Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Tradescantia as a water plant
June 13, 2007 - I have a spiderwort plant, and when I found it at the nursery, it was in water by the pond plants, (I had no idea what kind of plant it was at the time) So I bought it, took it home, and repotted it w...
view the full question and answer

Restoring a slope in the Mississippi sandhill region
August 01, 2011 - We are building on 5 acres (leaving 60% as is, natural). Only building a small (900-1200 sq ft house) & clearing 1 acre of the valley for a pond. There is a steep slope (where we had to put field dra...
view the full question and answer

Flowering vine for trellis behind fountain in Anaheim Hills CA
June 05, 2010 - We are looking for a flowering vine to plant on a trellis surrounding a water fountain. The fountain splashes leaving the soil constantly wet. We have tried numerous vines, but they all die due to t...
view the full question and answer

Erosion prevention on shady Pennsylvania stream
July 28, 2011 - I'm looking for a few species to plant along a stream channel to help reduce erosion during heavy rains. The soil is moist and in full shade. Ferns and thorny bushes are the only current vegetation...
view the full question and answer

Note on pond over oak roots from Round Rock TX
December 23, 2012 - Thanks very much to Barbara for answering my question about the live oaks - covering parts of their root systems with a pond. Your answer inspired discussion, and we changed our pond plan and moved th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.