Tag Archives: Pond

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

25 Mar

You want a big pond? Then you should build a pond, but if you saw how I spent the last 7 hours you would NOT want a big pond.

..and the smell is...I can't even think of a word.

The smell is…I can’t even think of a word.

I like to clean out the ponds early in the year. Then, if we get a warm spell, I can get the turtles and plants outside sooner.

Last week I cleaned out my little 30 gallon pond. That’s a quick job, taking no more than an hour.

Then a few days ago, I cleaned up all the plants that surround my big pond. That took a few hours. I was stumbling over the decorative rocks and wood, hacking and raking. But it was a beautiful day, about 60 degrees F.

Now the cold has returned and I have the day off, so I cleaned the pond. I should have stayed inside and done something fun, like prepare my annual income taxes.

These pictures don’t begin to show how dirty and disgusting and smelly it was. When I see someone’s beautiful pond I know the work that happened behind the scenes.

I disassembled a sponge filter and used the sponge and a plastic cap on my pond pump.

I disassembled a sponge filter and used the sponge and a plastic cap on my pond pump.

First, on goes the sponge...

First, on goes the sponge…

...then the plastic cap. I was able to pump all the nasty water out of the pond without the filter getting plugged.

…then the plastic cap. I was able to pump all the nasty water out of the pond without the filter getting plugged.

Here's the pond AFTER the I had hosed it out and climbed inside and removed rocks, etc. It was MUCH WORSE than this looks.

Here’s the pond AFTER the I had hosed it out and climbed inside and removed rocks, etc. It was MUCH WORSE than this looks.

Notice the plastic jug on the pond bottom. The jug had a square-ish shape and I use it as a scoop. This works well when tearing down aquariums, too.

Notice the plastic jug on the pond bottom. The jug has a square-ish shape and I use it as a scoop. This works well when tearing down aquariums, too.

The small pond had been dechlorinated and tested with 5 Rosy-red minnows.

The small pond had been dechlorinated and tested with 5 Rosy-red minnows.

Today I discovered that a lot of minnows had survived our very cold Winter. Even better, my two Comet Goldfish had survived! I really thought they were dead. I hadn't seen them since October.

I moved all the surviving minnows to the little pond. Even better, my two Comet Goldfish had survived! I really thought they were dead. I hadn’t seen them since October.

I was feeling so bad about the Goldfish dying that I bought two Fancy Goldfish a few months ago.

Since I thought my outdoor Goldfish had died I bought two Fancy Goldfish a few months ago.

Here's the other one. These two will definitely have to be brought indoors before it gets very cold next Fall.

Here’s the other one. These two won’t be spending the Winter outdoors.

After about 6 hours of backbreaking work, I am filling the pond.

After about 7 hours of backbreaking work, I am filling the pond.

As it fills, I made some minor adjustments to the stream, tucking a few rocks here and there.

As it fills, I made some minor adjustments to the stream, tucking a few rocks here and there.

All done! I added some dechlorinator and I'll test it with a few minnows about 3 days from now.

All done! I added some dechlorinator and I’ll test it with a few minnows about 3 days from now.

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And here's the prize find! A 4" long Bullfrog was sleeping on the bottom. It's going to get very cold in the next few days so I'll warm him slowly in my garage and feed him a few worms.

Here’s the prize find! A 4-inch long Bullfrog was sleeping on the bottom. It’s going to get very cold in the next few days so I’ll warm him slowly in my garage and feed him a few worms.

And here's a tip for my fellow bird lovers. After the snow melts there are a lot of seeds under the bird feeders. I wait for a nice dry day and get out the shop-vac. I only look like an idiot for a few minutes and I won't have all those seeds sprouting in the grass .

A tip for my fellow bird lovers. After the snow melts there are a lot of seeds under the bird feeders. I wait for a nice dry day and get out the shop-vac. I only look like an idiot for a few minutes and I won’t have all those seeds sprouting in the grass.

