Saturday, December 12, 2015

Welcoming TG Ranchu Into the USA for the First Time Ever!

Back in April I imported an exceptional group of TG ranchu from Thailand:

Here is a current video of them all grown up!  They are in cold water hibernation right now and as soon as I decide to warm them up there will be bonkers spawning going on! Yeeeehaw!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Congratulations to NB

NB has done an amazing job raising his high quality BBR from my spawns this year.  Grooming ranchu to their full potential is a ton of work and NB has done it masterfully & Wow! I am super impressed!  NB will receive a prize of 2 high quality BBR from my 2016 spawns, all shipping costs will be covered by me.  Does anybody else have photos to show the results of their grooming projects with my spawns this year?  I would love to see a photo or video!

From this in early June:

To this in October (ranchu owned by NB):

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Nisai, Oya and Retired Breeders

Its the end of the summer and with the sun lower in the sky I find the angle of the light seems to just make the ranchu glow.  This is one of my 6x6 foot ponds .  If you want to keep Japanese ranchu please understand the best path to success is with the traditional method of 100% water changes.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I'm recommending a precationary PRAZI treatment

The summer is winding down and this is a great time of year to do a Pazi treatment for flukes.  Flukes are extremely prevalent in both sick and healthy goldfish.  Prazi is such a cheap, safe and effective treatment, so why not?

I have been getting pure praziquantel powder on ebay for a good price.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Promising CBR

I am most hopeful about these CBR from spawn 2 this year.  Overall quality is just exceptional for my eye.  Great foundation for the head at such a young age!.....powerful movement.... flexible tail....

More from this same batch:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Quick & Large Isolation Basket

Sometimes I need to keep certain groups separate. This is a relatively quick solution.  This is the cement mixing basin from big-box home improvement stores, about 16 gallons (24x35 inches) with hundreds of holes drilled into it.

Here is a great suggestion from another ranchu keeper (17 x 22 inches):

Best CBR from Spawn 2, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Instructions for Building DIY 5x5 Ranchu Ponds

Welcome to Advanced Ranchu Keeping
NOTE:Instructions still in process 8-2-15
In observation of traditional Japanese methods for rearing ranchu we will build a pair of ponds because one single pond does not provide a place for the ranchu to be moved to when a water change is performed.  Having an identical pond waiting and ready for the ranchu to be transferred into when a water change is required, this is the heart of the Japanese method.

Overview: Please read thru the entire course of steps before beginning.
Tools Required:
-Powerful drill/screwdriver for sinking long 3 inch deck screws
-Large 90 degree angle, or another way of measuring 90 degree corners
-Measuring tape
-roller, brush, paint pan, & other painting accessories for staining the wood.
-3.5 inch drill bit for installing the bulkheads. You will need to size your drill bit based on your exact bulkhead
-utility knife with some brand-new blades
-x-large adjustable wrench for installing the bulkheads photo
-belt sander with several 50 grit belts
-knowledge of proper PVC assembly processes.
-7.25 inch circular saw (not necessary if you have the lumber yard make all cuts)
-hack saw for cutting pvc


Shopping List for Complete 2 Pond System: 

You want to purchase green lumber.  Plan on assembling all the wood within 24 hours of purchase so the wood can dry in its assembled form, this can help prevent warping.  Inspect each piece of lumber carefully & reject any that show defects. If you are having these cuts performed at the hardware store/lumber yard please realize this is a large & annoying request to the employees.  I suggest going when it is not busy and also let the employee know that you are not in a hurry and that it is fine if they need to attend to another matter briefly.  The employee will also probably tell you that they can not perform highly accurate cuts.  My observation has been they are plenty accurate for this type of project.  For this job I performed all cuts myself.

