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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 07-12-2013, 10:42 AM
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Unhappy Please Help- pond in crisis

I'm getting really worried about our pond now. I posted about two months ago, when a dog we'd been looking after for a friend jumped in and knocked one of the pond baskets off of the shelf- of course it landed upside-down and emptied all the dirt out into the water.

I tried gently using a small fishing net to get out most of the soil, but only did this every week to give the dirt time to settle. It never has- the pond looks like a big muddy puddle- dark and murky.

I've been clearing the leaves off the surface regularly, and this morning thought I'd try and get a bit more soil out... I'd noticed bits of hornwort floating near the surface but didn't think anything about it- just thought they were broken pieces from when the dog tried to scramble out.

I was quite surprised to discover that the huge, thriving mass of hornwort that had been well established back in the summer has all but disappeared! I'd even had to 'weed' the pond a few times back in July or thereabouts, but it now seems those small floating pieces are all that is left.

We've only had one night cold enough for the bird-bath to have any ice on it- would that have killed off a large quantity of submerged hornwort? I've noticed the other submerged plants are not doing too well either- my fringed water lily seems to be just one long broken piece floating about, (it had been rooted in a submerged basket). Even the duckweed has died back- although I do remember it doing that last winter.

The plants in the partially-submerged baskets seem to be ok, (brooklime, water mint, and watercress) but I'm seriously concerned about the pond overall. I'm hoping against hope we don't have to dredge it again- we did that just the summer before last, and it was doing so well. It's really sad to see it like this, but I want to get it in a healthy condition before the frogs start returning in the spring!

Any advice much appreciated- I'm not sure what to do about this. Should I just keep gently removing mud every so often? I don't understand why it's not settling. Have posted a few photos to try and show how it looks.

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Old 07-12-2013, 07:18 PM
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Re: Please Help- pond in crisis

Obviously the weather is such that no-one (apart from thee and I) is thinking about ponds at this time of year!

My only comment at this stage is that all my plants have died off as well - they just seem to disappear completely.
My personal knowledge base says that water plants grow from dormant roots and stems - presumably just like perennial flowers- so don't worry about them. All those lovely big leaves the waterlily puts out just rot away, leaving a dormant base to grow from next year.
(PS - all those leaves turn black, sink to the bottom and rot. Not all good news....)

Re the hornwart, I've just found the following, which, if you can get round the long words, makes sense!
"Like liverworts and mosses, the bryophyte hornworts exist in two different reproductive forms, sexual and asexual, which appear alternately. A leafy plant body, or gametophyte, produces gametes, or sex cells, and a small horned form, or sporophyte, which grows upwards from the gametophyte, produces spores. Unlike the sporophytes of mosses and liverworts, the hornwort sporophyte survives after the gametophyte has died."

Result - it'll be back in the spring!

The rest I'll leave for now - dinnertime first!
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Old 07-12-2013, 07:45 PM
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Re: Please Help- pond in crisis

Its up to you but its a good time of year to clean a pond if you want to. Put any plant material near to the pond so critters can crawl back in and keep newts and tads safe in a bowl until you have finished. I've just devided up some large crumps of water iris and there were very few tadpoles left in there and no frogs to be seen.
I'm not at home so can't show you a photo but my pond plants are dying back or not as obvious, the water is clear however.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:47 PM
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Re: Please Help- pond in crisis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Souwesterly View Post
Re the hornwart, I've just found the following, which, if you can get round the long words, makes sense!
"Like liverworts and mosses, the bryophyte hornworts exist in two different reproductive forms, sexual and asexual, which appear alternately. A leafy plant body, or gametophyte, produces gametes, or sex cells, and a small horned form, or sporophyte, which grows upwards from the gametophyte, produces spores. Unlike the sporophytes of mosses and liverworts, the hornwort sporophyte survives after the gametophyte has died."
Different kind of hornwort - the aquatic ones are flowering plants in the genus Ceratophyllum. No connection with the bryophytes of the same name.
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Old 07-12-2013, 09:07 PM
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Re: Please Help- pond in crisis

Quote:
Originally Posted by King Edward View Post
Different kind of hornwort - the aquatic ones are flowering plants in the genus Ceratophyllum. No connection with the bryophytes of the same name.
Oh - what?
hornwort
Quote from the above - "Hornwort
Nonvascular plant (with no ‘veins’ to carry water and food), related to the liverworts and mosses. Hornworts are found in warm climates, growing on moist shaded soil. (Class Anthocerotae, order Bryophyta.)

The name is also given to a group of aquatic flowering plants which are found in slow-moving water. They have whorls of finely divided leaves and may grow up to 2 m/7 ft long. (Genus Ceratophyllum, family Ceratophyllaceae.)
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Old 07-12-2013, 09:11 PM
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Re: Please Help- pond in crisis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Souwesterly View Post
Oh - what?
hornwort
Quote from the above - "Hornwort
Nonvascular plant (with no ‘veins’ to carry water and food), related to the liverworts and mosses. Hornworts are found in warm climates, growing on moist shaded soil. (Class Anthocerotae, order Bryophyta.)

The name is also given to a group of aquatic flowering plants which are found in slow-moving water. They have whorls of finely divided leaves and may grow up to 2 m/7 ft long. (Genus Ceratophyllum, family Ceratophyllaceae.)
A good example of why scientific names should always be used alongside the common name
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Old 16-12-2013, 08:57 PM
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Re: Please Help- pond in crisis

Thanks for all the advice, everyone- so I'll try and get as much mud as possible out, but not panic about my disappearing hornwort, (which is Ceratophyllum demersum, I am pretty sure!)

In the meantime, I'll try and get some better fencing to go around the pond to be ready for the next time our friend goes on holiday.
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Old 22-12-2013, 08:34 PM
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Re: Please Help- pond in crisis

Maybe try a 25% water change also, will remove alot of nitrates and phosphates along with getting the sludge out the bottom of the pond
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Old 23-12-2013, 08:58 PM
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Re: Please Help- pond in crisis

Regretfully, we had to make the decision to dredge the pond- it seemed to be getting worse and once we got it nearly empty we discovered why... dozens of frogs!

I supposed they kept stirring up the mud so that it continuously stayed murky- at times it was nearly black. So, once it was down to a few inches of water we got in it with wellies and rubber gloves and caught them and put them all in a bucket- over twenty of them in total. After then swabbing and sponging it clean again, we put in about 8 inches of water- left that to stand for the rest of the day to reach air temperature and then released the frogs once it started to rain again.

I wanted to make sure there was enough water in it to discourage the neighbour's cats. We've put a few pond baskets on bricks to give the frogs additional shelter, too- and also ways to get out of the pond if they want to. It still needs a LOT of water before it's full- I want most of it to be rainwater, so I don't mind if it takes it a while... I want to be sure I've got the pond baskets positioned correctly this time, too.

At the moment we can still get in it with wellies, if needs be. I didn't think to get a photo of all the frogs in the bucket- I should have.
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