Best Pond filter system – All in One Lifegard Pump with UV Algae control

This is the best Pond pump we have ever used and our fish are healthy and thriving.  This All in One Pond Filter system is a compact filter for water gardens and ponds with Koi and fish.  It is extremely easy to install and easy to clean.  See the photos I posted from cleaning the pump today.

Lifegard Pond Pump and Filter
cleaned the Lifegard Pond filter

With the Lifegard All in One pond filter you have a choice of 4 different fountain spray patterns for your pond. To help control algae this efficient pump includes an ultraviolet sterilizer that has a separate plug so you can operate it only when you need to.

running the pond pump

The pond filter unit will float.  I need to put a few heavy rocks on top to hold the pond pump in place.  After years of using various pumps for our small Arizona pond, this is by far the absolute best pump system and I highly recommend it.  Even more so if you have fish and Koi in your pond.

healthy large goldfish
Advertisements

Cormorants, crested ducks, cottonwood trees and more… at Fort Lowell Park in Arizona

Our Arizona travels brought us not only to a gentle bird refuge; but the historical Fort Lowell Park in Tucson.  This wildlife oasis streaming with ducks, cormorants, turtles and dragonflies was an United States Army post from 1873 till 1891.

City of Tucson Ft Lowell historic park
Fort Lowell’s wildlife pond in AZ

The most prominent building at Fort Lowell was the hospital, the adobe remnants still stand under a protective structure.

Arizona parks for wildlife, bird watching
Tucson’s historic Ft Lowell in 1900

Ft. Lowell lay in ruins for numerous years. The City of Tucson eventually converted the bulk of the former post into Old Fort Lowell Park, which features ball fields, tennis and racquetball courts, a large public swimming pool, and the Fort Lowell Museum dedicated to its days as an active military installation.

**This is a superb choice if you are looking for Tucson activities.

Tucson Parks with history and wildlife birds
adobe remains of Fort Lowell military installation

A lane lined with cottonwood trees, aptly named Cottonwood Lane, glorified the area in front of the officer’s houses.

Historic Cottonwood Lane in Tucson Arizona
large Cottonwood Tree at Ft Lowell Park

Following World War II, the Fort Lowell area grew into a small village which the predominantly Mexican local residents called El Fuerte.

The Fort Lowell Museum is located in the reconstructed Commanding Officer’s quarters.

Stroll from the remains of the Ft Lowell Hospital towards the wildlife pond to enjoy crested ducks with the latest updos.

ducks with hair on their head in Tucson
Brown colored Crested Duck

Catch a glimpse as a pigeon tries to remember the secret code to get passed the duck security.

Fort Lowell park in Tucson, AZ
pigeon stand off with ducks

Dedicated community members adopted Fort Lowell Park to keep it clean and build a protected area for birds.

During our visit we spoke with some of the impressive volunteers with “Friends of Fort Lowell Park” as they were planting trees and tidying up the nesting area.

Tucson Arizona wildlife park with water
nesting area created by Friends of Fort Lowell Park

A regal Neotropic Cormorant bird was standing by to make sure we didn’t decide to jump in and go swimming.

bird watching parks in Tucson Arizona
neotropic cormorants at Ft Lowell Park

Many species of cormorants make a characteristic half-jump as they dive and under water cormorants propel themselves with their feet.

wildlife oasis park in Tucson Arizona desert
community effort at Fort Lowell Park

Thanks to the collaboration of The Friends of Fort Lowell Park and Tucson Parks and Recreation for giving residents and guests a place to enjoy outdoor activities and wildlife in the Sonoran Desert.

tennis handball swimming park in the Arizona desert
Parks to visit in Tucson – Ft Lowell Park

Local historians have found evidence that Fort Lowell Park sits on a site endowed with a continuous supply of underground water and has been occupied by humans since ancient times.

Is Agua Caliente Park and natural spring drying up? (part 3 of 3)

As many of you know, Agua Caliente Park is experiencing the full force of the extended drought and change in the water table level.