Lumber & Plywood
If you are having the cuts performed at the lumber yard, you will pick up the wood listed in purple and take it to the cutting area.  The text in blue shows you what you will have after the cuts are performed. Before hand you will need to ask if the lumber yard will perform the cuts.
If you are you are making all the cuts yourself you will simply pick up the items listed in purple. After you get home and make all the cuts you will have the pieces listed in blue.
Purchase (4x) 2 x 12 x 10's and have them cut to 5' long.  NOTE:10' lumber actually measures 1/4 inch too long, so two cuts will be necessary, since after one cut you will be left with a 2 x 12 that is 5' and a quarter inches long.  The second cut will remove the extra quarter inch.
You now have (8x)  2" x 12" x 5'

Purchase (2x) 5/8 or 3/4 inch thick plywood sheets (4x8).  Cut both to measure 48" x 61.5"  This is a single cut at the 61.5" measurement.
You now have (2x) 48" x 61.5" plywood

(2x) from the leftover plywood from the above piece 48" x 13.5"
You now have (2x) 48" x 13.5" plywood

(2x) from the leftover plywood from the above piece 13.5" x 13.5"
You now have (2x) 13.5" x 13.5"plywood

Purchase (4x) 2 x 6 x 12'ers OR (2x) 4 x 6 x 12'ers cut to 124 inches long
You now have (4x) 2 x 6 x 12'ers OR (2x) 4 x 6 x 12'ers cut to 124 inches long

Purchase (6x) 2x4x12'ers to make the following:
(12x) 2 x 4 x 61.5"
(5x) 2 x 4 x 10"
(5x) 2 x 4 x 10.5"
(2x) 2 x 4 x 8+ inches long scrap from other cuts
You now have:
 (12x) 2 x 4 x 61.5"
(5x) 2 x 4 x 10"
(4x) 2 x 4 x 10.5"
(2x) 2 x 4 x 8+ inches long scrap from other cuts

(((((( INFO & STEP still to be added: finishing the top rail.  Purchase (4x) 2 x 4 x 12'ers NEED ADDITIONAL INFO for exact measurements for these top-rail 2x4's(around the top of the pond))))))))

Purchase all of the following:
2+ gallons heavy duty wood stain, your choice of color. I recommend light colors in hot climates to help reflects the Sun's rays.  Because I live in a cold climate I stain my ponds black so they absorb solar heat.  Get the 10-year-rated stain

1 gallon heavy duty stain for the top rails

3" long deck screws (small box)
2.5" long deck screws (two small boxes)
1 5/8" long deck screws (1-2 small box)
HVAC metal strapping

Insulation (choose one option):
 Warm climate: (2x) 4x8 sheet of rigid foam (pink or white) insulation 1 inch thick
 Cold climate: (4x) 4x8 sheet of rigid foam (pink or white) insulation 1 inch thick

(4x)1.5" bulkhead source forthcoming
(2x)1.5" pvc ball valve
(4x)1.5" pvc threaded to slip coupling
(1x)1.5" pvc pipe (8 feet long)
(2x)1.5" pvc 90 deg. elbow
Teflon plumbers paste for potable water
PVC purple primer and glue

Pond Liner:
(2x) 8x8 or larger pond liner source forthcoming

(6x) figure 8 concrete blocks

Step 1 Walls
Lay out four of the 2 x 12 x 5'ers, paying special attention to the arrangement of the corners.

Corner detail below: Each of the 4 corners will have this same orientation, so that the finished pond is a perfect square. The line drawing may help illustrate the orientation & symmetry of the arrangement:

Use a 90 deg. square to make a perfect square angle at each corner.  This is an important time to take extra-special care to ensure that the pond is square. Don't rush this step!

Use three 2.5" deck screws to secure each corner.  Repeat at all 4 corners while continuing to check the squareness of each corner.

Make sure every screw is counter-sunk a slight amount for proper strength:

Step 2 Floor
Carefully align the 48 x 61.5 plywood with the edges of the pond:

Use 1 5/8" screws to securely attach the plywood to the 2 x 12's.  I place a screw every 6 inches or so.  This is not the time to skimp on screws.... use extra screws, not less.  Pay special attention to securing the corners.

