Overwintering Goldfish


Novemeber 14, 2011

     With winter approaching quickly, we try to find suitable winter homes for all our animal friends in need. One of the most inconspicuous little helpers around Windward are the goldfish that populate some of our tanks used for watering trees and other plants.

A young tree's water reservoir for the dry summer months

     Were it not for the goldfish, these open surface tanks would be prime real estate for breeding mosquitos. By eating the mosquito larvae the fish act as a pest control and fertilize the water at the same time.

     I call the goldfish inconspicuous because they don't demand a lot of attention: they live off the insects and plant matter that accumulate in the tank naturally and can deal with a wide range of water temperatures and conditions. For most of the year we leave them to fend for them selves.

     For the winter we like to transfer them into the Barrelponics system, which is located inside the slightly warmer, snow proof Vermadise structure.

     As Oana and I set out to get the goldfish, we deliberate on ways of catching them. The straight forward approach is to go after them with the net. Since the fish are small enough to fit through the tank's drain hole, we could also attempt to flush the fish out by draining water. Or we could drain the water and cover the drain hole in the tank with the net. One way or another, the fish will be coming back with us.

Taking aim

     We fill the bucket with water from the tank. Standing on a pallet, Oana is able to catch two of three fish with the net. I watch the third goldfish swim close to the drain hole and decide to pull the release lever. An instant later the fish comes flying out the drain. I quickly pick it up and put it in the bucket with the other two goldfish. Now we can take them down to Vermadise.

The Goldfish are almost 5 inches long

     Before moving the fish into the Barrelponics system, I need to acclimate them to the new water they will be living in. Every fifteen minutes I remove a quart of water from the bucket and replace it with water from the Barrelponics system. After six cycles the fish are ready to move into their winter quarters where they will stay until the weather gets warmer in the spring.

Oana carefully pours the fish
into their new winter home

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71