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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Last Post

I've been getting emails from Blogger indicating that a number of back end changes are coming to Blogger and these will affect how this blog operates. My options are to migrate it to a different flavor of Blogger or just keep it up without updating it (until such time as I find an alternative to Blogger altogether). Not sure what exactly I'm going to do as this doesn't receive much activity. I may just kill it. In the meantime, I'll leave it up and stop adding new posts to it. Something I really hadn't been doing much of anyway.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Winterizing II (2008)

Can't believe (yes I can) it's been nearly a year since my last post, which was about winterizing the pond and getting it ready for the Winter of 2007-2008. Well, you know that old saying, no news is good news, and as much as this blog was started largely due to the trials and tribulations I was having with my pond in 2007, the main reason there's been no posts for 2008 -- besides laziness, that is -- is that nothing bad happened this year, pond-wise. Compared to last year, 2008 was entirely uneventful insofar as the Buddha Pond is concerned.

The only pond based pain-in-the-butt that I can recall was actually still from late last year, after the winterizing I mentioned in the previous post. I guess you could call it the icing on the cake. The pump I'd had for at least 3 or 4 years finally gave out, just a few days before Christmas, which was a bummer, budget-timing wise, but by then the weather and pond water was cold enough it wasn't something where I had to drop whatever I was doing to rush out and buy a pump, though I did get one within 24 hours.

Now, the Buddha pond isn't quite 200 gallons, but I'd always used a pump rated for about 200 GPH, so that's what I went looking for, but due to a labeling error, I ended up with one that is actually rated for 240 GPH. It turns out to have been a real plus, overall.

The extra flow does cause me to lose more water from the pond than usual, due to the stronger jet which, over time, causes more water to simply splash out of the pond, but the good part is that it seems that added flow has done wonders for the ponds health.

2008 has been the mirror opposite of 2007, insofar as the problems I was having last year with cloudy water, after the pond had mysteriously and disastrously lost all of its mojo. This year the pond was exceptionally clear, all year long. It's not unusual for it to be very clear when it's cold, but as Winter turned to Spring, and Spring to Summer, etc., the pond just kept on being clear. And I mean so clear that it looks inviting enough to drink (though I still would not, of course). Even during a few times when I was tardy in getting to needed water changes.

Also, and this could be coincidence (as all of this could be), I had almost no problems with algae this year. There's always quite a bit in the Spring, because with no leaves on the trees it gets an extra dose of sunlight, but one the leaves came in and I treated (non-agressively) for algae once or maybe two times, it remained very minimal to non-existent, all Spring, Summer and now well into Fall.

I did a water change over the past weekend, and while I think it would be good to go for this coming Winter, I'll probably do one more change if we get a warm enough weekend to the use the hose, after I'm done with the last of the leaves.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Winterizing

For all my earlier pond troubles in the year you'd think I'd have been a little more diligent about keeping leaves out of the pond than I have been this Fall. Part of the problem -- besides being busy -- was that I was being deceived by all the teeny Water Lettuce in the pond. When the first leaves began falling they would land on top of the Water Lettuce mat that had blanketed the surface of the pond. I'd see those and was able to pick them off, but what I wasn't seeing was the ones that had already fallen through and sunk to the bottom of the pond.

Several weeks ago I did a about a 50% water change and cleaned out what leaves had collected at the time. The water was fairly dark, looking like well-steeped tea. The reason for the extent of the water change, besides the color, was that my pond testing before the previous water change, a few weeks prior, had indicated that the level of nitrates were again climbing, while everything else, PH, Nitrites, Ammonia and Salt Level were excellent -- which means 0 (Zero) for the Ammonia and Nitrites. This last time around the Nitrates were still very low, but I wanted to get them lower.

Then the leaves started coming down in earnest. Last year I lost my netting, but instead was very dilligent about skimming the pond daily to keep leaves from steeping in the water. I haven't done that this year, and oddly, even though we had a false start Spring and then a very dry Summer, the leaves hung onto the trees a good three weeks longer than they have in a so-called "average year."

So the leaves are down now, though it keeps wanting to rain whenever I want to rake them up, and by yesterday the water was looking as dark as I have ever seen it. I could no longer see the fish. Definitely time for a change. I did a very extensive one. More, I'm sure, then the experts would say is advised, but the pond is crystal clear again, Dreamcicle and Blue appear healthy (and appreciative)and the water test readings were all good.

I've put in a fresh filter and it's got to make it through to the Winter as it will probably be the last change until Spring, barring a long stretch of mid-Winter 80 degree days where it's safe to use the hose.

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A Welcomed Water Lettuce Invasion

It's been a while since I posted. August, in fact. I've been up to a lot of things, of which the main thing has been JohnnyGuitars.com.

