Mosquitofish? Is it is fish? Is it a mosquito? And why would anyone want mosquitofish in the garden?
The western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) is our friend. Any place there is a pond, fountain, rain barrel, or some other water feature in the garden, you need mosquitofish.
I use mosquitofish in a kiddy wading pool that is enjoyed by my feet and my dogs all summer long.
Mosquitofish are small freshwater fish that love to eat mosquito larva. They also eat beetles, mites, mayflies, and tiny zooplankton. Females can reach over 2-1/2" in length and males are smaller, at 1-1/2".
Vector control with mosquito fish
Vectors are disease-carrying insects and animals, and mosquitoes are one of the worst. Mosquitoes have been the bane of humanity for a really long time. Currently, it is estimated that 700 million people worldwide get sick or die every year because of the diseases carried by mosquitoes. The newest threat to human health, the Zika virus, is another mosquito borne disease that can cause brain damage and death. And it can be found locally. We’re not messing around here. This is serious stuff. Adding mosquitofish to water features in the garden is an effective method of reducing those risks. And who wants an itchy mosquito bite anyway?
Mosquitos can breed in a bottle cap's worth of water. Every place that water can collect is a potential breeding ground. Here are many commonly overlooked mosquito breeding grounds:
One way to reduce standing water in planter pots is to add a tail. Tails can be any absorbent material with one end tucked between the pot and the saucer and the other end placed on nearby soil. This eliminates excess water and it also prevents soil-saturated water from staining patios.
Santa Clara and many other California counties offer free delivery of mosquitofish to home gardens. A click of a button is all it takes to protect everyone from several mosquito borne diseases. If a mosquito breeding ground problem is suspected, phone 408-918-4770 to request a service call. Wherever you live, if there is standing water nearby, mosquitofish can protect everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Caring for mosquitofish
To properly care for and protect your mosquitofish, you will need to treat the water and provide protection. Water conditioner used in aquariums can neutralize the chlorine or chloramine found in tap water, but protection takes a little more effort. Raccoons (and my dogs) are smart, strong and determined. And they love to eat fish. Cinderblocks, heavy pots, or rock structures can be used to provide a safe haven for your tiny mosquito eaters. Once they are established, mosquitofish do not need to be fed. Their food comes to them on its own!
If mosquitofish are not available or appealing (my dogs think they’re fascinating!), mosquito dunks can be added to water features, rain barrels, and birdbaths. Mosquito dunks are freeze-dried bacteria that feed on mosquito larva. Mosquito dunks do not harm people, pets, wildlife or fish.
Make your time in the garden more enjoyable (and safer) by adding mosquitofish today!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!