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In This Issue: January 2009

The first meeting of 2009 will be February 28th at the home of Jeff and Kerry.

By Larry Thompson

The following article is written to provide information on a devastating event to our Koi pond. However, I would like to state up front that we are not experts or knowledgeable on MINK, but are simply documenting the painful series of events.

A few weeks ago I was merrily beginning to change the Koi pond water and filters when I looked at the fish and to my dismay they were all chewed up, bloody and stressed. The worst ones were the larger Becco and Chagoi. Something had chewed the dorsal fins, swimming fins and tails. Scales were missing and my beautiful yellow Yamabuki’s mouth was almost chewed off! I immediately started calling whatever it was, everything bad word I could think of and to say I was angry would not begin describe my temperament. I didn’t have a clue what it was at first, but it didn’t take me long to figure out it was a Mink, Weasel or River Otter. All of the Water Celery, thriving under the Greenhouse, was beaten down where the creature was running around the inside of the pond. Later, I figured out it was probably trying to catch the bullfrogs which come out of hibernation to sun themselves on warm sunny days.

I immediately called Jackie Alsup and asked for advice. The first challenge was to figure out how to catch the ones which were wounded the worst as the pond is covered with the Greenhouse and access is limited to one end. As it turned out, two of the three worst injured were very tame and with Greg Bickal and Jackie’s assistance, we were able to catch them when they came up to the feeding ring looking for there favorite treat, Mandafu. We later figured out they were attacked first because they were the slowest swimmers and easiest prey. I pumped the cold water from the pond into a 100 gallon tub inside the house in the fish room, aerated it heavily and waited for the water to warm up to room temperature, which took about 24 hours. Tom at Koi Care Kennel says warm water is clea rly the absolute best remedy for an injured Koi. Jackie came over the next day with her Koi medical kit and treated the extensive wounds as best she could. We then placed both 12-15 pound Koi into the 300 gallon tub which is heavily aerated and filtered with large sponge filters for biofiltration and a canister filter to reduce the waste. Given the bio-load in the tub, the water is changed very frequently with aged well water which has been adjusted to room temperature.

All went well until the Becco’s sore got worse and Jackie was again gracious enough to come to the rescue and assist me in administering a shot of broad spectrum antibiotic. The other pond fish are really beat up but all are surviving to date. No doubt we will have some casualties between now and springtime. All of these efforts just come under the heading of “doing the best we can under the circumstances”, knowing we may have further losses. But if we do, it will not be because we haven’t done everything possible we could do which includes water changes, high O2 and monitoring water quality.

On December 18, a four and a half pound Buck Mink was finally caught in a Conibear trap and that story is described below.

The toll thus far (unless another Mink shows up):

-Every Koi damaged.
-Three or Four dragged off into the woods and devoured, including a perfectly marked three step Kohaku which was developing into a very nice fish.
-Two large Koi are still in the fish room quarantine tank being cared for with a lot of TLC.
-The damaged Koi in the pond are really banged up and undoubtedly some will not make it.


I initially went to the internet in search of information and became rather discouraged when I read descriptive words and comments such as the following:

Amazing Predators; Scourge of the Countryside; clever; impossible to catch; they run at high speed, leap, climb trees and eat birds; outstanding swimmers under water; crawl under burrows; get into pheasant and chicken houses and kill and maim; love garden ponds and take delight in wounding the fish; crawl into roof spaces in houses; thrive n most habitats; love to kill prey which cannot escape a pen or pond; they are clearly out of balance in some environments and are compared to a wolf in a nursery in some locations as they also eat ducks, coots, crayfish, rabbits, rats, pheasants, quail and small mammals.

Catching our Mink took about three weeks of “team effort” and most of that time he clearly outsmarted our efforts. Many, many thanks to friends who had “Mink knowledge” and shared it with us and these folks included Harry Alsup, Steve Wright, Brother Scott, Donavan Burke and neighbor Kevin Bjorsen. Kevin brought and set ten traps and made many trips to assist our efforts. Steve provided a Conibear which was inserted into a custom made wooden box and placed next to the pond with the logic being Mink love to crawl through small spaces and would crawl through the box and into the waiting Conibear trap. Donovan suggested “Tanglefoot” (Mouse sticky on steroids) which may have a future prevention application.

