December 21, 2011

Like Fish In A Barrel

It started out back in 2009 as a water feature -- a half-barrel to catch the water that flowed through the rainchain from the roof gutters. We found a waterproofed half-barrel at a garden center, where we also bought the marginal aquatic plants, Dwarf Giant Papyrus, Powdery Thalia, and Pickerelweed. We got a lotus bulb but it never woke up.


We weren’t really planning on having fish in the barrel but stagnant water would mean breeding ground for mosquitoes. So, I assigned a couple of Goldfishes and a Platy from our aquarium to take care of the mosquito larvae that could populate the barrel. All went well until winter came.

January 2010 was fierce; it froze the barrel, together with everything in it. I was devastated, not only because the fish and most of the plants died, but also because it didn’t even occur to me that I actually had the means to prevent the imminent disaster.

Frozen water. See dead fish in the center of the photo.

The following winter, I was prepared. As soon as the weather cooled down, I put an aquarium heater in the barrel and made sure that the setting was just right – no ice cube fishies, but no fish stew either. Everyone survived.

Last summer, I added more fish. I introduced a few tropical livebearers, both male and female, and let nature take its course. The barrel is now teeming with Guppies, Platys, and Swordtails.

We had our first chilly morning a few weeks ago, and no, we didn’t forget to install the heater. We won't let Mother Winter mess with our pets again, even if they are fish in a barrel.

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