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Water Garden in Containers

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A goldfish lover asked for an update about the goldfish in our water garden in containers:

Miniature Water Garden in a container is very interesting. It is not only for keeping few goldfish, but it can display water plants that help with the balance of the ecosystem. Water plants that grow totally immersed in water like for example Anacharis/Elodea (Egeria densa) is an excellent oxygenator for fish and it can help with filtering to achieve clear water. Other plants like for example water lilies can add beauty with the pretty flowers and floated foliage. Marginal water plants like for example the Japanese Sweet Flag Grass (Acorus gramineus) is small in size and it is very suitable for miniature water garden. Floating water plants like for example Duck Weeds (Lemna disperma) are enjoyed by goldfish to munch.

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Japanese Sweet Flag Grass

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Japanese Sweet Flag GrassThe variegated Japanese Sweet Flag grass had grown too big for our fish tub. The roots were hanging down in the water and the leaf canopy had started to look so untidy. Yesterday I took it out of the pot with much difficulty, had to split the plastic pot. I had cleaned and replanted some part of it to go back to the tub and planted some more in a small pot. Still have more left with no idea what to do with them.

A Big Clump of Japanese Sweet Flag GrassAcorus gramineus variegatus or widely known as variegated Japanese Sweet Flag grass is a bog plant that love to have wet feet. Very suitable to grow on the edges of ponds, in the garden where the soil tends to be wet or in pots.

To grow this small and pretty plant in pots will need a lot of water and can sit the pots on a tray of water. The way I do it is growing them in pots that have no holes. The bottom layer consists of small pebbles, then I top it up with sandy soil and plant the grass there and cover the soil with more pebbles. After finished potting it up, I fill it with water to the brim to create similar condition as boggy area on the edge of a pond or lake. I use a weak measure of liquid fertilizer to make the plant healthy.

The creamy colour flower spikes are quite small and tend to grow in between the foliage, so this plant is mainly grown for the pretty looking leaves. To make it look tidy, cut the yellow and dry leaves.

  • Acorus gramineus variegatus/variegated Japanese Sweet Flag grass/Japanese rush.
  • Need a lot of water, suitable for boggy area, edges of pond or grown as water plant. If grown in pots keep the soil moist all the time.
  • Form low and rounded clumps about 30 cm high.
  • Medium to bright light.
  • Warm and humid condition away from frost.
  • Liquid fertilizer during warm season. Note: If grown in a pond or as water plant and there are also fish there, the plant does not need any fertilizer. If there is no fish, special fertilizer for water plant will be suitable to use.

Japanese Sweet Flag - Water Garden Tub

Acorus gramineus variegatus - Japanese Sweet Flag

Taman Air Mini

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Pink Water Lily

Bagi mereka yang punya halaman cukup luas dan punya cukup biaya, kolam air lengkap dengan ikan hias dan tanaman air yang cantik akan membuat kebun anda lebih asri, apa lagi dengan suara gemerciknya air di kolam. Namun bagi mereka yang halamannya tidak besar, tentu saja bisa memiliki aquarium didalam rumah. Tapi untuk aquarium akan harus sering dibersihkan karena dindingnya kaca, jadi kalau kelihatan kotor dan berlumut akan kelihatan jelek dan tak rapi. Memang bisa menggunakan bahan kimia untuk menjernihkan air, namun harus makan biaya lagi. Jalan keluarnya untuk mereka yang terlalu malas untuk menjaga kebersihan aquarium tapi tak punya tempat dan ongkos untuk bikin kolam diluar adalah dengan memakai bak yang bisa dibuat dari bata dan diplaster, bak plastik besar yang tebal atau dengan memakai gentong yang bermulut lebar. Cara ini lebih sederhana, mudah dan murah biayanya.