There were originally two springs at Agua Caliente, one a “Hot Spring” and the other a “Cold Spring”.  The two springs produced a water flow of up to 500 gallons per minute.

Agua Caliente’s springs were blasted in the mid-1930’s reducing the water flow to 150 – 300 gallons per minute.  The spring was again blasted in the early 1960’s which cut the water flow down to 100 to 125 gallons per minute!

Agua Caliente Spring in Tucson
the water level is low at Agua Caliente Pond

During Tucson’s drought of 2003-4, the water flow from Agua Caliente’s spring fell as low as 14 gallons per minute.  Pima County Parks and Recreation put in a supplemental well.   Arizona Department of Water Resources limits the water withdrawal to 55,000 gallons of supplemental well water for the pond each day.

low water levels in the pond
is Agua Caliente drying up?

The exposed mud at the park is due to increasing natural sedimentation in the pond, declining spring flow from the ongoing drought, and insufficient recharge from rainfall.

Pima County is working to stabilize Agua Caliente’s pond system and minimized ecological impacts to the system.

is Agua Caliente Spring drying up
warning signs for the exposed areas

Evaporation from the pond surface and transpiration from the cattails and palm trees growing around Agua Caliente’s pond contribute to extra water loss.

Tucson's natural spring is dry?
Agua Caliente streams are dry

Analysis is ongoing for the framework for the long-term actions to address the low water conditions at Agua Caliente.

Over the years, the water holding capacity of the pond has changed.  Renovations will need installation of some type of liner system.  Contouring the pond is a main focus for long-term stability.

RECENT HEAVY RAINS !!  Sept 2013

natural spring and pond in Tucson
heavy rains have helped raise the water levels
wading birds at Agua Caliente in Tucson
Great Blue Herons enjoying the rains and abundant cattails
Agua Caliente Park has an abundance of wildlife
Mud and Painted turtles are still happy basking in the sun

This is a complex issue that needs the public’s understanding and acceptance as Tucson gives new life to the aging historical pond.

Pima County hopes to include improvements to Agua Caliente Park in the next bond election.

For more interesting information about Agua Caliente in Tucson see the links below:

https://tjsgarden.com/2013/08/16/agua-caliente-history-natural-spring-park-tucson-az/

https://tjsgarden.com/2013/09/07/best-picnics-family-time-perfect-weddings-tucson-spring-park/

The best picnics, family time and perfect weddings at Agua Caliente Spring – (part 2 of 3)

We make it a point to take visitors to Agua Caliente Park.  This is an amazing lagoon; a get away from the prickly pear cacti and saguaros. It’s hard to tell that you’re even in Tucson. Agua Caliente presents you with an abundance of mature shade trees and lush backgrounds for picnics, weddings and even Plein-Air paintings.

family and picnics in the park
one of the best locations for picnics

Roy P. Drachman Agua Caliente Park has a natural hot spring that flows through faults between gneissic rock and has been a long-inhabited settlement.

  • What is gneissic rock?   This type of rock has minerals arranged into layers which seem to be bands that alternate darker and lighter colors. The banding is developed under high temperature and pressure conditions.

Ok now, is Agua Caliente a park, a lake, or a wildlife habitat?  Well this natural spring is a bit of everything!  Pack a picnic, hang out and be sure to bring a camera.

park with water in Tucson, AZ
Gallery and Tucson Audubon in the historic ranch house

If you enjoy bird watching then Agua Caliente Park is worth a visit.  The Tucson Audubon Society is housed in the original Ranch home.

historic house in Tucson
the original Ranch House at Agua Caliente Park

Take a look inside this historic building and enjoy the gift shop and gallery.

Hohokam historical sites
Agua Caliente natural spring in Arizona

The eccentricity of the mountains and mature palm trees are reflected with vibrant color in the water.

Here you can picnic at a 101 acre aquatic / riparian habitat surrounded by the Sonoran Desert.

wildlife parks in Tucson, Arizona
ducks at Agua Caliente Park

At Agua Caliente you will see a variety of wildlife including herons, Arizona turtles and a variety of ducks.