The next attempt involved the use of three Live Traps baited with sardines. It was very successful in catching neighborhood cats, which were immediately turned loose. We had been taking great pains to hide the Conibears so we wouldn’t hurt any of the neighbor’s pets and that was successful, thank goodness. One little starving Kitten kept getting caught in the live trap and eating the sardines and so I “temporarily” put him in the filter shed. The shed has a heater keeping the filters and pipes from freezing as the Koi pond filtration is still running.

The next attempt involved tracking the predator in the snow by his footprints and blood when he would drag a Koi out of the pond and into a large brush pile down in the woods below the house. At this point I called neighbor Kevin Bjorsen and he set three more Conibears around the wood pile where it appeared he was entering the pond in a small gap. Still no luck and still the Koi were being attacked. Another failed method was to put spotlights around the pond as we had it lit up like a Christmas tree, but he still attacked during the night. I then discovered he was attacking even during the daytime as Erma saw him run across the Greenhouse top at 11:00AM. “Nocturnal creatures” huh, yeah right, but not when they have a taste for bullfrogs in some nice warm water! At this time I remember making a comment in another article about the benefits of the greenhouse in the wintertime and the resulting protection from predators. It protects the Koi nicely from Raccoon’s, herons and other predators, but not Mr. Mink!

The next series of attempts tested our egos. How was this creature consistently outsmarting us and all of the traps? Next up was more traps (Conibear, Live Traps and Leg Holds), a total of thirteen altogether, placed all around the area and attempting to “funnel” him into the traps. They were placed on the inside and outside of the greenhouse, since he was a creature of habit most of the time, coming up from the woods on the same trail. My brother Scott was also doing research to try to help us and got a tip from a Koi farmer friend who had hired Stauffer to prevent and deal with predators attacking his livelihood. The tip: Mink have a weakness for EGGS, more so than any other attractant or “bait”. So, we coated the traps with raw scrambled egg for an attractant and put some in each live trap too. At last, the collective effort paid off as we caught the RAT FINK %^$*#@*&# in a Conibear that Kevin had set and placed in a location where he was leaving the greenhouse through a hole in a concrete block. We had set it there on one of his runs by tracking him in the snow and when he squeezed through the openings, he would pack down the snow because his belly was wet, giving us the clue.

How much more work, worry and effort this disaster will be is anyone’s guess at this point. It will be a miracle if more problems don’t show up on the damaged Koi still in the pond. Thanks to Jackie Alsup for all of her expertise, efforts and advice and listening to my whining.


Long term, the Mink threat could possibly continue year round due to our proximity to several very large ponds all around us and Indian Creek just a mile away. Internet information says Mink establish territories and roam a mile or more looking for food. If they attack in the summer, it will present big problems as we won’t be able to set traps around the pond in the summer time, as the greenhouse will be removed and the pond open to one and all. For a long term year round solution, based upon the information and pictures found on the internet, my son-in-law Jeff Wright made us the “floating mink trap” shown in the picture. It seems like it should be successful and could float in the pond, contain an enticing box and an opening for the Mink to explore which will contain “kill traps” without endangering area wildlife or Felines on dry land.

The only solution appears to be to KILL IT, as prevention is difficult, if not totally impossible. Live traps may work, but Mink are extremely clever and you would have to be extremely lucky. Ours were placed right in his “runs” from the woods to the pond and he would go right around it, passing up the tasty sardines used for bait.

Oh yes, back to the title of this article regarding acquiring a Kitten. We now have a Kitten who we named “LUCKY” who has adopted us. He was very lucky to keep getting caught in the live trap and not starve to death and we feel lucky to have this addition to our household.

Click to see pictures.

The Completely Illustrated Guide to Koi for Your Pond

This book is truly a work of art showing off so many pages of gorgeous full-page photos and art prints, as well as essays on a broad range of topics. It's definitely koi-centric, so don't expect a book on pond-building, instead more of an illustration to Koi and their works. Really a great coffee table type book for everyone to see.

Nigel the Crazy Koi Guy!


Bring attention to a planter by hanging a decorative mask just above it. When the art is made from an all-weather material like iron, you can enjoy it outside all year long.