Water Garden  - Large Ceramic BowlSaya lebih suka taman air yang lebih natural, lengkap dengan lumut yang sengaja dibiarkan tumbuh seperti didanau dan sungai juga kita temui lumut. Ikan akan memakan lumut ini. Kami tidak menggunakan bahan kimia sama sekali untuk menjernihkan air atau untuk menghilangkan kaporit/klorin.  Taman air mini kami ada dua, satu yang didepan rumah memakai bak plastik (diberi kerangka papan supaya terlihat lebih bagus) dengan kapasitas air 220 liter dan yang dibelakang memakai gentong keramik yang lebar bentuk dan mulutnya. Kedalaman tempat harus cukup dalam, paling tidak 50 cm dan juga harus cukup besar paling tidak yang bisa muat 200 liter atau lebih.

Sengaja disini saya tidak menyebut memelihara ikan di dalam bak, karena ikan hanyalah salah satu komponen yang dipakai untuk membuat taman air ini. Untuk segi keindahan dan juga menjaga sistim yang saling menunjang / ekologi, akan dibutuhkan tanaman air yang tumbuh didalam air dan dipermukaan air serta ikan hias agar taman air mini ini tidak jadi sarang nyamuk dan juga kotoran ikan bisa menjadi pupuk untuk tanaman. Tanaman akan ikut berperan dalam menjaga jernihnya air dan mengurangi pencemaran dari kotoran ikan karena menjadi pupuk tanaman tersebut. Sebaliknya tanaman juga menaikkan kadar oksigen didalam air yang dibutuhkan oleh ikan. Tanaman seperti ganggang air dan juga lumut juga menjadi makanan ikan.

Tanaman yang tumbuh didalam air misalnya:

  • Elodea atau anacharis yaitu semacam ganggang kecil yang tumbuhnya didalam air. Tanaman ini bisa tumbuh tanpa menggunakan tanah dan bisa ditanam dibawah kerikil supaya tak mengapung kemana-mana.
  • Teratai jenis mini, misalnya jenis Nymphaea helvola. Teratainya harus yang jenis mini karena kalau tidak akan terlalu besar. Tanaman ini bisa ditanam dipot dengan menggunakan tanah lempung (jenis tanah yang berat) dan atasnya ditaroh kerikil supaya tanah tidak buyar kemana-mana. Pot ditempatkan didasar air atau kalau kedalaman, bisa diganjal dengan bata. Teratai ini daunnya yang indah harus mengapung dipermukaan air dan bunganya yang cantik bermacam macam warnanya, putih, merah, pink, kuning, ungu dsb.

Tanaman yang tumbuh dipermukaan / dekat permukaan air misalnya:

  • Rumput air ukuran kecil seperti misalnya jenis Acorus graminus. Bisa ditanam dipot yang diletakkan dengan permukaan tanahnya tercelup air.
  • Kangkung air, enceng gondok, kol air, keladi air dsbWater Garden  - Large Plastic Tub

Ikan Hias:  Ikan hias yang paling cocok adalah jenis ikan emas koki. Ikan koi terlalu besar. Tergantung berapa besar tempatnya, semakin sedikit ikan hiasnya semakin bagus hasilnya karena tidak terlalu banyak kotoran ikan yang mencemari air dan membuat air keruh, hijau dan bau. Untuk 200 liter air, tidak lebih dari empat ikan koki, bahkan hanya 2 ikan koki yang sudah dewasa cukup.

Air:  Saya tidak memakai air ledeng karena mengandung kaporit/klorin yang tidak bagus untuk ikan dan tanaman, jadi saya pakai air hujan. Bisa juga dipakai air sumur.

Air Mancur Mini/Filter Air: Untuk menjaga supaya air tetap jernih dan tidak keruh diperlukan putaran/gerakan dan ini bisa didapatkan dengan memakai pompa air untuk membuat air mancur/terjun mini. Kalau jumlah ikan tidak kebanyakan sebetulnya tidak memerlukan filter air. Namun seperti yang punya kami, sudah terlanjur kebanyakan ikannya, jadi mau tak mau untuk menjaga supaya air tidak keruh dan bau, saya memakai filter yang dibuat sendiri. Filter ini dibuat dari botol plastik panjang yang mulutnya lebar supaya gampang memasukkan bahan filternya. Botol diletakkan diluar bak, sebaiknya diatas pinggiran bak. Dibotol diisi lapisan kerikil dan spons penggosok yang untuk cuci piring. Air dari pompa masuk dari atas dan air keluar melalui bahan filter dan keluar kembali kebak melalui lubang dibawah botol. Setiap seminggu sekali, bahan filter dikeluarkan dan dibilas bersih dengan air. Jangan memakai sabun karena sabun akan menghilangkan bakteria yang ikut membantu menghancurkan kotoran ikan. Setelah bahan filter bersih masukkan kembali kebotol. Cara ini mengurangi biaya karena bahan filter bisa dipakai berulang-ulang dengan demikian tidak harus lagi lagi beli bahan filter baru.

