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I've set up a 30-foot-long shallow stream in my side yard, that starts with a 3-foot-high waterfall, and drains into a 6'x6' pond, the newest of my three backyard ponds. I want to encourage lots of frogs and water-loving critters to occupy it. I bought a half-dozen native tree frog tadpoles and placed them in the new pond. But when the temperature got to ninety degrees, all of my pond pumps failed at once. I risked losing not only my tadpoles, but all my fish, to the summer heat.

Where could I get an electrician in the middle of the construction season?  And how many thousands of dollars would a house rewiring cost? Continue reading below the tangle of low-voltage wires for the outcome.

I called the electrical workers union (the IBEW, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers).  They referred me to a website listing the unionized contractors in my area. After a couple of calls, I found a residential electrician, who agreed to come out the very next day!

He arrived, and methodically began testing my pond circuits. Plug; ok. Extension cord; ok. Pump cord; not so much.


It turned out I wouldn't need any rewiring.  My main problem was the electrical cord on the used pump I'd placed in the new pond. It looked good, but he explained it must be frayed within the pump casing, and it was tripping the Ground Fault Interrupter, which is a little button between the plug sockets.

He also instructed me on some tricks; buy pumps with long cords and avoid extension cords, don't let the extension cord connection points lie low, and protect them with electrical tape.

Since he fixed the pond problem in a few minutes, he had time to  repair a half-dozen other chronic electrical problems around the house that had annoyed us for years; flickering light fixtures, balky plugs, loose switches, hanging wires, and so on. He did a tremendous amount of repair work in 3 hours before bidding farewell.

I bought a new pump, and a water thermometer,  and the Frog Mitigation Area was back in business. The weather was still very hot, so I concentrated on moving in some large lilies, to shade the water.  

That lowered the surface water temperature from 90 to 80 degrees. Once the pump got the water well mixed the temperature lowered to about 75 degrees.  The other on-site, established ponds, with lots of plants, were about 70 degrees.

I've moved in soil to plant the surrounding area, probably with wooly thyme, and bought some lilies for the fence line, and pretty plants for the boggy areas.

My favorite is the curly rush, with the rain lily on the right.

The lilies for the fence line:

I was dismayed at how small the native frog tadpoles are; 3 could fit on a dime. They are at the bottom of the food chain.  I am thinking of a 70 gallon "aquarium" (well, a trough) just for the tadpoles, to raise them to a decent size.  

However I am grateful that the local pond plant vendor encourages the tadpoles to populate his ponds, and he allows customers to take a few tadpoles with each plant. I intend to buy a plant a day for awhile, and get a couple of dozen tadpoles to cast upon the waters.


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Thank you for reading. I'll work this morning so I'll respond to comments before lunchtime, PDT.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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