Thursday, October 27, 2011

Environment: Pond makes us feel at home with nature

By Abe V Rotor
  A pond of Nymphaea lilies

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. Thus you will feel part of the living system called biosphere.

Home of the Living Minutiae

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 Leeuwenhoek introduced the science of microscopy sometime in the 17th century.
You will be surprise to see microscopic algae - green, yellow, orange and in varied hues and designs. Microscopic animals from Paramecium to Vorticella when seen under the microscope takes you to a world of make-believe and fantasy. Many of them may appear aliens from outer space.

These 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.

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.

Pond Life

Anyone who takes time out to sit by the pond could lose his thoughts in the larger realm of nature and the countryside. Cattail and umbrella plants which belong to Family Cyperaceae rise among the floating water lilies, whose pink to purple flowers break the monotony of the pondscape. The centerpiece of a pond may be a community of yellow and pink flowered Nymphaea, and colony of white-flowered lotus.

There may be a small island built at the center, the pond being the moat of this sanctuary connected only to the outside world by a foot bridge naturally hidden by twining plants and lianas. The island is cozy with some trees riprapping it and providing shade to a native hut.

Staying here detaches one physically and mentally from the cares and worries of the world. Because it is a world by itself - so small, so private, so remote and secure.

Peering through 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 center island and bank.

And 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 rocks. 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, and on planton organisms, they subsist as gleaners of any kind of food.

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, togwether with snails, they convert organic matter into detritus, the pond’s natural fertilizer, and 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 P
ond Provides Relaxation

Stress–relieving benefits can be derived from a pond. 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 eying an unwary insect for its next meal, its long tongue coiled like spring, ready to strike like lasso.

Bees buzz from flower to flower, while red, green and brown dragonflies 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.

Fishing Sport

Catfish and mudfish are indigenous in ponds, whether man-made or natural. They are virtually permanent residents, and are masters of camouflage, and for being resistant to changing seasons, aestivating in summer beneath the muddy bottom, becoming active again come rainy season. Tilapia is the most visible among the large fishes. It multiplies fast. As such there is need to thin the pond occasionally by net, or hook and line. Ponds are a source of viand and fishing is adventure when the water starts to recede. It is a local sport for old and young when the rainy season ends.

It is not only the aesthetics and functional value that make ponds well-loved fixtures; they are a microcosm of larger ecosystems – the lakes and seas. They make us feel at home with nature.

Do you have a garden pond at home? Share us your views and experiences.

 A pond of cattails and Nymphaea lilies

 Fountain pond, UST Manila 

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