Tag Archives: turtle 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.

No turtle babies for 2014

2 Jan

I’ll get right to the fact that no turtle eggs hatched for me in 2014. I realize now what I did wrong so let’s skim over my stupidity as quickly as possible and move on to other topics that showcase my brilliance.

CAM03109This looks pretty good, right? The eggs are in the shoebox-sized plastic tub covered by Coir (coconut-fiber), and vermiculite. Under that is a bed of sand. Under the little tub is another bed of sand, maybe 3 inches (8 cm) deep. Under the bigger tub is a heating pad, the kind you would use if you were sick or cold. I set the pad on the lowest setting. I wanted even distribution of the heat on to the eggs so they would incubate at 80-85F. (27-30 C).

I then placed the plastic cover that came with the big tub over the whole thing. I didn’t fit it on tight. I left it a bit loose so there would be some circulation of fresh air to avoid mold.

Every few days I would open the lid and spray water over the eggs and sand.

The only glitch along the way was the time we had a power outage and the heater kicked off. I didn’t realize it for nearly a week. The temperature went below 70F (21C). I don’t think that caused a problem, though. It seems to me that in the wild turtle eggs could easily get colder than that and still hatch as long as the temperature eventually heated up. The incubation would just last longer.

When the time to hatch was getting near I checked the eggs. They were shriveled and dry. I was shocked. I thought I had kept them hydrated but then I realized that I had too much sand draining the moisture away. Even though the eggs were covered by Coir and vermiculite, they actually were sitting on sand that pulled moisture away.

This happened to two clutches of eggs. The mother turtle laid two sets of eggs in a very short time, only weeks apart, so both clutches were in the incubator together.

Here are the parent turtles (Red-eared sliders) in the pond.

Here are the parent turtles (Red-eared sliders) in the pond.

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After a hard rain it’s a good time to watch for the female turtle emerging from the pond to lay her eggs.

I carefully dug the eggs out of the wet ground. If you don;t see the turtle lay her eggs you will never find the nest, I promise.

I carefully dug the eggs out of the wet ground. If you don’t see the turtle lay her eggs you will never find the nest, I promise.

This is the second clutch of the summer. There were 7 eggs in the first nest and six in this one.

This is the second clutch of the summer. There were 7 eggs in the first nest and six in this one.

If you’ve gotten this far you must be a turtle lover! Here are a few other turtle pictures just for fun.

Here's old Peggy, a Central American Wood Turtle, finding a worm in her salad. I've had her almost 25 years!

Here’s old Peggy, a Central American Wood Turtle, finding a worm in her salad. I’ve had her almost 25 years!

Does this look like turtle food?

Does this look like turtle food?

After the Hibiscus flower begins to wilt my Red-foot Tortoise gets a treat.

After the Hibiscus flower begins to wilt my Red-foot Tortoise gets a treat.

I picked up this Western Painted turtle while at a local park.

I picked up this Western Painted turtle while at a local park. I released her quickly, but not quick enough.

I never had this happen before. She peed. A lot.

I never had this happen before. She peed.                    A  lot.

 

 

 

 

Turtle eggs June 13, 2014

14 Jun

I was watering the plants around the pond and I almost didn’t spot the momma turtle under some flowers. She doesn’t leave the pond except for one reason, to lay eggs.

CAM03094I made a nice sandy beach for her last year but she was 15 feet away from that. All my hard work…

CAM03095She left no trace of a nest, except that I had SEEN her digging. She fills it back in and packs it down and it’s virtually invisible. Here I have removed the eggs, feeling like Roy Chapman Andrews in the Gobi Desert, and left a  spoon in there to show you how deep she goes, through hard ground and full of plant roots. Amazing.

CAM03096Here they are, seven eggs!

I added a layer of mixed vermiculite and coir (coconut husk fiber) over the eggs, then put the container into ANOTHER container which has a bed of sand in it, then put that on a shelf with a heating pad underneath. All the sand is so the heat radiates into the container evenly, no hotspots.

I’ll get a picture of the egg incubator thing and post it soon, and I’ll keep it moist and mostly covered. You check back in a few months, okay? We’ll find out if I am the foster parent of septuplets.

 

 

Four seasons of a pond

14 Jun

If you build a pond these are the four stages you will go through every year:

(unless you live in a nice warm place but bear with me here)

During the season we call Winter let’s just call the pond FROZEN.

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Nothing happening unless your pond is deep and you leave the Goldfish or Koi outside to chill out.

As the Frozen season departs the pond thaws and we have that beautiful time of year when the birds chirp and the frogs croak and the pond is STINKY.

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Hey man, I mean stink, stank, stunk, ya know.

After some hard work we have the briefest season of all, which is simply CLEAN. The water is clear, the bottom of the pond is bare.

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This doesn’t last long. After A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall the worms crawl in and die. Leaves blow in. Dirt blows in. Everything is Blowin In The Wind, right into your nice, formerly clean,  pond.

The best time of year I call LUSH.

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The plants are growing like a jungle. Maybe your fish are breeding. The pond is alive from every angle. Insects on the flowers and in the ground. Birds bathing in the stream. Frogs and Toads , of course, find this oasis you have created. This is why you have a pond. After all the work, and the smell, you have a little paradise in your life.

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.

