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Water meadow gardening

killi69

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Apologies if already mentioned, but what stocking is in these ponds.
As me personally i would put in some Paradise fish, Medaka, WCMM, Danios, Sunfish etc as there are multiple ponds. You could have different fish in each one.
And Medaka, Paradise WCMM etc will winter fine in in the UK outside.
No problem Gill. Great recommendations, thank you. I have looked into all of these. I would love to have Pumpkinseed Sunfish but this is not allowed here for understandable reasons. The pond closest to the house has Fundulus julisia. The second pond has Aphanius mentho and the third pond has a large group of Macropodus ocellatus and a few WCMM. All are outside all year round. I wrote in some detail about them earlier in the journal. Now you mentioned the fish, I might as well give a brief update on them.

The Fundulus julisia are doing ok and I have spotted a couple of fry in the pond but lost a few adults during the winter. I still have 14 adults but think I put in over 20 of them. They stay close to the surface so you are able to see them most of the time. Maybe you or someone here can help me - does anyone know how to raise the pH of pond water? I would obviously need to do a reading first but I know these fish prefer harder water. I have read an account of a German breeder who covers the mini-ponds he breeds them in during the winter, to stop the rain softening the water. I have kept a separate group of julisia in one of my few remaining tubs but I have been too busy this year to breed them (cleaning out tank/ looking for eggs/ separating fry etc).

Here is a video of them in the tub;


Also still in another large tub are a small group of Fundulus catenatus, one of the largest killifish and stunning during breeding season (around now). They are extremely shy and I only catch glimpses of them when I feed them some earthworms from time to time. This is the only picture I was able to take of one of them in the tub:
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My original plan was to breed them in the tub this year, raise their numbers, hold back a breeding group and release the rest into the pond, so that if they do not reproduce in the pond, I still have a group kept aside. I have been too busy this year and will have to see whether I will have more time next year. I am in two minds and part of me thinks I should just release them in the same pond as F. julisia and hope that they might both reproduce. I mean, realistically, don't I have enough on my plate trying to look after the garden and all these ponds??

F julisia lays eggs in the thread algae (as described in my earlier post), catenatus needs moving water over a tray of gravel, in which it will lay its eggs. Last year, I placed a tray and pump in the tub and caught six fry which I grew on indoors but they will not be ready to breed for at least one more year. Such a shame I have been too busy, as both are extremely rare in the UK but this year has been all about the garden and trying to stay on top of the project.

The Aphanius mentho are thriving and the pond is full of fry. In contrast to F. julisia, which seem less shy when kept in a tub, you see a lot more of A. mentho in a pond. Out of my fish, they are the most fun to watch, with males constantly defending their territories and chasing each other. Here are some of the fry;
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The Macropodus ocellatus I rarely see, just a brief glimpse every now and then. It remains to be seen if they will breed in the pond. They like the water to heat up and I am not sure if the pond will be as optimal for that as the tubs I used. I also still have a a group in a separate tub which I also need to sort out and decide what to do with. The WCMM I put in the pond were quite old and I am not sure how many survived the winter.

In terms of wildlife in the garden, my absolute favourites, above frogs, toads, newts and even fish - are the damselflies and dragonflies. So many visit the ponds already. As some dragonflies spend more than a year in the water as larvae, I like to think that by leaving some of my ponds without any fish, I will have an abundance of dragonflies from next year onwards when dragonfly larvae born in my ponds start to emerge... Today I took a pic of what I think is an emperor dragonfly laying eggs in one of my ponds:

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killi69

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What do the neighbours say now? Since they thought you had a loose screw at one stage haha ;)
I am sure they still think I am a bit obsessed which of course I totally am. The front of the house is a drive and still has hundreds of plants in pots which need sorting out. But at least this madman now has something to show for his sins. When they see my garden - and many have - they are amazed and say things like 'thanks to you my wife wants me to sort out the garden'. A few families bring their small children every now and then, which is really nice and I show them the tadpoles and fish fry. Two families say they want ponds as well and by next year I might be providing the entire neighbourhood with spare pond plants!
 
