Monday, May 19, 2008

Spring housing problems

I have a garden full of tree frogs. These two love to live in my calla lilies. Unfortunately the callas are fast rotting away, but the frogs love their houses and refuse to move.

If they would consent to moving just one floor down, they could have two brand new calla lilies, model houses, if you will, and be the first occupants of these elegant new homes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fertilizing aquatic plants

If you have not yet fertilized your water lilies, now is the time. Use aquatic plant tabs and push them into the soil. Use one tab for each gallon of soil. If your lily pads have not yet reached the surface, wait until they do.
I do not fertilize other aquatics. The fish waste seems to do a fine job of that. The plants leap from their pots as it is. With fertilizer, they would be camping on my front porch.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fire Ants and the Pond

I get many questions about killing ants (especially fire ants) around the pond. They are worried about poisoning the fish if some ant killer gets in the water. Diatomaceous earth is an effective and natural ant control. Even if some gets in the pond there should be no problem. Diatomaceous earth is available at most garden centers. Follow the label's instructions for use.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Koi and Clay

Koi will scrounge around a pond's natural bottom for food. When they eat the food, they also get some tiny pieces of clay. The clay provides tiny particles which provide needed grit to help with digestion as well as beneficial minerals which account for much of the very bright colors of Koi living in natural bottom ponds.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Fish spawning

It's spring and a young male fish's fancy turns to thoughts of female fish. When you see your fish chasing after each other, sometimes even removing scales or acting as if they are fighting, they are really spawning and you will soon be a goldfish grandparent.

Fish are not good parents. The moment the fish is born, the parents try to eat it and are often successful. Goldfish are born a grayish, brownish color to give them a chance at life and obviously, some make it.

If you give those babies a place to hide, they have a better chance of survival. The best place for fry to hide is in the fine roots of water hyacinth. Scatter the hyacinths around your pond so the fry can stay there until the coast is clear. When they get a bit bigger, they can survive much more easily.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Koi? Illegal?

Owning or keeping koi is illegal in the state of Maine. Koi are considered a nuisance fish that can invade public waterways and cause native fish to die out. No matter what state you live in, check with your local extension service to find out the status of koi.
Other states are considering making owning koi illegal. Check with your local pond society or extension service to learn the status of koi in your state.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Clean out that pump

The biggest cause of pump failure is the pump getting clogged and dirty. At least once monthly uplug it, remove the tubing that goes out of it. Get the garden hose with a strong nozzle on it. Turn it on full blast and put it in the hole where the water comes out. You will blow the debris out of the pump and impeller. The impeller needs to turn freely. Test it with a screwdriver.

Do not pull your pump out of the water using the cord as a handle. That is the second largest cause of pump failure.

One of the first signs a pump is failing is it begins to run intermittently. There is a safety mechanism in the pump that turns it off when it gets too hot. If that happens, start shopping because your pump is not long for this world.

I love Oase pumps, so check them out. They have a great warranty and cost very little to operate.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Louisiana Irises

Louisiana irises are just finishing blooming in Zone 8b on the North side of Lake Pontchartrain. Our Irises are beautiful plants and love to grow in our ponds or anywhere where they can have wet feet. They are great for bog gardens and rain gardens. I have used them next to ponds and even in gardens where there is no pond in sight. They do well up to zone 5. Consider adding them to your pond.
To read all of my articles and get pond questions answered, see
Click on Pondlady's articles or download her ebooks.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Feeding fish

Do not feed goldfish because it turns the pond into an outdoor aquarium, but here's yet another reason not to feed them.

Fish soon realize that when a shape appears at the edge of the pond, food appears. They like that and soon they are trained to eat out of your hand. At least that is what you think.

Fish are not the brightest of critters, so when ANY shape appears at the edge of your pond, like a heron, an egret, a crane or a raccoon, they come up to greet the intruder and oops, they become a fresh sushi dinner for a hungry intruder.

For more pond information, have a look at Backyard ponds with the pondlady

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wild Plants

If you gather plants from the wild, you will bring in parasites and diseases. If you must harvest from the roadside ditches and swamps, first of all, be careful. There are some unpleasant creatures living in those ditches and swamps.

Secondly check local laws, it may be illegal.

Third, put your plants in a washtub or bucket of water with a cup of so of Clorox in it. Leave them there for a week to ten days. That will kill any parasites or other bugs that may have found their way home with you.

Check them well when you put them in your pond for any hitchhiking critters that may have traveled to your house with your new plants.

