Friday, April 22, 2011

Fish Out of Water

Monday was our annual "Clean the Pond Day". It's one of those things that responsible pond owners need to do - well, if you have two tiny, enclosed ponds as we do - and that we put off as long as possible. Then when it's done you say, "not so bad after all!" I hope the fish feel the same way, since they experience a bit more trauma than we do.

Before, the pond at the end of the winter looks like it's hiding the creature from the black lagoon - dark water obscuring the darker depths and hiding not only the fish, but untold gook from delaying leaves, food and what-not. Above is the fish pond, which is the cleaner of the two ponds, since it has no fish "waste" or decaying food in it - only vegetation.

The fish are understandably not anxious to be caught and moved for this process, so there is no choice except to start draining the pond and to catch them as they are trapped in less water. A quick scoop and they are transferred to holding ponds. Ok, big plastic tubs.

Then we wash down the sides and vacuum out the bottom, scooping up as much gunk as possible. That goes on the compost pile. You do use fish "emulsion" don't you? The drained water goes to the best perennials - this year the peonies got a big share. And, I pull out the water lilies to cut them back and re-pot for the new season.

They look like land-based tubers and you cut them back the same way - simply cut off the old part that no longer has viable roots and re-pot the newer part. Both tubers already had a large number of sprouts and some leaves that were nearly 10 inches long.

Safely back in the bottom of the pond, fed and refilled with gravel and lava rock the lilies are ready for another year, and all that's left is to fill the pond, treat the water and return the fish. Start to finish - two hours on a lovely, sunny, warm afternoon. No one got wet, except the fish and now the pond sparkles in the sunlight and the fish have remembered that they get fed at the cocktail hour. They are waiting for me every evening.

This is the day that I am annually amazed that we can maintain the lilies and the fish thru the winter. We lose a few fish every winter, but in our fourth year there are still two from the first five we bought - Whitie and Goldie, in case you were wondering. I named the first five, but none of the rest. Since they have common parents there is now a strong family resemblance.

If you're in the area, come have a glass of wine and help me feed them on afternoon!


  1. Oh, I would love to (have a glass of wine with you and feed the fish)! It certainly is worth the time to maintain such a lovely spot. Are you not bothered by raccoons fishing?

  2. Me too! it looks lovely, one of those job you hate to start but looks so improved when done it was worth all the effort.

    This is a job I need to do too, I dont have any fish, just a few fat frogs and a water lily, which I now know how to cut :) x

  3. I would hate this job too but would love the results.

    Where is that sun of which you speak? Not here.

    Off to shower, off to work. Enjoy your weekend.

    xo Jane

  4. our old house, we had this lovely young couple who lived behind us. Their parents/in-laws were straight from China and they LOVED koi ponds and insisted that the kids have a pond and THEY would maintain it. Every spring they came over and freshened it up after winter. And then during hot summer nights, we would sit on our own back patio with a glass of wine and a plate of cheese and grapes and listen to the water run into the koi pond. More than anything, I miss that. Your ponds look gorgeous and I think I will take you up on your offer to pop over for a glass of wine next to the pond next time I'm in town. ;-)

  5. Anneke, yes raccoons can be a problem. The first year they got in the pond over Thanksgiving and ate all the fish. Now we put netting on the pond in the fall and leave it until cleaning day.

    Deborah, consider a couple of fish and a few plants - they are addictive!

    Jane and Ally, wine is chilled. The sound of the water falling is the BEST!