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Water Lettuce and Water Hyacinth in the Turtle Pond

4 Dec

The first 3 years that I had my turtle pond I couldn’t keep any live plants in the water. The turtles (Red-eared Sliders) annihilate everything.
This year, I came up with a strategy that seems to work:
I start by having Water Lettuce growing in my aquariums during the Winter.

Indoors, the Water Lettuce plant stays small under average lighting.

Indoors, the Water Lettuce plant stays small under average lighting.

I have not had any luck growing Water Hyacinth indoors. It must require much stronger light than I have.

Once Spring comes, I put a bunch of little Water Lettuce plants outside in the shade to acclimate it to the Sun.

Once Spring comes, I put a bunch of little Water Lettuce plants outside in the shade to acclimate it to the Sun. I leave them in the shade for at least a week and bring them indoors if it gets very cold.

Little Water Lettuce in the small pond. SEE THE FROG!

Then, into the small pond. SEE THE FROG!

It grows like mad and covers the little pond.

It grows like mad and covers the little pond.

The Water Lettuce gets bigger. See the frog again?

The Water Lettuce gets bigger. See the frog again?

I start putting Water Lettuce into the turtle pond. I also acquired some Water Hyacinth from a pond keeper nearby.

I start putting Water Lettuce into the turtle pond. I also acquired some Water Hyacinth from a pond keeper nearby.

The turtles proceed to eat the plants, mostly the Water Hyacinth.

The turtles proceed to eat the plants, mostly the Water Hyacinth.

But the 30 gallon pond keeps supplying me with Lettuce and Hyacinths and I begin to win the war.

But the 30 gallon pond keeps supplying me with Lettuce and Hyacinths and I begin to win the war.

The Water Lettuce gets gigantic outdoors. The turtles start to get sick of eating it!

The Water Lettuce gets gigantic outdoors. The turtles start to get sick of eating it!

But they LOVE the Water Hyacinth.

But they LOVE the Water Hyacinth.

The pond stays so much clearer with lots of plants to shade the water and filter it.

The pond stays so much clearer with lots of plants to shade the water and filter it.

It was so hot and dry we even had a toad living in the pond.

It was so hot and dry we even had a toad living in the pond.

I take some medium sized plants indoors and , before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

Before Winter I take some medium sized plants indoors. They soon spread over the surface of the aquarium.

Before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

Before you know it, I am giving them away for aquarium use or even throwing them away.

Water Lettuce in the aquarium

7 Mar

Water Lettuce is a plant normally grown in outdoor ponds. I brought some indoors 2 years ago. At first the plants exploded in growth, multiplying like a weed.  But, over time, these plants got smaller and their reproduction slowed.

Eventually I was left with thumbnail-size Water Lettuce plants. Outdoors they can be 4 or 5 inches across.

A few months ago I moved some of these weakling plants into a half-filled 55 gallon tank. I keep this tank half-filled because I don’t totally trust the stand that the tank is on.

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At first there were about 20 little plants.

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In a few weeks I had 40 plants.

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A few weeks later I had 80 plants. I gave my brother 20 of them. Now there are way over 100 plants, probably close to 150.

I have a 48″ fluorescent light fixture over this tank with 2 forty watt bulbs. These bulbs are new and bright but are just cheap bulbs like you would have in a basement or garage.

I have read that Water lettuce does not like too much humidity but this tank is sealed tight and it is very humid above the water line. Below the water line it is even more humid.

Spring is coming and I have a head start on my pond plants. I’ll be able to put 100 of these outdoors as soon as it is warm enough.

Zebra Danios grow up fast!

26 Aug

Everything about a Zebra Danio is fast. Try to catch them in a big tank and you’ll see.
The weather got chilly last week (nights were under 50F) so I decided to get the remaining Zebra Danios out of my turtle pond. I had put about 100 babies out there less than 2 months ago. The babies were about 1/4 inch long at the time. They seemed to do well at first, then I could see the population declining. I was able to catch about 30 with a dip net but the rest were too fast and too smart. They would seemingly disappear! Just vanish! I thought there were maybe 25 or so left.
I had to drain the pond:

Look who else I found! The Bullhead Catfish. I haven’t seen him in so long I thought he was a goner.