Turtle egg report for Summer 2013

3 Dec

This past Spring, on May 1 to be exact, I reported that the momma Red-eared Slider (also known as  Banana) was outdoors digging a nest. When the sun went down that night it quickly became VERY cold, under 30 degrees F.  So I put the mother into a dry tub for the evening, where I hoped she would rest until the next day. But instead of resting, she laid her eggs in the tub. Then the eggs got jostled and stepped on. I still hoped they might survive. I put them in my homemade incubator but none developed. All of the eggs, 5 of them as I recall, quickly shriveled and/or fungussed.

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Two months later, in July, the momma was out wandering again and this time I saw her on three consecutive days. That can mean only one thing. She was looking to nest, but I never saw her digging. I searched hard for the nest, hoping to rescue the eggs, as my past experience of leaving eggs underground did not go well. Last year, a nest left to develop naturally was destroyed by several types of worms and grubs. So it’s possible there was a nest of turtles but with the drought conditions here I doubt the eggs ever developed or that the babies could even dig out. And if they dug out what would happen? Would they crawl to the pond only to be eaten by their parents?

During the entire month of August we had one measurable rain and it was only a few tenths of an inch.

Rain was so rare that I ran out and took a picture of the pond.

Rain was so rare that I ran out and took a picture of the pond.

One day in September I came home from work and Banana the Turtle was on land, hiding in the shade under some plants. The ground was very hard. I turned on a sprinkle of water, raining down gently over her, but within a minute or so she scampered (yes, turtles can scamper) back into the pond.

And that’s it for 2013. No eggs to be found.

I decided to construct a sand nesting area that the turtles can use next year.

I dug a hole...

I dug a hole…

...and filled it with exactly 100 pounds, or 45 kilos, of sand.

…and filled it with exactly 100 pounds, or 45 kilos, of sand.

A turtle beach!

She’s indoors now for the Winter, and I have a 55 gallon aquarium ready for her of she acts like she needs to lay eggs. I have about 6 inches of mulch in the bottom of the aquarium. I think I’ll just take her out of her water habitat every week or two and put her in the dry aquarium.

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Sometimes a pregnant turtle will lay their eggs in the water, where the eggs quickly die. Or the mother turtle may hold the eggs in and become egg-bound. That is not a good thing. An adult aquatic female turtle  needs a place to lay eggs. If you see a major behavioral change in your water turtle, and you suspect her to be pregnant, put her on dry land for a few days.

The behavior change you notice may be that she gets extremely active, trying to escape the tank she is in, or just the opposite, sitting on the bottom of the tank , fat and miserable, like Americans on Thanksgiving.

Random thoughts, a post for those of us with no attention span whatsoever

1 May
My son gave me some candy called a Swedish Fish. Yummy! Are they made in Sweden?

My son gave me some candy called a Swedish Fish. Yummy! In America the Swedish Fish are made in Canada 😦

Treat your fish once in awhile. Here's a bowl of peas, brine shrimp and cocktail shrimp.

Treat your fish once in awhile. Here’s a bowl of peas, brine shrimp and cocktail shrimp.

Her'es an extra piece of pond liner that I gave to a friend who might make a pond this year...or next.

Here’s an extra piece of pond liner that I gave to a friend who might make a pond this year…or next.

My wife and i lined this planter with strips of pond liner. The planter dries out too fast. Water can drain out between the strips but hopefully not too fast.

My wife and I lined this planter with strips of pond liner. The planter always dries out too fast. Now, water can drain between the strips but hopefully not too fast.

All done, waiting for Spring!

All done, waiting for Spring!

A few weeks ago, the last bit of snow in the yard.

A few weeks ago, the last bit of snow in the yard.

Spring comes, then it snows again.

Spring comes, then it snows again.

...so feed the birds!!

…so feed the birds!!

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Finally the rains came, and the ponds filled with worms!! i have netted hundreds of worms form the pond. Great fish food, especially for Catfish and Cichlids. If you poison your yard, don't feed the worms to your fish.

Finally the rains came, and the ponds filled with worms!! I have netted hundreds of worms from the pond. Great fish food, especially for Catfish and Cichlids. If you poison your yard, don’t feed the worms to your fish.

Our Golden Retriever hears someone has just gotten home.

Our Golden Retriever hears someone outside.

A few warm days and we think Spring is finally here. We have been fooled 4 or 5 times so far.

A few warm days and we think Spring is finally here. We have been fooled 4 or 5 times.

The Chinese Curly Willow has made it through Winter!!

The Chinese Curly Willow has made it through Winter!!

Too much Caulerpa in the Saltwater tank.

Too much Caulerpa in the Saltwater tank.

I took some to a fish auction.

I took some to a fish auction.

I bought afish tank at the auction, and some plants but my favorite purchase was astack of this magazine from 1969 to 1971. Practical Fishkeeping!!

I bought a fish tank at the auction, and some plants, but my favorite purchase was a stack of this magazine from 1969 to 1971. Practical Fishkeeping!!

Winter is returning tonight , for the fifth time this Spring. My brother sent me this pic of the turtles in Missouri. But it will be cold down there, too. A strange year so far.

Winter is returning tonight, for the fifth time this Spring. My brother sent me this pic of the turtles in Missouri. But it’s getting  cold down there, too. A strange year so far.

A view of Red Swordtails and young Angelfish from above.

A view of Red Swordtails and young Angelfish from above.

A Spring salad today and the snow is coming again.

A Spring salad today and the snow is coming again.

This old girl, who I've had for 23 years , enjoyed the day as well.

This old girl, who I’ve had for 23 years , enjoyed the day as well.