Carefully align a 48" x 13.5" piece of plywood into place and secure along two edges with the 1 5/8" screws using 6 inch or tighter spacing:

Place the 13.5" x 13.5" plywood into the remaining spot and using 1 5/8" screws:

Step 3 Floor Support
Place (6x) 2 x 4 x 61.5" on the pond, making sure to align them in an orientation that supports the seam between the first two pieces of plywood. Don't screw anything down yet.
In this photo the red line represents the border between the two main pieces of plywood.  The blue lines represent the proper orientation for the 2x4 to support the plywood optimally.

Place both the outside 2x4x61.5"s about a half-inch in from the outside wall of the pond. Do not attach anything yet:

 Place the (2x) 2x4x10 inch-ers inside of the first 2x4 to define the spacing to the next long 2x4.  Then place the 2x4x10.5"ers inside of that to define the next location of the long 2x4's.  Measure the distance between the long 2x4's at both ends to ensure symmetry. Do not screw anything down yet.

Red arrows indicate the locations to check that the measurement is 10 inches:
Green arrows indicate the locations to check that the measurement is 10.5 inches:
Do not screw anything down yet.

Now that everything is aligned correctly it is time to carefully & temporarily attach the long 2x4's.  Each of the long 2x4's is attached using only 2 of the 2.5" screws, one in each end, using this orientation:

Attach each of the four blocking 2x4's to the long 2x4's with two 2.5" screws in the following manner:

Temporarily insert eight 1 5/8" screws in the following orientation.  These screws will poke thru to the other side and provide a guide in the next step:

Step 4 Securing Floor to Supports
Carefully flip the pond over.  I suggest at least 2 people, possibly 3, for this task. The pond is becoming heavy now, so get some help.  Now it is starting to actually look like a ranchu pond!  Warning: There are 8 screws sticking up out of the bottom of the pond! Do not step on these! Do not put your hand down on these inadvertently! If someone enters your workspace be sure to inform them of the screws! 

Take a moment to notice the orientation of the screws sticking up out of the bottom to the long 2x4's running the length of the bottom.  Use the screws as a guide to draw lines that represent the location of the 2x4s beneath.  Make sure you draw the lines perfectly above the 2x4's by stepping back and checking that the lines will be directly above the 2x4's.  You can use a length of 2x4 or some other straight edge to draw the lines.  Consider that the tool you draw the lines with should be a thickness similar to the 2x4s, making a 2x4x48" about the perfect tool for this step.
Use four (or more) 2.5" screws to attach each of the 4 interior 2x4's.  The red circles indicate where the screws go.  The red arrow indicates that screw is out of the picture frame:

Use eight (or more) 2.5" screws to attach each of the outside 2x4's.  You will need to angle the screws as shown in these photos:

Use additional 1 5/8" screws to continue to secure the four inner 2x4 runners paying particular attention the the seam between the 3 different pieces of plywood. Notice in these photos how I have used screws on each side of the seam.  By now you may have noticed there is one section of plywood that is somewhat unsupported, we will address this in a following step.

Sink 2,3 or 4 of the long 3" screws into the corners to provide additional strength:

Step 5 Additional Support

Flip the pond over again.  Now we will address the unsupported end of the plywood:  you can see the spot in this photo:  Blue arrow indicates where the plywood seam is.  Red arrows indicate where the plywood is needing more support.

Solution: 2x4x8+ inches scrap piece leftover from 2x4 cuts:


Step 6 More Additional Support

Now we are going to put in the final screws into the blocking supports and the extra plywood support we just made.  The red circles indicate where to place the temporary screws in the manner previously used to provide guide markers on the floor of the pond:

Turn the pond over yet again and install two 1 5/8" screws into the blocks and several 1 5/8 screws into the new plywood support.  Green dots indicate the guide screw sticking through the plywood.  Red spots indicate where to install 1 5/8" screws that will go into the 10" and 10.5" blocks between the long 2x4 runners, and into the new plywood support block.:

