No problem Gill. Great recommendations, thank you. I have looked into all of these. I would love to have Pumpkinseed Sunfish but this is not allowed here for understandable reasons. The pond closest to the house has Fundulus julisia. The second pond has Aphanius mentho and the third pond has a large group of Macropodus ocellatus and a few WCMM. All are outside all year round. I wrote in some detail about them earlier in the journal. Now you mentioned the fish, I might as well give a brief update on them.Apologies if already mentioned, but what stocking is in these ponds.
As me personally i would put in some Paradise fish, Medaka, WCMM, Danios, Sunfish etc as there are multiple ponds. You could have different fish in each one.
And Medaka, Paradise WCMM etc will winter fine in in the UK outside.
The Fundulus julisia are doing ok and I have spotted a couple of fry in the pond but lost a few adults during the winter. I still have 14 adults but think I put in over 20 of them. They stay close to the surface so you are able to see them most of the time. Maybe you or someone here can help me - does anyone know how to raise the pH of pond water? I would obviously need to do a reading first but I know these fish prefer harder water. I have read an account of a German breeder who covers the mini-ponds he breeds them in during the winter, to stop the rain softening the water. I have kept a separate group of julisia in one of my few remaining tubs but I have been too busy this year to breed them (cleaning out tank/ looking for eggs/ separating fry etc).
Here is a video of them in the tub;
Also still in another large tub are a small group of Fundulus catenatus, one of the largest killifish and stunning during breeding season (around now). They are extremely shy and I only catch glimpses of them when I feed them some earthworms from time to time. This is the only picture I was able to take of one of them in the tub:
My original plan was to breed them in the tub this year, raise their numbers, hold back a breeding group and release the rest into the pond, so that if they do not reproduce in the pond, I still have a group kept aside. I have been too busy this year and will have to see whether I will have more time next year. I am in two minds and part of me thinks I should just release them in the same pond as F. julisia and hope that they might both reproduce. I mean, realistically, don't I have enough on my plate trying to look after the garden and all these ponds??
F julisia lays eggs in the thread algae (as described in my earlier post), catenatus needs moving water over a tray of gravel, in which it will lay its eggs. Last year, I placed a tray and pump in the tub and caught six fry which I grew on indoors but they will not be ready to breed for at least one more year. Such a shame I have been too busy, as both are extremely rare in the UK but this year has been all about the garden and trying to stay on top of the project.
The Aphanius mentho are thriving and the pond is full of fry. In contrast to F. julisia, which seem less shy when kept in a tub, you see a lot more of A. mentho in a pond. Out of my fish, they are the most fun to watch, with males constantly defending their territories and chasing each other. Here are some of the fry;
The Macropodus ocellatus I rarely see, just a brief glimpse every now and then. It remains to be seen if they will breed in the pond. They like the water to heat up and I am not sure if the pond will be as optimal for that as the tubs I used. I also still have a a group in a separate tub which I also need to sort out and decide what to do with. The WCMM I put in the pond were quite old and I am not sure how many survived the winter.
In terms of wildlife in the garden, my absolute favourites, above frogs, toads, newts and even fish - are the damselflies and dragonflies. So many visit the ponds already. As some dragonflies spend more than a year in the water as larvae, I like to think that by leaving some of my ponds without any fish, I will have an abundance of dragonflies from next year onwards when dragonfly larvae born in my ponds start to emerge... Today I took a pic of what I think is an emperor dragonfly laying eggs in one of my ponds: