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It’s getting a little late in the season now, but I hope this will inspire people to think about “backyard tubbing.” It can be a fun way to raise fish. I set up 4 outdoor tubs (15-20 gal each) to raise guppies over the summer. Tubs are on a deck partially shaded by oak trees. Plants (Water Sprite, Hornwort, FrogBit, etc) take care of the filtration. Within a day or two, Tree Frogs came to lay hundreds of eggs. Mosquitoes ditto. Then, raccoons came one night and tore everything up inside. (Apparently, the guppies were too small for raccoon tastes, so they survived the assault.) Now 4 weeks later, things have settled down. Tadpoles have turned into frogs and guppies have had plenty of babies. Plants and fish seem to thrive outdoors.

Each batch of guppy babies gets its own tub. At the end of the summer, I’ll monitor each batch for size, color, vigor, finnage, etc and save the best.

A cold spell came sooner than I expected. When night temperatures went below 60F, I fixed the tubs up with heaters and plastic covers. I turn on the submersible heaters for a few hours every morning to warm the water up to about 78-80F. That’s enough with the plastic covering (two layers of 3 mil clear plastic sheeting) to get the fish and plants through the night. I measured water temperatures early in the morning at an acceptable 70-72F. This coming week, night temperatures are predicted to stay above 65F, so I can dispense with the additional heating and insulating.

Photos show the four tubs covered and uncovered, close up of one tub, a red strain of guppies I'm working with, and a tree frog that was a tadpole the day before.
 

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I used to keep small fish in outdoor tubs, but the temperature gets too warm in summer sun. Now I put tubs out to raise daphnia and grow out plants. I tied window screen over the tubs to keep out mosquito larvae.
 

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I always have a few of these going every summer to raise plants or fish. As long as they have predatory fish in them, mosquitoes will not be a problem. The main problem I have is what to do with all the fish when autumn comes, LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sorry to hear about your loss. So sad....

My tubs are on a deck partially shaded by oak trees. I have had to heat them several times last two weeks to keep water temperature above 70F. Yes, these fish are spoiled. :p Air temp can be 90F during day, but if night temp is 60F, morning water temp is about 70F and just doesn't heat up that much, even on hot days.

I've set out a new tub to raise daphnia. I think plants inhibit the little critters, so I've kept the plants out, but added oyster shells and snails. I haven't had much luck in the past with daphnia, but I'm giving it another try.
 

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In Dallas, summer temperatures regularly go over 100F, with night time lows above 80F. I have to put all my mini-ponds in dappled shade under trees. This does not seem to inhibit the plants at all, and the fish tolerate the summer weather much better.
 

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sadly the only sides of my house that I can have them face south or west with almost no shade. so it gets 90% sun. been meaning to build a patio top for awhile, but with construction on the new home almost done, I see little reason to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
In Dallas, summer temperatures regularly go over 100F, with night time lows above 80F. I have to put all my mini-ponds in dappled shade under trees. This does not seem to inhibit the plants at all, and the fish tolerate the summer weather much better.
Let's hear it for the trees! You cannot imagine how much cooler a house is under trees. I have not had the AC on for the last two weeks, even though temp has been about 90F every day.

I will be interested to see how tubs do after my oak trees have shed their leaves and more sunlight penetrates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Folks, here is an e-mail letter from a French hobbyist that just came into my personal mailbox ([email protected]) and which I would like to share with all of you:

"Anyway I want to tell you how some French aquarists managed to turn off their pump and use only plants to epurate their water and how I discovered it. I myself never used any pump. I'm born from two Soviet parents, which kept and bred fishes in their young age. But in USSR fish where available (angels, gouramis, guppys...) but no furniture at all and even raw tanks where rare. Russians used random glass containers, river plants and sun to power up their hobbies. This is how my parents taught me to keep my shrimp and fishes and this is how I did.

Ten years ago, I was a monster killing fishes (even if no fish died) for the French aquaristic community but I found a small group of even weirder people. They put fishes in plastic trash cans for the summer, with little to no soil, lot of plants and nothing else, not even water changes. At the end of each summer, fishes where huge, muscular and managed to breed like crazy. During the winter they keep their animals inside of course for the tropical ones, in tanks with no filter or water changes at all because "if it work outside, it should work inside". With the only difference being they feed fish inside because insects doesn't lay eggs or fall in the water so often. It works very well with tanks from 2-3 to 150 gallons, for years (at least 10). This is now how more and more French people keep their fishes.

This is called "poubellarium", from "aquarium" and "poubelle" (meaning "trash can") and outside Rachel O'Leary's summer tubbing I have never seen anything like it in the worldwide hobby. We have a forum (poubellarium.fr) and a Facebook page where we talk also about the so called Walstad method (https://www.facebook.com/ groups/1688946011374462/)

Hurrah! My summer tubs are so much fun. I just bought two more plastic containers (18 gal) from Home Depot. Summer is sweet but short. I've got to get as many guppies going as possible. "Make hay while the sun shines." Apparently, this is true even in France.
 

