Saturday, April 01, 2006

First feeding and playing in the mud

April Fool's Day is usually when we resume feeding the goldfish, using cheerios at first, because they're easily digested. We started cleaning the pond last weekend, so my husband caught most of the fish and transferred them to this 100 gallon metal tub. We set them up with a bubbler and they're safe while we clean out the pond.

Because we didn't clean the pond this fall and never got a net over it, we really need to do a thorough clean-out. It's full of leaves and muck. The shallow end of the pond and the beach area have small river rock over the liner and this accumulates a huge amount of yucky stuff. It's a really dirty job, so I supervise and take pictures. ;-)

My husband decided we should take all the river rock out and rinse it. It needs a good cleaning, but there are gazillions of rocks to wash. He got his April Fool's surprise this morning when he was scooping through the pebbles and came up with a handful of frog! Said he nearly tumbled backward into the water and muck he was so startled by it! We don't know where this frog came from, but as they say, "If you build it, they will come".

We lost track of the frog for a while after it jumped out of the bucket he put it in for safekeeping. We found him again later way down at the bottom of the pond trying to hide in the muck. Not sure what type of frog it is, does anyone know? I don't see the ridge on its back that green frogs have, so I'm guessing it's a bull frog. We had a bull frog last summer that was eating our fish, so this guy may be dangerous; although he's not nearly as big as the last one. I feel kind of bad for disturbing him, but he needs a new place to hide while we drain the pond.

Once we've got the rocks clean enough, we'll refill the pond, add dechlorinator (the only chemical I use) and let it sit for a week or so before we put the fish back. We'll have to buy all new plants this year because all the lily tubers turned to mush over the winter. It'll be fun to shop for new plants. The photo at right is our biggest goldfish, given to me by a friend from work last fall. It had grown too big for her indoor fishtank, so we added him to our pond. I was concerned he wouldn't make the winter, but he seems to be doing okay - not quite as fat as he was in the fall, though!

11 comments:

Susan Gets Native said...

I looked up this frog, and it looks like it's a bullfrog.
This is the website I looked at:
http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/narcam/idguide
They had some good pics of Amer. Bullfrogs from different angles. I personally can't tell one frog from another...I'm just the one who has to remove them from the window wells of our basement, because Geoff's a sissy.
:-)
How many fish did the other one eat?
Hey, at least you're doing something right, if wildlife is showing up! Good luck!

LauraHinNJ said...

Thanks for the link, Susan.

Not sure how many last year's bullfrog ate, but I caught him with the dorsal fins of one of my favorites fishies hanging out of his mouth - he bit off a bit more than he could manage! We relocated him to the farm pond at the park out back.

Endment said...

This is a great post. I love the story about the bullfrog. We are a couple of weeks from working on our pond but I put some of our waterplants into large buckets of water to get them a headstart. Gave up on fish - racoons really enjoy them.

Mary Ann said...

You really have to have that eight-year-old love of playing in the mud to do this kind of pond maintenance. Like you, I've never been able to reach that equilibrium where the pond takes care of itself.

Michelle Lewis said...

Ugh. I know - spring cleaining time again :( I lost my most favorite shibukin this weekend. Some sort of gas problem - he was all swollen and couldn't stay upright. But the baby fish are doing well and the Koi and big goldfish are starting to become more active. We had a bull frog in the pond the first year ( I believe that's how you and I realized we both had ponds ) But I caught him eating another frog *look of horror and insert scary music* so he was re-located as well. I missed him though, Wog the Frog was not afraid of us and would just hang out.

We use one of those aquarium hose/vaccuum things to suck out the muck. It takes a few times, and accomplishes the spring water change process too, but it's a real PIT butt.

I found last fall that several of my fresh water mussels are still alive so I may order more in this spring (it had been 2 years and I thought they were all gone). They help clean the water too, but I imagine the quantity you would need to have would be *a lot*.

My UV light is the best purchase I have ever made. Really helps with the algae blooms without having to add the nasty chemicals.

LauraHinNJ said...

Yes, UV lights work wonders! One year ours wasn't working so well and the string algae was out of control! The water lettuce and hyacinths did great that year though - we were giving them away!

What do you do with these mussels, Michelle? Do they free-float or attach themselves inside the skimmer box?

Michelle Lewis said...

No, they kind of burrow in the gravel and sediment in the bottom of the pond. Even though I keep most of the sediment cleaned out they do fine in the gravel - though the place I got them from recommended a layer of sand on the bottom for them, but I never did that, can't imagine the pain that would be to keep clean!

LauraHinNJ said...

I'll have to ask around about them - never heard of them here. I wonder if they're only for warmer climates? I told you about the crayfish we tried one year - put them in the pond and never saw them again. The mysteries of ponding!

LauraHinNJ said...

Michelle: Any pics of your pond on webshots? (Hint, hint)

Michelle Lewis said...

I got the mussels from Tricker.com I also bought 2 salamanders but like your crayfish, I never saw them again :) The mussels do fine - they used to be in the lake in northern WI where we used to go camping so I would imagine if they can survive that they could survive NJ!! I have not moved my pond pics to webshots, they're still stuck over on the Sony site. I'll send you an invite :)

LauraHinNJ said...

Thanks, got it. I love your pond and your fishies!