Here's my pond. It has a big hugelculture next to it.
The pond is worrying me, because there are thousands of mosquito or midges that usually make working in the garden a drag. I have to wear a face net in mid-summer it's so bad. And that was without the pond.
I usually pump the pond "uphill" to another pond 50meters away. I did that all winter. One option would be to just empty it. The only problem is that we recently saved some tadpoles, so now we have an incentive to keep the pond full. The hope is that many frogs will make food of the little flying critters.
There are also these UFO's, that is there are little 1cm long white things that curl constantly and they have a long tail that goes up to the surface. They hang out all day, curling. Not enough of an expert on big puddles to know what those are.
So, the question. One option on the table is to get a fish with the hopes that it would eat the larvae. But since the pond isn't aerated, the fish might die. Or if/when the pond dries up, the fish does too.
I really would like to have all the benefits of a rain-filled pond without the problem of the mosquitoes. A distant option is to get bats, but that would take a bad, bat guano, and a lot of waiting for bats to arrive.
The tadpoles at this moment are not eating the larvae. I have a feeling their development will be far too long to make tadpole-food of the larvae.
You need some fish. Mosquito fish (Gambusia) especially, but if you can't get them, even common goldfish will eat some larvae and will be better than nothing..... Neither will mind non-aerated water, provided there aren't too many. You can have two or three mosquitofish in a 200 liter barrel....more if there are a lot of mosquito larvae. Of course the tadpoles are valuable too, mostly in that the frogs and toads they hatch into will eat their share of adult mosquitoes and other insects as they disperse into the landscape around the pond. Same with dragonflies. Adding some fish to the pond shouldn't interfere with these other critters breeding....you are completing the ecosystem. If the pond wants to dry up, though, you'll have to save a few breeders into a container of water for next season....
i just built a pond, and i put a betta in it to control the mosquitos. they are surface breathers so don't need particularly clean or aerated water. unfortunately, they die below about 74 F supposedly, so i will need a heater this winter. those little black mosquito fish are cheap and awesome. they were my second choice, the betta is also pretty for the kiddo.
In the end I bought the Gambusia and put them in the pond. Not very cheap. 10 little ones for 35 euros.
I saw them once on the first day and then no more. At the shop they said that they might hide in the first few days.
Maybe they come up to the surface at night when the water's cooler? Today I thought there *might* be fewer larvae on the whole.
hooooollllyyy guacamole, that much for gambusia??? I always sold them for about a nickel per, or 25 for a buck. Wow, I'm in the wrong business...
Seriously, gambusia are a good solution though, and are pretty much the hardiest fish I have come across in my lifetime. They are an introduced species in south mississippi, where they frequently live in ditches. I put them in lotus pots for mosquito control, where they live happily. 10 gambusia isn't going to make much of a difference in the short term, but give it a few weeks and those little chubby female gambusia will have plenty of babies. These guys are live bearers like guppies, except that they breed faster.
Now that I think of it, guppies wouldn't be a terrible choice given the price of gambusia in your location. I've raised fancy guppies as a substitute for gambusia in water-lily raising ponds.
Feeder guppies work well as long as the water is warm enough. For cooler water you can try danios (zebra danios or the glo-fish tho those are genetically modified), white cloud mountain minnows or rosy reds (they sell them as feeders but they are just a color morph of fathead minnows).
Fish don't really need aeration. As part of a home school project we raised fish in outdoor tubs and kiddy pools for the last several summers. Never aerated. They mostly thrived. The things you need to watch out for are the temperature fluctuating too much and the water drying up (in your case). With guppies or a betta fish (and if you go that route get a female - cheaper and swim better so they can eat more) you can just scoop them out if the water looks like it will dry out and put them in a bucket of (dechlorinated) water until it rains again. Keep them indoors over winter or give them away and start over in the spring.
Rosy Reds and feeder goldfish can survive being in water with a lot of ice in winter. I had a goldfish locked in solid ice that thawed and started to swim again in the spring!
Any of those will eat mosquito larvae, but the betta would probably eat the most. Goldfish need more room than the others or they'll cause ammonia levels to spike (ammonia is fertilizer so if you're using the water for plants that could be a good thing!)
Another possibility is killifish. Some of them are adapted to live very short lives in puddles that dry up. The eggs are sold dry and you put them in the pond to hatch them. The babies grow phenomenally fast, breed, lay eggs until the water dries up and once the pond dries up that prepares the eggs to hatch next rain. Because of the very fast growth rate they eat a LOT of live food. They are territorial, and will fight to the death after they reach a certain size, but you can scoop the excess and sell them to a pet store (they love novel kinds of fish and killifish are very brightly colored). You can find them on aquabid.com or ebay.com.
If you decide to get feeder guppies, they often sell for 10-15 for $1, but the stores rarely see them mature, at which time they get really neat colors. I've sold them back to the pet stores as adults for $1 each as "Endler's Guppies" (wild type), which is what they are. If they only want to trade with you, you can use the credit for sunflower seeds to plant next spring.
I'll second Renate's post. Go to your big box pet store and get some Rosy Red minnows. I asked for a dozen at Petsmart and he gave me two scoops of the net, which was more like 18 of them. A few days after I let them loose in the pond, there wasn't a mosquito larvae to be seen, whereas before the water was full of them.
Location: Northern Italy
posted 7 years ago
I've bought 10 gambusia from the store.
It's been about 5 or 6 days and I haven't seen them. The larvae are still there. The tadpoles are still playing games with them but not eating any.
I had a dream last night where I was at a fish store and the assistant was telling me that they were "hiding in the mini-caverns" underwater and that I should just buy 2 or 3 goldfish.
They even sell you these fish in your dreams, it's amazing
Anyway, was thinking about draining the pond with a pump and trying to see if they're still alive. But since we haven't seen any corpses either, i suspect they are down there.
The first days were pretty sunny, now it's overcast, so they've had a range of weather to show themselves.