Tag Archives: fish

I’m a fish nonna!

I love my little fish pond out back with its waterfall and reeds and lily pads. Frogs hang out on the rocks ringing the water. I can hear their banjo-twanging calls at night in the spring, in particular, just beyond my bedroom window. The pond is one of the reasons why I fell in love with this little house.

AA frogs and fish

This photo is from last year. You can see some of my “original fish” hiding under the lily pads and one of the playful frogs is poking out of the water on the bottom right.

I’ve lived here for two winters and three summers now. In the winter the fish hibernate in the cold water. I run the waterfall all year to avoid the pond icing over, which would kill the fish by depriving them of oxygen. In the spring it’s like magic, seeing them awaken and start swimming around again! I believe the frogs hibernate, too. Pretty soon there’s a little family of them, as well.

The fish had become accustomed to me coming out around noon every day to sprinkle a little fish food on the water for them. It was their afternoon snack and my chance to interact with them a bit – as much as a person can actually exchange greetings with a fish, I suppose.

We were just getting into our summer routine and I noticed one day that two of the fish were chasing around a third, spotted fish I’d named Miss Kitty (calico cat, but a fish, right?). I was beginning to wonder if I’d guessed Miss Kitty’s gender correctly because it appeared that the two fish taking turns swimming right up in her business might have had love on their minds.

A day or two later, I wandered out with the dogs to deliver the afternoon snack and – the pond was empty. No fish, no frogs. Deserted. I was surprised, but thought they might have been spooked by a heron or other critter and were hiding in their fish caves (the people who put in the pond built in caves for exactly that purpose). At that time there were seven fish, but not one in sight.

When I hadn’t seen any fish in more than a week, I became worried. I had heard that a heron or raccoon or even a snake could wipe out a pond in no time at all. Had all my fish become some animal’s dinner? A couple of frogs were back, but after nearly four weeks – no fish. I felt terrible about it. Poor things.

I didn’t want to purchase new fish just to feed a predator, but after about six weeks, I decided to buy three new fish to see if they’d be safe after all that time. I tentatively released them into the pond and hoped for the best.

By this time, I had also begun bugging my son Chris, asking him if he’d please get into the pond and weed out some of the lily pads and reeds. There was so much greenery, it was hard to catch sight of the new kids, let alone try to entice them with fish snacks. It was a busy summer, and finally on Thursday, Chris got into the pond and got to work. We filled a yard waste trash can and a trash bag full of greenery.

Now, full disclosure, I had noticed after introducing the new fish to the pond that there seemed to be more than three in the mix. I realized that for whatever reason, some of the original fish had been hiding out for weeks!

fish 2 2017

And here are the fish who came over for a snack at noon today! You can only see one baby – the little black and silver spotted one near the two lighter fish in the center of the photo.

And by the time Chris finished cleaning the pond and the silt settled back to the bottom on the rocks, the clear water revealed not only five or six adult fish – but also THREE BABIES! It was like CHRISTMAS!

Since there are fewer adults than before, there’s no question that some varmint got some of my original fish family. But – they did not get Miss Kitty, and I think she is the Mama Fish of those three little ones. Is it possible that the fish that survived the incident early this summer stayed in the caves with Miss Kitty during her lying in period, or something? A combination of solidarity with the pregnant mama and fear of their attacker?

fish horizontal crop

There’s the baby orange one, too! The third one is silver, orange and black – hard to spot and wasn’t with the gang today.

We’ll never know. But I am delighted that I am now a Fish Nonna and that the happy little family is now swimming up to say hi and get a snack when they see me coming.

Oh, and the frogs seem content, as well.

Wild Kingdom in my own back yard (and no alligators, thank you very much)

AA Marlin Perkins

That nice Marlin Perkins, host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. What a guy. He can keep that scary bird, though.

Little did I know when I bought this house a little over a year ago that having a pond (okay – call it a water feature; it’s small) in the back yard would turn me into a Marlin Perkins wannabe. I loved watching Wild Kingdom when I was a kid, but I’m not fond of camping or “roughing it,” so I never aspired to experience nature’s critters in their natural habitats firsthand.

Now I am happy to report that a few of those critters have turned up in my back yard. I can just stroll to the pond and see all the wildlife a girl like me could ask for: different kinds of birds, squirrels and chipmunks (the bane of my dogs’ existence), and best of all, frogs and fish. Yes, I had to actually BUY the fish, so it’s not like they have a choice in the matter, but the birds, squirrels, and frogs showed up of their own accord.

I now have seven fish. Four of them stayed behind and hid from the previous owners when they tried to catch them to relocate to their new pond in Mentor. There are “fish caves” in the pond and the guys who wanted to stay with me and the frogs hid in the caves until the old owners left. At one time there were six. I have no idea what happened to two of them. Herons? I’m told that blue herons can empty a pond in a heartbeat and have been seen around here on other occasions. The bastards.

AA frogs and fish

Can you see my fish hiding under the lily pads? They’ve already had lunch. One of the playful frogs is hanging around in the water on the bottom right.

Anyway, when the previous owners removed their koi (which apparently were up for the move and probably too large to hide in the caves, anyway), only goldfish were left. One is a kind of white-ish goldfish, if that’s a thing, but the rest are orange. Pretty, but I wanted some variety. I decided to go to a pond store in Painesville to check out their fish and came home with two comets and a shubunkin. One comet is white with black and orange spots. It reminds me of a calico cat, so I named it Miss Kitty. The other comet is beautifully marked orange and white and the little shubunkin is gray with orange, black and white markings. I haven’t named any of the fish except Miss Kitty, so far.

I also bought some fish food at the pond store because the lady there said it would help me bond with the fish. She was right. I didn’t know I was interested in bonding with fish, other than to enjoy a good perch sandwich now and then or some grilled halibut, but I now go out every day, usually around lunch time, and the fish get excited and swim up to say hello and get a snack. No, I am not kidding. We have bonded. I will get back to you later with names for everyone. Since I can’t tell the three orange goldfish apart, I think I should name them Darryl, Darryl and my other brother Darryl.

AA big frog on pad

This big guy did not participate in any of the shenanigans today. He was quite vocal about the whole thing, though. A voyeur, perhaps? He stayed very near to me on his lily pad the whole time I visited with the pond gang.

I have to tell you, though, the frogs are my favorite. I’ve counted six, though usually there are only half that many visible at one time. The problem is that the dogs (mostly Mick, admittedly) scare them, and they’re smart to be wary. This week Mick found a chipmunk (more wild animals!) hiding among the rocks at the top of the waterfall. He killed it and brought it out onto the lawn to admire for a while before I took it away from him and put it in the trash. He’d definitely go for a frog if the opportunity presented itself. I congratulated Mick on his hunting skills, but I’d just as soon not deal with any more dead rodents for a while.

So after feeding the fish today, I was just standing there chatting with the fish and the frogs when two of the frogs started getting frisky. In fact – they started playing LEAP FROG. No shit. Then they’d wrestle a little bit, until one would break away and hide in the reeds. Lots of talking, too. I love the sound they make – like strumming a banjo. Doing! The frogs would wrestle, then separate, then wrestle some more. I’m wondering if it’s mating season – I don’t think it should be – or if they’re just playing. Whatever it was, I was just delighted with the entertainment.  Frogs playing leap frog. Fabulous.

AA two frongs

The frog on the left, also pictured above, was just hanging out the whole time. Very cool. The frog dangling in the water on the right was playing and wrestling (or having sex) with the other frog, now hidden in the reeds. Does he look tired to you? Satisfied, even? Should we draw any conclusions about why his or her little butt is hidden under that lily pad?

So that’s the news from my own little Wild Kingdom today. The Boys (my dogs) are asleep on the bench that wraps around in front of the windows in my office/dining room (it’s my office about 363 days out of the year and gets cleaned up and transformed to serve a meal to guests maybe twice a year). Chipmunks and frogs can safely cavort out back for the time being. I hear the froggie banjos strumming, and that makes me smile.