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Frogs, Fish, Flora, Fauna and Filter Folderol

I've put together some thoughts, ideas and actions that have occurred to me over the summer (1998). I'll make reference to other pages on my site and other sites and addresses as well. All are in BOLDED ITALICS and the addresses are posted on Pond Links (link at end of page) and you'll be able to reference them from there.

If you have any neat tricks or relevant thoughts send them along and I'll include them in here. Click here or otherwise item separations will be distorted (1k)

  • FISH -
  • I have 9 koi and several are getting pretty big. A couple around 18". I think in the spring I will lower the water in the pond so I can catch them and take them to a fish store to see what they will bring. I've seen smaller less good looking fish bring $500 or more in pond stores, not that I'd expect to get anything like that but whatever I did get beats a sharp stick in the eye.

    The reason I want to get rid of them is they are plant eaters. While their size makes them very attractive, I can't keep any lilies, or vegetation of any kind (see Flora next). Furthermore my goldfish haven't grown nearly as much as they have in other years and other "crops" (this crop was "planted" early 1997 when I rebuilt the pond and lost all the fish (boy is that a whole other story). The slower growth rates can't be because of the food availability as they ALL get plenty to eat.

    I'll probably keep 3 large (14-15"+) yellow butterfly koi as I've read they are not nearly as destructive as other koi and see how the lilies make out next summer. Except for 2 of the yellow butterfies (around $15) they were all cheap "culls" costing $4 - $6 apiece.

  • I lost a lot of gold fish (more than 50) to a fungus of some sort before I finally got rid of it (1998 Report). And now, a new problem - Something's eating the small fish (10 centers) whenever I put some in. At least I think that's what's happening. I put a few bucks worth in and within a week they're all gone. I don't think the koi or goldfish are eating them. At least they never did before.

    I saw a large frog (one Iron Ernie didn't get - ... yet) hiding in the rocks a few weeks ago and someone told me they will eat fish so I think it might be him. Strange too, you never see him on sitting out. The few times I saw him he was underwater sitting on the rocks. The tadpoles I got this year were bullfrogs from Zett's Farm and they might be different (fish eaters) from the tadpoles/frogs I've had other years. Probably just as well. With the 150 or so 10 cent goldies and 100 or so Golden Orfes (feeder minnnows) I started with I was probably over stocked anyway. (Nice to have a BIG filter {grin})

    Between the fungus and the frog(s) I'm down to 25-30 goldies and a couple dozen Orfes (most of whom are dark instead of yellow. Maybe the frog can see the yellow ones better to catch. I wish he'd eat the dark ones first.

  • Speaking of fish food, I did a half-assed cost study to see what was the biggest bang for the buck. I used the percentage of protein as the determinant factor. Flake food came out, BY FAR, to be the most costly. Do you know you can spend over $60 a lb for it in those little cans (up to $15 for a 7 oz can). I buy it in bulk (Tetramin) for around $12 a lb. At any rate it contains about 40%to 50% protein, depending on the type, which is the highest by far of any that I looked at. In bulk it works out to around $25 or $30 a lb for protein. If you buy Wardley's fish food in bulk you can get it for about $4 a lb in 5 lb containers (That Fish Place). I don't use it because I use the flakes mostly in my SW tank and I've always had good luck with Tetramin and I don't know the protein content of Wardleys either. It's probably lower.

    I bought some koi pellets for $3 lb in a 22 lb bag that had around 20% protein. Works out to about $15 a lb for the protein, a lot cheaper than flakes.

    But (surprise, surprise) the biggest value of all was Friskies cat food. At less than 50 cents a lb (22 lb bags) and around 18% protein, it comes out around $2.50 lb for the protein, a lot cheaper than the 30 bucks for Flake food protein. We get Friskies for the cats' main food source so it's always on hand.

    (I had the exact figures - protein and fat content - and prices all written down with the intent putting into a table for you but I lost the envelope the in depth research was written on {sad sigh}. You know I got WAY too damn much time on my hands when I spend it something like that for an item I MAY spend $100 an entire year on, not including feeding my salt water fish {grin}.)

