Altho the pond is two seasons old, we did not clean it last year - big mistake. Well, at least a medium-sized mistake. By fall the water was so dirty that the pump filter was having a difficult time keeping it clean, but no fall house cleaning for ponds. Like bears, our scaly friends slow way down in the winter and sleep a lot in the bottom, but unlike our furry friends they still need to eat now and then. And without the pump, they have to get their food and oxygen out of the muck on the bottom. Don't ask me to explain the science, but all the books agree - don't clean the pond in the fall! Since I am not much of a cleaner anyway, I had no difficulty following that rule.
So, siphons, pumps, brushes and the hose in hand, we attacked the pond yesterday. After terrifying the fish by draining half their water and forcing them into the bottom, we scooped them all out into big plastic tubs and started in on the muck. There is the same kind of satisfaction in cleaning the pond that one find in mowing the grass - you know it won't last long, but it looks so good when you finish. Even standing bare footed and ankle deep in cold - I do mean cold - water, it felt good to do.
But the wonders we discovered: three, count them, three frogs! We had seen one a few times, but perhaps it's a family - two large and one small. Now we think we have identified the "black fish" that we saw feeding last fall - big tadpoles! And did you realize that frogs stay under water for long periods of time - like hours - and really do use the "frog kick" to get around. I'm a city girl - that was news to me.
Wonder #2: the waters lilies live! Both have sprouted new growth and one is so much larger I had to repot it. I alrelady knew that the iris had thrived, but they live at the surface and I could see weeks ago that they had new growth. Even tho the water lilies were billed as "hardy", I fully expected to be buying new ones in May.
Wonder #3: the baby fish made it, too. In the fall we counted 8 - 11 babies of various sizes. Now we know that three were tadpoles, so the count was really 5 - 8 babies and we ended up with all eight. With the five big fish, we had more than our tiny pond can sustain, but the pond store recycles fish, so we took most of the the little ones back.
This morning the five "old fish" [Big Red, Goldie, Oreo, Spot, and Whitie] are now circling the pond with three youngsters - as yet unnamed, but clearly the children of Spot or Whitie, which will make naming them more difficult. They are eating and seem none the less perky for wear and tear and the excitment of spending the day in a plastic tub. Perhaps they even appreciate the clean water and gurgling pump - I sure do!