EIPS Newsletter

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November 2004 Newsletter
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In This Issue: November 2004

Saturday, November 20th, 2004
5:00 pm
The Pizza Ranch
219 W 4th Street
Vinton, Iowa

This is our annual end of the season meeting where we celebrate the year and start the planning for 2005.

* The Recognition Committee will be spot lighting all of the members who hosted a meeting at their ponds. Hosts who attend this meeting will receive a wonderful cement castings. Others will also be distributed to members who attend by lottery.

* Elections: Also at this meeting will be the elections. If you aren't there in Nov, there is no one to protect you from being nominated. ha ha.

* 2005 schedule. If you are interested in hosting a meeting next year, plan to attend this meeting.

* Committees will also regroup and start their planning.

* EIPS will pick up the dinner tab. (2 members per family) The Pizza Ranch has a great buffet of Pizza and Chicken and all of the extras.

* And finally, at each meeting this year we have been entering our names in the year long door prize drawing: the Ziploc bag. The drawing will be at this meeting

It is a great meeting to attend. Lots of talking and planning and celebrating.

The Pizza Ranch is on 4th Street in down town Vinton.

Oct 6 meeting was held at the home and business of Sharon Weiss. The meeting started at 6:00 p. m. with a tour of Sharon’s very nice collection of ornamental grasses. They were all marked clearly with the botanical name and information. They are so beautiful this time of year. One of Sharon’s favorites was the Miscanthus Winspiel, which has a ‘see-through’ plume. Other Miscanthus that were shown were the M. Blondo, (my favorite), M. Kaskade (Zone 5, hasn’t done good things), M. Silberfeder (a lot like Blondo) and Little Blue Stem which is red in the fall and 3’ tall. Sharon warns us of the M. Florisus Gigantea. It plums every year (potential for reseeding), was very tall and widespread for being only 4 years old. Not one for a flower bed; maybe in its own setting. The Panicums were an awesome sight especially Cloud Nine. North Wind was a new one for Sharon this year, and the Rehbraun is a shorter grass that turns red in the fall. A good substitute for the short annual red grass everyone likes. The Molina Skyracer is a beautiful see-through grass. Sharon has many others and I hope I got the spelling right and correct info. The mosquitoes were chewing on me, and so for more information please talk to Sharon personally.

After viewing the ornamental grasses, we went up to Sharon’s new garage and had the rest of the meeting. The September minutes were approved with no corrections. The treasure’s report was read. $2317.41 is the balance in checking. Two new members paid dues. Also paid was the newsletter printing costs last month.

Kacy asked everyone to thank Nancy, our treasurer, for mailing out new membership packets. It is a time consuming task. Nancy suggested next year this responsibility be a separate task from the office of treasurer. It will be discussed at the November meeting. We did approve the motion to reimburse Nancy for printing cartridges, paper and stamps.

It was approved to pay for the domain name and web site for another year. Suggestions need to be made for using the profits from the Independence pond tour. The club would like to hear from the people who participated on the tour as to their preference of community projects. If no consensus is obtained, other suggestions will be considered.

Ron and Edna Rife surprised us with a sneak preview of the award portion of the November meeting. meeting. In the past, awards and thanks have been given to many people. Some sincere, some tongue in cheek. This year Edna observed that no one shared any problems or complaints. Since no one admitted to any snafus, she decided to err on the reward side of this segment. She and Ron spent a great deal of time making wonderful cement castings. They are so innovative, from a giant rhubarb leaf to a casting with embedded stone. To have a chance to receive one of these beauties for your very own, you have to attend the November meeting. First in line for these awards are the pond tour chairman, people who had their ponds on the tour and other notables. Distribution of the rest of the castings will be administered by Ron and Edna. Kind of like a lottery, BUT YOU MUST BE AT THE MEETING TO HAVE A CHANCE! Great big thanks to Ron and Edna for their hard work in producing these awards. Believe me; it is worth attending this meeting just to get a chance at one of these original works of art.

Also an election of officers will be held at the November meeting.

Door Prizes were given out. Sharon donated two special prizes; a gazing ball that Kacy went home with and a pond spitter that Herman was lucky enough to get. Thanks, Sharon, for these very special gifts.

Other lucky people who went home with fish paraphernalia were Monica, Roberta, Marjorie, Claudia, Rosie, Gil, Edna, Bob and Nancy. There were so many, I hope I got them all.