    So what I do is mix it up in a small bucket - A few flakes, some pellets and plenty Friskies. The flakes get broken into small pieces (almost dust) so the guppies and smaller fish get plenty before the big dogs can eat it all. Once or twice a day they get the "stew". And 4 or 5 times a day I throw in a good sized handful of Friskies mixed with a few pellets.

    I must admit they seem to like the flake food best, with the Friskies and koi pellets a close second. The flakes they can down right away of course, and the bigger fish can down the Friskies and pellets right away (I once counted a big koi take 11 Friskies in one shot) but the smaller fish have to wait for them to soften up.

  • Another thing about fish food. I feed my guys all year long. I don't hold with that No Feed in Winter business. It seems to me carp were around for a long time before they were "domesticated" and food had to be available in those cold times. If it was okay for them then, it's okay for them now. Got a good story though. One early spring a authoritative sounding fella came around and my fish looked fat (they were). He said that was because they had been eating and it was too cold for their digestive systems to work and they were getting all bound up. I promptly went out and loaded up on epsom salts (an old timey laxative) from the grocery store. Lotsa strings laying around the bottom of the pond for the next couple weeks. {grin}

  • FROGS -
    This spring I put in a dozen or so tadpoles from Zett's. In the catalog they were advertised for frog farms and it said it takes two years for them to grow to market size. It also said frog legs are a "healthy" food source as frogs ONLY eat live food. They also sell insect traps just for that purpose. Didn't say nuthin about the "live food" including my fish though. {rueful grin}

    You may recall Iron Ernie from the main Pond page and how he eats all the frogs (almost) as soon as they venture from the pond. Well there's one (at least) that he's missed (the one eating my fish). And he's not only a fish eater, he's pretty darn smart and gets around pretty good too.

    Early one August morning Jack (our other cat) kicked up a fuss in the living room. "Hmmm, now what's going on?' Jack can get quite voluble when he wants attention (one time we left him home alone with Ernie, with plenty food, and went on vacation. He didn't shut up for 3 solid days when we got back. Meeeow!!!"Don't you know it was cold out" Meeeow!!!"All we had was dry food to eat. No can food at all" Meeeow!!! "No company either, just Ernie and you know how ugly he can get." Meeow!!!! ..... Three solid days.). Time to get up anyway and there's a little green frog in the middle of the living floor and Jack is yammering away at it a mile a minute. Ernie is laying over to the side of the room being just as bored as only cats can get.

    Anyway I picked him up (smart as he was he knew I wasn't a danger) and carried him back to the pond. Then this morning (It's now the middle of October), I had taken a break from writing this and gone down stairs. Lo and behold, there's the frog back, MUCH bigger now, sitting on the rug just inside the cat door (actually it's a dog door, you know the kind - a small hatch in the main door that swings both ways so the pets can go in and out at their own pleasure. We call it the cat door because Samantha refuses to use it. Snooty damn dog requires a doorman.).

    Anyway here's how smart that frog is. The first time he had to climb a flight of stairs, open, then close, a screen door to get in the house. Which annoyed the socks offa Jack (maybe Jack had to help him with the screen.). This time he just let himself in the cat door and didn't have to bother anybody. Of course he might have come in the cat door the first time and come up the inside stairs but I don't think that would have bothered Jack as much.

    (I know, I know. Somebody out there is gonna say Ernie is catching the frog and bringing him in the house. That may be true, just like the birds and mice he rescues from the cold outdoors and sets free to enjoy the indoor heat and civilization. But you can allow me a little fantasy can't ya?)

    Most of the stuff in the top pond flourished this year. I got a 4 lily pkg ($20 IIRC) from Zett's and they all flowered in the top pond. (Note - a friend said almost everything he got from Zett's died, so buyer beware) As soon as I moved any of them into the lower pond they died. The damn koi kill them somehow. Dunno how because I never see them messin with the pots and I put gravel on top so they can't get at the roots, but they do anyway. I know it must be the koi because last year I fastened a piece of plastic fencing around a large pot in the lower pond (25-30" deep) that reached out of the water. I had a lily in the pot and some anacharis as well. It all survived the summer and the lily even bloomed a lot. The flowers and leaves not only came up inside the fence, they poked through it as well (it has about 1" openings in it). But the fencing just spoils the visual effect, leaves spreading out and all.

