We actually have two ponds, well, four, if you count the two in different fields for cows that are no longer there. I’m sure the deer benefit. There are two in our yard, a front one and a back one. We put a few goldfish, tiny ones from Wal-Mart, several years ago, in the back one. We never fed them. There was plenty of natural stuff going on back there. In a couple of years those goldfish turned into about seventy. That number would fluctuate over the years.
Then we decided to get Koi. We put those in the front pond, only last year. Almost immediately, a huge snapping turtle appeared. There was one of our new Koi, might I add, what I considered the prettiest one, floating on the water, with a bloody hole in its side. Isn’t it always the prettiest one? Out of five Koi, one was dead; two appeared to be going strong and growing like crazy. The other two we couldn’t figure what happened to them. Maybe the turtle ate them whole.
The front pond was a work in progress, year after year. We had never intended in using it for fish. It was just supposed to be a relaxing waterfall, one to do yoga beside. But, each year we would make it a little bigger. It was a natural pond, clay based, no need for a pond liner. Koi love these kinds of pond. But, by the same token, when we did decide to put Koi in the pond, they whipped up so much mud; we couldn’t really see them, unless they surfaced. Nor, did they appear to need the food we threw at them.
It was last year that we decided to expand the pond one last time. We worked around the Koi. We dug on the outside of the pond and finally broke the barrier. All looked okay for a while. But we had dug beyond the clay into dirt. Water kept leaking. We gave up trying to find the leak. It was just too much work. At times we did think we had the leak under control. So, we purchased seven more Koi. Mind you, these were baby Koi, and only cost around $4 to $7 each. There still was enough water in the pond that the remaining fish (we only thought two at the time) found places to hibernate. We said we would deal with it next year, which is now this year.
A liner for that size pond was going to be super expensive, but we sprung for it. These projects always take on a life of there on and become more expensive. So, this spring we began the work, lining it, and building a rock walkway around it. All the rock we use comes from the farm we live on. While doing the work, we moved the two larger Koi and the others to the backyard pond. In the meantime, while draining the remaining water we found the original other two Koi that we thought Mr. Snapper had gotten. They were alive and doing well in the mud.
When the front pond was ready, it was not so easy to move them back. They resisted. Like who wouldn’t when you see someone coming after you with a net. I tried to reason with them, saying, “You are going to a better place.” They obviously thought, “What, we will be reincarnated as these pesky frogs that invade our space?”
Anyway, we basically had to semi drain the back pond to get them out. After we did, we could see they were much happier. They were basically doing dolphin tricks to show us their appreciation. We decided to just move all fish to the new pond, in other words, the goldfish, too. We hadn’t even intended to put any fish in the back pond either. We just intended it as a meditation pond. But after a couple of years, like I said, we thought we would get a bag of small ones, approximately eight, from Wal-Mart and would just see what happened.
When we did move all the fish, there were much fewer goldfish than I had counted at peak times. Perhaps, when they all thought they were going to their death, they partook of what they thought was their last meal. There had been tons of baby goldfish.
Right after the move, I was sitting near the pond, and spied a strange-looking head peering out of the water. It neither looked like Mo or Jo, our two biggest Koi, over a foot long now. Yes, that is how much they grew in a year’s time. I went over to look, but didn’t see what I thought was a miniature Lock Ness Monster creeping out of the front pond. A week later, my husband discovered it was a new snapping turtle. We had purposely built this pond with steep sides to prevent such a thing from happening. This was the third year that a snapping turtle had made its way to the front pond. Maybe telepathy or some type of radar from past turtles drew him or her here. It obviously couldn’t get out. And, luckily, the fish were of a sufficient size and swam too fast for him or her. My husband scooped it out and placed it in the back pond. We fed it for a about a week, thinking about possibly making the back pond into a haven for turtles, but it moved on. Hopefully it sent out telepathic vibes to his fellow comrades that the pond had steep sides, “Don’t go there.” We can hope.
Then within a week of the move, we saw strange things happening in the water. We had just bought three new baby Koi. I hadn’t intended to, but they were just too cute. We only went to the fish place/greenhouse to get some pond plants.
It was only a couple of days before I spied one of the new ones floating atop the water. I scooped it out. This time the other fish all scurried to my net at the same time. I could have easily taken a few more out. Maybe they thought there was a better place even beyond this pond. Maybe they weren’t as happy as I thought they were. Maybe it was just their irrational behavior during spawning season. After some research we found this was what was happening in the water. They reaped havoc on the new water plants, and more than likely killed the new fish.
We did put a bunch of the eggs in a bucket. The man at the fish store said if we did this they would be safe from their parents and might possibly hatch. We will see what happens.
As far as predators besides the turtles, we have both dogs and cats. They seem to take care of most things. Our dogs even chase the shadows of birds across the lawn. The man at the fish store said the raccoons got all of his prize Koi. And, while there we ran into someone who told us that her backyard had flooded during the heavy rains we just had. Her Koi floated down the creek. I wondered if they said, “Free at last!”
Just when we thought the turtle adventures were over, I noticed one day that the waterfall had stopped. When my husband got home he put on his rubber boots and stepped down into the pond. Upon pulling out the pump, he jerked back with a startle. The backside of a turtle was hanging out of the pump enclosure. His head had been sucked in. Luckily after removing him (yes, he or she was dead), the pump started back up without a hitch.
So, this is my big fish story for the day. Honestly, I would have never thought I would be this into fish.