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Gill

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Those are a very nice selection of fish to have indeed. And it certainly looks like a plethora of life to enjoy.
There are some sunfish you can keep in the uk. And sometimes they pop up on BAND and Aquarist Classifieds. Aqualife leyland has some males atm. Have you c=joined the coldwater groups for the uk, some lovely ideas on there about fish you can try. Sure I saw someone with Yelllow/snakeskin/3 spot gourami's outdoors.
If I had the room and the necessary licence I would love to have a tropical pond with Gigas and Hi-Fin Sharks and a few other larger fish.
I see you made a nice little platform for dipping your feet into, have the fish discovered this yet, and allowed them to nibble the dead skin. Guppies would certainly do this, as they do so in tropical tanks. And also the Variatus Platties. And the Coral Platties have done well as well and add a nice splash of red to the ponds etc.
I would be so tempted to throw in some of the temperate Barbs etc and see how they do outside in the uk.
Threadfin rainbows do very well in the uk outdoors, have kept them in the past in barrel ponds etc.
 

killi69

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Thanks for the suggestions Gill. Did you keep threadfin rainbows outdoors all year round?

I posted this earlier in the thread, in case the info in the link is of interest to you;
I found this resource quite useful: a list of fish suitable for outdoors (not all of them all-year round) with indicative lower temperature tolerance ranges compiled by Martin Tversted from Denmark. Especially if you are prepared to take them indoors over winter, the choice is huge. It is a great starting point from which to do further research.
In addition, I researched Dutch and German pond forums years ago to see what fish people had successfully tried outdoors all year round and which ones did not work out. From what I remember, people had not been able to keep guppys, platties or barbs outside year round (but had great results during the warmer months).

I see you made a nice little platform for dipping your feet into, have the fish discovered this yet, and allowed them to nibble the dead skin.
Is that what the platform is for😂😂😂 I have not tried dipping my feet yet but the fish I have are not yet that tame (or hungry). I know what you mean, the same species in the tub would nibble your fingers but the ones in the pond are quite skittish.

If I were to add more fish, I would consider Cyprinella lutrensis and Notropis chrosomus. Also weather loach, which can become tame. All fully hardy.
 

Gill

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Thanks for the suggestions Gill. Did you keep threadfin rainbows outdoors all year round?
Threadfins, I kept them outside in a tank in partial shade for the season, so from may to september. And then brought them inside.
The difference in the males was outstanding. The dominant males finnage became much longer than when kept indoors. And the Lower Jaw Appendage became very large and almost platinum in color. Also the males had dark visible stripes when sparring with subs and flashing to the females. I was lucky at them time to be able to find Red, Yellow and Green finned males circa 2003. Never quite seen them again in these variations.

From what I remember, people had not been able to keep guppys, platties or barbs outside year round (but had great results during the warmer months).
Yeah, guppies would need to come inside when the temp starts to drop below 12 celcius - though this does turn off the breeding instinct in the females, so they store what they have for up to 6 months.

Notropis chrosomus. Also weather loach, which can become tame. All fully hardy.
Yes these are a dream fish for outdoors in the Uk - a few people on here have them in ponds and they look great. And when they start spawning in the shallows they certainly are a striking colour.
Weather Loaches are great for ponds and they can get quite gargantuan, Have rehomed a few while at MA findern.

Its really is a shame that China Sharks are not more readily sold for the UK. Such stunning fish in large groups - Oliver knott has recently done a temperate tank with 20+ of these. And they certainly look good with all the differing colour variations. I have kept them myself briefly many years ago prior to realising they needed a licence and returning them to W.O.W Rugby. Though I did find that weather loaches did not like them, and ought alot.
 

killi69

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I have been extremely lucky with the weather. It has been raining so often, and during most weeks since the plants went in, so I have had to water very little, which has been a great help. And they are growing so fast! The Lythrum (purple loosestrife) are providing most of the colour at the moment and are growing well, both in the water and in the garden. They dominate the planting schemes around the first three ponds:
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Middle ponds;
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Butomus umbellatus are in flower and it is hard to think of a more beautiful marginal plant. I planted it mainly around the pond near the house. They grew taller than expected and I am sure they are taller than the 90cm often advertised as their max height. I planted them in washing up bowls as I read they are heavy feeders and needed more space. One downside is that their foliage starts to die back while they are still in flower but I forgive them. The young Lythrum look at bit out of place next to them but next year should be of a similar height.
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Where the woodland planting meets the water at the edge of the middle pond, Potentilla palustris (marsh cinquefoil) and Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern) are starting to spread out. I originally had three baskets of Thelypteris but one of them did not take. Both Potentilla and Thelypteris are planted in baskets just below the water level.
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The Norfolk reed, Phragmites australis, which I planted in the seven tubs I dug in along one of the boardwalks, are slowly becoming more visible. They went in as young plants but are now starting to rise up among the other planting.
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Each tub has a water level of around 15-20cm and a deep substrate of clay topsoil. I was not sure at first if this would really work - so much garden soil with only a relative small amount of water over it but the water quality has remained good. I did plant Elodea in all of the tubs as well.

