happy new year, & thanks for all the fish

Or so our cats might be forgiven for thinking. For among the many things that have occupied the family’s time in the last couple of weeks (along with moving house, having elderly relations to stay for Christmas, & cleaning up the old house for sale) has been the Great Goldfish Shift.

Years ago now, we set up a couple of goldfish ponds on the slope in our back garden. While they were originally in the open, we planted ferns & rushes around them (& water plants in them) to provide shade & also cover from the local kingfishers. The plants grew & grew & the fish bred like, well, goldfish – luckily they also seemed to eat most of their progeny, so we’ve never really had much of a population problem & any slight excess was easily reduced by passing the extra fish on to friends with their own ponds. We actually had quite a nice little ecosystem going, with dragonflies mating there & laying their eggs (you could tell this was happening from the cast-off nymphal exoskeletons left clinging to reeds after the final moult), the occasional frog (which, alas! croaked their last at the paws of one of the cats), & of course all that crazy goldfish s*x.

So what to do when we moved? No guarantee that the new owners will want goldfish & the associated pond maintenance… In a spirit of vaguely scientific enquiry (no controls here!) we decided to see if we could re-create our pond ecosystem in an old bathtub – recycled from when we did up the bathroom in the old house.

Said bathtub is now in a semi-shaded position against the fence, with an edging of old decking wood (more recycling!) so that it doesn’t actually look too much like a manky old bath any more.  (The edging’s actually open at the back, so maybe the cats will find that this is a nice cool shady place to sit in the heat of summer.) Various pond plants are in pots, sitting on bricks to raise them up a bit, & gaps between the bricks offer good shelter for the fish, as do the large-ish rocks from past geologising expeditions. The Lemna should quickly carpet the surface & – as at the old house – we’ll be able to skim off the excess and compost it. Ditto the Elodea. The fish have had a feed & seem to have settled after the trauma of being netted this afternoon & travelling across town in buckets.

Now we’ll just have to wait & see if the dragonflies find the pond (there’s a gully about 50m away, complete with creek, so hopefully some will make it over) – & if the fish feel comfortable enough to get back to making babies 🙂


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