I clean out my water containers every Spring. This year I found these odd looking things growing in the pots that my waterlilies are in. Are these baby waterlilies sprouting from seeds? I've never seen this before, but had quite a few of them as you can see. They were growing inside the pot among the roots of one waterlily as seen. And also in the photo you can see a pile of them that I pulled out of other containers.
My heavens. They are definitely lily babies. I have never seen this. usually my tubers just grow long and longer, sprouting little growths along the length. What in the heck are you feeding your lilies??
Interesting. Do you divide your waterlilies every year? I haven't done mine in 3 years so I will have to do it this year. Usually I just take a knife and cut into the lily and divide it while it is still in the pot, so I dont' see the bottom part of what is in the pot... Maybe I should try it your way to see what is there...
mstella - LOL! Just a pond tab per pot. They grew a lot this past year and I had too many in a large container. I think the babies are both hardy and tropical babies. I've never seen this either and I had so many of them in this one water container. There were 3 different water lilies in pots in the water container. Maybe it was because the container had them all squished together. It was a chore getting the pots and water lilies (in the pots) out of the water container. Here is a photo of the water container after I removed all the plants and repotted one of the larger waterlilies and placed it back in the water container. I add another waterlily in that same container, so there are two of them in it now. One thing ... it is in a very sunny spot and I had a LOT of blooms last year which were likely pollinated by the bees.
Carolyn - I divide mine every year when I clean out the water containers. I have two pre-molded black round ponds, but only one pot had babies like that. I am really thinking it is because I probably had too many waterlilies in that water container. This is what my ponds look like now after dividing them and repotting them today. It is a chore, but the plants always seem to do much better and bloom a lot!
In less than a month, the entire black ponds will have the surface of the water completely covered with lily pads. And the water container is the same. Often overflowing with pads! I've never ever seen babies like that down in the pots among the roots of the mature water lilies. It was crazy! I couldn't believe how many there were. They were all tangled up in the roots of the mature water lilies. LOL!
I have both tropical and hardy water lilies in my water gardens. And I do separate the hardies by cutting them or breaking them off from each other. The tropicals sometimes have babies forming on the leaves, but not last year. Instead I got all these seedlings apparently.
I wasn't sure what the heck those things were! LOL! Thanks for confirming what I suspected! I put all those babies in a bucket of water. Don't know where I am going to grow them all, but I am wondering if any of them produced a cross of two different waterlilies? Who knows, huh?
Can you believe all these babies. How the heck did they grow down in the roots of the mature water lily? Seriously! How could they produce leaves?
Carolyn - Cool!!! You've got a nice collection of them, too! I don't even know how many I have. But they keep reproducing every year! I keep splitting them and repotting the new ones. I also trim the roots back before adding them in their new pots with a fertilizer tablet added in the cat litter. I use cat litter instead of dirt. It keeps the water cleaner. :-)
Holy cow. I have mine in 1-2 gallon pots in my pond. I took about 8 pots out and dumped them to clean them up, take the best tubers and I pitched bunches of tubers. I only have hardy as that is all I can grow up here. Only the one pink color seems to survive. I am trying a hardy lotus this year. probably won't make it through the winter, but should look nice all summer. You have a fortune in plants there.
By the way, I went and got two bags of that kitty litter you mentioned. Am looking forward to getting the dirt out of my pond. and Carolyn, I finally got smart and put little wire handles on my pots also. Husband got tired of near drowning trying to fish them from the pond each spring. lol. Now he can just hook them with a rake or something
LOL! I grow lotus too. But have a hard time getting them to bloom. They produce tons of raised pads, but rarely bloom. I have them in water containers, too! LOL! I love water gardening!
I wonder if all those babies will sprout lily pads and possibly bloom this year? I have never grown one like that. Geez! I have a very shallow bowl on my patio table that has a bunch of baby water lilies in it too! I should probably check them as well. Though they never get big enough to bloom because the bowl is too shallow. LOL! I can't throw any of them out! I love them so much, I can't stand the thought of wasting any of them! Sell them, huh? LOL!
