Best selling author Jan Goldfield (Pondlady) shares stories from the pond where toads and the ever-changing face of nature rule. This is the connection page for Jan Pondlady's writings at The Sage Companion Project.
" I founded and operated a pond building company for 20 years.
Now I write what I know, research was On-the-Job all the way.
I never met a rule I could not break, never met a standard I could not raise, and always saw the world as a place I could make better."
Building & Maintaining Your Pond
Many Ponds. One Curmudgeon.
THE CURMUDGEON SERIES AT THE SAGE COMPANION PROJECT
matter the hobby, profession or trade, a specialized argot or jargon develops.
Either it is made up by the practitioners of the vocation or passed down through
generations of past practitioners.
pond business has it’s own vocabulary. We have words we have made up, words we
have stolen from other businesses, initials that mean something just to us, or
words we need to express a common idea to others. Often we forget that everyone
doesn’t know the meaning of the words we toss around casually. So we use them
and you, the newbie to pond building or keeping have no idea what we are talking
I know the following list is not inclusive, I have tried to explain the words we
use so all of you can understand in case I, or anyone else, uses one without
I have intentionally omitted the specialized vocabulary of the koi keeper and the diseases and treatments goldfish. They are so very specialized and better left to the fish vet or fish store owner.
Words you will run into:
Air stones - A little square piece of
porous material, usually glued together sand, driven by an air pump, used to
provide supplemental air in a water garden, pond, or aquarium. They send bubbles
into the water. These are seen more in koi ponds than water gardens with
Algaecide - A chemical used to kill algae
in a pond. Any word with ‘cide' in it means kill.
Ammonia - NH3 is the primary waste product
produced by fish. Ammonia is excreted from the gills as a very dilute form of
urine. Ammonia is extremely toxic to fish.
Barley straw - usually sold by the bale - about the size of a brick and used as a natural method to control the growth of blanketweed or string algae by releasing hydrogen peroxide as it decomposes.
Biofilter - see filtration
Bio-balls - spiky plastic balls made of
polyethylene, used for growing beneficial bacterial in filters because they
offer so much surface area for the bacteria to grow on.
Blanketweed - see string algae - an algae
that look like angel hair spaghetti. They collect in a pond; we don’t like the
way they look and drive ourselves crazy trying to rid the pond of them.
Chloramine - a chemical, recently
introduced into city water supplies to disinfect it. Chloramine is a poison and
is extremely toxic to fish. (And we drink that water?) Pond water containing any
animal life (frogs, turtles, fish), must be treated to remove chloramine.
Dechlorinator alone will not treat for chloramine.
Chlorine - a chemical used to kill bacteria
in municipal water supplies. Chlorine is a poison. Pond or water garden water
containing plants or fish must be treated to remove chlorine.
Dechlorinator - commonly called dechlor -
commercial preparations used to remove chlorine and usually chloramine from the
water. Used to make the pond water safe for plants and fish.
Filter media - a polyester based material
placed inside a pond filter chamber for the adhesion of nitrifying
Filtration - ponds may need filters. Some filters only remove suspended particulate matter from the pond. Others are biofilters that work by allowing a colony of bacteria to grow and remove both particulate matter and organic matter from the pond.
Fry - newly hatched fish.
Koi pond - deeper than a goldfish pond,
with sophisticated filtration systems and normally no plants. Care for it like a
huge outdoor aquarium.
GPH - Gallons per hour. This measures the
gallons a pump pumps per hour.
Hard wired - when a pond pump is wired
directly into an electrical box and we can use a switch to turn it off or on. If
we do not hard wire a pump, we can simply unplug it to turn it off/on.
Liner - used to keep the water in the pond,
or in our case, below sea level, to keep the ground water out of the pond.
Liners are usually rubber called EPDM. When you smell it, it smells like inner
tubes. There are PVC liners, cheaper, but do not last as long by far.
Nitrate - NO3 - a form of nitrogen that is
the end product of the nitrification process. Nitrate can cause the lessening of
the ability of fish to resist disease.
Nitrification - the process by which
ammonia is changed to nitrite, and nitrite to nitrate.
Nitrite - NO2 - a form of nitrogen that is
produced from ammonia during the nitrification process. Nitrite is extremely
poisonous to fish.
Potassium permanganate - a medication used
for treating protozoan parasites and bacterial infections of the skin and gills.
Toxic in water with a high pH. Do not use with either salt for formalin.
Pumps - submersible (in the water) or
inline (out of the water). We used to call them sump pumps and used them to pump
the excess water out of the basement or off the flat roof. You bought them at a
plumbing store. Now they are fancified, made in all configurations, had the
prices inflated beyond belief and are used in our ponds.
Spawning - the reproductive process of
female egg laying and male fertilization in fish.
Spitter - any piece of statuary or pot that
is used to pipe water through.
String Algae - see blanketweed
U.V. light - sterilization process for
algae by which the reproductive process is disrupted by the use of ultraviolet
light. It will not work for blanketweed or string algae.
Water Garden - usually only about 18” deep in warmer climates, housing goldfish, normally not koi, plants. Can have filtration, but not necessarily.
Zeolite - a type of ion exchange medium use for removing ammonia from pond or water garden water.
10 Essential Tips
1. You must have one bunch of anacharis (underwater grass) per square foot of water surface area. This serves as a natural filter and as food for the fish. It grows faster than the fish can eat it.
2. 50 - 60% of the surface of the water must be shaded with floating plants. Water lilies are great, as are water hyacinths, water lettuce or water poppies. Just be sure to compost them as they multiply and not allow them loose in a natural waterway.
