A little something different today. One of my hobbies when I’m more settled is keeping fish and plants. Plants I’m not so good at, and I am perpetually overwatering or underwatering them, and when they start to suffer and I look up what’s wrong with them, it’s always that I’m over or under watering: one or the other, but I’m never sure which. The inevitable consequence is I make the wrong guess and put the plant in more critical condition. When that happens, there’s an emergency care solution that often works, which is just to take the plant out of the soil and put it in water. And some plants — a lot of them — will do better in water than in soil, provided you put fish in with them. Surprisingly, it’s easier to keep fish and plants together than to keep either by themselves, provided you pick the right plants and fish.
Above is another one of my outdoor pots, with three different kinds of plants growing in it (four if you include the water plant). Curiously, the plants seem to also be able to handle more direct sun if they are in water rather than soil, perhaps because they are never going to get thirsty.
Above you can see some guppies in the pot. Guppies are the perfect fish for pots. You don’t need a bubbler or a filter. You don’t need nothing! The beauty of putting plants in with the fish is the symbiotic relationship that occurs. The plants clean the water, and the fish fertilize the plants.
Guppies give live birth, and they don’t as a rule eat their babies. If you start out with 4 or 5 guppies, you can end up with a whole colony within months. There’s a little problem getting healthy ones from the pet shop on the front side, and that’s just because guppies tend to be taken for granted, bred in bulk, and are often weak. Their babies, however, are very strong. If you can get guppies from someone else who has a surplus (ex., someone like me), they are virtually indestructible. You really have to screw up to kill a healthy guppy. They are also beautiful, and come in a stunning array of colors, patterns, and fin shapes. Usually they are dirt cheap.
As for feeding them, any old fish food will do, and if mosquitoes dare to try to lay eggs in their water, they will surely be greedily consumed, as will the mosquitoes themselves if the fish see them. Guppy pots will help curtail mosquito populations!
I live in SE Asia, and I can keep my plants and guppies outside year round, but I brought the one above inside for observation. I have a handful of orange guppies with red tails, and so I put them together in the hopes of breeding more. They are, uh, segregated into this pot. Uh, um, er, you can do selective breeding to create certain strains. It seems to be working. If I get enough orange ones, I want to breed the blue-tails next.
I also like to mix up different kinds of guppies to see what new combinations arise. Guppies are great for that. Sometimes I just scoop some out of my largest pot to see what varieties have evolved. Note that I get super cheap plastic pots because they are very light, and can’t break. If I were staying anywhere long term — as in I knew I was going to stay for sure for more than a couple years — I might invest in more attractive pots.
You can also keep plants in large glass jars with fish, but in this case you only want a few at the most, or a loner type fish, like a Betta. I wasn’t trying to capture him, but there’s a very personable blue Betta in the jar in front. With these smaller environments, you have to change the water much more often. When it comes to the outdoor ones, I don’t change the water more than a few times a year. With my largest pot, with the lotus in it, which has inches of clay at the bottom, I never change the water. Don’t need to.
We can all get a lot more sophisticated about what plants and fish we keep — I also have a shrimp tank — but it’s nice to do these simple, hardy combos that are most likely going to work spectacularly.
OK, I wasn’t going to include the shrimp tank — because the post is about pots — but it has another kind of plant that was dying and which surprisingly does every well in water.
The plant in the upper right with holes in the leaves was always a meek individual. Not anymore. Now I’m worried about what I’m going to do with it when it grows high enough to hit the fluorescent bulb above it, just outside the picture frame. Oddly, the bamboo is NOT doing as well as the terrestrial plants. Go figure.
So, if you want to try growing plants in water, with fish, you can refer to this post to see what kinds of plants adapt amazingly well to a watery, fishy environment.
I didn’t get any good pics of the fish or shrimp. They are best captured in video, and this post is more about the plants and the power combo. If you do decide to keep fish, do a little research about their care, but really, just make sure to NOT add water until it’s sat at least 24 hours (to get chlorine out), don’t change too much water at a time, and don’t give the fish more food than they can eat in a few minutes or less.