I would think you would be neck deep in lilies. I don't have lots of blooms, but enough to add to the pond's ambiance. I have little gold fish and a koi or two -- tho I have lots of trouble wintering the koi over. I think there is too little oxygen in the pond over the long winter under a 2' cap of ice. Ya' think? lol
The last time I divided waterlilies, I tried to find homes for them and it was difficult, so they went into the compost pile. This year, I am involved in some of the plant swaps and so I did offer up divisions of waterlilies - a lot of people were interested, so I feel better about dividing them. DH and I ended up with 20 pots of WL because we didn't have the heart to pitch them before.
Here they are flowering...I did not have as many flowers last year as in previous years. I am hoping it is because they need to be divided.
Carolyn - Those are beautiful!!! I love the red/pink blooms. I think most of mine are yellow, but not sure.
A thought has crossed my mind ... I was thinking of possibly offering them for sale (cheap!) to help as a fundraiser for a friend in Japan. His family sustained damage to their home and he is now fearing that the insurance company may go bankrupt before he can get any money for the repairs. Even if he does get money from them, they were only willing to pay 50% of the total for the estimated repairs. A lot of folks who know him want to help him. I am wondering if I could sell the water lilies possibly to help his family? Maybe no one would be interested, but then again, they might be if it is a fundraiser for a family in Japan?
Glad you were able to find home for your babies and added more to your pond! :-)
Becky, we run three de-icers but I have never seen the fish come up for air. Too cold anyway out side. they hide out on the bottom or in caves in the rock. I suspect they simply go dormant, go to sleep, then die when they run out of oxygen. The big ones that is. I have had many of the smaller ones survive. Working on a way to introduce oxygen to the bottom with aerators.
Hmmm ... it didn't occur to me that the fish would get so cold that they would forget to go to the surface to get oxygen. Yes! I would think an aerator would be the next step to try. That's too bad as I know the larger Koi are very desirable to have! Poor things!
Indeed. I feel badly. Each summer we name the fish and anxiously look for them in the spring. Been pretty disappointing. May eventually just stick with goldfish. But even they grow quite large in the pond.
Funny you should ask. I have been talking with a guy in Kentucky from whom I am buying three koi. We have discussed just such a thing (it isn't uncommon in the colder areas). But there isn't enough room in my garage, and no other place to consider. I could keep my car outside all winter, but I just can't do that. After almost 60 years in Alaska, most of it in Fairbanks, with -25F to -55F or colder winters, when I had no garage --- I just can't. Anchorage is much milder, and our weather in general has trended warmer over the state, but it will cycle back. So, we are concentrating on doing all we can to make the pond as healthy as possible. Including building a winter cover to keep snow off the ice, a sunken heater to even raise the water a degree or two, and aerators. I am taking all the gravel from the bottom (stuff hides there and as it rots it takes oxygen from the water), removing my lilies for the winter (I usually cut them down and sink the pots in the deep (4') end to winter. But the pots also remove oxygen no matter how much I trim and clean. Plus they displace a foot of water that the fish need. I have other plants that go in during the summer so if I have to give up the lilies, so be it. I am reading up on how to overwinter them in the garage coldest area, tightly wrapped. Seems like they would rot, but the articles say no. I guess I will find out. My pond would be so dead without my fish.
mstella - I hope I didn't upset you. I was just making some suggestions. Sounds like you are going above and beyond to try to resolve the issue concerning your adult Koi fish. I know you will find a solution to this challenge! And you will be able to have those big boys in your pond year round without too much worry about them during the winter months. :-) :-)
I don't have fish in my water containers. I wish I could find some fish that would eat mosquito larvae. That would be a solution to one of my biggest problems here. Those mosquito dunks are expensive to buy every month. Grrrr ...