Decorative objects can also enhance your garden décor. Items such as colorful containers, sculptures, birdbaths, benches, and arbors support the colors and style of your home and garden. Whether they’re subtle accents that blend into the setting or bold attention-getters that add sparkle and pizzazz, experiment with their placement so they help build interest in your garden.

As we enter a new area, we look around until we see something that grabs our interest. After we focus on the object, we begin to notice things around it. Many gardens have beautiful flower beds, but lack a way to draw our eye to their unique features. In these situations, a piece of art can help visually organize the area. Another way to use art is to place it at the end of a path, where you can see it from a distance. The added perspective creates a powerful draw, enticing visitors to wander down the walkway to have a closer look.


  • Weed-free except for occasional tree seeds
  • Good at smothering weeds
  • Holds soil moisture very well
  • Tends to blow away when dry or exposed

Peat moss

  • Poor in nutrients
  • Attractive
  • Tends to blow away when dry
  • Repels water when dry, and is hard to re-wet

Pine needles

  • Long-lasting
  • Moderately good at smothering weeds
  • Attractive
  • Effect on soil pH is minimal


  • Nutrient rich
  • Not long lasting
  • Excellent at smothering weeds when fresh
  • Weed-free because it includes only the stem and leaves of grain plants, not the seeds
  • Must be reapplied annually
  • Very good at smothering weeds and holding soil moisture


  • Weed-free because it includes only the stem and leaves of grain plants, not the seeds
  • Must be reapplied annually
  • Very good at smothering weeds and holding soil moisture

Bark chips

  • Long-lasting
  • Moderately good at smothering small weeds
  • Not as good at conserving moisture as most other mulches
  • Looks attractive


  • Weed-free if properly made
  • Contains a smorgasbord of plant foods
  • Helps prevent diseases
  • You can plant seeds right into it

Grass clippings

  • High in nitrogen
  • Thick layers will heat up, so apply only 1 to 2 inches (not near stems of young plants)
  • Very good at smothering weed seedlings


  • Meadow hay, if clean of weed seeds, adds nutrients as it decomposes
  • Salt hay, gathered from marshes, is clean of weed seeds that will grow in your garden

Hulls and shells

  • Includes hulls and shells of peanuts, buckwheat, cocoa beans, and rice
  • Fairly rich in nutrients
  • Best for smothering weed seedlings or keeping weeds out of weed-free area
  • Attractive in formal or informal gardens
  • Longevity varies

The Iowa Nonprofit Corporation Required by Iowa Code Chapter 504 Biennial Report has been filed. This will keep the Eastern Iowa Pond Society Inc. listed with the State of Iowa as a Non Profit Corporation on public record.

Your club President, Monica Morley


Send recipes to Monica Morley...


Monica Morley
6702 Spring Cove Ct NE
Cedar Rapids IA 52402

1 part love of gardening
2 parts love of water
A dash of creativity
A pinch of imagination

Mix together in a barrel, bowl, tub, or other receptacle and enjoy a gorgeous container water garden that was invented by the best designer in the world – You!

Winter is the perfect time to think about what you’ll concoct in your garden this spring. Curl up in a comfy chair with your favorite blanket and gardening catalogs while the wind and snow flies outside. You can turn a dreary afternoon into a dreamy one as you plan this year’s garden. Be sure to include a few container water gardens in your landscape and you’ll enjoy the benefits of not having to water the aquatic plants nearly as often as you need to water your geraniums and petunias.

10% Discounts

see April’s Newsletter or the Commercial Supporters page.

In the Country Garden & Gifts
Iowa City Landscaping & Garden Center
Earl May, NE side only
Home & Garden Metal Art by A.J.

January Birthdays

Jo Hunerdosse - January 13th
Janice Bell - January 15th
Kathi Albrecht - January 26th

If you would like your birthday printed in the newsletter, email us at mespringcove@aol.com or sign in with the Hospitality Committee: Elena Murillo or Gil Morley.

from www.Aquascapenic.com

Mosquito Fish

Mosquito fish are from the gambusia group, known formally as Gambusia affinis. They are dull-colored, minnow-shaped fish that are closely related to guppies that are equally prolific (fast multiplying), giving birth to live young.

