Addition to the Pond

January 2, 2010

This summer, I constructed an addition to the pond in which to grow water lilies.  With the unusually cool summer, there was scant algae growth on the sides of the pond, so the fish and turtles had little on which to graze.  The turtles satisfied their vegetable cravings by eating my precious water lilies down to the tops of the pots.  I decided to add a pool in which to grow the lilies and, at the same time, increase the filtering capacity of the pond.  The new pool is above ground, takes water from the bottom of the pond and moves water through the lily pool at 450 gallons per hour, a rate that allows the water time to deposit suspended silt into the pool, helping to further clarify the water.  In addition, a filter box was constructed to increase bacterial biological filtration.  Below are the videos I made of the construction of the pool proper, the filter box, and the faux rock wall surface.  For levity, I named the pool, "Frog Estates" and included a concrete sign with frog sculpture.  This pool will be an ideal place for tadpoles to develop and frogs to take up residence.
Lily Pool Construction Part 1


New Turtle Hatchlings

December 2, 2008
At the end of September, turtle eggs hatched and I ended up with numerous common snappers and 3 Western Painted turtle hatchlings. I already posted a video of the snapping turtles.  Here is a video of the Western Painted turtles.

Snapping Turtle Hatchlings

October 16 2008
At the end of June, I collected turtle eggs from nests that had been dug up by raccoons, marked them to keep the same sides up, transported them to a container of soil and let them incubate in my backyard.  From October 4-7, the eggs hatched and I ended up with more than 50 hatchlings. I’m now keeping them in a 75 gallon stock tank in the basement.  Next spring, I’ll take them back to the area where the eggs were layed and release the babies.  In the meantime, I can enjoy watching them grow.  Below is a video of the little guys and, as you can see, they really seem to enjoy eating.

Making faux rock

October 6, 2008
A lot of people have asked me how I make my faux rock.  I made some videos to show the basic technique and have posted them on two pond forums. Maybe it is easier if I just post them here and can refer people to this site.  That way, I hope more people will also take a look at my pond.  Because of the 10 minute limit to videos on YouTube, I’ve broken the tutorial into six parts.  I hope they are helpful.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Making a new project for a restaurant

Thursday, September 25, 2008
Los Rancheros is a really good Mexican restaurant in DeKalb, Illinois where we go on a nearly weekly basis.  After seeing my pond project online, the owner asked if I could make a faux rock water feature for the restaurant.  I spent a lot of time this summer designing, experimenting and building the project and installed it a week ago today. If you want to see the project, check out the album in my pictures section.  I chose to use a rigid preformed 50 gallon pond liner purchased from the local Lowe’s as the pond basin and built a wood frame around it. The project is composed of 28 individual pieces of lightweight concrete, using styrofoam beads as the aggregate. The pieces are finished with an acrylic latex modified mortar layer and colored with a combination of intergral concrete colorant, concrete acid stain and latex paint hand-applied "speckles" using a splatter technique.  The waterfall has two preformed spillway basins incorporated and surrounded by faux rock. Water is circulated with a 210 gallon per hour pump and there are six underwater lights installed withing the spillway basins and the pond proper. The owner plans to plant vines in the incorporated planter and to put tropical fish in the pond. Mesh bags with mechancal and biological media will be placed in the spillway basins when the fish are added.


July 2008
It was a long winter.  This spring I introduced male toads to the turtle aquarium and they began to serenade the female (see "Who Gets the Worm?"). The videos attached are of the males singing in the aquarium.  The noise they made went on all night long. Next morning, all toads went to the pond and 3 days later we had toad eggs.  Eggs hatched, resulting in thousands of tadpoles and, some weeks later, multitudes of toadlets moving out into the neighborhood.

The Pond in Winter

Winter is a time when the pond is pretty quiet.  The fish are at the deepest end with almost no activity, at times under 4 or 5 inches of ice.  The frogs and turtles are hibernating, waiting for the return of warm weather.  The waterfall can still bring something to enjoy. On a bright day, when the snow isn’t blowing, it’s still nice to listen to the sounds and watch the crystals form around the splashing water.  Here is a video to share with you what I get to see whenever I want.  Maybe you should think about adding a pond to your landscape.  They are a little work, but add so much beauty and tranquility to any yard.