DISASTER!! (Zebra Danios, Firemouths and the Turtle Pond)

19 May

I had a tankful of baby Zebras Danios.

I had a tankful of baby Firemouth Cichlids.

I had a turtle pond with bright green water.

In previous posts I mentioned how useful green water can be for raising baby fish. It’s full of algae and micro-organisms that baby fish, especially egg-layers, can eat. I have great success putting baby fish directly into a little outdoor pond and letting Mother Nature raise them.
It’s been too cold to put my baby fish into the little 30-gallon pond, and besides, there were hundreds of toad tadpoles in there, so when the baby fish became free-swimming I began to bring in pond water and add it to their aquariums.

Here is the critical moment. One day I saw a sick Rosy Red Minnow (in the turtle pond, where I get the green water). The minnow was having difficulty and appeared to be dying. Not an unusual sight in a pond inhabited by fish-eating turtles,but my turtles don’t hunt them too aggressively.  I believed there were about 40 minnows living in the pond.
Days later, I saw ANOTHER sick minnow, so I grabbed a net and captured a few of the others. They all looked TERRIBLE. Ragged fins, cloudy eyes. Diseased. Fin Rot. High bacterial levels in the water. Polluted, basically.
Meanwhile, the baby fishes were all dying quickly and I knew that I had been pouring in this toxic water. I decided NOT to treat the baby fish, I didn’t think they could take any medication. I did some 50% water changes but they were almost all dead at that point.
I still had to deal with the pond. 600 gallons of toxic green water. And why was it so? I believe it was the bird droppings. Our neighborhood didn’t have many birds but as the trees have grown larger and people, like me, feed the birds, there are more birds around the pond than in years past. In particular, there are a lot of Sparrows, Grackles, and Mourning Doves. I never worried about it, I thought they were enjoying the little stream.

Every blog needs a picture of bird droppings.

The pond needed to be drained, the filter cleaned, and something done about the pollution. Either keep out the birds, or improve filtration, or both.
As I drained the pond I wondered how many minnows were still alive, and what about my 29-cent Goldfish that was about 8 inches long? Poor thing.
To my shock, no minnows were still alive, NONE, but the Goldfish was.

The Goldfish went into a 10-gallon tank. Too small, but clean.

The turtles got their shells scrubbed.

I hated to drain the whole thing but the water was well-used on my lawn and trees. The cost to fill my pond, 600 gallons of water, is TWO dollars and 20 cents. That includes the “sewer fee” that is mandatory, even though it didn’t go to the sewer.

One of my sons was very helpful that day. It’s a big job to clean a pond, plus scrub turtle shells.
My dog enjoyed the view.

Almost full.

I got some plastic mesh that is used for covering fruit trees. I threw it over the filter, stream and rocks, in hopes of discouraging the birds. I also have two bird baths in the yard that I hope will keep them happy.

Plastic mesh over the stream area.

I couldn’t put the mesh completely down to ground level. If the turtles were to walk into it they would get tangled, maybe injured, and if they dragged themselves into the water they might even drown, so I was cautious how I placed the netting.
Within half-an-hour I saw several birds darting UNDER the net to get a drink. Nooooo! Are you kidding me! They have no fear!
It has been a few days now, the pond looks wonderful, there are FEWER birds, maybe they decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. I still intend to improve the filtration and also investigate bird repellants. Not chemicals, but like a scarecrow. A plastic Owl or Snake. I don’t know if that will help. Maybe a REAL snake! That will fix them.

Just think, over 100 fish are dead. Nothing expensive, but it still bugs me. It was very disheartening, and that wasn’t all the bad news of the past week or two. I don’t want to tell you ALL the bad things that have happened. I’ll write a more cheerful post soon and THEN get back to the depressing stuff.


2 Responses to “DISASTER!! (Zebra Danios, Firemouths and the Turtle Pond)”

  1. becomingcliche May 24, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    I’m so sorry! All that work for nothing. Your goldfish is stunning, though. That’s some incredible color! I hope you can find something to keep the birds out. Plant pinwheels in the ground around it? The movement in the wind can scare them.

    • fishtanx2011 May 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      It got me down for a few days but I have the Zebra Danios set up to spawn again, and this actually has motivated me to keep up on the fish tank maintenance. The birds have started to use the birdbath and the 30 gallon pond, but I will continue to consider other options like pinwheels, fake predators, etc. Even so, the big pond has turned green in just a week. The little pond, with live plants, is much cleaner, with a brown tinge from the soil in the potted plants.

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