Tuesday, March 29, 2011
something fishy going on
As you may remember, we finally got the big pond set up and moved Big Mama out to the country house last October. For those of you who are newer readers, Big Mama is our 20 year old red ear slider turtle and her new pond is a 600 gallon plastic stock tank.
When we moved Big Mama we also moved the pond filter. It hadn't been cleaned out in a few years so we gave it a good cleaning in the process, which kills or otherwise gets rid of the bacteria that eats the scum it filters out of the pond. It also has a foam pad and a charcoal pad the water first seeps through.
I situated the pond in a spot that gets sun most of the day in the winter and morning sun in the summer. We moved Big Mama and her attendant goldfish groupies into a pond of clean clear water and a couple of weeks later added four large goldfish and a handful of minnows that needed a new home.
As the weeks went by, however, the water got murkier and murkier until you couldn't see anything at all. We would see the turtle slip into the water from her sunning spot and then nothing til her head popped up somewhere. And the fish not at all.
The pump was taking a long time to regrow the bacteria and the two other filters were only catching the big stuff. I think that by the time it finally started working again, the pond was too far gone. We were waiting for spring to clean the pond out and start over.
Long about the beginning of March I happened to notice that the water seemed a little clearer. And every couple of days a little clearer still. And the foam and charcoal filters were beginning to collect more and more stuff. To the point that they were totally saturated every three days or so.
And now, the water is perfectly clear.
I can't decide if the filter finally got the better of the algae or if those first two weeks in February when the nighttime temperatures were in the 20s finally killed it all. Probably both.
Now that the water is clear and we can see the fish and the turtle, it adds a whole new layer of enjoyment to it. I'm no longer surprised by the turtle for one thing.
She has eyed my dangling fingers one too many times for my comfort.
Because I feed her by hand.
She really loves snails but I don't get the big ones out here that infest the city. And fruit. Bananas, peaches, grapes, watermelon. She really likes watermelon. When I give her watermelon, she'll take it over to the other side of the pond to eat it. When I feed her, the fish all swarm underneath her for the crumbs.
They are a thing unto themselves, the fish. They have formed a little school with the four big ones and the ten or so small ones. One of the large ones is swelling with eggs. They have learned the system, who feeds them. When I walk by, now that we can see each other, they swim toward me.
The minnows, they got their own thing going.
Yesterday, I was giving Big Mama some banana, holding another piece just under the water level while she consumed the one I had just given her. The pregnant big goldfish swam right up and tugged on it in my hand.