Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Part 2: Importance of a Garden Pond


Raising coy for leisure and profit

Abe V Rotor

Are you aware that having a pond to complement your garden is beneficial for you and members of your family? This is so because a pond represents an ecosystem. As such it has the basic features of a functioning ecological unit.

The pond is a field laboratory for microbiology. Plankton organisms are revealed under the microscope. In their diversity, a whole new world unfolds- a world man did not know before Anton van Leewenhoek introduced the science of microscopy sometime in the 17th century.

There are monerans and protists, the world’s oldest- yet simplest- organisms. It is a wonder why these organisms did not evolve and develop into complex organisms like the plants and animals we know- and why they are ensconced in a confined environment such as a pond.
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The microcosm of the ocean is the pond; it is like “seeing the world in a grain of sand.” And for the eons of time and generations these organisms have passed through, it is like “holding eternity in the palm of the hand.” Thus the pond is the representation of our biological world, manifesting how little we know of God’s immense wisdom contained in a drop of water that teems with myriads of micro-organisms.
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Anyone who takes time to sit by the pond could lose his thoughts in the larger realm of nature and the countryside. Cattail and umbrella plants rise among the floating water lilies, whose pink to purple flowers break the monotony of the pondscape. But the centerpiece of the pond is a community of white-flowered lotus or purple flowered Nymphaea..

From the deep green water, one may be surprised to see a school of colorful carp and tilapia, stirring at the slightest hint of company and food. Their graceful movement creates gentle waves and soft lapping sounds against the shore line. To an observant eye, small fish like Poecilia and rainbow fish form small schools that inhabit the edges of the pond and its tiny islets and coves formed by aquatic plants and stone. These tiny fish are always mindful about staying out of the path of their large counterpart. Other than small insects that fall into the water, they subsist on the latter’s morsels.

At the bottom of the pond lies the harmless, independent janitor fish known for their role of eating crust of algae and scum. That is why they are important in keeping aquariums and ponds clean. In the process, they convert organic matter into detritus, the pond’s natural fertilizer, and are the source of sediments that accumulate and become a foothold of aquatic plants. Seldom to these helpful creatures rise to the surface, but if you want to see these shy, docile fish, peer into the water on a clear day when the sun is directly above, and you will find them lying prostrate at the bottom, like sunken ship on a sea floor.

The pond relieves tension. When you need to relax, observe the turtles basking in the morning sun, stretching their neck and appendages. Or watch those cooling off on a hot day, their nostrils and carapace protruding out of the water. Nearby, a toad might patiently sit on a leaf pad, sheepishly eyeing an unwary insect for its next meal, its long tongue coiled like spring, ready to strike like lasso.

Bees buzz from flowers to flower, while dragonflies - red, green and brown - hover prettily above the water as they search for a suitable place to lay eggs that will hatch into aquatic nymphs that feed on mosquito wrigglers and Daphnia. Strung on leaves and stalks are spider webs glistening with dewdrops. These resemble strings of diamonds that will soon turn into nearly invisible death traps for the hoppers, mosquitoes and flies that stray into them. Frogs are permanent residents in a small pond, singing at the onset of rain and exchange love calls throughout the breeding season. They remain quiet in summer as they aestivate and wait for the rains to come again.

Kataba or canal fish (Poecillia) thrives without any care, as long as there is water, living on plankton and insects that fall into the pond or attracted by a nearby vigil light. Whenever there is stagnant pools around, I put a pair of these mosquito-eating fish and that solve the possibility of malaria or dengue to occur in our the place. Our pond serves as kataba nursery of sort; we give relatives, friends and students who wish to grow kataba in their own aquarium or pond.

The green water in the pond is a good hunting ground for microscopic flora and fauna. With a microscope on hand I have discovered a lot of planktons, many of which are unfamiliar. The green color is made up of millions of one-celled green algae which constitute the pasture of zooplankton organisms. They are the autotrophs, the base of the food pyramid in a pond ecosystem.

Would a backyard fill in the vacuum created by our wanton destruction of natural resources, the rape of our forests, the draining of swamps, the conversion of mangrove to fisheries? Or the gross negligence in keeping our lakes and rivers full and clean – or at least for having nature to take care of them? I doubt. But the little Eden each one of us make in our backyards would collectively recreate little by little that bigger Paradise we lost, when and to what extent we can only surmise and struggle with will and resolve. It is our little contribution in regaining the Lost Paradise. xxx

1 comment:

Bez said...

Creating a mini ecosystem in our own backyard will be both beneficial to us and the environment. By making our own little ocean or sea paradise in a form of a pond where we put koi or gold fish and water plants like hyacinth or lotuses serve as a fixture of nature in the own comfort of our home. It gives us an oasis where we can appreciate marine life and serenity of flowing water in the comfortable confines of our own home. But more than that, it can be homes to some of the current tenants of our water ways like the Kataba and the janitor fish at the Pasig river. They can eat algae at the pond and mosquito wrigglers that may cause dengue. And a pond could support a thriving ecosystem with insects like dragonflies and butterflies hovering the are.
These ponds would be a concrete reminder of how rich our water ways once were and make the younger ones appreciate nature in the midst of the cement and concrete walls of commercialization and development within the cities.