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July 15, 2005


From the comments of another page, a bit more info:

Can you tell me how you did it and the cost?

I got a large square plastic pot without drain holes on early sale in April at Walmart - It holds 40 dry measure quarts and cost me $5.00. Keep your eyes open, this kind of deal can turn up anywhere.

Then I have the waterlily in a small pot, planted in dirt with gravel on top, just sitting at the bottom of the waterpot. Meijer had Nymphea Helvolva for around $10.00 this year. That's probably the variety you want, the other lily I have is really too big for the pot and I am already trying to find a bigger pot that will hold enough water for it to live in. I'd be wary of buying any packaged lily this late, I'd want to open the box and look for strong roots and little, living shoots.

I have another water plant, an emergent, in a tall pot... but this is just flourish, and not necessary.

Then, for aesthetics, I put gravel on the bottom of the pond/pot.

I let this sit for about a week, which is just about when the mosquitoes decided they've found heaven, and then I added the betta fish.

Here's the balancing act: You want the plant to have a fair amount of leaves to cover and shade the water before you set this all up. I started the lilies indoors in clean buckets until they started to get a bit established.

Then the trick is to let the lily get enough sun to thrive, but give the pot some shade so that it doesn't cook the fish all day in the heat. My pots are positioned such that the house itself shades them from direct sun starting around mid-afternoon. A few dalias in pots shade the morning sun. Waterlilies need four to six hours of sun...

Set up a chair and feed your fish a pinch of food every day, just to watch him eat. You can feed every other day and the fish won't notice. I've watched the fish take insects off the top of the water that I would never have noticed at all had I not been watching. The pond will provide food. (Mark says I shouldn't feed at all and gets annoyed that I continue to do so. I've yet to notice mosquito squigglers in the goldfish pond - I am still on watch with the betta set-ups.

[Will] the neighborhood cats will try to get the fish...?

Yes, every year the cats and or raccoons and or skunks have a go at my pond pots. The whiskey barrel has had plants all dug up and knocked around, and one time one of the goldfish got his fins all shredded, but I've not had a fish loss to the critters yet.

The new pond pots are smaller and could (conceivably) be knocked over by a very persistent pest, but ten gallons of water is HEAVY, and I'm not terribly worried about it. The bettas are fast as lightening and easily spooked. I think it would be a lucky predator that managed to snag one. But, as I said, not inconceivable. I'll keep you posted.

Also, be aware that this set up will produce algae. The betta don't care about it, the lilies don't care about it, and I'm not fussing too much about it. I remove it when it seems to get excessive, but this type of set-up is not for folks who demand perfect clear water.

Hmmm. She also asked for costs, which I should add a few:

aquarium gravel - didn't buy, had on hand (a look at the PetSmart web site says 1.99 for two pounds - depending on how much you use, you need from 1 to several bags - one will be more than you need to cover the soil in the lily pot, and that is the minimum you will require)

betta fish - 3.99 at PetSmart, with a stunning and unheard of TWO WEEK guarantee

So this could be done under $25.00.

Thanks for the ideas. I am working on a project growing lettuce under lights in a float system in my basement. Its kind of a hybrid of a hydroponics system and a soil system. I'm also having mosquito 'issues'. I had planned on trying to get the water circulating with an air pump but perhaps a fish might do the trick. The water is pretty stead at 68F which might be too cold for the beta. hmmmm more stuff to research.

Hey Kerry.

I've been watching your lettuce - looks tasty!

I'm not sure you have enough water there for a fish, you might look into one of those 'mosquito dunks' instead - they are supposed to act against the mosquito larvae and not be detrimental to the other flora and fauna in a pond... they might work for your situation.

Breeding mosquitos in the house is frustrating! It's bad enough when they are outside!

You'll want to watch your bettas closely; the males will usually fight to, or almost to, the death, if put in a small space together; the shy one is probably the loser so far... see if his fins are getting chewed up... you may end up with one betta with an attitude. Or, maybe you're lucky and got a couple of wusses.

Hey Don, good point, and I'm already ahead of you.

We've got two pots, and two fish. Each has his own lily, and his own 'pond.' I need to put up a photo that shows the three water containers together.

I'd never house multiple male bettas together. I've made myself the guardian of their well-being, and wouldn't put them in that sort of environment. (As it is now, if they get sick and die, I will wail about what a terrible person I am to let that happen...)

I had missed your comment to my reply. The fish is still doing its thing and the lettuce is great! Its nice to have fresh lettuce when its in the 90s outside.

