Fall update in Vermont, winterizing happening soon


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Just wanted to share my progress on my new guppy pond that I started this summer as the seasons change. We've had a few quite cold spells already, getting close to frost, but not quite freezing yet (it's been down to 36 though). Today it was balmy and warm though, so woo for Indian summer!

In preparation for winter, this week I disconnected the hose from the pump tee splitter that I'd installed to split the pump output between the waterfall and the fountain. I then moved the fountain to the upright segment that has full output (it was on the split side with a valve to control flow rate so I could use a mushroom fountain head and it not overshoot the pond while the waterfall was on full output), and I've just opened the side valve into the pond to regulate the fountain height. The valve is about 6-8" below the water surface and is creating horizontal current in the pond, but only at the top tier - not that the guppies mind, they love strong current. The waterfall segments have gravel in them, and according to the manufacturer, they can freeze solid and will be fine over winter, so I wasn't planning on draining them or doing anything to them, although in the spring I will probably scoop out all the gravel for a thorough cleaning before hooking it all back up. I'm going to bring the waterfall box inside for the winter as I'm not at all convinced it will survive a deep freeze, even empty, as the plastic seems questionable. I would be interested if anyone living in a northern clime has left a Danner Manufacturing, Inc. Pro1000 Filter and Falls, Pond Waterfall Box, #02477 out all winter and how it fared, as it would be nice to not have to bring it in. I plan to just leave the waterfall hose in place unless you guys think I should bring it in. It's drained, but is buried very shallowly just under the rock. It's Tetra brand 1" hose. Do you think I can leave it in place if it's fully drained(which it is, as it's on a steep hill)?

I've taken the bio-media from the waterfall box and added it into the pre-filter box in the main pond to maintain the biofilter since the waterfall is shut off. I assume this will be fine, other than it being a gunky mess come spring. I did a very thorough cleaning yesterday, and I'm planning on it being the last time I do anything to the pre-filter for the year and into next spring, assuming the heater manages to keep the pond open, which is the big question. I added a 300 watt Aqueon Pro aquarium heater back about a month ago as soon as it was dropping below 55 in the pond. That has done a fantastic job and so far the water hasn't gotten much under 50 degrees even when it's been quite cold, although it has been right at that many mornings. I've since moved it from the side of the pond and stuck it to the pre-filter box so that it's closer to the pump, in the hope that it keeps the pump warm enough not to overly stress it and to keep the pond open once it gets colder. I'm going to cover it like @callingcolleen1 does hers next month when it gets cold and see what happens. If it starts to freeze, I'll pull the pump and add a big airstone and a second heater, but I'm hoping the fountain with the aerator head on it will be enough surface disruption to keep it open, and the heater right by the pump will heat the water enough to allow that to stay on all winter. We'll see! I've got a bottle of cold-weather bacteria solution on my Amazon wishlist, but the pond seems fine and clear with the "normal" aquarium bacteria so far. I'm not sure how cold it needs to be before the cold water bacteria are really needed?

I was expecting to find a bunch of dead guppies (working under the assumption that tropical fish can't tolerate water below 50 degrees) when I took the box filter and pump out yesterday to clean it and change it all up for winter, but only one dead fish! There are probably 25-30 live, apparently healthy fancy guppies in there! I've switched out the bulk of their food to a cold-weather goldfish flake, with just a few guppy pellets mixed in, but on colder days, they don't eat, so I wasn't holding out a lot of hope since guppies are normally very social and will come visit you when you feed and I'd not had many make the trip to the surface to come visit for weeks, but after I cleared out the gunk (acorns/worms/leaves) and was able to visualize the bottom, I netted them all up and it was a huge amount of guppies! Today it was very warm, and they were active, so I did feed them, but I've been only feeding them once a week.

Anyway, so far it's all working out perfectly! Here are some photos from today, before I netted all the leaves out, and after (it was getting dark and I'd go take better ones but now it's really dark). Nice and clean and ready for winter! I never got any plants because I got such a late start in the year (nurseries were closed by the time the pond was done), I plan to add plants next spring/summer, and look forward to maybe buying some from you guys if you have any to spare. I did add a big clump of moss and a hosta to one of the waterfall tiers trying to do "something" for plants for the balance, but it wasn't very successful. Next year I'll invest in real plants.
 

