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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 17 years and 217 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I haven’t done an update on the pond in awhile and it seemed like a good time to share how it and the Koi are doing. It’s early August and HOT. I was in the pond last week doing some trimming and cleanup work with the pond plants. Surprisingly, the water is much cooler than the ambient air temperature and the fish seem to enjoy it.

The pond in August

The pond in August

I am convinced that the shade cover is doing its job. The shade cover, the UV light, the barley bale and a very occasional dose of Algae Fix are keeping the algae down considerably. I’ve blogged about the shade cover and the UV light previously but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the barley bale or the use of Algae Fix.

A year ago I ordered 2 barley bales online for about $40. I didn’t realize they would last as long as they have. It took a year to use up one barley bale. The purpose of the barley is that it

Spring Spider Lily

Spring Spider Lily

retards algae formation. I take a mesh laundry bag (you can get them at a Dollar store for $1 each), fill it with barley straw and then insert it all into a second mesh bag. Add a string for easy retrieval and anchor the string around a rock. At first the barley mesh bag floats for about a week. Eventually it gets water logged and sinks to the bottom. As the barley decomposes it releases a natural chemical that retards algae development. The barley will virtually disappear over time. When the bag is empty I pull it and refill. I use barley in Arizona in the spring, summer and fall.

As for the Algae Fix I use it sparingly. In May the algae went wild and I was hand pulling pounds of it out of the pond daily. Yes, daily. I finally realized that I would need to use something to get a handle on the algae situation. I used the Algae Fix every 3 days as directed over two weeks. The algae disappeared considerably…not all of it but a good 80%. In July I started to put a cup in once a week and it has kept it under control. I still hand pull algae but not every day and not in the copious quantities I had been pulling.

I have tried to grow Lotus in the pond with absolutely no luck. First I got some Lotus seeds. I successfully got them to sprout, waited for them to grow and

gain strength. I then planted them in pots and set them in the pond. Every plant died. I have no clue as to why. I then ordered two Lotus plants and potted them this spring. Guess what? They died as well. I guess this pond is never destined to enjoy Lotus. I also ordered two Spider Lilly plants. They have done well and bloomed this spring.

The lilies are all blooming…yellow ones, blue ones, red ones and peach ones. As I write this I realize that I have no white lilies. Hmmm, maybe next spring. Our Snowflake plants have small, white flowers and grow like weeds. I find

Lillies and more lillies

Lillies and more lillies

culling Snowflake and Water Lettuce all the time. Both plants are very, very prolific and would take over the pond if I let them. The same can be said for Yerba Manza and my Taro plants. I finally ripped out the Yerba Manza but there is still one patch left that I will dispose of. The Taro has multiplied and now resides in two spots in the pond. The Iris is finished for the year and I have cut the leaves back so that they don’t obstruct the view within the pond.

Even though temperatures are soaring in Arizona the pond is happy and healthy and so are the Koi. We still sit outside every evening after dinner, feed the Koi and enjoy their antics. The pond has given us countless hours of enjoyment and well worth our investment.

© 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.

Summertime at the Koi Pond

Posted by Joyce Clark on June 5, 2014
Posted in fish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pond merge 2a

The other day I realized that I had not slowed down enough to provide an update on my Koi pond. The last time I posted on it was 6 months ago, in December of 2013. A lot has happened since then.

I’ve taken out all of the Yerba Manza. I discovered that it is just too invasive. Even though the original plants were still potted and submerged they send out runners – scads of runners – that seek rocks and other potted plants. The runners will even go over the edge of the pond into anything beyond. As a result the Yerba Manza was beginning to crowd out other plants and the need to cut off the runners was becoming a monthly chore. In their place I have decided to try some Spider Lilies and Cardinal Flowers.

At the beginning of May we reinstalled the shade cover over the pond. It continues to do its job but I have found that the material itself has stretched due to winds that buffeted it up and down. Right now it is very saggy. When we take it down in the fall we will resize it to take out some of the slack.

IMG_5682We finally broke down and purchased a Laguna Brand, 55 watt, UV clarifier/sterilizer light. It’s rather large – about 5 feet in length. The external 4 barrel filter system continues to do its job but it simply could not keep up with the tremendous algae bloom that occurs in Arizona with intense daily sunlight and temperatures of 90 to 100+ degrees. The light has only been in operation for a little over a week but the difference in water clarity is amazing. It seems to get rid of the smallest algae particles that are suspended in the water and that simply flow through the 2 regular pond filters. We placed it in-line, above ground with the external 4 barrel filters. As a result the water clarity has improved tremendously.

The water clarity is so good we are able to see the fish anytime, day orfeeding night. We have 4 under water pool lights and we can see the Koi grazing at night among the pebble bottom and the potted plants. It is really so nice to sit by the pond whenever the mood strikes and watch the Koi.

I ordered and received one of those Styrofoam rings with netting to introduce floating plants into the pond. I wouldn’t get another. The Styrofoam breaks too easily and it continually floats toward the filter system. I found myself moving it away from the filter several times a day. I finally had enough of it and removed it. So much for that gadget.

We have new visitors to the pond – snails – itty, bitty, tiny snails. We think they came in one of two ways: either on a plant I ordered over the internet or on the feet of the many birds that visit the pond. Either way, they are in the filters…everywhere. This past week I received some Assassin Snails and immediately dumped them in the pond. It seems an Assassin Snail’s mission in life to eat other snails. I hope so. I guess we will find out soon enough.

IMG_5729Our other visitor is a cane toad. He appeared one night about a week ago. We surmise he came in on our irrigation system or else, bird legs again, but as an egg. Cane toads are nocturnal. This one is a juvenile, maybe 6 to 8 inches long. I read that they can live for 10 years and grow to 2 feet in size. He’s not afraid of humans and will even let us touch him. He’s a very calm, little fellow.

Our greatest problem seems to be the heron that nests somewhere on our street. Our street is made up of one acre lots, irrigated. There is no curb, gutter, sidewalks or street lights. It is a dark, cool oasis in the midst of urban living and we love it and apparently, so does the heron. We think it visits the pond in the middle of the night. The only way to confirm it is to stay up all night or get a night vision, motion detector camera. I think the camera will happen sooner than staying up all night for many nights to confirm the heron.

We know it is taking fish and when it doesn’t take them it has wounded several Koi mortally. It seems to prefer Koi that are white or nearly all white in color although a few orange Koi have also disappeared. Just as the water clarity has improved for our visual enjoyment it has also allowed the heron to spot its prey more easily. We have lost more fish in the past month than in all of last year. Not a happy scenario. I will continue to research the best deterrent to this fellow’s dining regimen. 

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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.

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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