NANFA-- Convention/Pond Update
Jeff Fullerton (tcmajorr_at_westol.com)
Wed, 4 Aug 1999 01:30:15 -0400
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Finally got my last shift out of the way and now in
final preparation for the long drive to the NANFA convention at Champaigne /
Urbana which will begin at first light the day after tommorrow. (Actually
Looking forward to seeing everyone there! Will have
slides taken of my pond for presentation after hours in the NANFA room. Mike
Quispe & I will be staying at the Ramada which is about a mile from where
the convention will be - or so Mike said when I talked to him last.
Yesterday I made a windfall in the purchase of a
huge bale of barley straw from Agway for only $3 as opposed to those dinky foot
long bricks from a local garden center which cost about $11. That's what I
wanted to do in the first place but have been frustrated by the sporadic
availibility of barley straw locally.
Since the original application in May I have
experienced a dramatic reduction of algae that was choking my plants -
especially troublesome to the milfoils which cannot shed the algae readily as
Cabomba and Vallisneria. Up to now, the only species that could hang on was the
Variable Milfoil - Myriophyllum heterophyllum - now I have some M. verticiliatum
(red stemmed milfoil) doing well and hope to maybe try a few other
According to most sources barley straw should be
applied twice a year , starting in March and then replacing the bales in mid to
late summer. I am getting good results with 4 bales for my 16'x 20' pond (ca
2,000 gal- rough estimate) which may be a little on the side of overkill since
my source reccomends one bale per 1,000 gal. To replace the old bales I removed
the spent straw from the plastic mesh bag that the little bale comes
in and stuffed it with finely chopped fresh straw from the bigger bale. I
am trying a phased replacement over the next month to allow for the
time it takes (about a month or more for new straw to become active). The bales
are naturally bouyant and need to be held down by a peice of fishing line
anchored by a stone or other weight that suspends the bales a few inches of
the water surface (need to be near the surface for max effectiveness). To
start out from scratch - I recommend using a plastic mesh onion bag to
stuff the straw in.
Because the barley straw was slow to kick in (for a
while I even had algae growing on the bales!) I was starting to get skeptical.
But now I'm convinced that it works well. Like Pine Straw used previously ,
I think barley stablizes pH too - since our last pH reading
taken Monday was at 6.4 at 17:00 hours - which suggests that it does
provide a buffer. When the pond is not buffered pH levels will fluctuate as high
as 7.4 in the evening from the photosynthetic activities of plant life. I will
have to take a series of readings to make sure.
In addition to the delightful results with straw- we had a series of
refreshing rains that broke a heatwave and somewhat mitagated the
ongoing drought conditions which had the water levels in the pond down
significantly. Unfortunatly not in time to save local farmers - the region
is to be declared a federal disaster area.
Despite the heat wave native fishes that I keep in
the pond have for the most part thrived and reproduced. I had at least 3
nestings by dollar sunfish and hopefully the bantams as well. The starhead
topminnows - Fundulus escambiae have also reproduced prolifically again - have
fry going in a stock tub plus the pond and one of the satellite ponds into which
eggs have hitched a ride on plant cuttings. I now hold trimmings a while before
composting them for this reason!
Unfortunately the Northern Redbelly Dace and Weed
Shiners did not reproduce well. The adults thrive but the spawns are not
successful because apparently the fry do not compete well in the community. The
presence of Fundulus and Gambusia may have something to do with it. I did try
spawning them in separate tubs but probably need to devote more attention to
retreval and rearing of the eggs.
Better luck next year.
Jeff from PA