Their purpose in most ponds is simply to consume the immature forms of most insect creatures. In other words, they eat mosquito larvae, and that is why many people want them in their ponds. Here's what you need to know. These mosquito fish are very, very hardy and they will survive exposure to most fish diseases with hardly any sign of illness. Therefore, you can buy very sick fish and not see signs of illness. For this reason, it is very important that you assume all mosquito fish to be parasite carriers that you quarantine and treat.

Tancho Kohauku

A Tancho Kohaku has a round Hi spot on its head and no Hi on its body. In Showa Sanshoku, if the only Hi is a round spot on is head, it’s called Tancho Showa. In any variety, if the only Hi is a round pattern on its head, it is the Tancho variety. At Koi shows, we collect these Koi into one category to judge.

Out of the many Tancho varieties, Tancho Kohaku is most commonly produced and is most available. An excellent Tancho Kohaku’s whole body must be snow white. Yellow skin will lowerits value regardless of how big and perfectly round the Hi is. Next, like this Koi, the round Hi needs to cover as much area as possible between its eye and nose. But it must not cover the eye or the nose. The edge must be sharp. The coloration must be deep red. Remember this Koi as a model when you look for a beautiful Tancho Kohaku.

Click to see a picture of a Tancho Kohauku.

Tancho Showa is the king of Tancho

There are many kinds of Tancho. Among them, the most valuable variety, that is, the most expensive, is Tancho Showa. In other varieties, especially Kawarimono, you can sometimes find a very beautiful and rare Tancho. No matter how rare it is, a Tancho Showa is still more valuable. Tancho Showa is the king. The reason lies in its powerful and rich pattern.

Click to see a picture of a Tancho Showa.

Permission from Mamoru Kodama author of Kokugyo Vol. Introduction of Nishikigoi

From Carl Unkel, Middle Amana

Send in your stories good or bad. This section if for you members. Take the time and share with your fellow ponders. Every time you contribute to the newsletter your name goes in to a year end drawing.

I built my small pond in 2003 and expanded in 2006. I have left my Koi in the pond throughout the winter since the expansion and have had pretty good luck so far. Since it is only 2' deep, I am still fearful of finding frozen Koi in the spring. I have kept a pump running during the winter to aerate and keep a hole open in the ice. This works well most of the time, but there have been a few weeks in each winter when even this will freeze over. Last year I built a Greg Bickal patented de-icer and used it in combination with the pump to keep an opening in the ice. That worked very well. Still fearing a lengthy freeze and a potential loss of fish, I have been pondering for the last couple of years about how to inexpensively cover my pond and after looking at many options, I found a canopy enclosure (10' x 20') at a reasonable price. It ended up to be an almost perfect fit. Without the bottom section of legs, it fits over the bridge and under the pergola. This is not a snow and ice proof structure however, so I have been out during or after the snowfalls brushing the snow away. As you see from the inside photos, there is still ice on the pond, but it is not as thick as previous winters. We have a couple of winter months to go and the jury is still out on whether this will hold up through an Iowa winter, but so far, so good.

Click to see pictures of Carl's structure.

Eastern Iowa Pond Society Membership Application

All locations and topics are subject to change. Read your monthly newsletter for details and updates.

Times determined by the Host/Hostess

Programs will be updated as available along with the times of the meetings.

Inside home or garage is a possibility with Iowa weather during March & April Meetings

February 28th (Saturday)
Jeff Garner & Kerry Shaner

March 28th (Saturday)
(inside home) OPEN

April 9th (Thursday)
(inside home) OPEN

April 25th (Saturday)
( inside home) OPEN

May 14th (Thursday)
Erma & Larry Thompson

May 23rd (Saturday)
Dorothy Helms

June 11th (Thursday)
LouAnn & Larry Jayne

June 27th (Saturday)
Pre Pond Tour

July 12th (Sunday)
Pond Tour

July 25th (Saturday)
Elena Murillo/Gil & Monica Morley
4th Annual Photo Contest

August 13th (Thursday)
Cecy & Bob Bisenius

August 22nd (Saturday)
Jackie & Harry Allsup

September 10th (Thursday)
Lavonne & Dick Isard

September 26th (Saturday)
Pat & Wayne Beuter

October 24th (Saturday)

Recognition Night

Contact Monica mespringcove@aol.com or 294-4866 if you would like to host in March or April or October.

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