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Fish for rain barrels?

Posted by barb_roselover_in 5a (My Page) on
Thu, May 21, 09 at 13:53

I collect rain water from my roof into a barrel, but it usually gets all yucky before I get it empty. Seems to me that I read somewhere you can put gold fish in there. I bought two but lost them. Has anybody else had any experience in trying to keep the water pretty clean? Thanks inadvance. - Barb


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

I have a 60 gallon plastic barrel that I just dump rain water into whenever I get a chance from the gutters, it's open and I keep three goldfish in there. I was skeptical that they would survive, so I put about five to six bunches of Elodea or Anacharis plants to clean up the excess ammonia and give extra oxygen. It's been a month now and so far so good. Plus using up the rain water and putting in new rain water from new showers helps


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

I have a 60 gallon plastic barrel that I just dump rain water into whenever I get a chance from the gutters, it's open and I keep three goldfish in there. I was skeptical that they would survive, so I put about five to six bunches of Elodea or Anacharis plants to clean up the excess ammonia and give extra oxygen. It's been a month now and so far so good. Plus using up the rain water and putting in new rain water from new showers helps


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

I'd never heard of this before. A search brought up another hit in frugal gardening. I'm guessing the cheapest would be best. How long can they live, and do you feed them?


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

Thanks for the answers. I had three goldfish when I tried this, fed them fish food, but over time, they died. I really believe it was the lack of oxygen, but I don't know. Way back when, I remember farmers talking about putting fish in the water tank for the horses. Maybe when the horses swhished the water around, that formed some kind of aeration. I'm not too smart in figuring this out. That is why I needed some help. - Barb


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

I try to remember that I bought these fish for the sole purpose of eating mosquito larvae, so I try not to care whether they survive or not. I bought the cheapest and most vigorous ones I could find (50 cents each) and just ignore them, I don't even feed them.

It could be lack of oxygen, but it also could be the build up of ammonia from excess fish food and fish poop just rotting at the bottom. You can tell when the fish start getting groggy and their scales turn black or dull looking. You can get chemicals used for fish tanks to leach these out or you can simply use aquarium plants which use the ammonia for fertilizer and grow off of them.


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

a few small goldies will last a bit surface area of the tank will allow some oxygen absorbption.it is the excess ammonia and nitrites that will build and get them eventually. look at the pond forum for better and more ideas.Not sure if mosquito fish have less need for oxy and food


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

Not sure if by "yucky" you mean problems with algae or just detritus, but if you've got algae problems maybe you could consider snails - like trapdoor snails. I have no experience with them but am just about to attempt water lily cultivation in a rubbermaid tote and was looking into some snails for algae cleanup (and for sheer amusement). Might be something you'd be interested in looking into.


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

I put three small green sunfish in one of my 33 gallon catchers. I also hooked up a small timer to an aquarium pump to run 1/2 hour every two hours. The fish thrived, but the water did get a bit murked so I re- ran my emitter from the very bottom of the can, and changed to a 1.5" fitting to a "Y" with cut off so I could "blast out" all the sediment that collects. Every fourth or fifth day I just open the drain for about a gallon or so and the water maintains it's clarity. I do collect the drained water and use it in my chili pepper containers. TiMo


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

I picked up a dozen bass minnows for cheap today and split them between 4 rain barrels (55 gal). I will let you know how they do.

I put some live japanese beetles in but they didn't seem interested, maybe some mosquito larva will suite them :-)

I might try a pike minnow for the Japanese beetles next time.

Again, I will post with results.


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

A mix of both goldfish, minnows, snails and water plants would be best, but not if the rain-barrel is closed of by a tight-fitting lid.
The ammonia the fish create through waste
will be eaten by notrosomonas bacteria, and then broken down into nitrogen, which is eaten by nitrobacter bacteria. Both of these bacteria are present in water, soil, and air.
That's why there is a 'run in' time in any fish tank or pond. These bacteria have to stabilize the water in high numbers.
Stirring up the detritus is not such a good idea. They live in this. But the addition of oxygen is very important, so those of you who have closed/sealed lid rain barrels would have to introduce aeration in some manner, as one Poster mentioned about a pump-use an air stone.
The bacteria will live on any surface, and prefer fast-moving, aerobic water. cutting appropriate sized hole in sponge and then placing air stone will give them a breeding ground. It's much like setting up any marine or fresh water tank, which will in turn give you cleaner water for your garden.
I would also anchor the plants in clay pots with soil and onion-mesh atop. Btw, if your rain barrel does not receive any sunlight, these types of plants will die.
So lids would be out when adding fish and plants, imho.
Just use the water quickly if you can't meet these needs of 'pond life.'
edit: Here's a link to how this works, it's written in a style more understandable for kids, but it cuts to the chase:
http://pollywogsworldoffrogs.com/Text-html/water101.html

This post was edited by MsMorningSong on Mon, Jun 16, 14 at 13:45


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

Fish wouldn't work in my barrels. I run the things down to empty, using the water for the reason I wanted - to ensure the things in my yard and garden have plenty of water between the times it rains. And I think the fish would have a serious problem when the rain really comes down, because I can get serious overflow from my barrels.


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RE: Fish for rain barrels?

They don't in mine. They are smart enough to stay away from the overflow, although you may lose a few baby guppies who aren't strong enough to fight the current of overflow. I keep both guppies and snails in my barrels.
The snails eat the algae and the guppies eat mosquito larvae.
But of course, my needs may be different than yours :)


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