Penambahan Air: Karena menguap, permukaan air akan terlihat menurun jadi perlu ditambah lagi dengan air (bukan air ledeng). Sebulan sekali bisa dibuang kira kira 1/4 air didalam bak dan diganti dengan air baru.

Pengurasan: Setahun sekali idealnya tempat taman mini ini dikuras. Ini bisa dengan mudah dilakukan karena ukurannya yang kecil dan letaknya dipermukaan tanah. Semua dikeluarkan, tempat dibersihkan (ingat jangan pakai bahan pembersih/sabun/ deterjen). Juga saatnya untuk mengganti tanah dari tanaman air yang ditanam didalam pot. Sebaiknya tampung se-ember besar airnya untuk dicampurkan kembali karena air ini mengandung banyak bakteri yang bermanfaat untuk ikut menghancurkan kotoran ikan.

Berhasilkah?? Kalau air tetap jernih, tidak keruh dan bau. Tanaman tumbuh subur dan ikan sehat (bahkan punya kami bisa bertelur dan berkambang biak)….. berarti sistim saling menunjung antara tanaman, ikan dan air berhasil. Lumut lumut hijjau hanya tumbuh dibatu batu dan pinggiran tempat. Lumut ini menjadi salah satu penghuni taman air yang bermanfaat karena ikan suka memakannnya. Tidak berhasil? Kenapa air tidak bisa jernih, keruh dan hijau? Penyebabnya yang utama adalah jumlah ikan yang terlalu banyak dan kebanyakan memberi makanan ikan. Ingat untuk 200 liter air paling banyak 4 ekor ikan dan memberi makannya sedikit saja, sehari sekali. Pemakaian filter akan banyak membantu.

Kotoran Filter:  Sewaktu anda membersihkan bahan filter, tampung airnya yang hitam dan gunakan untuk menyiram tanaman. Tanaman akan tumbuh lebih subur. Kotoran dari filter ini ( kalau secara rutin seminggu sekali dibersihkan), walau hitam dan terlihat menjijikkan, tidak akan bau busuk. Baunya seperti bau tanah atau bau bebatuan dikali.

Inilah sedikit obrolan saya tentang menanam tanaman air dan memelihara ikan emas koki didalam bak atau gentong besar dengan perawatan yang cukup mudah dan biaya semurah mungkin. Taman air mini yang sederhana ini bisa mempercantik halaman rumah dan selalu menjadi perhatian para tamu terutama anak anak kecil. Bagi mereka yang tak memiliki kebun karena tinggal di flat tingkat, taman air mini ini cocok untuk diletakkan diatas balkoni.

Teratai Mini Kuning - Nymphaea helvola

Golden Apple Snails

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I have written about our water plants and goldfish, but I haven’t mentioned about our golden apple snails. Yes, I have been unfair for not mentioning this very useful animal. I think it is because of the fact that I hate snails, I mean garden snails. They are filthy and slimy suckers that damage plants in the garden, but I must admit that water snails are different………….These snails have creamy yellow flesh that look neat and clean:)

Unlike garden snails that eat plants, apple snails don’t normally eat water plants, although many people will say the opposite! However, from what I see so far, my golden apple snails choose to eat algae, fish food and other rotting plant materials in the water. Slowly they crawl along the sides of the water tub cleaning the surface from algae. Even the edges of the Papyrus pot that was black of algae before now it is pretty clean since I have added the snails. Many times I saw them walk along the water lily stems, underneath the leaves and even on the flower bud without even trying to nibble on them. They love to eat debris that sit on the anacharis/elodea plants without eating them.