I find it is often easier to buy the plants from a reputable aquatic nursery or online to assure the plants in your pond are disease and parasite free.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Pond Plants

It's time to pot up plants after you have divided them. If your pond is like mine, you have many more plants coming up this spring that you had last fall. So hack them in two or three or four pieces at the bottom and repot them. Here's how:

How to pot up pond plants.

Don't forget you can read more about ponds at
Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Visiting Wildlife

If you trap visiting wildlife like raccoons, and want to relocate them, check with the Wildlife Commission to see if
1) You have rights to move them to a more suited environment,
2) If they are prone to mark their territory and return,
3) Have the local humane society trap & move them to a more fitting area. 

If they are taken to a brand new neighborhood, they are likely to be unable to find food and die.

Learn more about ponds and get your questions answered at
Backyard ponds with the pondlady

Monday, April 14, 2008

Flower pot pond?

I just got an email asking if a pond could be in a flower pot. I answered that I have had ponds in casserole dishes just to prove it could be done.

So, yes, you can have a pond in a flower pot. Put a couple sprigs of anachris in the water, float some plants on top, have a couple of mosquito fish in it to eat any larvae that want to hatch and you will be fine.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Water lily question

I recently introduced 6 fully grown water lilies to my 5000 gal pond. The leaves are starting to yellow and some have small brown/black spots on them. It is a full sun pond with a pump transferring water at rate of 600 gal per hour.

Pondlady sez:

 Water lilies need feeding every 10 - 14 days with Pondtabbs or other aquatic plant fertilizer.
They also like to have the 
tops of their pots at least 18" below the surface of the water and are happier even deeper. 
And remember, the outer ring of leaves gets yellow and needs to be pinched off periodically so the new leaves can grow.
Same with the flowers. They will open and close for about 3 days and then die. Pick them off immediately. Don't let them decay in the pond.
Pinch leaves and flowers off at the pot, not at the top of the water.
Oh, and water lilies do not want water falling on their leaves, nor do they want to be too near moving water. A foot or so away is fine.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fish Fighting?

If you see your fish chasing each other like they are fighting, don't worry, they are not fighting. What you see is fish spawning. You are about have fish eggs, then babies. Fish babies are called fry. And goldfish are not the best parents in the world. They will eat their babies if they can. Goldfish babies are born grayish brown so they cannot be seen as easily be their hungry momma.

To get all your pond questions answered, see
Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Goldfish eggs

There is no set time for goldfish eggs to hatch. The warmer the water, the faster they hatch, so don't worry if some take longer than others.

Goldfish are born blackish, brownish gray and gradually change to orange, gold or other adult colors. They are born dark to escape the parents who will have them for breakfast if given the chance. Not all of them change; some stay the same brownish, blackish color all their lives.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Turtles and other critters

Critters and ponds go together. When we have a backyard wildlife habitat, we get the critters that come with it. Let's do the best we can do co-exist. You can just not invite most of these critters. The others we just have to live with.

Turtles will eat your water lilies. So will koi, crawfish, bass, perch or other lake fish. Raccoons and nutria will eat them as well. So will ducks and geese. I don't know about possums or muskrats, but I would not be surprised if they did.

Read all about ponds at Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Feeding Koi

Give your koi quartered oranges to nibble on. They love them and it gives them vitamin C. They also love red cabbage. Leave it whole and watch them play with it like a volleyball.

If your weather is warming up, it's time to jump start your pond. Put Microbe Lift in your bio filter when you turn it back on. That will start your pond with beneficial bacteria.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Too many fish

Question: We put a pond in 3 years ago and had to put in an ultra voiet light to clear up the pond not working fast enough what is the next step? We have about 35 fish.

Pondlady sez:
It sounds to me as if you have too many fish and you feed them too much.
Your possibilities are to cut down your fish population (probably the best way) or to install a huge filtration system (very expensive) plus your UV light. Even then it is possible your bioload will be too heavy. Maybe you have some friends who could adopt some fish?

The rule for fish load is 1 linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of pond surface.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pond and koi problems

I just got some koi from a friend and now my pond is a muddy mess and stinks and my water lilies are dying. Do I need to clean the whole thing out and start over?

Pondlady sez: 
First of all, your koi are eating your water lilies. And the fish waste is making the pond stink. If you give the koi away and get a couple of plain goldfish and then balance your pond ecologically, you will have a clean pond that is relatively maintenance free. Yes, you do have to clean it out and start over. Sorry.

If you wish to keep the koi, you must add a biofilter and feed your koi.