.” I doubt that we will suddenly be overrun with baby fish. The eggs will be eaten almost as soon as they are spotted as we are not set up to breed baby fish.

Other creatures are in mating mode as well – the birds, the butterflies and the dragon flies. We are not happy about the return of our dragon flies. For you see, they lay their eggs which hatch into nymphs. These nymphs are voracious little suckers and last year, they happily attached themselves to the smallest of our fish and killed them. These nymphs are about an inch long and dark in color. We find some, but not all, in the filter net of our pond.

We have not had to worry about predators like raccoons but our greatest foe is a resident heron. The folks in our area all live on one acre, horse properties. A heron has nested on a property several houses away from ours. He often comes over to visit by sitting on our roof which is a wonderful perch for him as he can see everything in the pond.  We’ve installed a heron decoy and move it from time to time as instructed. Does it work? We don’t know yet. If we see fish carcasses lining the pond perimeter we’ll know that the decoy didn’t work.

pondWith our cool, 60 degree nights and mornings in the 70’s, there is nothing better than sitting on our back patio, listening to the sounds of our waterfalls, viewing all of the vibrant color and watching our fish madly darting after one another. This is undoubtedly the best time of year not just for humans but for the fish as well.

 

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Fishes out of water

Posted by Joyce Clark on March 23, 2013
Posted in BlogsKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s late April 2011 and I now have this beautiful pond filled with water plants; lilies, Yerba Mansa, Pickerel Wart, Taro and Mosaic.   We had small, starter landscape plants around the pond. We had 2 pumps – a large one for the waterfall and a smaller one for the stream waterfall providing plenty of oxygen. We had 3 filters – the main one for the 2 pumps and a filter for the main waterfall and another for the stream waterfall. We had plenty of filter capacity to ensure that the water remained clean. The water completely recirculated through the filter system every 3 hours.

our first goldfish Ap 2011

First goldfish
April 2011

The time had come to add fish. A co-worker said that she and her husband were dismantling their small pond and asked if I would like to have her goldfish and lilies. Boy would I! Our first additions were a few more lilies and a dozen goldfish – little guys. Everything was going well. Our pond water was clear and we could see the fish. They seemed to be growing! The lilies were blooming. We had our paradise. My husband even named each of the fish as he watched them feed every afternoon. We were enjoying the time spent on the patio, listening to the sound of splashing waterfalls and watching streaks of color swim by.

Paradise was soon to be lost, stolen by oppressively hot days that invited the algae to bloom unmercifully, causing the water to turn darkly green and murky. We could no longer see the fish. We wondered if they were still alive for how chemical 2could they breathe and live in that morass of water? Every time that we cleaned the filter net we expected to see at least one small fish carcass.

Once again, I returned to the internet, this time to research algae and its causes. I called “experts.” I visited other pond sites. Did you know that there are almost as many remedies for ridding a pond of algae as there are people on this planet? I was horribly confused and panicked that I would soon have a steady dead body count of goldfish.

Just as we take pills to cure every ailment I decided a judicious use of chemicals applied to the pond would solve the problem. My first mistake was reliance upon science and the internet hawkers of algae remedies. They would have you believe that the algae are destined to vastly populate the pond water turning it into something the consistency of thick, country gravy, consuming every ounce of oxygen and asphyxiating the fish. My friend, who has a koi pond, cautioned patience. She said the water would turn green with algae and once the water “balanced” the algae would diminish greatly. My second mistake was not to heed her advice or the advice of others – all of whom – said, wait, the pond would right itself without my benign interference.

So began the great “Chemical Odyssey.” First I would order one, sure-fire chemical cure for algae. I’d faithfully followchemicals 1 the directions for its use, wait and wait some more, looking for the water to become at the very least, less greenish. When that batch of chemical didn’t work, I’d order another. Soon, the Fed-Ex guy and I were best buds, on a first name basis. This routine went on for the entire summer and into the fall of 2011. Now we actually had a dead fish count. Every couple of days another would be found belly up in the filter net. I would go to the local pet mart and buy a few more small fish to replace the “victims.” My husband despaired. All of his little goldfish that he had named and nurtured died and still I persisted, looking for the Holy Grail of Algae Killers while the water stayed a thick, murky green and the fish died.

This scenario continued until around October, 2011. Miraculously the water finally cleared not completely, but a lot – not because I had found the answer but because the water was cooling and the algae was dying off. But by then, so had the fish. We now had a beautiful, fish-less pond and despaired.

My next grand plan was that since we had no fish, the pond should be drained so that we could get rid of the muck at the bottom and kill off whatever algae still existed. So that’s what we did in January of 2012. We rented a siphon pump and pumped out all of the water. It didn’t go to waste as we used it to irrigate most of our backyard, nearly an acre in size. We even used bleach figuring that it killed everything.

Pond Ap 2012 no fish

April 2012
No fish

Thinking we had nipped the problem in the bud we prepared to move forward. We refilled the pond and once again, had clear, sparkling water and a new home for more fish. We again waited a month or so for the water to “balance” itself and then we blithely went about picking out more fish for our pristine pond. We were filled with self-confidence. Surely the great pond draining and cleaning must surely have done the trick. My husband was happy and again, he named the dozen fish, a mixture of goldfish and Koi. He made sure they were fed once a day. He and I delighted in watching them from our back patio. All was right with the world…until…

chemicals 3It was the late spring and early summer of 2012 and the hot weather and the algae returned with a vengeance, only to again raise our fears about the fate of the fish. Like a dummy, I repeated the cycle of last summer and turned to my vast bag of chemical tricks along with some new, untried ones. I was still on a first name basis with the Fed Ex delivery man. Only this time I would be smarter and use the chemicals more sparingly. I even had the water tested.Yet all of the fish died or disappeared (that’s for another blog about predators) and by now we were both despairing of ever having fish in our fish pond. Then it dawned on me and I will admit to bring a slow learner at times, that I had created a toxic waste dump! In attempting to get rid of all of the algae I had gleefully poured so many chemicals into the pond that the fish couldn’t possibly survive the onslaught. Their demise was a testament to my stubbornness.