We ended the meeting with good food and drink. Sharon had a wonderful hot artichoke dip. It was delicious!

Respectfully submitted,
Mary Robinson

First off an apology to all who receive the newsletter via the internet. You are correct, you did not receive it until AFTER the meeting. I am very sorry. And I have no wonderful excuse. I just forgot to send it to Josh to send it to you. And to make this even worse, and I know it was bad, but worse because the meeting date and time had to be announced in the newsletter because it was not the usual. May I promise to do better?

Following are two winterizing articles, one from the president of the Midwest Pond Keeper’s Society and one from our friend Jamie Beyer from the Ames area. Please note Bob Passovoy and Jamie Beyer do not agree on all aspects of winterizing. Yup, working with nature is not an exact science. Super cooling is still up for debate so I thought I would share with you view points from two experts. No wonder we are confused sometimes.

One other thing. This newsletter is printed in the summer months. Sometimes in the winter, sometimes not. We will be notifying you of the February 2005 meeting either through a real newsletter or a post card. Newsletters will be mailed if there is enough information to justify it. Enjoy your winter hibernation. Or take advantage of the winter months to do some research, write an article and submit it to EIPS for print in one of next year’s newsletters.

It has been a great year. Have a great winter.

EIPS EDITOR—Carol Sindelar

Fall always catches us off guard and we find ourselves plunging our hands into “really cold” water to retrieve those last plants and evasive leaves. Idea! Solution! Besides moving farther south. An item called “Trapper Gloves”. Available at your local hunting and fish center. They are insulated on the inside to keep your hands warm. They are neoprene on the outside to keep your hands dry. And they reach up to … well, your arm pits. Almost far enough. Designed for trappers to remove items from traps that are in the water. Would work well for ponder caught off guard by mother nature. Who would have thought!

It is the policy of EIPS to donate the proceeds of each year’s pond tour to a project within the community/communities hosting the tour.

Now is the time for those who hosted the tour to suggest projects within their cities to be recipient of some funds from EIPS. Please bring your suggestions and all the information you can collect to the November EIPS meeting or contact Joe Olsen.. 319-334-2709.

Got any good ideas for keeping, Deer and/or Heron out of the pond? Two puppies that will grow up to be as big as the house are not doing the job. Has anyone tried the fish line grid for the Herons? Please let Kacy know.

Are there any other problems folks are having? Maybe we could get a question and answer column going for next year.

Pond Meeting Hosts Recognition

At the November meeting the members who hosted meetings this past summer will be recognized and presented with a cement leaf casting, created by Edna & Ron Rife. But you must be present to receive your casting and you will need to be prepared to transport it, they are good sized and heavy. Ron & Edna made many of these castings and others will be awarded to non-hosts also.


All of our officers have agreed to continue in their offices for the next year. So they will be the nominations for the 2005 officers and nominations will be taken from the floor at the November meeting.

Grand Prize drawing! We have added our names to the zip lock bag all year in hopes of winning the grand prize. The drawing will be at the November meeting.

Remember, EIPS runs on volunteers. Please consider serving on a committee. Many hands make for light work.

We have reached the end of the list of clues you might be a pond addict, but I am going to reprint some of my favorites from the last year.

* It is the dead of winter and your sweatshirt sleeves are soaked to the shoulder.

* You keep better track of your pond’s water quality than you do your check book balance.

* You go out every morning to see if that new water lily that you paid way too much for has finally opened up.

* You manage to kill 3 lotus in three years, and you still buy another one for this year to see if you can finally make one grow.

* You go to the pond to relax and can’t sit more than 1 minute before you’re up and adjusting something.

* When there is only one bowl of Cheerios left and you decide to feed them to the Koi instead of the Grandchildren.

* You’ve ever gotten talked to by the police for borrowing rocks form places you don’t own.

* The only reason you go to other parts of the yard is to see how the pond looks from there.

* You put hyacinths in the pond in 50 degree weather cause you want some green. Even though you know it is too cold for them and they are going to die and you will have to buy more.

* You find yourself digging a pond in sub zero temperatures.

* You think the term “working in the pond” is an oxymoron.

I hope you enjoyed these little morsels of truth.

Compiled by Jamie Beyer, Water Garden Consultant

This information may only be used for your own personal use. To reproduce this, you will need written permission.