Meanwhile, the fish, Dreamcicle and Blue, have been doing well, thank you. And after all the earlier troubles of the year -- Keybo dying, Dreamcicle's month long brooding or whatever the hell it was, the mysterious 6 weeks of pond cloudiness and then the even more mysteriously magical clearing on August 6th -- pond mojo appears to be back to stay, at least so far.

The only thing that remained puzzling was a long stretch of time, after the water had cleared, where I was completely unsuccessful at keeping any floating water plants alive longer than about 14 days, and then that too magically stopped happening.

I would buy 3 or 4 Water Hyacinths at Home Depot and put them in the pond, and they'd look real nice for about a week, then they'd start turning brown and slowly rotting away. A couple of times I managed to find ones that were blooming, but even when I drove them straight home (less than 3 miles away) it was hard to keep those blooms from wilting in the plastic bag before I could get the plant in the pond. I went through this a couple of times, replacing the Water Hyacinths and also adding in a single "bunch" of Water Lettuce, but within 2 or three weeks they'd all be looking pretty sorry. In past years I've added one or two bunches of Water Lettuce and the next thing I know I've got 4 or 5, etc. They start off as a tight bunch, then they shoot out sideways rhizomes (not sure that name applies to a water plant since there is no "underground")that become another plant and then eventually breaks away from the original mothership plant. Sometimes I even find them that way in the store, although once the cashier at Home Depot accused me of undercounting the number of plants I had in the bag until I pulled it out and showed them the that the "two" plants were in fact still connected as one.

I can only guess that at that point, having gone through all the earlier roller coaster pond mojo changes that the water was still a bit too "sterile" in nutrients to support plant life. However, finally, after about the 3rd or 4th shopping trip for more plants, one of the Water Lettuce "bunches" took hold and began to thrive and then proceeded to take over. Though I never saw any additional "bunches" that were anywhere near the size of the last original plant I dropped into the pond, I soon had hundreds and eventually thousands of itty-bitty Water Lettuce islands covering the surface of the pond -- looking almost more like that "Duckweed" in the picture, though not all connected to one another -- to the point that I eventually would have to skim some out now and then.

I didn't mind them at all, and the fish needed the shade. Plus, the Water Lettuce was doing a great job competing with algae, and the pond has stayed algae free without the use of any chemicals.

Unfortunately there's no way the Water Lettuce will survive the Winter, and around here I rarely see it on sale anywhere nearby until well into the mid-Summer. So I've got a few samples in glass dish that I'm going to see if I can keep alive indoors over the Winter, and get them back in the pond next Spring as soon as it's consistently warm enough for them to survive, so that they can get a foothold before the algae gets too far ahead of them.

We'll see.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Relief!

Never thought I'd be thinking of 94 degrees as a source of relief, but this past week we've seen day upon day of triple digit temperatures.

100, 101, 102, 104 and, yes, 105!

I don't think I have ever before in my life experienced 105 degrees in a place I called home.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pond Mates

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This picture was taken yesterday, the second day of the magically clear pond. Believe it or not, today it looks even clearer, but I didn't do any shooting. It's still a complete mystery to me how the pond went from being the absolute murky mess it was on Sunday to such clarity, literally overnight.

This was taken as some sunlight fell upon the pond, which is necessary in order to capture a decent shot of Blue. Blue and Dreamcicle are now the only remaining pond mates in the Buddha Pond.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Magical Mojo Mystery

This is more good news, but a mystery nonetheless.

Besides the loss of Keybo in June, the most anxiety producing aspect of the Buddha Pond this season was the fact that, after 7 years of relatively painless maintenance, it seemed to completely lose its Mojo.

I have an over abundance of theories as to why this happened, but most will remain just that, theories, and untested ones at that.

Was it the bizzare Winter we had in '06/'07, where frigid temperatures came in October, nearly two months ahead of schedule, then turned into an unusually warm Winter that last almost to the end of January? Was it the early hot Spring we had in March that made the trees leaf out 3 weeks ahead of schedule, followed by a killer 3 day frost in early April that killed them all, making the trees have to start over and make new leaves?

Who knows? My earliest problems did have to do with way more string algae than I'd ever had a problem with before. I blamed that on the warm Winter and then the extended lack of shade over the pond after the leaves all fell off.

Perhaps it's how I tried to deal with that problem. I used an algae control chemical, from TetraPond, that I had never used before. It's active ingredient is Poly [Oxyethylene (Dimethyliminio) Ethylene (Dimethyliminio) Ethylene Dichloride]. For years I had been using these little white cake things called PondBlock (active ingredient Copper Sulfate pentahydrate), but they don't seem to be very effective when the water is cold. Again, at that time, in the early Spring, my main problem was string algae, with no noticable suspended algae.

For the longest time it seemed that neither product was working. The string algae wouldn't budge.

