We'll be heading into March soon, a time when many of us start planning the pond season. Of course, other people have active ponds all year through like they do in Florida.
This report from the University of Florida suggests several native fish for mosquito and midge control in ponds, including a few Livebearers. Virtually all Livebearers eat insects and larvae in the wild.
I don't know what is my favorite livebearing anti-mosquito weapon, but I might find out this summer!
Spent a little time at a Big Name Hardware store and our own Merrifield Garden Center looking for an appropriate planter for an above-ground "pond." Whatever it will be, I think it will be plastic :-\ I think it will be 30-40 gal.
Sounds like my plan to keep goodeids outdoors should actually be fine! There are several that come from the highlands of Mexico and can exist in cooler temperatures (as long as I bring them in by mid-September I think.) Many eat algae, hey I can do algae! Adding some crushed coral, argonite (?) or maybe a few lacerocks (?) should bring the pH up just enough. I have some surface plants and a red tiger lotus to throw into the mix.
One thing I'm not sure about is water changes. It won't be in a place conducive to regular WCs, however, the plan is to understock and let the fish breed. I have plants to contribute to biofiltering. Any thoughts?
If goodeids aren't available/plausible, what are your suggestions? I kinda like Limias and some of the larger swordtails are pretty striking.
Have not tried any of this before, just been keeping regular "high tech" tanks indoors for a few years.... nothing really, really fancy like a Walstad tank, lol. Any suggestions are appreciated!
I live in central Texas and have much milder winters than you. Winter temps may drop into the 20s and occasionally lower, low 10s for short periods of time. This doesn't bother the Characodon I keep outside. I also keep Gambusia hurtadoi and Cyprinodon. My ponds are 200 gallon tubs with aquatic plants. In the past I have added air stones/sponges and heaters when freezing but I haven't seen much difference because the population of fish is relatively sparse, some fish do die in the winter- which are removed but the occasionally left over gets devoured by snails. I don't do water changes any more than the water I use to top off any evaporation. Because the ponds may get very hot in the summer proper shading is important but too much won't allow plants to grow specially under a large tree since the leaf litter would kill the fish as it loads the biological capacity and depletes oxygen when breaking down. Hope this helps.
Livebearers in ponds are a great idea. The bigger the pond the better. Small ponds like a 35-40 gallon round pond you would find at a big box store are good for small livebearers, medium size ones as well.
Any livebearer will work for mosquito control. However, if you would like to see them I would pick a top oriented fish. Something like a guppy, Gambusia or Gerardinus metallicus are fish that you will see swimming in your pond. Fish such as Goodeids or Limias will stay down further in the water column and not be so easily seen. Although they will do a great job on mosquito larva.
Goodeids are great as many of them, such as Ilyodon sp., Characodon sp. and Allotoca sp. are good for cooler temps and can be acclimated and put out when the water temperature is consistently above 55 degrees. They will do well outside at warmer temps during the summer as well.
Remember that the fish will need to be fed more than just mosquito larva that will naturally populate a small pond. I like feeding “natural” foods such as Blackworms, frozen blood worms and frozen daphnia. I try to stay away from processed foods to keep the pollution from such foods down.
If you have a small number of fish, say 4 guppies or a pair of Goodeids in a 40 gallon pond and you have it planted the fish will be fine without large water changes over the summer. Make sure you top off the pond every couple days or so. Sunlight seems to work magic with fish.
Aquarium plants do well outside. In the photo are Ludwigia sp. (still trying to figure out what species from the flowers) bacopa, Heteranthera zosterifolia, Hygrophila sp. and others. Pack as many plants as you can into the pond and see what they do. Sword plants usually flower outside.
The photo below is of a pond that had a pair of Ilyodon xantusi and 10 cardinal tetras in it. The photo was taken on September 10 just before the pond was taken down. Temps were above 80deg and below 60deg during the summer and not a single fish was lost, not only that, they looked great when they came out. I did do large 50% water changes on this pond but that wasn’t needed, I was doign them for a water temperature study. I fed sparingly and therefore did not get any fry. But the focus on this experiment was on temperature extremes and how fish did not really on breeding them.
Watch the weather forecast. If you put fish out and then get a cold snap a tank heater put into the pond overnight will usually keep the water warm enough for even tropical fish to be fine.
My goal for the first fish out this year is April 15 in my "big" pond and they will be Allotoca goslinei.
My favorite is simple to define but varies from year to year. I look at my fish and try to decide who needs the benefit of a summer camp-out the most. Once I have a list of possibles, I check their temperature tolerance range. That is a range, not a single value, because there is no way I know of to get good control of the temperature of a summer tub. I can usually hold water temperatures below 82F by placing the tub in the shade and using the spray from my fountain pump to give me some evaporative cooling. I try to get set up by early May so that means nothing that cannot tolerate temperatures down to around 65F for a short time. Usually, by the time I filter my selections using temperature tolerance, I am down to a single species that I then put outdoors. I always hold back a small number of the fish indoors just in case I have miscalculated, but so far the fish I bring back in have always looked much better than the few I held back.
Fantastic responses thus far, it's fun to hear about everyone's plans.
I definitely detect some excitement as pond season approaches. The planning is half the fun I think. While I envy those who can over-winter their fish outdoors, it's also fun to start all over again with a tub pond.
Looking forward to more pictures as your ponds awaken .
This is the first year I will be setting up outdoor ponds, hopefully in May it will be warm enough. Will be setting up 3-5 54 gallon tubs. Will be testing with Gambusias and Xiphophorus Evelynae & Nezahualcoyotl if goes well will use as method to up Chracodon #'s and stubborn species who aren't spawning in a regular set up.
The last 2 yrs I have put some goodeids outside in a 20 gallon tub I have buried in the ground. Last year it was Xenotoca variata man you should have seen their colors when I pulled them in the fall. I do some water changes when it gets very hot out just to try and cool them down some, all I do is put the hose in the tub and let it run slowly for a bit. Yes the tub over flows but I did drill a hole about an inch down so when done the tub drains down below the edge.. I don't do much sumplemental feeding just let nature feed them..I have large duckweed I add to the tube I found it shades them well..OOO and I am from northern Indiana only an hour from Chicago and 10 min from MI.