Golden Apple snails are one type of water snail species Pomacea bridgesii (= P. Canaliculata). They come in several colours; yellow, blue or yellow and red stripes. Female snails lay a cluster of up to a hundred pinkish eggs on the side of tubs or aquariums near the surface of the water. My snails have never laid eggs before but I hear that big goldfish love to eat baby snails that just hatched. To me it is good as I don’t expect to have too many snails and the population will be under control. They thrive in tropical/semi tropical water and are originally found in South America but have been introduced in many places worldwide. In many tropical countries, they have become introduced pests. For this reason, it is better not to release them in local ponds, lakes or rivers.

Fresh Salad for Our Goldfish:)

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One day I read that all goldfish like to eat “duck-weeds”. In the wild, goldfish eats more underwater greeneries, so I thought it would be a good idea to give them their “fresh salad” as a healthy treat.

I remember that duck-weeds are sold in the water garden shop in Garden World. Few weeks ago, I got a litlle bag of fresh duck-weeds there and it cost me $5.00. Once arrived home, straight away I tip the whole content of the little bag into the tub where we keep 7 goldfish. I was a bit shocked when I saw that those tiny plants spread and they covered most of the empty water surface. It kind of looked ugly and untidy. I never thought that too many duck weeds could fit in that little plastic bag.

The next day, more than half of the duck-weeds were gone already eaten by the goldfish. In 3 days to my relief,  hardly any left and my water garden tub looked nice and tidy again.

Since then, I have bought one more bag of duckweeds but I put them in a separate container with water in it to grow. Everyday, I give about one table spoon of duckweeds to the fish. They eat their fresh salad quickly and greedily:) I feed them much less bought goldfish food.

Duckweed (botanically known as Lemnaceae) is a stemless, aquatic flowering plant. Duckweed is a small and free floating and grows on the surface of still or slow moving water in carpet-like groups. Duckweed produces minute flowers. It is known that this tiny floating plants can act as water purifier against the unsightful green algae.

Update images of our Water Garden taken very recently in February 2010:

The first images are from the Tub Water Garden near the back door. The second images are from near the front door:

My Water Garden – An Update

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Both my round tub and water fountain were too small for all the plants and the gold fish. We had moved them in bigger containers. One of the tubs can hold 220 litres and it is located in front of the front door. The other one is smaller (120 litres) and it is in the covered patio near the back door.

My husband built wooden frame around the bigger tub to protect the plastic from the sun in order to make it last longer and also to make it look nicer. I think the goldfishes are much happier now and I notice that they are getting bigger and bigger. I just hope that they will not multiply as we have no place to put them and too many fish will spoil the ecological balance.

Keeping Goldfish Naturally

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We have several gold fish outdoor in a big tub and a water fountain. They live healthy and happy in a natural setting without modern filtering system or chemicals added into the water.

Keeping water garden in form of an aquarium or man made pond today rely on technology supports such as chemicals to remove traces of unwanted chlorine from tap water, filtering systems that use electricity and regular water testing. Isn’t it possible to make a living water garden by mimicking the ecological balance of nature? They don’t use all of those complicated gadgets and treatments.

I always question myself how rivers and natural lakes or ponds work for all the fish and the water plants to flourish without manmade technology? Many say that rain water is too soft for the gold fish as it is lacking of minerals so the experts say that it is better to use tap water with chemicals added to remove traces of harmful chlorine.

However, I learned from many articles that the natural balance of aquatic livings can be achieved naturally. Rain water, plants and fish can support each other to create a healthy environment for them to survive.

To live a healthy ecological balance, both water plants and fish can support each other to form a healthy environment. Fish will need oxygen in the water which is provided by submerge plants that act as oxygenators. On the other hands, water plants will need nutrients by feeding the waste that is excreted by the fish. These plants will provide oxygen during the day and absorb carbon dioxide at night. The submerge water plants also act as purifier as it feeds on the waste in the water both from the fish or traces of uneaten food. The most popular submerge oxygenator plants are: Anacharis, Vallisneria, Hornwort, Red Ludwigia, Cabomba. I use anacharis for my water garden.

