Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - February 28, 2005

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Water Gardening
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I took the landscaping class several years ago, and now would like to put in a section of aquatic plants. Starting small, I was initially looking for a ceramic bowl-type container, and I need to know what I have to do to make sure that the material used or the glaze will not injure the fish that I put in. What is the name of those little native fish that you use? Is my best bet a galvanized tub like you use there?

ANSWER:

As long as the ceramic container is properly sealed, there should be no problem with it leaching anything that will harm the fish. However, there are a couple of other concerns for a small, ceramic container. First, if it freezes, the container is likely to crack and leak. Second, a small container will limit the number of fish you can have without adding an aerator. Although your plants will help oxygenate the water for the fish, as the fish numbers increase the oxygen may become depleted and the fish could die. You could handle this problem with an aerator like those used in fish aquariums.

The fish in the ponds at the Wildlife Center are Gambusia, mosquito fish. We have had good success with galvanized tubs at the Wildflower Center. Although some people question whether zinc might be leaching from them and poisoning the fish, we have had Gambusia, dragonfly larvae and other aquatic fauna thriving in our galvanized tanks for at least four years now.  In areas with different water chemistry, leaching of zinc might be an issue, but it has not been a problem for us. You could add a liner, such as ones available at Aquatic Eco-systems, Inc., to the galvanized tub to be on the safe side, however.

The Wildflower Center has a 2-page PDF article on "Water Gardening" that you can download from the Native Plant Library. Also, both Clemson Extension and Colorado State University Cooperative Extension have interesting articles on water gardening in containers that you might like to read.
 

More Water Gardens Questions

Native plants for a bioswale in Irving, TX
March 30, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, what plants would you recommend for a bioswale in the north Texas (Dallas) area?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a pond bank in Gladwin MI
September 13, 2009 - Our acre-size pond bank is sloped and high maintenance--needs mowed. We have lots of deer. We would like to plant a low-lying ground cover to eliminate mowing the bank--any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Plant to stabilize a stream bank in PA
April 02, 2011 - Native plants to stabilize steep stream bank in semi shade to full shade. Southeastern PA. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Plants for freestanding water in Oklahoma
July 28, 2013 - I have an overflowing gutter and the ground below becomes a muddy hole. I'd like to put a basin or pot in/or above the ground with a rain chain. Are there any plants--shrubs or otherwise that flouris...
view the full question and answer

Plants for edge of intermittent stream
July 05, 2009 - I have a friend in Washington DC who is having runoff problems. She is having a drycreek installed. What kind of plants are native to her area that will withstand flash flood and intermittent dry co...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.