I am amazed to see the interest in our swimming pool conversion into a natural habitat for wildlife, which might also include ourselves, if needs be. Some readers would also like to put their pools to better use, so I will share my learning as we go along. Happily I am receiving advice from many sources, but herein lies the next challenge too.
There are those that recommend I quickly insert water plants in pots with soil, so they can start consuming the growing algae. Others say no, no soil at all. Some say only indigenous water plants, others reckon the alien water hyacinth will do the best job. As long as you control their growth. Some say the ducks will destroy water lilies; others say no they will merely control them, so plant lots to start off with.
A friend arrived with a nifty ‘floating island’ covered in a variety of plants. This floating contraption helps to clean the water and looks lovely too. You are supposed to cover 10% of the surface in floating islands if you want to use this method effectively. It took duck-ducks 3 days to annihilate the island. “Ducks are destructive creatures,” he says. No, I say, they’re just bored. They came from a thriving stream with natural movement and lots of friends. Now they’re stuck on this monotonous pool with just each other for company and entertainment. This could be territorial behaviour too – like who’s this plant invading our space? Off you go!
Which fish would be best for our new environment? This is another story. Obtaining a permit to stock indigenous fish is impossible – ‘in case they hybridize, escape into a river and so corrupt the already threatened species.’ Yet permits for the alien Bass and Trout, which have caused the near extinction of our indigenous fish, are available. So what if they escape? I also learned that the Western Cape indigenous fish population is the most threatened in the country. Whilst this remains a bit of a riddle to me, I will ask my advisor to elaborate on the science behind this next time. We have basically settled on Mozambican Tilapia, which is indigenous to SA, but not really to the Western Cape. This permit is available.
We have created a make-shift waterfall to get oxygen into the water, whilst we figure out how to do that in a more aesthetic yet DIY way. Now I must stress that our home community consists of a bunch of creative people. Scientists and handymen are alien species here. But in line with Women’s Day, we are undeterred by this shortage – after all that’s what friends are for. To make up for what skills and knowledge is not available in-house. So thank you to our online community for reaching out and filling the gaps.
I am also keen to visit other swimming ponds and will do a series about this.
As all things new, it is both scary and exhilarating. To my mind it is a small example of the brave new world we need to carve in spite of resistance and possible ridicule. What we do know is that the old ways no longer serve this planet, so innovation, creativity and experimentation rules – with intentions for the greater good.