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JRS

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Glad to hear they made it. Many fish are more resilient to temps. than we think especially if gradual and short term. I once had a large common pleco in my turtle pond outside and the water temp got into the 40s for a while during a sudden fall cold snap. Thought he would be a goner but made it back inside with no problem.
 
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Today it is super windy in Vermont, lots of power outages from downed trees, and lots of leaves, so I utilized an old storm window over the pond to block some of the leaves from blowing into it. It was missing two glass panels, so I move one from the center to fix one panel and open a hole for the fountain, and covered the other empty pane with a doormat. Definitely not a winter solution, but should do for the next month until I'm ready to put up a better cold frame. Unless a branch falls onto it, in which case, glass in the pond will have to be dealt with, but hopefully that won't happen.
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As seen from my porch:
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I did manage to lose my thermometer in the leaf scooping of the day. Oh well, not digging through a 3 foot high, 12 foot wide pile of leaves to find it. I can tell if the water is good or too cold by feel, so don't need it anyway. I also did take in my waterfall box today, the bulkhead fitting won't come off the hose, so hopefully that will survive the winter.
 
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My first thought was about the possibility of glass breaking, but I was thinking more of an animal stepping on it. You've got a lot of leaves!
 
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My first thought was about the possibility of glass breaking, but I was thinking more of an animal stepping on it. You've got a lot of leaves!
The largest animals that pass through there are the neighbor's cats, and it's solid enough to support a cat. So far it's working great. I can see steam exiting the fountain hole when it's cold out, and the water is staying nice and warm. Today I lifted it and did a minor leaf scooping, much less leaves finding their way in there now!
 
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I'd be a little worried about that glass breaking too. Why not just use a cheap nylon net to keep the leaves out? Those bird nets for fruit trees are basically the same as pond nets. Very economical. I support my net with 3/4" pvc in a bow fashion. I hammer driveway marker sticks into the ground and slip the pvc onto them creating a bow.
If you want something solid, maybe get some plexiglas and 2x4's.
 
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I'd be a little worried about that glass breaking too. Why not just use a cheap nylon net to keep the leaves out? Those bird nets for fruit trees are basically the same as pond nets. Very economical. I support my net with 3/4" pvc in a bow fashion. I hammer driveway marker sticks into the ground and slip the pvc onto them creating a bow.
If you want something solid, maybe get some plexiglas and 2x4's.
I don't trust netting not to entangle the neighbor's cats. I could see a claw getting hooked then them panicking and drowning wrapped up in a net - not worth the risk. The storm window was just laying around so that happened, I don't plan to use it very long, but my cat had a major emergency vet bill so I don't have the funds to buy anything this month.
 
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I hear you....we're still paying off one of those vet Bills!
Little pookie (Seraph) is my biggest priority. She's my sweet little angel. She is still feeling a little under the weather after her abessed tooth blew out through the side of her face weekend before last. She lost two teeth and wasn't eating for over a week. Still not doing too hot and having to blend wet food with water into smoothies for her, but she is at least now able to eat. Not too happy with me right now as the force feeding for a week plus lots of nasty oral meds forced into her painful mouth has made me the enemy at current. Enjoy the nasty side eye (that's the look of "you better not be here to drag me out of my heated bed to be tortured again":
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Our cat had a urinary blockage. He had to stay with the doctor over night. It cost a bundle and he's not exactly our favorite cat. He has a quirky personality and is always trying to sneak out the door between our feet or under the dog. He and the dog are both black, so you can't see him under there! He looks like your cat!
He mostly doesn't eat with the other cats. He prefers to "steal" his own food. We leave a plastic container with dry food on the floor for him. He sticks his paw through the open lid and pulls out the morsels. He IS kinda cool in that respect.
 
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Pond is still doing fine! Hasn't frozen a single time all winter other than one very windy night when the fountain swished around a bit too much and made a chunk of ice that halfway covered the open pane. That took some very careful chipping with a putty knife (it is a glass storm window, after all) but got it all chipped off and back to status-quo again! I can't see inside well enough to say if any fish have survived, but since I've been pretty lax of feeding and the water has been relatively warm during the day I'd guess not. The 300 watt titanium aquarium heater is working out fantastically. We had an extremely wet/heavy snow a couple days ago that had me out there scooping the panes clear as I was worried about the weight on the glass, but no signs of any breakage so far. I've been lucky thus far: I plan to make an acrylic cover for next winter so I need not concern myself with the risks of glass.