I bet he snarfed a few Zebra Danios.


Here’s a picture of about half of the total number of Zebras that were removed from the pond. From a starting number of about 100 I am just guessing that 70 survived.

Here they are in a 10-gallon aquarium. Teenage Zebra Danios about 3 months old.

25 of them are in other tanks, plus I gave a dozen to a friend, so the total was easily over 70 and that’s not too bad.

A little Iowa pond that is drying up

26 Jul

The drought we are having has been deadly.
Here are some pictures of what I call a duck pond in a local park. It’s normally about 3 feet deep. Now there is only a foot of water left.


It’s sad to see the dead fish. I saw lots of turtle heads poking up. A drought may be good for them as long as it doesn’t dry up completely. They have easy pickings on the dead fish.

A much cleaner pond! (I’m learning)

26 Jul

I am too cheap to buy a big fancy filtration system for the turtle pond and it has always gotten green in the summer. A few weeks ago I did two things:
I dropped a standard aquarium box filter to the bottom of the pond. Of course, I added filter wool and have the air pumping pretty strong.

The small airline is attached to a plastic box filter on the pond bottom. The bigger line is taking water from the water pump to the big filter box that flows into the stream at the other end of the pond.


The second thing is that I brought my 500 Gallon-per-hour water pump to the upper shelf of the pond and I clean the intake sponge daily. It only takes 3 or 4 minutes.
I clean the box filter wool every 2 or 3 days. I don’t replace it, just rinse it out.
The pond cleared up in about a week and is looking better all of the time!

This pump used to sit on the bottom. The water goes to a plastic tub filled with quilt batting. I used to leave the sponge pre-filter off the pump so the junk would go to the big filter BUT mostly the pump would just get plugged up with leaves and sticks. Now I can lift out the pump and clean the sponge in minutes.


Here is why I can’t have live aquatic plants in my turtle pond. These plants are FAKE FAKE FAKE and they still snip them apart.

Bad turtle news, some more bad turtle news and some good turtle news.

28 Jun

I came home from work 2 days ago and found little baby turtle #4 was dead. He was in the “incubator” in paper towels.
The previous night we had visitors and I did handle the baby turtle, taking him outdoors and showing them his yolk sac. Most curious, when I found him dead, the paper towels were quite dry. When I changed paper towels every day, I would moisten them with water from a spray bottle. I didn’t get them wet enough and I wonder if the towels were wicking moisture away from his body.
I took a couple photos of him but decided they are just sad, and decided not to post any.
The second bad news is that, since the incubator is now open, I wanted to dig up the egg clutch that was laid on May 7. They have been underground in the turtle enclosure, protected from large predators by some wire. I gathered some digging tools, in particular a couple of spoons so I could dig very carefully.
Here is what I found:

Five eggs were completely destroyed. They were crawling with insects. Sow bugs, worms and slugs all over them! Gross. I found one good egg and one egg that looked good but is quite sunken on the bottom.
If I had found these eggs to be healthy I was going to leave the batch laid a few days ago in the ground, but I didn’t not want the same fate to befall those eggs so I dug them up.

Sadly, I broke one egg, but recovered four good-looking eggs.
In the “incubator” I have 6 eggs.

So far this summer the momma Red-ear has laid three clutches of eggs.
First clutch: 5 eggs total, one not fertile, 4 hatched, one prematurely opened by me. 3 survivors.
Second clutch: 7 eggs total. 5 clearly destroyed. One healthy egg, one questionable.
Third clutch: 5 eggs total. One accidentally broken by me, 4 healthy looking so far.
I am finding out that raising baby turtles can be heart-breaking, but it’s worth it don’t you think?