Many decisions will need to be made before the right techniques can be applied to winterizing your pond.

* Determine if the pond has enough volume and deep enough to successfully keep fish and plants in it during the winter. Almost all above ground ponds (or tubs) need to be emptied before they freeze unless supplemental heat is provided.

* Determine if your water garden needs to be emptied for fish population control and/or sediment removal. Do this in early fall so that your pond can recover before winter sets in. Attempt to save as much of the water (up to 80 %) as possible. Cheap kiddies pools work great but need to be bought during early summer. Retailers clear the shelves of them by late summer. I recommend doing this in the fall instead of the spring. A spring cleaning can create conditions for an algae bloom -- the pea green soup kind.

* What tropical plants do you want to save and what kind of facilities do you have for your use -- like a greenhouse, warm basement equipped with an intensely lighted tub or a dedicated refrigerator turned up to 50 degrees? A few Tropicals make good houseplants -- so get rid of that couch and make room??!!

* Do you want to net the pond to keep leaves from falling into your pond? Some leaves and tree debris may fall through the net -- like locust tree leaves. It may be just as easy to use a leaf vac or fish net to remove them before freeze-up. You do not have to remove 100% of the debris but try and get most of it.

* Decide on how many of the hardy water lilies, lotus and marginal plants you want to over winter. Get rid of the extras to friends and then lower the lilies and lotus to the bottom of the pond after you remove the surface leaves. This will need to be done before an ice sheet forms on the pond - usually the first couple of weeks in November is the best time in Central Iowa. Notice I said usually -- you can get a solid sheet of ice before that but most of the time it melts or can be easily removed.

* What types of fish and aquatic life do you have and how many? All tropical fish will die in cold water of say 60 degrees or lower -- this includes Plecostomus and Apple Snails. Most of the inbred Goldfish will not survive the winter -- the Orandas, Ryukins, and other egg shaped goldfish are in this category. Calico Shubunkin Goldfish, Comet Goldfish, and most Koi are very hardy and can withstand water temps of 34 degrees.

* If fish are brought inside to over winter then decide on types of tanks used and at what temperature. Be sure to cover the tanks with something because fish, that are used to larger quarters, will jump readily until they get used to their more confined space. Koi will amaze you, but with a sad tone, at their ability to jump.

* Do you own a power plant or related to a power plant owner? If not, then forget the floating stock tank heater! I guess there may be times when I would use one but I can't think of one right now to justify the costs -- besides it wastes energy.

* What pumps and filters will be shut off and, if they are exposed to ice, then drain them? Ice will not normally harm flexible tubing but rigid tubing (like PVC) will need to be drained.

* Decide on methods of keeping a slow circulation in the pond. An aquarium air pump or a small water pump will work -- I prefer the air pump. Unless your pond is very small, shallow (less than 18 inches deep) or above ground, then you cannot super cool the water to the detriment of the fish. This is contrary to what some references say but they are wrong!!

By Bob Passovoy, President MPKS

First: standard disclaimer. We live near Chicago, in Zone 6. If you live in milder or colder zones, adjust accordingly.

Only the most fortunate of us Pond People have the luxury of a year-round season. The rest of us have to put up with Ma Nature at her most unpleasant, otherwise known as winter. Our fish will shut down most of their nonessential systems, including their gut and their immune systems, at water temperatures approaching 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and our bio converters are shutting down as well. At the same time, any trees and plants around the pond are attempting to dump a ton of biomass in the form of dead leaves.

Our primary job in this case is to begin early in the fall and prevent the eventual problems this combination of events will produce

First: Cleanout. This is by far the most important thing you will do to protect your fish, especially if your plan is to leave them in the pond during the winter. (This is necessary for all but the smallest of your Koi. Koi larger than a couple of inches will quickly overpower any standard aquarium filtration system. Any fish brought in for the winter will need an established large-capacity bio converter and plenty of water.)

While the air and water are still warm, get into the pond and remove all of the season's sludge and debris. This will minimize the generation of breakdown gases (primarily hydrogen sulfide) during the months when your pumps are shut down, your water is not moving, and areas of low oxygen content can develop in deeper parts of your pond.