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Back in the early 60s when I was kid living in Kansas, there was woman who had a small fish shop in the garage on her farm at the edge of our suburb. She used old enameled steel liners of refrigerators with the holes plugged. They sat on sawhorses under the big elm tree. They were stuffed with stem plants and she bred livebearers in them every summer. She then sold them in the shop during the winter.
 

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Stalker, welcome to APC!

How do you use soil in your tubs? I usually put a layer of soil with gravel cap in shallow pots or trays--basically the same way you layer soil in a Walstad tank. This lets me plant in the trays, and move the plants around or take them out to clean the tub or catch fish. Of course there are also floating plants some stems that do not need to be rooted in the substrate.
 

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No soil at all most of the time, "dirt" form by itself at the bottom quickly and is never vacumed. Anyway most of the plants are floating and some species are planted in pots (lilies) with poting soil and sand. The setup doesnt need a substrate at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I don't put a substrate in my tubs either. But like both of you, I've included a little soil. I added a few pots of clay garden soil with plants--Vallesneria, Bacopa, Sagittaria, etc--to each tub. I believe that that little bit of freshly submerged soil releases enough iron into the water for the floating plants. (Otherwise, my floating plants don't do well.) The rest of the plants are Hornwort and various floaters--Frogbit, Water Sprite, and Duckweed.

The tubs, fish, and plants are doing well and so much fun. No aeration, no filtration, no water changes...
 

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It’s getting a little late in the season now, but I hope this will inspire people to think about “backyard tubbing.” It can be a fun way to raise fish. I set up 4 outdoor tubs (15-20 gal each) to raise guppies over the summer. Tubs are on a deck partially shaded by oak trees. Plants (Water Sprite, Hornwort, FrogBit, etc) take care of the filtration. Within a day or two, Tree Frogs came to lay hundreds of eggs. Mosquitoes ditto. Then, raccoons came one night and tore everything up inside. (Apparently, the guppies were too small for raccoon tastes, so they survived the assault.) Now 4 weeks later, things have settled down. Tadpoles have turned into frogs and guppies have had plenty of babies. Plants and fish seem to thrive outdoors.

Each batch of guppy babies gets its own tub. At the end of the summer, I’ll monitor each batch for size, color, vigor, finnage, etc and save the best.

A cold spell came sooner than I expected. When night temperatures went below 60F, I fixed the tubs up with heaters and plastic covers. I turn on the submersible heaters for a few hours every morning to warm the water up to about 78-80F. That’s enough with the plastic covering (two layers of 3 mil clear plastic sheeting) to get the fish and plants through the night. I measured water temperatures early in the morning at an acceptable 70-72F. This coming week, night temperatures are predicted to stay above 65F, so I can dispense with the additional heating and insulating.

Photos show the four tubs covered and uncovered, close up of one tub, a red strain of guppies I'm working with, and a tree frog that was a tadpole the day before.

I have set up my first tub - 150 gallon White Cloud attempt at a colony. A hobbies just sent me some great plants. Annubia, Java Gern, Water Sprite...can I keep them in the tub until winter or should I put them in an indoor setup?
Thank you!
 

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Welcome to APC! You can probably keep them in the tubs until fall. Let us know where you live and we can give better advice.
 

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Welcome to APC! You can probably keep them in the tubs until fall. Let us know where you live and we can give better advice.
Welcome to APC! You can probably keep them in the tubs until fall. Let us know where you live and we can give better advice.
Thank you! So glad I found this forum! I have been keeping planted tanks but need to learn much, much more!

I live in Northern WV about an hour SW of Pittsburgh.

I did decide to not keep the Water Sprite in the tub at this time as I have very hard water. I read in one of your posts that it does not like HW. Might explain some tanks issues. I am learning to blend in RO. That can be taught as I can lose KH well before TDS become sane.

I am considering putting some dried leaves in the tub to help things. I am a weirdo who likes tannins!

Thanks for any and all help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
How much light does this tub get? How deep is it? Most 150 gal containers are much too deep for aquarium plants. Any pond deeper than 18" is going to need very intense light. Your Java Fern and Anubias will struggle.

Ponds do best with water lilies, emergent plants, Hornwort, Anacharis, and floating plants. I think your best option is to try floating your Water Sprite. Mine did fine in hard water.
 

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How much light does this tub get? How deep is it? Most 150 gal containers are much too deep for aquarium plants. Any pond deeper than 18" is going to need very intense light. Your Java Fern and Anubias will struggle.

Ponds do best with water lilies, emergent plants, Hornwort, Anacharis, and floating plants. I think your best option is to try floating your Water Sprite. Mine did fine in hard water.
Thank you!
 
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