By July, 2012 I had had it. I vowed no more chemicals and come what may; we would coexist with whatever algae bloomed. For the next 5 months I used no chemicals. We had no fish and did not get any to replace our latest set of “sacrificial victims.” Yes, we got algae but it wasn’t the darkly green kind. The water did get murky but you could still see the bottom of the pond. I will admit that there were times when I was tempted to add just a little of some chemical or other but then I pictured another dead fish in the filter net and strengthened my resolve. Unknowingly I was doing what I should have done that first year. I was giving the pond enough time to really “balance” itself. I was allowing the “good” biological enzymes to build up in the filters.

Pond fishes Jan 2013

New fish
January 2013

This past Christmas our kids bought me three beautiful Koi for the pond. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it was probably an exercise in futility and that they likely had thrown their money away. So we dutifully put them in the pond fully expecting to see them floating “belly up” within a week. To our surprise and relief they lived! Three months later, they are healthy and growing. After 8 months, chemical-less,  I think we had finally rid the pond of all of the chemicals that I had used for a year.

We will get algae bloom again during the hottest part of this year but I have learned my lesson – no more chemicals. The fish will survive. They will reemerge to our delight when the weather cools enough to make the algae dissipate. We and the fish will have 8 enjoyable months of coexistence, reacquainting ourselves and my husband will happily name each and every one of them.

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A naked pond…now what?

Posted by Joyce Clark on March 16, 2013
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Pond 2011

Pond 2011

Yippee! It’s March of 2011 and we have a pond in the ground. There are no fish and no plants. From all the research done, we knew that we needed to let the water sit or “balance” for a month before we put any fish in. So, I focused on plants in and around the pond. Unless you hire a landscape contractor, which we did not, you are not going to have instant landscaping. It’s been two years and we’re still working on it.

Everything that I read said for a good fish environment, there should be about 50% of the water surface covered in plant material, read, water lilies. The vegetation provides shade on scorching Arizona summer days, keeps the water temperature a little lower and also help to oxygenate the water. It also provides hiding places for the fish. Why would they need hiding places? More on that… later.

Taro

Taro

Lilly bloom

First Lilly, Attraction

 

Yerba Mansa newly planted

Yerba Mansa newly planted

Yerba Mansa 2

Yerba Mansa now

Pickerel Wart 3

Pickerel Wart

 

 

 

 

 

Mosaic plant

Mosaic plant

In the pond, I used Lilies, Yerba Mansa, Pickerel Wart, and Taro. I tried a wonderful water plant called “Mosaic” but it is very delicate does not seem to survive our few Arizona frost nights.

In 2012 I put some grass in the pond because I wanted to create some visual height. Big mistake. I would never put grass in the pond again. It proliferates just like weeds. Soon, it was everywhere! I spent part of this past winter season removing it. Some shoots may still come up but I will pull them as soon as they do.

If you know of anyone with a pond you can always try asking if they have extra plant material to share. I do have such a friend who supplied me with Lilies, Yerba Mansa and Taro. She (is a Master Gardener…good friend to have!) also advised me on the kinds of plants that would require low maintenance and would grow and live for years. My plant palette around the pond includes: Gazania, Rosemary, Stasis, Verbena, Ruellia, Lantana, Daisies, Dwarf Palms and various Aloe and lately some grasses. All of the plants were in one gallon containers or smaller. The only large plant I splurged on was the Aloe we put in the island between the stream and the pond. I even put three cacti in the pond island. Who could kill a cactus? I did. We’re now down to two of them.

Rosemary  newly planted

Rosemary newly planted

Rosemary and Ice Plant

Rosemary and Ice Plant now

 

Ruella 2

Ruellia after frost

Stasis

Stasis

Verbena

Verbena

 

 

 

 

 

In the past two years I have had some land plants thrive and others like the daisies…well, they are in plant heaven.  Ground plants that have done well for me have been the Rosemary, Verbena, Ruellia, Stasis and Lantana. The Ruellia and Lantana seem to suffer damage from frost, even when covered but they regrow with gusto. The Stasis has reseeded itself and seems to like nooks and crannies. The Rosemary just grows and grows. The Verbena makes an excellent ground cover and also is taking off. The Gazania has suffered from frost as well but is making a comeback. Where it frosted it died.

Island Aloe newly planted

Island Aloe newly planted

Giant aloe

Aloe now in island   and Gazania

Lantana after frost

Lantana after frost

First plants in the ground

First plants in the ground

Aloe in bloom

Another Aloe in bloom now

 

 

 

 

 

Pond July 2011

Overhead shot of pond July 2011

 

All of the pond plants have done well. The Pickerel Wart and Taro, even in the pond can suffer frost damage but they will come back. The Yerba Mansa is very hardy, suffers little frost damage and does very well.

Next time, I’ll share my fish experiences…

 

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