To add beauty for the water setting and to reduce algae growing rampant in the water, semi floating plant such as water lilies, lotus, nardoo, water poppy or water hawthorn can be added. These plants have the roots submerged in water but the foliage will be on the water surface. The foliage will provide shades for the fish and for reducing algae. These plants will also get the nutrients from the waste in the water so they will help to clear the water. I use water lily for our mini water garden.

Completely floating water plants are also good for reducing algae, providing shelter for fish and the floating roots are also beneficial for cleaning water. Common floating water plants that are used for water garden are water lettuces, duckweeds, water hyacinths or fairy moss.

I use water from our rain water catchment and the only additive that I add to the water is pure sea salt. This is an old practice to help goldfish healthy by preventing fungal diseases and also acts as a tonic for the fish. I use one tea spoon of pure sea salt (or aquarium salt) for every 10 gallon of water (about 37 litres).

To keep the ecological balance, it is important not to keep too many fish. One mature fish for at least every 40 litres of water is desirable. It is also not to over feed, I feed our goldfish once a day with just use enough food for the fish to eat in 3 minutes. After 3 minutes and if there is still some food uneaten, it is better to remove it. It is also needed to trim the water plants to prevent them from overcrowding and to remove dead foliage and roots.

To know if the habitat for both fish and plants is in good balance, the water should stay clear all the time and both the fish and the plants are happy and healthy. If you are planning to have a water garden, it is important to set the plants life going for a week or so before adding fish to establish the growing of beneficial organisms.

If the ecological balance is working there is no need to change water except to add more rain water if the water is low. If the water is loss by evaporation, there is no need to add more sea salt as salt does not evaporate.

A good read on water garden:

http://www.gedye.com.au/culture.html

http://www.greengold.com.au/greengold/CARENOTES/CARENOTES/aquatic%20plants.htm

My other blogs on Goldfish:

https://kiyanti2008.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/my-water-garden-%e2%80%93-an-update/

Latest update today February 10,2010:

After having goldfish for over a year, I’ve found out that keeping goldfish without any chemicals added into the water is possible especially for tubs or ponds outside the house. I keep my goldfish in large tubs and I also have water lily, elodea/anacharis, and marginal water plants. I don’t use tap water at all because I don’t want to use chemical to remove chlorine. Instead I use 100 % rain water as we have many tanks to catch rain water from the gutters.

At first, I did not use filtering system at all , but it was very hard to keep the water clear. I don’t want to use chemical to keep the water clear. So for almost 6 months I have started to use filters that I made them myself to keep the costs minimal.

I use a small submersible water pump for each tub (cost only about $15 – 20 AUD). The pump is connected to a filtering system which consist of  plastic scourers (used for washing dishes), abbrasive pads (also for washing dishes), small pebbles or scorias. I pack these filtering mediums into a plastic drinking bottle with wide neck.

The water from the pump goes to the top of the bottle and runs through filtering mediums and runs out through an opening at the bottom of the bottle. I just hang this filter over the fish tub so the filtered water runs freely back (like tap water).

Once a week, I take the filtering mediums out of the bottle and wash them. Don’t use soap at all as it will kill the good bacterias that feeding on the fish waste. The scourers are reusable until many months later when they have started to fall apart. It is very cheap, very simple to make and most importantly it is working for my fish tubs. You can use the dirty water (from washing the filter) to water plants in the garden. You will imagine that the dirty water from the filter smells bad, but if the whole system works, it will not smell bad at all. There is no fishy smell, just fresh earthy smell.

This is the picture of a filter that I made for the small plastic tub where I keep goldfish babies. So far our gold fishes have more than 10 babies. Some are still together with the parents in the other tank. It is very hard to see and to catch them as they like to hide:o)

The picture below is our new ceramic tub to replace the plastic one near the back door.