Lots of Sanguisorbas have been planted throughout the garden and are starting to flower. Harder to capture on camera, but the mass of small dark flower heads above the planting looks quite impressive. The pics below show the edges of the back ponds with Sanguisorba officianalis (great burnet) and Filipendula ulmaria (meadowsweet) in flower. Also pictured are the seed heads of Silene flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin).
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Waterlilies are doing well also. Most were bought last year and planted in small washing up bowls, to give them more soil/nutrients than pond baskets can hold. First picture below is Nymphaea odorata 'Alba' with Oenanthe fistulosa sending out runners along the boardwalk. Second picture Nymphaea 'Moon Dance', probably my favourite lily right now. I like how it holds its flowerhead above the water and also like its speckled leaves.
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I have a few pink/purple coloured waterlilies which managed to survive a few years of neglect in my tubs, when hardly any leaves made it through to the surface because the tubs were full of pond plants/thread algae. This spring, I repotted them and was surprised how they bounced back. They never flowered before and I was a bit disappointed in their colour as I find the purple flowers a bit unnatural looking, but they still have a certain beauty and do match the purple of the Lythrums.

Water is clear in all of the ponds. Thread algae is still there, more in some ponds than in others, but on the whole I am noticing I am pulling out less as the weeks go by. Also, more and more of it is starting to float, making it easier to remove what remains. The vallisneria is starting to grow. I wonder if I have too many pond baskets in there, in the sense that there might be too many plants that want to grow fast (Elodea) and not enough nutrients available because of it? On the second pic, you can clearly see which baskets with Elodea I have fertilised and which I have not.
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As recommended by @zozo, I planted some Potamogeton gayi - five baskets thanks to a generous portion sent to me by Wookii :thumbup::thumbup:
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I still have more planting to do. Apart from some perennials, I still have a few crates of pond plants waiting to go in (pic below); Schoenoplectus lacustris, Juncus, Juncus inflexus, Preslia cervina (water spearmint), Pilularia globulifera and Potamogeton lucens. Today, I found some Potamogeton perfoliatus on sale, which I had been looking out for.
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The plants in crates (waiting to be planted up) are kept in the very back pond (the extension pond). As these plants are still in their original 9cm pots, filled with peat, the water there has turned a bit brown. I also think it might have affected the Sium Latifolium which has almost died back in this pond. Could the peat have made the water too acidic for the Sium? It seems to be doing ok in the pond next to it:
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Another plant which does not seem to be doing too well is Stratiotes Aloides (water soldier). In some ponds they have practically disappeared. In the pond below, you can see how they seem to disintegrate, although a few do show signs of emerging. The second pic shows a much healthier one in another pond of mine. I have seen pictures of them growing much lusher and already growing properly above the water surface this time of the year. Could it just be a lack of nutrients? Too many oxygenating plants competing for nutrients and not enough muck on the bottom of the ponds for them to feed of (as the ponds are only one year old)? Its a real shame as I was hoping for a dramatic display, I put in so many last year.
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Not helping are the crows. I wrote earlier in the journal how they visit many times a day, walking around the ponds looking for pond snails. I used to be well impressed with them, as they had learned to drag out strands of thread algae in order to get to the snails caught in between. They have now improved their tactics and have started pulling up lily pads and even ripping out marginal plants in order to catch more snails. I am no longer a fan!
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killi69

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Beautiful 👏
Thanks Steve!

I have a couple of questions.
Another plant which does not seem to be doing too well is Stratiotes Aloides (water soldier). In some ponds they have practically disappeared. In the pond below, you can see how they seem to disintegrate, although a few do show signs of emerging. The second pic shows a much healthier one in another pond of mine. I have seen pictures of them growing much lusher and already growing properly above the water surface this time of the year. Could it just be a lack of nutrients? Too many oxygenating plants competing for nutrients and not enough muck on the bottom of the ponds for them to feed of (as the ponds are only one year old)? Its a real shame as I was hoping for a dramatic display, I put in so many last year.
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Does anyone know about Stratiodes? As mentioned, they do not seem to be doing very well. I doubt there is much I can do about it but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