The natural spring flow fluctuates at various times during the year due to drought. While visiting Agua Caliente you many see the lower ponds dry.

parks for picnics and rentals
Picnics, walking trails and wildlife are enjoyed at Agua Caliente

Relax on a bench and watch dozens of turtles sunning themselves.  While visiting the park it feels like we arrived in some exotic place hidden in the Sonoran Desert.

Arizona turtles
turtles at Agua Caliente

The ducks, birds and turtles entertain us at our picnic table while we wait for the Tucson sunsets.

Tucson park for wedding rental and portraits
A romantic park and perfect wedding background

It is a wonderful reprieve from the heat and definitely not what you would expect to find in Tucson, Arizona.

family picnics by the lake at Agua Caliente in Tucson
many picnic tables and locations to choose from

Adding to its charm, professional photographers frequent Agua Caliente with clients who want a stunning background.

There is a huge mesquite tree east of the ranch house estimated to be over 250 years old!

mesquite tree at Agua Caliente in Tucson
The Old Mesquite tree of Agua Caliente is supported by brick columns and steel poles

To sustain this elderly mesquite tree, Agua Caliente’s administration use brick columns and steel poles to support the enormous branches.

Agua Caliente Mesquite Tree
famous Mesquite Tree estimated over 250 years old

Agua Caliente Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This extreme east Tucson park is truly an oasis in the desert and is highly recommended for you, your family and friends.

To learn the history of Agua Caliente see my article:  https://tjsgarden.com/2013/08/16/agua-caliente-history-natural-spring-park-tucson-az/

Is Agua Caliente drying up?  : https://tjsgarden.com/2013/09/12/agua-caliente-park-spring-drying-up-tucson/


Damselflies mating, laying eggs in our pond – Life and behavior of the Damselfly

The female damselfly is laying her eggs.  Mating season for the Damselflies in our pond has begun. Just last week the nymphs emerged from the pond water to shed their skin and become colorless damselflies.  As the young damselfly matures it will gain a beautiful color. The adult damselfly only lives one to three months; its main job is to find a mate and continue the life cycle.

See the photo below of the damselflies mating.  It starts with the male damselfly grasping the female with his abdominal claspers.  The same species of damselfly with fit like a lock and key.

damselflies mating

Copulation can take from several minutes to several hours depending on the species.  The male damselfly stays in tandem with the female while she lays her eggs. I watched as the red damselfly gently carried his bride to an inviting lily-pad.

female looking for the water to lay eggs

This dedicated female damselfly, pictured above, was moving her abdomen every which way to try and find the water.

off they go to try again

If the female damselfly could not find water to lay her eggs she would straighten her abdomen as if to signal lift off to her partner.  The male Damselfly would gently lift her to another location.

double wedding for damselflies

Female damselflies normally use a bladelike ovipositor to place eggs inside plant tissue. From previous years I have seen the larva of the damselflies underneath the lily pads.  When you turn the lily pad over you will see lines and markings with the damselfly eggs.

injecting eggs under the lily pad

After about three weeks the young damselfly nymphs emerge and live underwater, insatiably feeding on small aquatic animals like tadpoles, mosquito larvae and just about anything it can get a hold of.

The damselfly and dragonfly nymphs are completely predatory, and not vegetarians at all.

As the female damselfly lays her eggs she is also supplying a healthy meal for our fish.  We have three large goldfish, some say Koi, that will feast on the nymphs all year.  During this mating season I do not have to add any fish food to the pond.

damselfly nymph

Many successive molts take place over a period of eleven months before the final nymphal stage is reached.  The mature dragonfly nymph crawls out of the water onto a rock or plant stem during the night or early morning hours.

The nymphal skin splits dorsally and the winged damselfly adult pulls itself out to become fully expanded.  It will take several days before it reaches top flight capacity.

Damselflies have been used as indicator species for assessing habitat and water quality in a variety of wetlands, natural water in forests, and lakeshore habitats around the world.  Studies indicate they are one of our most beneficial insects.

Do Damselflies sting?  No damselflies are not capable of stinging and are harmless to man.


