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Like watching fish in a barrel

Carolyn reports that when she got a rain barrel to collect water for a vegetable garden, she had to figure out how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it. And rather than use chemicals or BT, she invested in some goldfish, figuring they would eat any mosquito larvae:

... This has worked really well. The fish, which were previously designated as food for larger pet fish, have 55 gallons of space, both fresh bugs and dried fish food for dinner, and no predators. It's a bit boring in there, but I'm guessing it's suitable for a fish-style attention span. They've grown appreciably in the past couple of months. I think they're happy. At least they haven't complained. Or died. Yet. ...

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First thought that came to mind was "mosquito net"... but Fish should work too.

Hard thing about that would be managing the PH so they don't die. The chemicals seeming off the shingles or tar on the roof might do the trick too.

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I'm so glad you linked to me, because a reader e-mailed me to let me know, and it led me to discover this great Boston blog!

I don't know what our roof shingles are made of, but they are not the original ones that came with the (115+ year old) house.

The rain barrel we use has a screen on top, which is why I bought the fish food, just in case there weren't any larvae in the water. I didn't want to rely on the screen, though. I was concerned that if the mosquitoes bred in a puddle on the roof, then the eggs/larvae could get washed into the rain barrel, even though the mosquitoes couldn't fit. Also, there is an overflow hole that could allow them to enter the barrel.

The fish were 84 cents. I figured, if they died despite my good faith effort at giving them a good home, then their bodies would make good fertilizer, too. So far, they've still lively and growing after a couple of months.

Petco in Brighton sells feeder fish starting at 12 cents a piece. (I found that out after I bought the 28 cent fish at Wal-Mart in Framingham.) I'd guess it's a worthwhile experiment to buy a pair for a quarter.

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P.S. They're better off in the rainbarrel (assuming no toxic rooftiles on the house) than in tap water in a fishbowl. Standarg goldfish are really stunted, meant to grow to 6"-8" and need about 15 gallons of oxygenated water to thrive.

This is why goldfish often die so quickly indoors.

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