I am starting to wonder about Persicaria amphibia, planted here in baskets in the pond, in front of Persicaria affinis in flower. P. amphibia is not developing any floating leaves. Could it be that floating leaves come later or would only come if they are planted deeper? The baskets are about 5cm below the surface. A couple of plant species I bought as young plants from the wholesalers turned out to be something completely different as they grew on. For example, 'Eupatorium cannibium' grew into Chamaenerion angustifolium (rosebay willow herb). I was not brave enough to keep this. The flowers are beautiful but I was too scared of them self seeding all over the place. Anyway, I just hope the Persicaria amphibia turns out to be the plant I was after!
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mort

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I don't really know about the stratiodes and not really thought about it before but the ones in my pond (shady with fish) are just under the surface at the moment and I guess it's because it's not really bright enough for them to thrive and grow lush enough to become buoyant and pop out the water. That might be a completely false conclusion but I see yours have suffered a little with algae, so perhaps they are nutrient limited. I think, again maybe wrong, that they only come above the surface to flower, so would need to be in a condition to flower.

I think you are right about the persicaria and that it's too shallow to form floating leaves. I've seen it pretty deep in ponds and think a friend has it at about 3ft and they get the floating leaves, so perhaps try one of the baskets a bit deeper.

Good shout on the rosebay willow herb as well. We have it down our local broad and although it looks really nice this time of year it will spread massively.
 

killi69

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Thank you Mort and Darrel for your input🤗. I will place the P. amphibia a bit deeper then (and good to hear Darrel you think it is the right plant)
I don't really know about the stratiodes and not really thought about it before but the ones in my pond (shady with fish) are just under the surface at the moment and I guess it's because it's not really bright enough for them to thrive and grow lush enough to become buoyant and pop out the water. That might be a completely false conclusion but I see yours have suffered a little with algae, so perhaps they are nutrient limited. I think, again maybe wrong, that they only come above the surface to flower, so would need to be in a condition to flower.
Interesting yours are still below the surface ss well. Maybe just need to be more patient, although in a few ponds they are turning to mush. Could well be nutrient deficiency, as you suggest. The ponds are quite new so there is not much mulm for their roots to feed off.

In one of the ponds, they seem to be doing a bit better and one is surfacing.
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shangman

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We have water soldiers in two ponds and they've dominated in both - there aren't any other underwater or floating plants with them, just rushes and irises at the edges, and they're very out of the water atm (have been for about a month). I wonder if it's some allelopathy at play. One pond is in full sun, the other is quite shaded by a quince tree and they're still sitting very proud. In both ponds though they have been there for years. We don't add any ferts to either pond, but I suppose they get whatever they want when it's just them.
 

Wolf6

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What I have found in my pond over the last years, is that after a lot of rainfall, nearly all plants that live near the surface all suffer leaves dying off/plant decay. I know rainwater isnt especially beneficial to pond plants, but that it would be this bad I didnt expect. Since I have no pump I suspect it takes a while for the rainwater to mix with the rest of the pond water, and my theory is that this is what causes their decay. They recover again after a while of less/no rain. This only occurs after a lot of rain has fallen, not after 'normal' intermittent rain but more the incredible torrents of rain we have the last years in increasing amounts. Anyways its just a theory, I've not done measurements to prove it :) but its starting to become too recurring to be coincidence...
It doesnt happen when I refill the pond after a period of drought using tap water.
 

killi69

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there aren't any other underwater or floating plants with them, just rushes and irises at the edges, and they're very out of the water atm (have been for about a month). I wonder if it's some allelopathy at play.
So your water soldiers are out already...
Competition (or lack of) for nutrients and/or allelopathy may well be one of the reasons then

after a lot of rainfall, nearly all plants that live near the surface all suffer leaves dying off/plant decay.
Another great theory to keep an eye on! It has been a very wet summer as well.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. One more observation from me. I just remembered that a couple of weeks ago, I pulled out a couple of healthy plants (growing above water level) from the over-grown mini pond shown below. This pond is around 3 or 4 years old, is quite shaded, choked with hornwort, has a thick layer of mulm on the bottom and is covered in duckweed :rolleyes:. Interesting how varied their growth can be in different ponds.
The pond is still there, hidden between the flowering Lythrum in the picture below, on the right. You would not know it is there, the only give-aways are the vertical leaves of the Typha bulrushes growing in the pond;
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I am treating my decking with oil at the moment. It is taking a lot longer than it normally would as so much of it overlaps the water. I am floating pieces of styrofoam with newspaper on top to absorb any droplets spilling over. Seems to work quite well with no major oil spills so far 🤞

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Ady34

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Just truly stunning. I bet you spent hours out there enjoying it.
An incredible creation, you must be over the moon.
 
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