Then came all the health problems and the eventual death of Keybo. When I first saw Keybo's infected eye, I panicked. I started using a Fish Treatment from TetraPond that I had never used before. It contained Formaldehyde and Quinine-Hydrochoride. Previously the closest thing to an anti-bacterial I had used was MelaFix. For several years that seemed to do everything I needed insofar as healing various fish sores, etc. But like I said, I panicked, and I started using stronger medicine.

Then came the day I tested the water and Ammonia and Nitrites were off the charts. It's been so many years since I had any problems controlling these that I can't remember the last time I saw them above zero.

Right or wrong, I came to the conclusion that I had managed to kill off too much bacteria, even the beneficial stuff. Soon after the death of Keybo things got to a point where it was as if I was starting the pond anew. There was no algae, but also, apparently, no Mojo. I was back to where I was in the first season we had fish in the pond, chasing my tail trying to manage toxicity and clarity in the water.

During the entire month of July I was making weekly water changes. The toxicity was getting under control, but then a new problem came in the way of suspended algae. I would change water and it would look great, for about a day. As the week progressed, each day the pond would get cloudier and cloudier. Within 3 days it would be nearly impossible to see the fish unless they came right up to the surface. Water changes, clarifying agents and plants seem to be doing me no good, at least not in the long run.

My last water change was on July 29. The water continued to look good a little longer than previously, maybe about 3 days, but it was obviously clouding up again, just a little slower than usual. I had to accept that as progress. It looked certain I would be doing another water change on the weekend. But the weekend came and I didn't do it on Saturday. I also blew it off on Sunday, and it was looking pretty bad. I had been monitoring for toxicity all along, and that was zero, as it should be, but the water again looked like thick, green soup. So I told myself I was going to have to deal with it by Monday for sure.

Monday morning, as if by magic, the water was clear. The clearest water I had seen since early June. You could see the gravel on the bottom of the pond, easily. Better yet, Tuesday morning, today, it's even clearer. Like sparkling clear drinking water.

Just to make sure there wasn't something wicked going on, I did the whole battery of water tests this morning and everything tested out great.

We're having a heat wave. The water this morning was 82 degrees F. Could that be it? I dunno. I'm a little weary on theory at this point.

It's a Magical Mojo Mystery.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

The Boss is Back

I'm referring to Dreamcicle, the queen of the pond. Some good news, for a change.

She had me worried through most of July. She just was not acting like her old self at all, and there was no way of being certain whether it was from illness or trying to get used to the new configuration of just two fish, herself and Blue.

In the past I've always treated the pond and not the fish, per se. So, for the first time, I used Medi-Koi food to treat the fish, believing that Dreamcicle was possibly dying a slow death, just like Keybo apparently did. I used it for 10 days. They seemed to ignore it for the first two days. They're used to floating food, and I think the first day's dose just sat on the bottom of the pond and crumbled, dissolved and made the pond cloudy. By the third day I was introducing the food gradually; I would sprinkle a few pellets on their heads, to get their attention. That seemed to freak them out a little the first time I did it, but they found their food. In another day or two they didn't seem to mind the head sprinkles at all, and would start diving right after I did it. It was hard to tell if they were diving for the food, though, because the pond was getting cloudy.

This has been such a weird season with whacky weather and the earlier loss of Pond Mojo, so I can't necessarily blame the Medi-Koi for the cloudiness, but I didn't like the way the uneaten Medi-koi crumbled on the bottom of the pond, where I couldn't easily skim it out. It seemed to counter the intent of treating the fish only. I don't know what the anti-bacterials are in that food, but my ammonia and nitrite levels became an issue and difficult control. After the 10 days, and another partial water change, those were back to zero and have stayed there.

In any case, back to Dreamcicle, even after 10 days of Medi-Koi I wasn't terribly confident she was going to make it. She hadn't previously ever seemed to "adopt" Blue in quite the way she had with Keybo, so I couldn't tell if she was keeping herself isolated in illness, or just ignoring Blue.

However, for at least two weeks now she has been swimming around and being her generally busy self again. Both fish are back on their usual floating diet and both have been eagerly eating again. And, this morning, at feeding time, Dreamcicle seemed to be herding Blue around a bit. I'm not sure if it was to get him to eat more or to keep him away from "her" food. In either case, Dreamcicle is back to being Dreamcicle.

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Saturday, August 4, 2007

What Glen Said

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He took the words right out of my brain:
It is staggering, and truly disgusting, that even in August, 2007 -- almost six years removed from the 9/11 attacks and with the Bush presidency cemented as one of the weakest and most despised in American history -- that George W. Bush can "demand" that the Congress jump and re-write legislation at his will, vesting in him still greater surveillance power, by warning them, based solely on his say-so, that if they fail to comply with his demands, the next Terrorist attack will be their fault. And they jump and scamper and comply (Meteor Blades has the list of the 16 Senate Democrats voting in favor; the House will soon follow).


Read the rest.

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