3. You must have fish to complete the balanced ecosystem. I recommend common goldfish. Do not put Koi in unless you have built it specifically for Koi. They will eat all of your plants.
4. Do not feed your fish. They will become too big for the area and upset the ecosystem. You will have an overpopulation problem and all of your fish will die.
5. Put in one linear foot of fish for each 25 square feet of the surface area. If you have 100 square feet of the water feature, you may have 4 foot long fish, 8 six inch fish or 16 three inch fish and so on.
6. Do not allow turtles, crawfish, alligators, ducks, geese, DOGS, raccoons, possums, muskrats, nutria or your children to swim there!!!...
7. Do not use chemicals!!! EVER! Add a dechlorinator when you first fill the pond and then when you add more than 10% water afterwards.
8. Do not worry about pH. It will take care of itself.
9.Remove any dead or decaying vegetation regularly so that ammonia does not build up and foul this beautiful project.
10. Relax. It generally will take care of itself. I recommend benevolent neglect as the best approach to pondkeeping.
chapters in THE CURMUDGEON SERIES
chapter one : "I was born a curmudgeon"- I was born a curmudgeon. As soon as I was self aware, I started asking questions. I questioned values mainly and then not my grandparents because they spoiled me, gave me ice cream, homemade bread and blueberry pie. Mostly of my family because, duh, those were the only people I knew. CONTINUES HERE (1)
chapter two: " I object to your bad grammar"- C'mon people. Please start learning and using good grammar and spelling. We can't understand what you want to say when you use loose instead of lose. Or their instead of there or they're. Learn the difference between hear and here. And fergawd's sake, no more apostrophe esses on the ends of words unless it's a contraction. See: It's. Contraction for it is. Easy, right? Well do it then.
Teachers, are you teaching grammar? Do any of you teach your students about hour and our, affect and effect? Do you know the difference?CONTINUES HERE (2)
chapter three: Nature and the Pondlady -
The Vernal Equinox is Upon Us -So it's spring and the trees are greening up, wildflowers blooming and the pond is waking up. There are new green leaves from irises breaking the water's surface and maybe, just maybe, the beginnings of water lily pads. Spring storms salt and pepper our lives. We plant our veggie gardens with optimism, put in bedding plants in the flower gardens, check the perennials for new growth and settle in to watch our gardens, both water and soil grow, flower and prosper.
Sounds and Paths that Change- Come with me through the forest down into the Doe River gorge. The ground sinks under our feet from the hundreds of years of nature returning to itself to provide for itself and for us, although we are one. Some of the walking is difficult--the vines get in our way and the partially decomposed fallen trees block the path we pick out. CONTINUE READING HERE (3)
chapter four: "You get what you get- so don't complain" - Accept things like they are. Don't make waves. Don't draw attention to yourself. Hush. The teacher/minister/clerk/doctor/dentist wants you to be quiet and not interrupt. Don't ask questions. I hear that or a version of that all the time. Parents talking to their children, spouses talking to spouses, adult children to elderly parents. People who think they have authority speaking to people they perceive as not having any. Read on Here (4)
chapter five: Vegan? Vegetarian?
You have decided to become a vegetarian. You have heard stories about mad cow disease, bird flu and mercury polluted fish and want none of that. You think eating no meat might help your health or it might help you lose weight. And in these days of higher and higher food prices, it might help your food budget. You would be right on all three counts. Before you leap into vegetarian waters, knowing what a vegetarian is might be a good start. CONTINUE READING (5)
chapter six : Storm! What to do and how to do it -"I survived Katrina"
I survived Hurricane Katrina. I know it was 8 years ago that Katrina hit, but when a storm runs away with your house and all its contents, you remember. Trust me, you remember. Now many of you are trying to survive after the biggest storm so far decade century. I learned a few things 8 years ago. I would like to share them and just maybe they could help you.
First call FEMA Program in it your phone. 1- 800-621-FEMA (3362) a must read- HERE (6)
chapter seven: Lemme Tellya' How I Feel- a Grand Series
civil rights and living as an outsider
Do you know what it's like living your life as an outsider? Often hated out loud by institutions that call themselves religious, but preach hatred and exclusion. marched the 1963 Civil Rights protest in Washington DC because I believed in the United States Constitution.I participated in the Detroit riots on 12th Street in 1967 because I believed in the United States Constitution.I was hosed during the Democratic Convention1968 in Chicago because I believed in the United States Constitution
how I feel about movies
Lemme tellya how I feel about movies. I am 71 years old. The first movie I saw was “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” back in the 50’s. I was in high school. Wasn’t impressed, but I didn’t hate it either. I was used to live theater, so movies just didn’t seem real. I next ventured to a movie to see “Butterfield Eight” with Elizabeth Taylor. Enjoyed it.
how I feel about hate filled bigots
I am getting so sick and tired of all the hate filled bigots in this world screaming their hatred to the world. "They" break natural laws, they say. "They" are sinners- are going to hell. "They" are evil and corrupt- or "They" are dooming civilization. Who knew "They" had such power!
how I feel about cell phones for "seniors"
These days, the "senior market" must be separated into boomers, pre boomer and elderly. The members of each of these markets want and need cell phones, but not the same ones. Boomers, 1946- 1955 want phones with all the bells, whistles, gadgets, gizmos and apps that their younger counterparts want and love. These folks have kept up with technology, have grandchildren to keep in touch with and friends to call.
chapter eight: In the Community
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HERE'S TO GARDENS AND PONDS- FOR EVERYBODY