Wow nice, I have a betta on a toilet bowl that we have just given his own tank with filter. Kind of a little extreme but we love little "Dusty The Betta! ;)

What a great summer retreat for the little bugger...


Great idea for the betta fish...I Have one for my girls in their room. I don't like them in a small bowl like they are normally sold, so the girls have it in an aquarium with no filter as I hear (and your post mentioned too) still water where they can go and get air from the surface.


Hey Taracotta...

When they come in for the winter I will get two of the small - 2.5 gallon - aquarium setups with the undergravel filter, and I will run that - the tube that houses the bubbler keeps the water disturbance to a minimum... so if regular water changes don't keep your fish's tail from getting shredded looking, try installing the low-key filter system to aid your tank in cycling.

Also if you keep your house cold - and we do, winter temps here are kept at 65 degrees F - you will want to add a heater unit kept to around 76-80 degrees F. This will keep your fish in bright color and good display. A cold fish will be dull looking and keep his fins tucked close to his body.

Just more info, if you need it!

Clicked in here from Path to Freedom, and thought you would like to know that your local mosquito abatement district will probably give you Mosquito Fish free. They are in the same general grouping as guppies, only plainly colored. The eat mosquito's and mosquito larvae, and they breed like crazy (live birth, the babies look like tadpoles).

Mosquito fish are acclimated to the mucky O2 short corners of ponds where there food breeds. Occasional topping up of water is more than enough them, if there are plants there.

In times of mosquito shortage you can feed them fish food flakes, or if you forget, they don't mind eating their young (!) and other things in the pond until spring comes.

Of course, then these live-birther's breed like mad again . . .

Have fun. We love our various water lilies in whisky barrels and other things!

I have a question, did you put your Betta's together?? i want to do a small pond outside and i thought that Betta's couldn't be in the same pond/bowel ect. but it sounded like you put yours together and it worked out ok?


Nope, never together. I have two lilies, and two pots. You can't even put a female and a male Betta in the same aquarium, unless you have LOTS of plant cover and hiding spaces so the female can stay well hidden.

An update on this post. The more summers you keep the patio water pots, the higher the chance that you will lose fish to predators.

I lost my goldfish and at least two bettas last summer - we had a young raccoon that the neighbor was feeding (never feed 'coons, never!) and I ended up having to make lids for the square pots out of bent chicken wire to keep the beasts from shredding my lilies.

So anyone keeping a lily pot with fish in it should keep an eye on the nocturnal activities that occur. If I had put the wire up when I first noticed the damage, I might not have lost any fish.

i don't think ALL male bettas are aggressive toward each other. In my 10 gallon I have one royal blue male betta crowntail, one bicolor betta splenden, one turqouise female, one female moonlight gourami, one male and female dwarf gouramis, and a pakistan loach. They never nip at each other and swim by one another complacently. Their health is also top notch, and I will send you a picture if you wish if you tell me how to post them on the internet. Thanks! good luck killing the mosquito larvae!

Hey, Christopher, that's great!

And what an interesting mix of the Gourami family you are hosting!

I would have to guess that they are all dissimilar enough to not trigger the aggressive behavior.

Or perhaps breeding for color traits has selected out that male tendency.

I think you should cherish your little peaceable kingdom, but I will continue to advocate that folks not mix male bettas in the same habitat. Just to be on the safe side.

I know I spend a lot time going over the selection when I get a new betta, looking for the prettiest boy there. I'd hate to lose a fish after finding the 'perfect one.'

Anyway, this post is from several years ago, and the betta experiment worked fantastically, until the raccoons figured out I had tasty, tasty fish in those buckets of water on my patio.

Then I had shredded plants and missing or very skittish fish. We won't even talk about what the blasted beasts did to my goldfish. I'm still annoyed after years of therapy!

wow thats hard to get by with those slug-eating racoons; by the way thanks for the ultra-prompt response :)

if you would like to see some pics of my tank go to this link:


To help with the algea, get a placostamis at pet smart, wal-mart, etc... I have had them with my betteas for 2 yeears know in vases, and only problem that does happen, is placostamises get big. and within several years you'll need to find it a new- bigger home. But they still do wonderful jobs.

Thank you for your hard work and information. I think I have learned something here. I will defenitely visit soon. I love how beautiful Betta Fish are. They are very unique which is why they are so special.

Betta fish are amazing fish to have. Thanks for the post. I have learnt a lot and maybe one day i will be brave enough to start such a project.

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