They’re called chorus frogs for a reason

(This entry was originally posted Friday, 7/6/07 on my website in a foolish attempt to create a blog without blog software.)

I stopped in at Hughes Water Gardens the other day. I needed more floaters to shade my pond and advice about controlling string algae on my waterfall. I love going there, not just because the staff is helpful and knowledgeable but also because it’s a delightful place to visit.

While I was contemplating which floating plant to purchase, I overheard another shopper ask one of the staff if she could buy tadpoles. When she heard they didn’t sell frogs, she asked where she could purchase them.

“Sorry, but it is illegal to sell native frogs.”

I piped up, apologized for eavesdropping, and said that my experience was that “if you build it, they will come.” My pond was just over a year old and I had loads of Pacific tree frog tadpoles in my pond. She said her pond was much older but she’s never had tadpoles.

“Do you have fish?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Well, that’s likely the reason,” I said, “Fish eat frog eggs. I don’t have fish, so I have frogs.”

And then, she said – and I still can’t believe I held my tongue – that she wanted to buy tadpoles just to have them for a little while anyway, she didn’t want frogs, she didn’t want anything making noise at night.

As she walked away, I shook my head and wondered that she didn’t see how absurd and wrong her quest was. For the sake of our native frogs, I hope she doesn’t find what she seeks.

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7 Responses to They’re called chorus frogs for a reason

  1. matt says:

    This post opened my eyes a little – and very timely too. I am in Virginia and am just setting up my first small pond. As Spring Peepers (Chorus frogs) are common around the creek that runs through my yard I have been looking forward to ‘stocking’ the pond to have a few also. However, I intend to put a few goldfish in there as the ‘main attraction’ and have even thought about one or two bluegill (and minnows). I never gave a thought to them eating the eggs! Guess I have to think on that a little! Thanks for the post.

    • Harun says:

      I am sorry to say your outdoor pond will atacrtt raccoons, opossums and even other wildlife, possibly even muskrats and coyotes, but definitely coons and possums.You can help protect your pond residents by making sure there are hiding spots in the pond like little caves or small docks which the fish and frogs can hide in/under should marauders come around. I’ve got a few large clay pots tucked in corners (and weighted down) for the fish to hide in. If your pond is small enough, you can cover it at night with deer netting, or set it so its a few inches down in the water so the marauders are foiled (although you do need some space for the frogs to get in an out. Protecting it with deer netting also helps prevent the raccoons from splashing around in your pond, which is important because those sharp claws of theirs can rip the plastic liner easily enough.There are certain repellents you can get at your local garden center, but I honestly don’t know how effective they are against raccoons. I have a spot in the yard where I throw leftover foodstuffs for the raccoons, and this does help as the little beggars are actually lazy and prefer an easy meal over working for one, and they get used to this being their dining hall. The best deterrent for marauding beasties is a dog that is allowed to stay outdoors all night, but then dogs often like to splash around in the pond to play with the frogs. I would urge you to get inexpensive feeder goldfish. You will have a lot of die-off of fish until the pond is established. Once established, the fish will lay eggs and each spring you will have a new batch of baby fish to enjoy. These fish can grow as large as koi (depending upon the size of your pond), and just as colorful if you stock it with a variety of colored fish right now I have one 13-year old who has survived several raids and is a foot in length, so with some planning and care, you can have long-lived fish in a long-lived pond. The frogs will move in on their own, probably a couple of months after your pond is running.Best of luck.

      • admin says:

        Thanks for stopping in, Harun, and for offering your advice to Matt about stocking his pond with fish.

        The concerns you raise are exactly why I chose not to have fish. That limits the problems I would otherwise have with raccoons and herons and other creatures. Wildlife does come to drink at my pond and the raccoons do wash their food in it – and a pair of cubs once wrestled in the pond at 3am (I happened to be awake so I got to watch their fun) – but other than that, in the 6 years I’ve had my pond I haven’t had to deal with any of the concerns you mention.

        My pond has also been fairly low maintenance. Other than covering it with bird netting (the kind you use to cover berry bushes) to catch leaves in the fall and periodic treatments with anti-algae treatments, it has required little care. And it brings in such a wonderful assortment of birds, including Cooper’s hawks. It was one of the best things I added to my garden.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks, Matt, for stopping in and commenting. Your local pond shop would be a good resource for you but I’m glad my post got you thinking about this. Good luck with your peepers! They are such fun visitors to have in the garden.

    • Gatsy says:

      Good point. I hadn’t thuoght about it quite that way. 🙂

    • Noor says:

      Oh dear! Anything you do will affect the frogs (which you don’t mionetn but I’m sure they’ll be there any day). They are one of the most sensitive of creatures kind of the canary in the coal mine environmentally. Has the pond pump been running? Normally moving water doesnt’ get a lot of algae so if it’s been off for a while, just setting the water in motion might do the trick.From what I’ve heard and read (I did some research when installing my bird bath) the most environmentally friendly way of dealing with algae is to scoop it out and scrub off the bits clinging to rocks (and stir up the rocks on the bottom if that’s where it is). I know it’s a bit gross, but the frogs will thank you!As for herbs, did any survive over the winter? Did you try putting the lemon grass in pots and moving them inside? If so, you should be able to replant them in the ground and they’ll come back as it warms up. It’s realy resillient stuff!

      • admin says:

        Thanks for stopping in, Noor.

        As you wrote, frogs are very sensitive creatures. However, there are products on the market that are safe for use with fish, frogs and other pond life.

        Algae forms because of excess nitrates in the water. Nitrate is a result of fish and plant waste decomposing in the water. In very large ponds, it’s much easier to manage but in small ponds and waterfalls, pond health needs to be monitored and addressed more regularly because excessive algae reduces the oxygen required by aquatic life. You can either remove or reduce the algae by using pond treatment products (follow directions to the letter) or, as you suggest, by scooping it out. I scoop when I can but, in spring, it is incredibly difficult to scoop out the algae without also scooping out frog eggs and/or tadpoles.

        In another comment above, I mentioned my other method to control nitrates in the pond: cover the pond with bird netting to capture autumn leaves. When the trees are bare, lift the netting and dispose of the leaves (if you have lots of trees around your pond, you may need to do this more than once or else the netting gets so heavy with leaves, it’s hard to lift). I’ve been doing this for the last four years and it has really made a difference in controlling algae bloom the following spring.

        As for stirring up the rocks at the bottom, that’s not necessarily a good thing to do. It stirs up sediment, impacting water quality. It also may promote algae growth. The layer of sediment that forms on pond bottoms contains beneficial bacteria that help keep a pond in balance. Stirring it up on a regular basis can disrupt that balance.

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