Damselflies are smaller than Dragonflies-damselfly nymphs are the best fish food for our small Arizona pond

The damselfly’s scientific name is Zygoptera, it is Greek for paired wings.  Our pond with fish is visited by a dragonfly now and then; but we receive daily stopovers from red and blue damselflies resting on the lily pads.  Even though a damselfly is similar to a dragonfly, it is a weaker flier, but still very fast and agile.  Dragonflies and damselflies belong to the order Odonata which is one of the most popular insect groups.

Blue slender Damselfly image

Having approximately 5,000 species, the Odonata order(a subgroup of insects), is very diverse and it is easy to spot the insect members. Odonata insects have very large eyes, thin transparent wings, tiny antennae, slender abdomens and an aquatic larval stage called a NYMPH.

An easy way to tell if an insect is a part of the Odonata Order – if the insect’s eyes are a large portion of the head and if the abdomen is thin and long.

light purple and blue damselfly

Damselflies have long thin bodies that are often brightly colored with green, yellow, red, blue, brown or black.  In the above photo the damselfly has a unique light purple color.  The color glistened almost pearl-like as she elegantly flew from lily-pad to lily-pad.

What is the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly?  Dragonflies are more stout and when perched their wings extend out sideways.  The damselfly is a bit slender and when resting damselflies hold their wings above the body.  Compare the images of the thin damselfly above and the stout dragonfly below.

Damselflies are found mainly near shallow, freshwater habitats and are graceful fliers with long net veined wings.  We have a small pond with three goldfish/Koi that are grateful to the Damselflies for the abundant fish food they provide.  Dragonflies and damselflies begin their lives as nymphs, living underwater for a year of more.

To attract damselflies and not mosquitoes to your pond simple use a powerful pond pump, filter system. Mosquitoes do not like moving water and will not lay eggs in your pond if you have a good pump.  The damselflies like to perch on vegetation, so include tall plants in or around your pond area along with lily pads.

chunky dragonfly picture

Damselflies are cousins of the dragonfly.  Their colours can be stunningly vivid.  The adults capture prey while flying; by using their hair covered hind legs.  Damselflies hold the prey in their legs and consume it by chewing.

Both dragonflies and damselflies begin their lives as nymphs, living underwater for a year of more.  The nymphs make the best food for your fish.  The presence of dragonflies and damselflies, at your pond, is an indication of a good quality ecosystem.

damselflies compete

In the above photo the damselflies are competing for the water lilies in our small pond.  Zygoptera, Damselflies, copulate while perched, sometimes flying to a new perch. Mating for the damselfly while perched can last from five to ten minutes.  Competition amongst males for females is fierce.  The picture below is the position for copulating/mating damselflies.

mating damselflies

The damselfly mates/partners fit together like a lock and key, in this way they can recognize the correct species when mating.  The female damselfly’s thorax and the male abdomen vary slightly for each species of Zygoptera.  The males have four appendages at the tip of the abdomen. Two of them are claspers, used to hold onto the female damselfly during mating.

Each male damselfly has his own territory and will defend it.  When it is time to mate the female damselfly will enter the male’s territory.

When finished copulating, the female flies away, and finds herself a pond or other water body, where she will lay her eggs.  Female damselflies normally use a bladelike ovipositor to place eggs inside plant tissue.  Currently in our pond we have the last molting of the nymphs taking place.  The damselfly mating and egg laying should start in the next week or so.  It is a banquet for the fish in our pond that is repeated over and over.  The larva or nymph will spend an average of 1-3 years in the water and feed on other larva or tiny insects.

damselfly nymph in our pond

Most damselfly nymphs have three leaflike gills at the tip of the abdomen, whereas dragonflies have internal gills.  A damselfly had its last molting and pictured above is the skin that was left. The damselfly nymph photo was taken today.  After emerging from the larval stage, the damselfly takes to the air to feed and mate.  Today I noticed the lily pads in our small pond are chock-full of these damselfly molting skins.  A large, colorful population of damselflies are frolicking about the irises, lilies, philodendron and other potted plants.

molting skins of nymphs in our pond

If you see these nymph skins in your pond it is a good thing.  Actually a great thing!  This means your pond is healthy and should be visited by many damsel or dragonflies that will mate, lay eggs and start the process all over again.