Oh, no. I am not even slightly upset. It's nice to talk with other water gardeners about our 'challenges.' I would think there would be some little fish that would live in your smaller gardens and eat larvae. In fact, I swear that I have seen some. However, I don't know that they would be less expensive than the dunks. At least you wouldn't have to feed them. lol
I think the fish would definitely be cheaper than dunks. I have to buy a package of dunks once a month. At over $10 a pop, I think the fish would be cheaper in the long run and probably more efficient! LOL!
If any one knows the name of pond fish that eat mosquito larvae, please let me know! :-)
The beneficial Mosquito Fish can consume large quantities of insect larvae in your pond. Most backyard water garden enthusiasts use this species of Gambusia to control, as its name suggests, mosquitoes. However, this voracious feeder will also consume other insect larvae and algae to benefit your pond in numerous ways. First, the Mosquito Fish helps prevent your pond from becoming a backyard breeding ground for potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes. Secondly, it helps keep your pond beautiful by feeding on algae and hatching insects that can damage pond plants and the overall aesthetics of your pond or water garden.
Native to the backwaters and freshwater ponds of North and Central America, Gambusia sp. is related to the common guppy and very similar in characteristics. The body is long and slender and pale in color. Most Mosquito Fish have a tail of moderate size, void of any coloration. Varieties of Mosquito Fish can be found naturally as far north as Central Illinois and most survive harsh, freezing winters as long as the pond is deep enough and well aerated throughout the cold season. For best care, the Mosquito Fish requires a pond of at least 20 gallons with moderate water temperature and plenty of plants for hiding. If insufficient natural foods are present, supplement their diet with a quality flake food. http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=900+1499+1530&pcatid=1530
mstella - Hey! Thanks so much for that fish name! My larger ponds are I believe 25 gallons. I don't have an aeration system in mine though. They are still water ponds. Which is why I have a mosquito problem. They are too far away from electrical outlets to plug in a pump. :-/
That sounds great! I will look around locally to see if any aquarium shops or pet stores sell them.
You rock! Thank you! :-) :-)
Also, it does make it much easier to clean and divide the water lilies when they are in pots. I just pull the pots out of the water container/pond one at a time and totally remove everything in the pots, divide the plants, and repot with fertilizer tabs half-way down the kitty gravel to keep from leaking out into the pond. It works well for me, but still a lot of work. I think I typically have at least 15-20 water lilies every year before they multiply. But that is not counting the ones in the bowl on my table. There are probably another 10 in there. LOL!
mstellla, I overwinter my waterlily, in the garage, because my pond is not deep enough. I keep them in their pots and sink them in a container of water. They don't rot... I also overwinter all my fish in the garage... What's neat about it, you don't even have to worry about them all winter. No feeding, no cleaning of filter, until it reaches 50F... That when I start feeding them, because they become more active at that temp... I run a pump and filter all winter, to circulate the water on top (not directly in the water) of a 35 gal Rubbermaid tub, so as not to disturb the dormant fishes. Never lost a fish yet doing it that way...It makes a great conversation piece, when people come over.
Becky, I have mosquito fish in one of my ponds, and have also used them in lotus pots. They are very effective and hardy, even in shallow water, and they also breed like crazy. They are available for free here from vector control...you might see if there is a similar program where you live. I actually got mine for free from the local pond store; they were swimming around in with the water plants that I bought, and the owner threw in a couple which rapidly multiplied.
someone mentioned perhaps the fish forget to come up for air. It is my understanding that the fishes metabolism slows dramatically when temps drop, to the point that they would not have the energy to come up for air? I would assume that even their thinking and reflexes are slowed significantly. When the temps warm and eating resumes, their habits would all return to normal.
with the fishes bodies in a semi dormant state, their requirements for food and air are also depressed. Couple this with cold water holding more oxygen and warm water, the fish should be able to get enough oxygen without coming up for air. I know my fish do not come up for air and they are overwintered each year out back in the pond.
I don't know about fish in Alaska, however, it seems from what I have seen of the postings from Alaska and some of the colder parts of Canada, there are issues in trying to get koi to live through the winter but not goldfish.