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Our cat had a urinary blockage. He had to stay with the doctor over night. It cost a bundle and he's not exactly our favorite cat. He has a quirky personality and is always trying to sneak out the door between our feet or under the dog. He and the dog are both black, so you can't see him under there! He looks like your cat!
He mostly doesn't eat with the other cats. He prefers to "steal" his own food. We leave a plastic container with dry food on the floor for him. He sticks his paw through the open lid and pulls out the morsels. He IS kinda cool in that respect.
@poconojoe - Sorry to hear about your kitty. My Seraph is all better now. It was a tough month for her, and she now has a scar on one cornea that will always leave her with blurry vision in that eye to show for it all.
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I also had a cat with urinary issues years back. Dry food is no good for urinary blockages: you want to urinate to be dilute, so feeding wet food (canned or pouches) is the best option for cats with urinary issues. I had one for many years that had severe blockages (I was also feeding dry kibble at that time) and he had to have major surgery to remove his gentials because he kept re-blocking. It wasn't until after he died that I learned how bad dry kibble is for the problem because it concentrates the urine - even the prescription dry foods for urinary issues are no good. I'm currently working on a spreadsheet of the common prescription cat foods compared to some of the better commercial non-prescription cat foods to help owners find the best alternatives to prescription diets. Pop me an email if you want a copy when it's done: stressing @ gmail.com
 

mrsclem

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Our cat had a urinary blockage. He had to stay with the doctor over night. It cost a bundle and he's not exactly our favorite cat. He has a quirky personality and is always trying to sneak out the door between our feet or under the dog. He and the dog are both black, so you can't see him under there! He looks like your cat!
He mostly doesn't eat with the other cats. He prefers to "steal" his own food. We leave a plastic container with dry food on the floor for him. He sticks his paw through the open lid and pulls out the morsels. He IS kinda cool in that respect.
Just saw this post about your cat. Guessing vet put him on a urinary diet. We lost 6 cats over several years even after switching foods. We started using only distilled water for cats and have not had any problems since- and no expensive RX cat food!
 
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Just saw this post about your cat. Guessing vet put him on a urinary diet. We lost 6 cats over several years even after switching foods. We started using only distilled water for cats and have not had any problems since- and no expensive RX cat food!
That's a great catch! Especially if you live in an area with hard water, yeah, that could for sure cause urinary crystals/stones!
 

mrsclem

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We had so many cats sick, replaced hot water tanks, dishwashers, faucets. Water supply is now not as hard but not taking chances with kitties!
 
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We had so many cats sick, replaced hot water tanks, dishwashers, faucets. Water supply is now not as hard but not taking chances with kitties!
That's terrible. My cats are my babies. I fall into a deep and relentless depression every time I lose one that takes me years to pull myself back out of. Thankfully all mine are now young and healthy, but man, I have some bad regrets that still haunt me. I will for sure consider the water hardness from now on. I do live in an area with hard water. I wonder if vets should be more aware of the water hardness in the areas they practice in and how it impacts pet's urinary health? It certainly makes absolute perfect sense to me and I will from now on be sharing your experience when I bring it up.
 
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mrsclem

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That's terrible. My cats are my babies. I fall into a deep and relentless depression every time I lose one that takes me years to pull myself back out of. Thankfully all mine are now young and healthy, but man, I have some bad regrets that still haunt me. I will for sure consider the water hardness from now on. I do live in an area with hard water. I wonder if vets should be more aware of the water hardness in the areas they practice in and how it impacts pet's urinary health? It certainly makes absolute perfect sense to me and I will from now on be sharing your experience when I bring it up.
I have made sure all our vets pass this info on to people with this issue, cheap fix! Our one cat cost us over $3000 in bills for surgery when he was only 6 months old. We are now dealing with kidney failure and auto-immune issues with a 9 year old kitty. We love our fur babies and fishes and would do anything for them.
 
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We are now dealing with kidney failure and auto-immune issues with a 9 year old kitty. We love our fur babies and fishes and would do anything for them.
Sending you all my love and healing vibes.
 

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