Use Fish for Natural Mosquito Control

Reader Contribution by Anna Twitto
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Your fish pond or container can be as elaborate or as simple as suits you. 

Many sources suggest combating mosquitoes that lay their eggs in ornamental ponds by introducing a few predator fish, usually gambusia. It certainly works, but around here we have taken this a step further. We set up an outdoor fish tank on purpose to attract mosquitoes, the eggs and larvae of which will serve as a feast for the fish. The local population of mosquitoes is thus reduced. 

Usually, it is recommended that pond water should be agitated, for example by means of a small waterfall, to discourage the mosquitoes, as they prefer still water for laying their eggs. In this case, however, we do exactly the opposite – the water is quite still, to lure as many mosquitoes as possible into our trap. Whenever the water level falls due to evaporation, we simply top the tank up using our garden hose.

It really works – our entire neighborhood is plagued by mosquitoes, but we hardly see any, even at the height of season, and hardly ever get bitten. And it’s not as though we’re immune – as soon as we step out of our little protected zone, we might suffer from some very nasty mosquito bites. 

It’s possible to make your anti-mosquito fish domain very aesthetically pleasing, in the form of a natural-looking pond bordered by local rock, aquatic plants, etc., and it’s something that’s been on our to-do list for a while, but for the time being we make do with a simple old kiddie pool. It doesn’t look a treat, and the water is green with algae, but it’s doing its job. The fish sure don’t seem to mind, and breed at an astonishing rate on no other food than the insects attracted to the water. 

We started with only a few gambusia fish, but very soon had ten times as many. These are live-bearing fish that breed prolifically – in fact, much faster in the simple outdoor fish tank than in the temperature controlled, carefully filtered and perfectly clean aquarium we have in the living room. Outside, we don’t have to worry about feeding them or filtering the water. Whenever we have too many fish, we remove some with a net and give them away to other people. 

We have also added some guppies, and though they are less aggressive than gambusia fish, they love to eat mosquito larvae as well, and as long as there’s enough food the two species get along just fine, contrary to what many articles claim. 

When winter approaches, it is time to get all the fish out of the tank and into the indoor aquarium. You will probably be shocked to see how many fish you have, compared with your starting number. It’s also possible, if you live in a temperate climate, to let the fish over-winter outside. Their population will be reduced over winter, though, because lack of insect prey will get the fish to resort to cannibalism.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna’s books are on her Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna’s Mother Earth News posts here.

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