    If you saw the 1995 pictures ( Pond Pictures) of the pond you may recall the Sagitaria growing as much as 2 feet right out of the water. That was pretty neat but it never got a chance to grow back when we rebuilt because I introduced koi in the new "crop". They eat everything green I've tried - parrot feathers, hyacinth, duck weed, even petunia leaves, you name it. It all grows profusely in the top but not the bottom. At any rate I'd like to have some sagiteria again and next year I thought I'd take a shot at a couple lotus as well.

  • I've been reading about nutrients, algae and stuff. My parrot feathers were turning a light green, almost yellow and I had read where that indicates a lack of nitrogen. You can add nitrogen but it takes several weeks (as many as 6 or 8) for water plants to take it up (not as fast acting as earth plants apparently) At any rate I started looking at labels and found Job's Evergreen Spikes to have the highest % of nitrogen at a reasonable price so I threw a couple of them in the pond. Did the trick. Didn't get the real deep healthy green I was looking for but major improvement anyway.

  • I posted an article on Nutrients that's very good. It talks about iron and potash. So, naturally I ran right out and loaded up on them. Put a cup of Ironite in and the pond turned cloudy but cleared up in a day. Also put a cup of some stuff that had a high % of potash (the article reccoed Potash Muriate but that won't be available until the spring at the local garden center). Little early to tell yet but the parrot feathers do look darker (wishful thinking?).

    I've come up with a ratio of how much Lava Rock one needs for his filter. My number is 1 cubic foot for each 500 gallons of pond water. That's not a precise number and you may be able to get by with a lot less but it's what I use and my pond stays crystal clear despite a high fish load and whatever nutrient experiments I do (see above).

  • I stumbled on a neat trick. You may recall that I lost fish whenever I tried to "prefilter" by putting a fibermat on top of the pump. (As the fiber got plugged it increased the suction on decreasing open area until the suction got so great it would grab any fish near by.) By not using the fine "prefilter", a lot of small particulate would get through. The water would still be clear but sometimes would appear almost "cloudy".

    At any rate I had a couple fiber mats "in stock" that were barrel size (remnants from yet another filter experiment that didn't work out) and just for the fun of it I laid them on top of the lava rock in the barrel filter (in the "floc collection" area) (See "Building a Pond") so the water had percolate up through them before being discharged back to the pond. Works great. Apparently what was happening is that small, almost minute pieces of floc were getting carried back into the pond before they had a chance to settle. The mats now catch that floc and my water no longer gets that cloudy look sometimes. (If you want to try it, you could probably use those furnace filters and just lay them on top.)

    The mats are easy to flush. I just put them on top of a milk crate and run the garden hose across. Doesn't add more than a minute or two when I flush the barrel, which by the way, I do about once a week or 10 days during warm weather so I try to make everything as painless as possible.

  • Some people use pea gravel or other material for a bacteriological filter and if it works for them that's fine. There are, however, three characteristics that lava rock has that make it far superior in my opinion.

    1. It has magnitudes more surface area per cubic inch/foot than ANY solid material (gravel, floss, etc.) could possibly have and the name of the game in biological filtering is surface area for bacteria to grow.

    2. When flushing the floc (and other dirt) from the filter, much of the valuable bacteria will get washed away and it takes time for it to get replaced again. Not as long as when the filter material was new but time nonetheless. When flushing lava rock, relatively very little bacteria is lost as the bulk of it, by far, resides on internal surface areas of the lava rock.

    3. Bacteria in Lava Rock can withstand far longer periods without water (during a prolonged power outage for example) as the bacteria stay wet in the interior of the rock far longer than any exterior surfaces.

    4. Think I may have mentioned this elsewhere but in the spring I'm going to (intentions, The Road to Hell and all that)replace the barrel with a wooden structure more in keeping with the "decor". Same principle (DO NOT fool with the principle), just different outward look.
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Pond Links. to the places and papers mentioned above. Click here or otherwise item separations will be distorted (1k)

End of Folderol

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