Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cleaning out the Fish Pond


  Each year it is a rather sorry and tiring task of mine to clean out our fish pond which we created in a section of the adapted remains of the former laundry trough at Le Ripe.

Tiring for fairly obvious reasons: the trough measures about 2.5 metres by 1.5 and is about 50 centimetres deep and after one year its base is rich with sludge. It has to be completely drained, emptied of its stones and pots and the sludge and rubble swept out through a narrow plughole.

 A sorry task, because each time the fish seem to be the victims of fate and clumsy handling, one way or another. 
It is remarkable to think that our goldfish, left to their own devices in the pond, have survived extreme heat, extreme cold (including 10cm of ice on the surface of the pond), dirty water (this year for various reasons it was 2 years since a clean-out) and amuchina which is a sodium hypochlorite compound used for disinfecting water to deter mosquitoes. This was added when I thought the fish had perished; I was not trying to murder them.

One year a poor goldfish was swept down the plughole, with grim results; another year the only remaining gambusia (the small fish we keep to eat mosquite larva and who do not survive the winter; but this one miraculously did), immediately expired from a surfeit of fish food when it guzzled up the supply I fed it and its larger mates while they were in a waiting bucket; this year, unseen by us, one of the larger fish flipped itself out of the waiting bucket to go meet its maker; on another occasion the smaller gambusias were devoured (in the waiting bucket) by the goldfish before we even added them to the pond. The acquarium person had sworn on his mother's life that goldfish do not eat gambusias. Perhaps they just ate them by mistake?

 Over the years we have learned - and are still learning, evidently. Maybe one year we will experience a trauma-less fishpond clearance. Nevertheless for whatever reason, each year I face the job of cleaning the pond with considerable dread. 

sludge as it emerges from the pond
We await a sunny day in mid April (later this year since the spring has been so chilly), empty the pond, clear and clean it out and replace everything, usually in a matter of hours. Essential equipment: a fishnet, tall gumboots (wellingtons), rubber gloves, an old broom, scourers, LARGE buckets and a hose.

filling the pond with water again
 The most delicate operation of course is retrieving the fish: they are skilled at avoiding the net, even when writhing in sludge and slime in the dregs of the pond water.  

It is wise to sift through the sludge a bit, because interesting newts might be lurking there. This year we found a large and magnificently stripey one.
The fish fortunate enough to survive the hazards of being shifted from pond to bucket are then returned to their home

I add some fungus- and slime-fighting products and feed the fish generous flakes of their special goldfish food.
 I always have the impression that they look both shocked and pleased at the outcome.

The clear water only lasts as long as the cooler weather; it soon becomes murky again but at least we and the fish know it is clean. 


  1. Re Fishissitudes,a very apt name. What a big and awkward job but carried out
    most efficiently.What with newts,fungi,gambusias,goldfish,water plants including
    lovely water lily and water iris,the former laundry trough has gained a whole new identity.Congratulations on the worthwhile hard work.

  2. Hilarious account of past fishy fatalities! Loved especially the lead photo of the goldfish with the glaring eye.


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