Turn the pond over again and remove the 11 temporary screws we just used as guides:
 Also remove the temporary screws in the ends of the long 2x4 runners:

Flip the pond over for the last time, the frame is done:


Step 7 Repeat
Repeat steps 1 thru 6 to build the second pond


Step 8 Beams/Runners
If you purchased the (2x) 4 x 6 x 12'ers you can skip this step, but make sure they are cut to 124" long.
If you purchased (4x) 2 x 6 x 12'ers please follow this step.
Make sure these measure 124 inches long.
Line up two of the 2x6's together, essentially forming a 4x6.  Using the 2.5" screws, screw these together from each side by using a generous amount of screws.  I suggest 10 or more screws per side, so 20 per runner, or 40 for this whole step. 


Step 9 Patience
The new ponds need to dry for 1 to 2 weeks, preferably indoors, before the stain can be applied. If they are drying outdoors make sure they are covered with a tarp.


Step 10 Sanding-no photo, sorry- Use the belt sander to round all the corners & rough spots.  More sanding is better than less.  Clean the sanding dust off before the next step.  Compressed air works good for this.


Step 11 Stain
Figure 1 gallon of stain per pond, so 2 gallons are needed for this project. Apply 2 or 3 very generous coats of heavy duty wood stain, preferably opaque rather than transparent, and with the longest lifetime expectancy, shoot for 10-year rated.

I start with the pond upside down and coat the bottom first. Brush-in all the crevices, cracks and knot holes.  Make sure the stain is worked deeply into the wood.  Generously apply the stain. Let each coat dry before applying the next, then let it dry over night before the next part of this step.

Flip the ponds over and generously apply 2 or 3 coats of stain to all remaining surfaces.  Brush-in all the crevices, cracks and knot holes. Let dry overnight before the next step.
Also stain the long  124' long runners from step 8.

Step 12 Preparing for bulkhead installation. Perform this step on both ponds.

This is the bulkhead I have chosen for my project.  There are cheaper ones available, however I have not found a better one.  Since I plan on using these ponds for many years, and due to the important role of the bulkhead, I am ok with the extra expense of premium bulkheads.

Line-up the position of the bulkheads with special consideration for the arrangement of the 2x4s underneath, to avoid mounting the bulkheads anywhere near the seam in the plywood and to place them in the proper orientation for draining when the pond is placed in a slightly-angled manner towards the bulkheads.. In this photo the level represents the under laying 2x4:

I chose to mount the bulkheads at the 11 and 22 inch marks, and pressed up to within about an inch of the under laying 2x4 (represented by the level in this photo):

Mark the center of the bulkheads and drill two 3.5" holes at the proper locations. Also drill ten to twenty 1/4" holes in various locations of the bottom plywood to act as drain holes in case water happens to get behind the liner (red marks the location of a few of these 1/4" drain holes):

Step 13 Insulation  Perform this step on each pond.

Line the entire bottom of the pond with 1" foam insulation.  You can see in this photo that it takes 3 pieces:
From the underneath trace the drain holes onto the insulation.  Cut-out an oval shape in this manner:

Using the belt sander, bevel the transition from the foam to the plywood bottom of the pond.  Please note that in this photo I have beveled thru two layers of 1" insulation.  You will be beveling thru only 1 inch of insulation:

COLD CLIMATE:Install the side insulation. Take measurements to determine the exact size of the foam pieces.  You can use a few 1 5/8" screw to hold the walls in place:

Step 14 Installing the pond liner Install both pond liners.

This step can take a bit of finesse. Preferable to install the liner on a warm & sunny day as the liner will be much more flexible and accommodating. Start by getting one side aligned:

Patiently finesse the liner into position in the corners:

The corners need to be cleanly folded and tucked in, sort of like wrapping a package, except you're wrapping the interior. Some practice may/will be required here. You will need to cut-back some of the liner in a curved manner as shown in this photo to accommodate the transition to the top edge of the pond:

If you're having difficulty getting the liner into place it may be helpful to fill the pond with about an inch of water, to hold the bottom down and help position the liner into the corners.  It may not be possible to get out every single unwanted fold or uneveness but in the end these are not a big deal to me. If small seams or folds in the finished liner are unacceptable to you then I suggest getting the pre-formed plastic or fiberglass ponds from Asia and avoiding this style.