The female damselfly deposits her eggs in emergent plants, floating vegetation or directly in the water.  Naiads or nymphs hatch from eggs and live in water.  The damselfly nymphs or naiads develop through stages with the last stage crawling out of the pond, water and emerging from the last molting skin.  The two pictures above are molted skins left on the lily pads of our pond.  The adult damselfly only lives one to three months, while the nymphs can live up to three years in the water depending on the species.

damselfly life cycle

(Photo above courtesy of http://www.britannica.com/ )

The photo above shows the Life Cycle of the damselfly

The greatest numbers of the Odonata Order species, dragonflies and damselflies,  are found at sites that offer a wide variety of microhabitats, though dragonflies tend to be much more sensitive to pollution than damselflies.

Remove the dead Lily pads to keep the pond healthy for the fish

The past couple days it has been over 109 degrees. With water evaporating from the pond I added more today.  I keep the level of water in the pond as high as I can so the fish can stay cooler. The lillies need time to grow and cover the pond area providing shade to Goldfish/Koi, I use the name Koi lightly as these are not authentic Japanese Koi.

After adding the tap water I immediately put in a Stress Coat. My current brand is by PondCare.  After a day I put in my weekly treatment of ECOFIX, also by Pond Care. BE SURE TO FOLLOW DIRECTIONS COMPLETELY!  Your pond needs a good filter system especially when adding these chemicals.

Filter after Filter, finally I believe I have discovered the TOP, The BEST Pond Filter System – LIFEGARD All In One !!!  Look in the right hand photo, you can see it.  It cost a little more but it is so worth it!  The comparison to my other filters is “this one blows the others OUT OF THE WATER.”

I can’t say enough about this pond filter. After trying so many this is the absolute best filter I have seen – LIFEGARD All In One – it scores a 10 !
The plants in the pond are thriving but It is important to remove the dead lily pads. I use long garden shears. Two of the fish stopped just for a moment for the camera.

Algae Cleared up, the fish are loving their Pond!

As you can see in this photo, the pond looks amazing!  The treatments in the previous posts worked and all is happy.  This pond needs some aquatic plants. I hopped on the internet and found some easy choices from Petsmart.  I ordered several of the TOP FIN, pre-planted Lily and pre-planted Mini Cattails. They arrived in a netted bag, placed them in the pond and the little rocks enclosed make it sink to the bottom. Can’t wait till the foliage appears!

String / Hair Algae problem at rest. The pond is clear and even Shadow likes it! (Shadow stares in the water and watches the Koi)

 

Yuk! This slimy hair algae in my pond is floating-The string algae treatment worked-Fish in the pond are healthy

First, my followup posts for my slimy string algae project took awhile because I needed to see if it cleared up the pond without hurting my fish.  Yes it worked and this photo is what happened a few days after I added Tetra Pond, Algae Control.  BE CAREFUL! and follow the directions completely or you will damage your Koi / fish.  Reminder – I am no expert just someone who loves her Koi and wants a clean, healthy pond.  Worried about my fish I also added a little API Stress Coat, it claims to have the healing power of Aloe Vera and I use it every time the hose goes in the pond to add water. ( A Stress Coat is needed to make tap water safe.)  Follow Directions on the bottles!  Ok now back to this photo of green pond water yuk!

Treating my pond for the slimy string/hair algae and green water is working! Algae blooms cause the green water in ponds. The algae on the sides of my synthetic liner have loosened and now it is time to scoop it out. Slimy and Gross but anything to keep my Koi happy.

pond is clean

The algae treatment worked perfectly and our pond filter, pump system has kept the water clean.  The fish in the pond are healthy and happy.

String Algae in my Pond

Our 1,500 gallon pond is full of String Algae. This garden project has moved to the top of the list!