When we had goldfish, the goldfish would come up to the surface of the pond in the winter. The goldfish never seemed as dormant as the koi either...
Sunny - Thanks for that suggestion! I really want to get some of those fish! I will put some in the Lotus pots too! The mosquitos are really bad in my yard because of all the standing water.
Interesting information about fish going semi-dormant in winter. I don't think I'll ever have to worry about that problem here in Florida. Though my shallow water pots did ice over. I guess I could remove the fish if I know there is a freeze coming.
I have another question that I hope someone can answer...
Above were small roots of baby water lilies (probably from seeds). Can I assume that they are tropical babies?
I ask because today I decided to go ahead and clean out the bowl of water lilies on my patio table. They never bloomed last year to my knowledge because they are dwarfed from being in such a small container. Well, when I started cleaning it out, I found all these pods. And some of the pods had teeny tiny water liles growing out of them. So I am sure the pods will all become water lilies. Are these likely hardies?
I can't believe how many different kinds of baby water lilies I now have. All growing or producing in small pots. I guess when they are over-crowded like that, they make more babies in an effort to pass on for survival?
Here's a photo of some of the babies. Some of the pods and water lilies were so small, like miniature water lilies. I could grow them in a teacup! LOL!
Here is the bowl with some of the larger (but still very dwarfed) water lilies. These are hardies and that is why I believe the pods are hardies. I wonder if they will remain dwarfed if I put them in a larger container? I have no idea what color the blooms are supposed to be. They've all been in that bowl for over a year! LOL!
I'm a bad water lily mama cramming them all in together like that in a bowl. :-(
Well, I did a little research trying to find out what species of water lily these babies are. Much to my surprise ... the pods are actually tropical water lilies and the fat banana roots are hardies. I am now wondering if those banana roots are a wild water lily called N. mexicana. I don't know where I could've gotten a wild water lily. Does anyone have that species growing in their water garden?
Badseed - I , too, was amazed. I've never seen them this small on any of mine before. It was from abuse and neglect of the ones in the bowl. I collected all those little round tubers over a year ago and just dumped them all in the orange bowl, kept the bowl full of water, and rarely fertilized them. Apparently, that is how the growers do it to get more! LOL! Who'd know about that????!!! LOL!
I know there are some rare teacup varieties. So when I saw all the tiniest ones, I had that very thought! So here you can see I put that idea into action. The challenge will be to see if they bloom. None of the ones in the orange bowl bloomed for me last year at all. But the tubers did multiply! LOL!
Hey, Becky.. I bought CHEAP Walmart .28 cent goldfish for my pond. They eat the mosquito larvae .. grow relatively slowly and if they should die.. are inexpensive to replace. I did manage to keep them alive for 3 years. Kept them alive through a traumatic frozen and drained pond this winter only to kill them a couple weeks ago with a pond fill error!. .. just replaced 8 fish for under $3 I am really upset and actually did cry when I realized they were dead. They had grown to about 6" and were beautiful. I do use the dunks in my teeny tiny water pots that are way too small for fish .. those that the water gets too hot in the summer. I bought a big supply on e-bay for about $80. It was a BIG package of dunks. I break them up depending on the surface area of the water... I could trade you some for a few of the little water lilies! LOL
Tammie - Cool! Our Walmart here doesn't sell fish or any pets anymore. :-( And the pet stores are not cheap even for such common fish. I can't use brightly colored fish because the water fowl here will go after them. There are a lot of water birds here locally! I did purchase some minnow-like fish though and released them in my pre-formed water ponds. Not very big ponds, but the fish were small. I haven't seen the fish, so don't know if they survived or not. Not seen any floating fish, so I think they are still around under all the waterlily pads. I bought mating pairs. Released 4 into each of my two container ponds. I do know they were eating the mosquito larvae though when I first released them into the ponds, so I hope they are still alive and getting fat! I do purchase and use the mosquito dunks. As you know, they aren't cheap. I don't know how many you got for $80 on ebay, but they sell for $10-12 for a package of 6. And they don't last long because I have so many water containers. But they DO work! I had an infestation of mosquito larvae and then used the dunks and they were all dead in the water the very next day. :-) I know the water plant nurseries here use the dunks in their ponds, too!
