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|
|filling the pond with water again|
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.
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.