Sunday, May 19, 2013

Guppies Down on the Farm

When I went in search of my first guppies, a neighbor laughed. What? Going to ranch guppies now, are you? I think people look forward to my next wacky idea. But this one works!

Difficult to photograph guppies in a pond,
but you can make out a few against the white coral rocks. 
Mosquitos can be a real nuisense here. Their numbers aren't nearly as bad as what I had to put up with in NJ, but even one buzzing little critter can drive hubby crazy. His tolerance level is close to zero.

We learned to be really paranoid about mosquitos where we lived before. Encephalitis was a bit of a problem that most people ignored. Most people never got very sick. But then West Nile showed up. When kids and adults started dying, people took notice. Sales of mosquito controlling devices and chemicals boomed. The state sprayed the marshes, prompting the environmentalists to scream. Then a "bt" that worked on mosquitos was developed (aka: dunks). The state began treating every spot of standing water for mosquitos. West Nile cases still occurred but not at the rate that had been predicted. But it was still scary although not as newsworthy. Then one of hubby's co-workers lost her spouse to West Nile. Our group of friends took notice and became avid mosquito killers and avoiders. Paranoid is another way of puting it.

I've found that it is impossible to treat every standing water source here on the farm.  Little cups of water exist high in the crotches of trees. Thus I opted to make traps to kill as many of the larvae as possible. The idea was to entice the females to lay their eggs in places that I could treat with dunks.

Walking around the farm, I searched for places where water collected. I emptied natural bowls and filled them in with dirt. All items that could collect water were either eliminated or put under cover. Tarps were stretched tight to avoid bellying. Rain gutters were either reset for more pitch, or treated with dunks as needed. Catchment tanks were also put on the dunks treatment list. I found an underground lava tube that was a rich mosquito breeding area, the Hilton Regency for the critters,  that I now treat with dunks.

I began making breeding areas for mosquitos. Yes, on purpose. I now have several little ponds and mini-ponds. Plus livestock watering troughs. The mosquitos love them. All I needed to do was add some mosquito gobbling fish. Thus the reason for the guppies.

I didn't learn about "mosquito fish" until after I bought a half dozen guppies. But it turned out that the guppies were a better choice for the small water containers. But I did go collect some mosquito fish from a local pond and put them into my large irrigation catchment tank. I did it just to have something different. But I could have waited until I had more guppies.

The guppies reproduce on the farm on a regular basis. I'm surprised that it not too cold here for them. So far I've produced enough guppies to stock new ponds with them. And I'm always willing to give some away to other people who want them.

I'm often asked if I need to do something for the guppies. Air stone? No. Filters? No. Heaters? No. Feed them? Well, no. But I do. Since I want them to increase in numbers and not eat their young, I give them a little food. Right now it is a small pinch of ground meat or canned cat food. If the population should ever grow large, then I would consider making a self feeder -- a floating fly trap. But I haven't needed i

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