I currently have the baby water lilies in a bin to try to get them to grow. They are putting out teeny pads, but not all of them. So I don't know yet if they are worth trading or selling.There is another person here who dmailed me interested in some of them, too. I have no idea what color the blooms will be or if they are a cross of different cultivars. I lose waterlilies every winter ... especially the tropicals. And some waterlilies tend to be dominant and take all the nutrients from others which eventually kills them. Some waterlilies are more aggressive growing than others! Most of mine lately have had yellow blooms. I haven't seen any other colors. Though some of the babies in the bin have the red pads. I believe they are the red/pink night blooming water lilies that I thought I had lost several years ago. Apparently, they made babies but never got big enough to bloom again. I am curious to see what these babies produce. And I am growing some in teacups to see if they will be miniature waterlilies. So far, the pads have been teeny but producing many pads and they look healthy, just tiny waterlilies. Really cute! Now to see if they will actually bloom for me as miniatures. :-)
I'll let you know if the ones I have in the bin actually do well enough to trade. Right now they are so small.
Becky, the reason you have so many of those tubers is because you have Nymphaea mexicana. It's the only hardy that I know of that seems to make roots like that. They are all capable of making plants, but separating them from the main plant and they will take a while to grow. Most of the ones that I separated from the main plant took 2-3 months before the first flowers. They will all produce yellow flowers. I have this plant and it is very invasive... the runners will grow into any soil they find and eventually will take over.
If you want, keeping each set in a small cup of soil, they will eventually begin to make leaves. If you are looking for very small varieties, try burgundy princess... It's the smallest I've seen. If you are into tropicals, Daubin can be kept very small like bonsai. I have a blooming one in a 3 oz cup.
For fish, I use mollies, platties, and guppies. All are live bearers and are excellent at eating mosquitoes. What is nice about using mollies or platties over gambusia is that they come in much nicer colors so you can see them swimming in the tubs. I also grow water lilies in tubs ranging from 15-50 gallons and all of them are standing water and all have loads of fish in them. The only concern for the fish is if the container is too small. It can then get too hot and cook the poor fishes.
As for your tubers, those definitely do look like tropicals. You can bury them about half an inch under the media (turface is what I use) and place them 3-4 inches under the surface of the water. The warmth really gets them going and in no time you'll have some nice small plants growing.
I've attached a photo of my setup. I have mostly tropicals and a few hardies.
Thanks! My family isn't into "permanent" things in the yard, so tubs were beckoning to me. Although limited in size, it does help to keep the plants manageable. Most mature plants are potted in 6inch to 2 gallon pots. The babies are in 3oz to 14 oz plastic cups.
Currently, I have about 27 varieties in my tubs. 19 tropicals (11 viviparous), and 8 hardys. I have to say that I am good with tropicals and definitely a hardy newbie as they are all growing, but none are flowering... Any suggestions on getting the hardys to bloom is greatly appreciated!
Tammie - Thanks for the heads up on those cheaper dunks in larger quantity!!! :-)
dahos - So you think those small rooted water lilies are Nymphaea mexicana? I was wondering about them too, but not sure. No other water lilies produce babies like that? Here is a photo of what I believe to be the bloom.
I added guppies and some other fish that is supposed to eat algae and larvae in the ponds. I didn't get bright colored fish though (to prevent them from being eaten by the water birds). :-) Your ponds and water container set-up is very nice!
Becky, that is definitely not mexicana. Mexican has lightly mottled leaves with red undersides and a completely yellow flower. Unlike other lilies, it grows a runner from each plant that will plunge into the soil and then turn up allowing another plant to grow. It'll keep chaining plants together as long as there is space for it to keep spreading out. For whatever reason, you'll get those banana like roots which can also make new plants. The first picture you had of the roots was definitely mexicana. The photos of your current water garden are of another variety.
