Each year starting from spring till the mid of fall (depending if the weather conditions are reasonable enough, of course), I put a certain amount of fish (mainly livebearers) in PE tanks and glass cubes. I don't use any filtration of what so ever and an air pump will only be activated when it becomes extremely hot outside.
Using pond plants instead of the regular aquarium plants creates a natural habitat to the fish. Even in free nature these fish are dealing with big temperature ranges. During the day hot and during the evening and night significally colder. For the mistake which a lot of people make is to label a lot of fish as tropical while in fact a lot of the aquariumfish should be labeled as subtropical.
The results of keeping them outside are :
* Fish are much stronger
* Fish colouration is much more intense
* Fish are becoming much larger
* A higher reproduction ratio
If you would get the chance to do the same.. I'd advise you to do so... And it's also fun to watch the fish from the top instead from the side!
Oh yeah, besides livebearers... some other kinds of so-called aquarium fish are also swimming outside.
In this outdoor PE tank, are housing my ameca splendens combined with some small koi. Despite of the fact that the ameca splendens are real fin nipppers, my small koi are left unharmed.
I also keep gamubusia affinis outside. The photo beneath shows the tank on top of the other two tanks with these fish in it. These fish are excellent fin nippers. One of the reasons why I only keep them together with the goodeids once their placed inside again. Outside they feed themselves with all the larvae of all kinds of insects which lay their eggs in the water. And they also prey for insects in general...
Checking out on my fish.
From time to time I do check out on my fish. Not that it's neccesary. For in general, I don't really have to worry about them. In their natural created bioptopes in the outdoor tanks, they have a splendid life! Deseases are less common in comparison to indoor tanks.
Harvesting some juvenile wildguppies
Basically, it's more my curiousity which triggers me to check out on them... It's quite fun and interesting to watch how these fish are developing . And how they survive outside within our dutch climate. The growth rate is much higher than in the indoor tanks.
Just harvest three juvenile males. Two of them are definately red chest versions. One with a double swordstail and the other one a spear-tail. The third one is hard to describe for it seems that it's still halfway of developing in pattern.
The red part on their bodies are really intense. They really look just great!
Also the other juveniles and adults have gained sparkling colouring after being outside for a couple of months.
An enlarged photo of those three juvenile males...
And now back to their habitats...
Testing the waterconditions of the tanks.
Just like the indoor tanks, the waterparameters of the outdoor tanks will be checked by me as well on a regular bases. Like I've already mentioned, I don't filtrate mechanically for it's a complete natural biological situation in the outdoor tanks.
In general, the parameters are just fine but it's just a secure check. Variable influences like e.g., wind, rainfall, sun, heat, etc... can create an unbalanced situation within the parameter household. Fortunately, those ain't bothering my outdoor tanks.
Hatching my own water fleas
In order to keep the costs as low as possible but without any loss of the quality of livefood, I'm hatching my own water fleas (cladocera daphnia) in two outdoor tanks.
I'm really convinced that livefood is way more nutricious than dried flakefood or granulate and therefore I always give all my fish livefood at least once a week. The outdoor fish already have the facility to feed themselves with livefood becoz' of the natural habitat they're in. For nature looks much more better after them than we could ever do ourselves.
In both tanks some crayfish are living in them during two seasons a year. As long as the temperature won't get below 5°C, they're doing just fine.
So, I usually get my fish out of my outdoor tanks somewhere during fall to let them survive inside. This past fall (2012) I got the last ones out mid October. All the other fish were already taken inside starting from the beginning of October.
The tanks on the balcony had a water temperature of 8°C and the tank in the backyard had 10°C water temperature at mid day in mid October. So, at night it was a lot colder for we had freezing nights back then. But all fish were still happy swimmers and the same goes for the crayfish I had outside.
Overhere I was getting the ameca splendens and one koi out of the black PE tank and put them in a bucket. Then I got the water out of the PE tank until a low level was still in there.
One of the last juvenile ameca splendens were taken out of the tank by hand. They can survive for a little while out of the water. If you'll get them out as shown, they tend to fake being dead. Just a surviving strategy. But once you put them into water, they'll swim away as if nothing has happened.
The water was really cold to my hands. As the pic on the right shows, it was 10°C of water temperature. But no harm has been done to the fish. Even the endemic habitat of ameca splendens knows cold seasons. These fish are so hardy that in fact these fish are the perfect solution to lazy fishkeepers.
So, after that was done I started with the last tanks on the balcony where I still had crayfish outside.
I myself take mostly my fish and crayfish out of the water by hand. In a way it's way better for the livestock than using a fishnet. And it's aso fun to catch them by hand to be honest...
These crayfish did well with these weather conditions. The water temperature in these tanks was 8°C during the day. No loss of fish in general outside. I also got some cherry shrimps and japonica shrimps from outside that particular month.
All livestock from outside were kept in buckets for the night and by the next morning the temperature of all buckets were equal to all the other tanks inside. And it was about time to put all the livestock from outside in their new tanks.
Can't wait till the weather is right again to put freshwater fish outside again...