If you have goldfish, you will be pleased to know that the comets, shibunkins, sarassas and other long-bodied types are hardy in this area. Round-bodied fancy golds like lion heads, ranchus, ryukins, are marginal. We take ours in, as our marsh garden is somewhat exposed. Other folks leave theirs out, but we can't recommend it; our winters have been too unpredictable lately.

Second: Leaf Netting. Once clean, the pond should be protected with netting fine enough to keep leaves out. The netting needs to be supported by a framework high enough to keep it several feet above the water's surface (to keep fish from becoming entangled) and strong enough to support not only the net, but also the plastic sheeting you're going to put over it as air temperatures drop below 40 degrees at night. I've found that the best solution to this is a greenhouse or "poly-house" kit, usually formed from pre-bent 1 ¼ inch galvanized pipe. Kits of this type can be had cheaply from Midwest Trading in St. Charles, IL.

Third: Know when to stop feeding. Fish are cold-blooded. When the water temp drops, the fishes' digestion stops. Food will ferment in the gut and kill them. In cool weather, it may take three days to completely digest a meal, so you need to be reasonably sure the water temperature will stay up for the next 72 hours. They will still beg when it's sunny, but don't give in. Fall and spring food should be low-protein - easier to digest - Cheerios will do nicely.

Fourth: Ice Management. You'll need to keep at least some of your water surface ice-free during the coldest months to allow for gas exchange. Without protection from wind, even the most robust trough heater will be overwhelmed by a really cold Chicago-area winter, leaving you the unenviable task of huddling out by the pond in subzero weather melting your way through several inches of ice with pots of boiling water*. What fun! An air stone set just below the surface of the water and running "wide open" will help, but nothing beats protection from the wind. Use 7-mil plastic over the pond. This gives a strong greenhouse effect on sunny days, blocks the wind, and keeps the pond still and quiet so the fish are calm.

There are a number of high-tech solutions to frigid water, mostly in the form of pond heaters of various designs. Electric heaters , especially trough heaters meant for farm use, are energy hogs, usually not up to the job, and rust out quickly, often creating short circuits in your pond and injuring your fish**. More elaborate systems involving heating coils filled with a heat-exchange fluid and heated by a modified hot water heater (usually powered by natural gas) can be expensive to install and run. The coils require a basin of circulating water to keep water temperatures up or need to be put into the pond itself. This may require considerable redesign of your pond at a tough time of year.

A flashier and much more compact system based on the instant water heaters becoming popular in newer homes allows reverse exchange flow through a heat exchanger and can be hooked directly into a pond's main return. It can also be run off propane. More information can be obtained by contacting Steve Morelli at Keirin Koi, who is a friend of the inventor.

In any case with water heaters, your target temperature at the bottom of the pond is 39 - 42 degrees. The fish need the rest they have evolved to expect. If you have a January thaw with bright sunny days, you may need to turn the heater off. At 50 degrees, parasites and harmful bacteria become active. Fish won't have an immune system until the water hits 60 degrees. Also, if the fish wake up enough to move a lot, they are burning their fat faster. This is not good if we continue to have long, cold springs.

For those of us on the "low-tech" (see "cheapskate" in your Funk & Wagnall's) end of things, if you have set up your weather cover and secured a layer of 7 mil poly-house covering over it, simply shoving a $30 Home depot oil-filled radiator under the cover in a secure and level area and adjusting the heat level to a setting that keeps the air temperature just above freezing will do the job just as well.

Continuing to run your water system at winter temperatures will "super cool" the water, disturb and eliminate the warmer water stratum at the bottom, and overstress your fish, resulting in a very high mortality rate come spring. The less you mess with the pond in the winter, the better your fish will do. As the water temperature approaches 40 degrees, turn off your pumps and filters, and either drain them or protect them from freezing. Frozen water expands significantly and will explode your piping. Pull your air stones up off the bottom and leave one or two running just below the water's surface.

As the water cools, water at around 39 degrees will settle to the bottom of your pond. Your fish will congregate there, since it'll be the warmest part of the pond. Koi handle temperatures down to 39 degrees without undue stress, and will stooge around near the bottom, nibbling a little algae all winter and living off stored fat. The less they are disturbed, the less fat they will burn and the better their condition will be in the spring.

* Don't break the ice! Water is not compressible. The shockwave can kill or injure fish.

** Electrical current through water causes permanently bent backbones in fish.

Reminder: If you have not paid your dues for the year, this will be the last newsletter you will be receiving.

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