With the hardys that I've seen, most have a distinct rhizome that creeps along the bottom with new plants making more tubers off the main one, whereas tropicals grow vertically with their tuber growing below the crown.
I've attached a photo of the mexicana flower. It doesn't bloom very often for me, but I'm not too good with hardys.
Mine are all in pots. Which is why those banana root bunches were inside the pots under the main roots. I didn't see any runners, but they were hard to get out of the water containers/ponds because the roots were all tangled together even though they were all in their own pots. So I have no idea. I was given something called "Inner Light" by an online trader a couple of years ago. Do you suppose it might have been Nymphaea mexicana instead? It also had yellow blooms. I am at a loss to explain having such a cultivar. Nothing I bought or traded for was named Nymphaea mexicana.
Becky, I just read your posts, and I'd love to have a hardy water lily. I understand your colorful fish attract waterfowl. I lost a bunch of pretty fish to blue herons and raccoons. If you have fish, you don't need dunks as long as you don't feed the fish too often. If you have fish, you need to provide them with a place to hide. We use drain pipes (6 inch diameter) from the hardware store.
If you put an inexpensive bubbler, mosquitos won't lay eggs in moving water. It has a little compressor that you could probably protect from the weather. You attach a small diameter clear tube, and that could be as long as you'd like, so that little compressor could be indoors. However, fish are more interesting.
It is almost 6 years since we moved into this house, and I'd bet we've bought 2 dozen fish for our small pond. We lost several in a malicious raccoon attack where they just bit off the heads and threw the bodies around. After a number of trials and errors, we took the fish out of the pond and brought them indoors. The pond, however, still has marginals, and that's where I'd like to try a water lily.
Mstella, after our experiences getting our fish inside, I'd like to see you catch the koi in your pond.
Becky, those roots are what makes mexicana invasive(I think it is banned in California). You can remove the main plant and those roots will eventually make a new plant/plants. Once you have it in the ground, it is pretty much impossible to get rid of it.
Well I think that when you traded, it is possible that the plant had some mexicana in it and it eventually took over.
Another hint for ID especially if you can't see the runners is that Mexicana tends to grow vertically like a tropical as well.
I'm pretty sure that the person you traded with didn't send you the wrong plant as the mexicana flower is a pretty uniform yellow and inner light is a dark yellow center and light yellow/peach outside changeable. It also looks to be more mottled then mexicana as well. I've never seen inner light before, but based on what I've seen on the internet, it's pretty different. The flower you posted earlier could be inner light. Light yellow tends to be hard to pick up for a camera as the petals look white to me.
Carolyn, thanks... Always a work in progress... Too many varieties, not enough space. Any ideas on how to mazimize space are welcome!
Cathy, I love your fish picture. Is the one fish hiding behind a snow shovel? That is what that blue thing looks like. I think I will try your idea about the PVC pipes. Maybe then I could plug that hole in the rocks permanently. I just don't think it is healthy for the big ones down there. i still think they run out of oxygen when all 17 cram in that hole. I know there are caverns and tunnels behind the rock but still seems like the oxygen would deplete.
No way I can catch them as they just twitch into that cave in a heartbeat. I swear they feel the rumble (NO, I am not that big) of my steps approaching the pond.
The blue thing is actually a bucket we use when adding water. It holds about 7 gallons and we fill it with a hose and let it sit in the pond to get to temperature. Then we added some dechlorination powder and salt to each bucket load. When we were done, I turned the bucket on its side and left it there, and they have another cavern that they like.
The goldfish were not too hard to catch (there were 8 at the time). We lost 2 shortly after we moved them inside and then another small one that I thought might be full of eggs, but I don't think the water is warm enough to spawn.
