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Waiting for spring
The pump quit working on one of the coldest days of the winter and the pond froze over to a depth of about 3 inches. We worried that the fish would suffer from the lack of fresh oxygen in the water or a build up of gasses under the surface of the ice.We chopped a hole in the ice and dropped two small oxygenators which bubbled under the surface. This served to keep an opening in the ice for the rest of the winter. The tubes are visible to the left of the pond in the first picture.
No matter how thorougly we rake and clean in the fall, there is always a big mess to clean up in the spring! Bags and bags of leaves and twigs and debris to pick up ...
We start the spring clean up by removing the netting which we had tented over the pond in October. This was the fourth winter that we had used the same net, so it had quite a few rips and tears which had allowed some leaves and twigs to fall into the water. Time for new netting this fall!
The beneficial bacteria and the barley straw which deter algae growth both stop working when the water temperature is less than 50 degrees so there is quite a lot of algae growth over the winter. The first day we began our clean up there was a lot of thick algae floating on the surface of the water. We scooped a lot of this out and added bacteria which will start working and kill the algae as soon as the water warms up.
All of the fish survived the winter! Little by little they start exploring and making short trips out from under their "hide" where they've congregated for the winter. Sadly, we lost three frogs this year. All three were in the top pond. We think it's because that pond froze solid and the frogs couldn't get out becuse of the netting.
The fish will know on their own when to start eating. How amazing! As the days get warmer they venture to the top of the water and watch us as we stand on the side of the pond. Gradually, the younger koi and the goldfish visit the spot where we used to throw in their food and wait there for us to drop in something edible. If the water isn't warm enough, they'll nudge at the food, but don't really start eating until late April.
We had quite a few warm days late in March and early April of this year so the algae is starting to die from the bacteria we've added. We clean the skimmer basket every day and sometimes twice a day - always full of gunky dying algae. We purchased a long handled swimming pool skimmer a couple of years ago (one of our best purchases!) and use it every few days to skim along the bottom of the pond to remove leaves, twigs and algae which have sunk to the bottom. This is so easy with a flat bottom pond and no rocks! Friends of ours who have traditional rock and pebble lined ponds are spending these early spring weekends draining their ponds and scrubbing rocks, while our pond just cleans itself!
We've named our visiting ducks Fred and Ethel. No, we're not sure that those are their real names, they just seem to fit somehow.
Fred and Ethel visited us in the spring of 2003 for the first time. At first, we were afraid that they would eat the fish or somehow cause damage to the pond. We've found out that they don't bother the fish at all and are actually good for eating some of the dying algae as it floats to the top of the water.
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