Get the liner positioned & folded correctly at this stage because once you've cut the holes in the next part it will be hard to go back.

Find one of the bulkhead holes and cleanly cut a 2.5 inch diameter hole in the center of the bulkhead hole:

Slowly & gently force the large bulkhead thru the smaller opening in the pond liner.  You want the foam gasket to be between the bulkhead and the liner, on the interior of the pond.  The liner will stretch quite a bit to accommodate the bulkhead.  You want a tight fit here. Align the bulkhead so it is floating in the center of the hole in the plywood and screw on the tightening ring on the back and tighten the bulkhead down very tightly:

Carefully cut-out the other hole in the liner:

Install the second bulk head. Align the bulkhead so it is floating in the center of the hole in the plywood and screw on the tightening ring on the back and tighten the bulkhead down very tightly:

Temporarily secure all 4 sides of the liner with 1 5/8" or shorter screws in the manner shown:


Step 15 Base:
Arrange the cement blocks and the long runners in the following orientation.  Use the level to ensure that the beams are running slightly downhill to the left and to the front.  This will direct all your water toward the bulkheads when draining the pond.:

Get a few helpers when moving these large ponds into place.  Position the first pond in place.  Make sure that the position of the front beam in not blocking the path of the plumbing for the front bulkhead.

Position the second pond in place:

Now is the time to make any needed adjustments to the slope of the ponds by shimming between the cement blocks and the beams.  Notice the way water moves towards the drain when the pond is nearly done draining and make any adjustments you deem necessary:

Now is a good time to vigorously rinse-down the entire interior of the ponds.  

Step 16 Plumbing Perform this step on each pond.

Overflow drain: Glue a 15" length of 1.5 pvc pipe into a 1.5 slip-to-threaded coupling.  Semi-firmly screw the coupling into the far bulkhead with teflon paste.  This tube is currently too long to act as an overflow drain.  The first time you fill the pond please fill it up to the absolute max fullness.  Mark this water line on the overflow drain pipe with a sharpie-type marker.  During the first water change on the pond you will remove the overflow drain, cut the pipe at the mark, and re-install it by very firmly screwing it back in with the large adjustable wrench.

Drain: Install a 10 inch long 2x4 (pre-stained) in the following manner to support the drain pipe.
Red arrows are pointing to the new piece:

Install a 1.5" slip-to-threaded coupling into the bottom of the front bulkhead.  Pretreat the slip portion of the coupling with the PVC purple primer.  Use the teflon paste when you install the coupling.  Tighten the coupling very firmly into the bulkhead using a large adjustable wrench.

Design and glue together your drain pipe and 1.5" ball valve.  The simplest method is shown here:

Glue the drain assembly into the slip coupling:

As you can see in this next photo, I added an additional right-angle to my drain pipe assembly. Measure the distance between the drainpipe and the new 2x4 piece we just installed and create a block that will support the drain pipe. Use the HVAC metal strap material to firmly attach the pipe as shown here:

Fill both ponds to their max fullness.  Mark this high-water line on the overflow drains (During the first water change you will remove the overflow drain pipe, cut it at the mark, and reinstall it in a very firm manner, using the large adjustable wrench.) Take this moment to check all the bulkheads for drips or leaks.  You may need to tighten the bulkheads or make some other adjustments.  It's extremely important that there are zero drip from all bulkheads. The bulkhead will need to be checked seasonally for leaks & tightness, but most especially in the spring.


Step 17 ENJOY!
Well I needed to start using my new ponds immediately!  When I have a chance to finish the tops off with a nicely stained 2x4 perimeter I will make an update.


Step 18 Build 3 More