Or, at least I tried to shoot a picture of the goldfish that live in our rain barrel.
I bought this rain barrel at the beginning of the Summer, to collect water for our vegetable garden.
Although excited to have a source of chlorine-free, neutral pH (well, neutral-ish) free water that is close to the garden, I was concerned about breeding mosquitoes.
The neighboring town has already had two cases of West Nile Virus, and I don't want to contribute to the count.
A lot of people use "BT" (also called "mosquito dunks"), which is supposed to be safe for people and pets. I'm a bit squeamish about the unknown side-effects of chemicals in general, so I was hesitant to pour this all over the vegetables. Also, I'm cheap, and the chemicals would be an on-going expense.
So, instead, I bought three 28-cent "feeder" goldfish at the local Wal-Mart, and hoped they'd munch up any mosquito larvae in the barrel. I also picked up a $1.51 container of fish food, almost twice the price of the fish. (Ever hear the expression, "the cheapest part of owning a horse is the horse"?)
This has worked really well. The fish, which were previously designated as food for larger pet fish, have 55 gallons of space, both fresh bugs and dried fish food for dinner, and no predators. It's a bit boring in there, but I'm guessing it's suitable for a fish-style attention span. They've grown appreciably in the past couple of months. I think they're happy. At least they haven't complained. Or died. Yet.
Their waste makes the water in the rain barrel even more effective in the garden, as a weak fertilizer. ("Fish emulsion" for free!)
I've read that some people take the fish in for the Winter, and keep them as indoor pets until the Spring.
I also read (but am not sure I believe) an account of someone who forgot to do this, resulting in the fish frozen in a barrel full of ice (like flies in amber, or herbs in ice cubes for punch) . According to the story, the fish lived to see two more years (!) after the thaw. Apparently, some (all?) goldfish hibernate (or the aquatic equivalent) in the cold. (Do I *need* to write a disclaimer on this one?)
There are many sites on-line that give easy instructions for constructing a home-made rain barrel, but this is the one we have. I checked the price today, and it is 50% more than we paid (from the same source) at the beginning of the Summer! I'm not sure if that is due to seasonal demand fluctuations, or because the price of everything is on the rise, and this is a way (long term) to reduce the on-going expense of the water bill.
(Gretta is wearing gloves in these pictures because we fed the fish on our way to work in the garden this morning. She doesn't like to get her fingernails dirty. )