Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Ranchu Pond Build Begins. Turning Japanese!

With the glorious weather set to be with us for a little while now, a couple of days ago i set about constructing my new ranchu setup. My plans were to have 3 ponds, which will function primarily as "growing out" ponds. I have seen many examples of concrete ponds used across Japan

I intended to build the ponds out of railway sleepers and then line them. They would be much cheaper than custom made fibreglass ponds, easier to build than blocks and concrete, removable, and still the right dimensions (with ranchu in mind), strong and attractive enough to look at (which was an important factor in getting the nod of approval from the misses!). The only downside being that the water will have to be pumped or syphoned out rather than simply pulling a plug.  However, with a spare pond always available, water changes will become much faster. Move ranchu from pond A to pond B, drain pond A, refill and open a beer.

In the middle of last week the railway sleepers arrived and i set about laying them. I was hoping to get an available depth of around 15 inches in the ponds. The cheapest way of doing this was going to involve laying the sleepers on their thinnest edge, as laying them more traditionally flat was going to require twice as many layers to get the depth i wanted available.

Having laid the first layer, it became obvious to me that a second layer was going to increase the height of the ponds to a point where they may become ugly to look at. Unfortunately this meant that to get somewhere near the depth i still wanted, i would need to dig down. It took the best part of 2 days, in the hottest weather the UK has seen so far this year, but i managed to get an extra 5 or 6 inches added to each pond. 

UK Ranchu Goldfish Ponds

The ponds are 6 ft long, almost 5 feet wide and will have an available depth around 15 inches which should be plenty for my ranchu grooming. Due to the nature of ranchu ponds, temperature fluctuations are a common problem and so i will be setting about making both shaded and insulated lids to protect from the elements before any ranchu go into them.

Having decided to stick with just one layer for the ranchu ponds, it has meant that i have sleepers left over and so i will be able to crack on with plans for another pond build very soon. I intend to make a larger, deeper pond that will be the home of my seed fish. I intend to insulate it heavily in the hope i can winter the ranchu in it as well. 

The ranchu themselves are well and i'm suprised at how active they are given the temperature. The weather has been very warm for the UK, around 30 degrees C for a few days now, and the pond temperature today has risen to around 26 degrees, even being shaded! 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Errors In My Ways?

Ranchu Goldfish Photo Artwork

For the last couple of days the UK and my ranchu have enjoyed some of the warmest weather of the year. Temperatures during the day have been close to 30 degrees C. Whilst i've been around to shade the pond, and open doors and windows, this has still caused the pond temperature to rise beyond my control. Sometimes as much as 3 degrees C. With the ponds being as shallow as they are i simply see no way that temperatures can be kept more stable during the height of summer.

The ranchu remain fairly lazy, in terms of spawning behavior, although i have witnessed some chasing during the night as temperatures cool. It made me realize a flaw in my methods. By following advice to avoid temperature swings in a short period of time, the pond thermostat was often increased after a warm spring day, to prevent a full drop during the night. Inadvertently this has meant the pond has never really cooled, or spent any length of time at cooler, spring like temps and has simply increased to a summer like temperature. I suspect i have created conditions more commonly encountered in places like Singapore and Thailand where ranchu enthusiasts regularly have to cool their ponds to induce spawning behavior!

I am hopeful that i may be able to still sneak a spawning in this year, to give me something to see the year out and experiment with. I am already getting excited about the 2014 season, which i am hopeful will be much more productive as my group become Oya.

Todays image is of a ranchu taken on a new phone with a photo editing app used to jazz it up a little. Hope you like! I'm also expecting to start constructing my new ranchu ponds this week so more photos and details on those will follow.