We've since gotten 2 butterfly koi and 2 others, one a creamy yellow and the other a 10-inch black koi. Koi are much more aggressive than goldfish, especially the butterfly koi with the long front fins. One butterfly koi darts through the water like a little rat. There are a lot of things in an around the pond, and they swim through all of them like a playground. For an egg-laying area, I bought a fake plant that sits on top of the water, and they like hiding under it and under the marginals on stands. They are really funny. And yes, they can be very noisy.
When I finally see who survived the winter I want to get another couple of koi but not from Walmart or a local box store. There is a koi dealer in Washington State that is reasonable and the freight isn't too awful from there. I had three coming from Kentucky but when his fish arrived from Japan they had a sickness and he lost them all. Fortunately I got a full refund.
Your fish are very pretty. I swear I have that chubby shubunkin and the yellow koi.
They do that dive thing quite a bit. I've had more than one bath from them where they grab the food and bolt. I get my fish locally. The shubunkins and other goldfish came from a water gardens landscaper. The koi came from our local dealer, "The Fish Bowl" who probably gets his fish from Dietter's Water Gardens in North Haven, CT, which is about a generous hour from here.
I get so excited when I bring home a new fish. (LOL)
Oh Carolyn, your fish are so huge and gorgeous. I would give my eyeteeth to have a pond that would support such fish. One of the prices of living where I live I guess. I suspect Marcia's fish and mine are similar.
Musashi, a koi I rescued from a local pet store (owner gave her to me as no one wanted her) was my biggest. She so enjoyed out pond after being in a 20 gallon fish bowl for so long. but she apparently couldn't handle the cold and died at the end of her first summer. but she had a good time while she was with us and we enjoyed her so much.
when she did the dive thing and flipped her long tail it was such a sight.
Thank you both.
My largest koi, the last time we measured was 24 1/2" is the Kohaku that is 'smiling' for the camera...
They crack me up, the koi will come to the side of the pond when I sit down or when I am standing at the top of the steps on the upper deck and they open and close their little mouths as if to say 'feed me'... I love it when they come right out of the water.
Becky, I put an 8" square clay chimney liner in my pond. The pond is small and these things come in 2' lengths so I had to have it cut in half. I live on a salt marsh and we have dozens of herons all around. The fish can hide in the chimney pipe when the big birds or the raccoons come snooping around. Once the pond surface gets covered with lily pads, the birds can't see the fish anyway (neither can I).
I also put fish in my lotus pots but only after the leaves cover the surface so the birds can't see them. Also, I have learned that my lotus do not bloom well if I don't divide them yearly.
Becky, not sure if this was answered for you already. Call your local mosquito control and they will provide mosquito fish. You don't need an aerator for them as the plants will give off oxygen. They are small killie fish and most will survive the coldest winter or the eggs that they lay in the detritis on the bottom will. You'll get new babies without any trouble. I will take babies and move about five to new water features. They'll take it from there. I don't normally feed them. They seem to get enough from whatever is growing in the water feature. The only thing, I don't empty my containers (two aluminum water troughs and one black plastic like yours, just a little larger). I'd never find the mosquito fish amongst the black liner/plastic. I do flush the container for about twenty minutes or so twice yearly with the hose (I'm on well water so don't need to worry about the chloramine they add here). Mine are in mostly full sun. I do have algae in them, but the ones with just the mosquito fish seem to be light in it and the one with mosquito fish and a feeder goldfish from WM seems to be kept at bay by the goldfish (which I also rarely feed). Sometimes I do need to scoop out excess algae sheets, but that seems to be if I feed the fish too often... they must no eat the food much and have enough flora and fauna to munch on. The goldfish is 4 yrs old now and still doing well.
FLStu - I will call my osquito control extension and inquire. I definitely would love some mosquito fish. How lucky that your goldfish has survived that many years. The plain mosquito fish I purchased and released into my water containers/small ponds have not been seen since. But then again, I have a lot of huge water lily leaves in both ponds so it's hard to see. I do know I have a lot of tadpoles now. Way too many. They tend to feed on my water lily pads. Grrrr ... It's alway something ...!