Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Any "Pond" Will Do.

Okay ... now what?

The 750 gallon circular aquaculture tank and the assorted aquariums around it have become something of an oasis during the long drought this year. Last year as the pond dried up, I rescued tiny bluegills from the final pond puddle and set them up in the big tank to wait out the dry period. Minnows and aquatic plants went into various stray aquariums for the same reason. All of this is outside and not covered in any way.

A variety of animals have discovered these artificial water bodies and either moved in or dropped in for a drink. Even though rainfall has returned, the surrounding area is still pretty dry so the visitors keep coming. This weekend, it was the dragonflies who monopolized the "fake pond".

Resting up for the duet.

There was all kinds of aerial combat and courting going on over the tank and when I stuck my finger out, this little guy used it as an LZ.

Jigsaw puzzle?

The aquariums each have Gambusia minnows in them to prevent mosquito propagation and the top of each is covered in duckweed.
The duckweed covering did not seem to be an obstacle for the female dragonflies who were busy laying eggs in these tanks.

Laying eggs while flying ... queen of the multitaskers.

On a real pond, this is where many a dragonfly meets it's end. I don't fish freshwater much anymore, but I remember as a kid cleaning largemouth bass that were stuffed with dragonflies. At that time, I did not know that female dragonflies lay eggs this way, so I pictured my bass leaping out and catching them in midair, but now I know better.
Other fish get them too. Not so long ago, I stood on a bridge and watched mudfish (bowfin) slurping dragonflies as they dipped their tails in the Waccasassa River.

Under the duckweed, in the shady dark, the young dragonfly nymphs will have to avoid the minnows while they are tiny.

If they do, after a few molts, the minnows will have to avoid the dragonfly nymph's deadly grasp.


Wren said...

My brain hurts - I've learned too much before my second cup of coffee :) Seriously, fascinating stuff. I take it the duckweed's intentional? What's its intended purpose?

lori said...

well i guess we never really get out of school. always learning.
love the education out side the
school. a lot more interesting
when we really don't even know
we are learning.
love your blog. and pictures are

threecollie said...

It always delights and amazes me how wild things find tame "ponds". Our little 300-gallon garden pond became an instant oasis for all kinds of wonderful wild things as soon as we filled it. Each year it gets better. This year we even have a baby cottonwood tree taking root in a pot of yellow wild iris.
Great photos BTW

Susan said...

Hi F.C., Sorry to notify you this way, but I couldn't find an e-mail address on your blog. Maybe it's just too early in the morning.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that your blog will be one of 12 featured in an article I submitted to Florida Gardening magazine that will be published in their Oct/Nov issue. The issue should be available on super market shelves around September 15th, and will be received by subscribers shortly after that.

Most of the blogs chosen are predominantly garden blogs. I chose your blog because of the interesting, humorous and educational information you post on Florida wildlife, and because you write from the perspective of a native Floridian. I know that other folks will enjoy your blog as much as I do. Keep up the good work!

robin andrea said...

I am always so happy to see dragonflies. I can't believe one landed on your finger. I hold my hand out whenever I see a dragonfly, and I think I hear them laugh as they dip and fly right by me! Very cool that they found your little temporary ponds and laid their eggs there. More for the future.

Congrats on the great news from Susan. I'm delighted that Pure Florida will be receiving such well-deserved recognition.

Ava said...

Dropping in to say hello! Hope you're doing well!

Great post and great pictures of the dragon flies.

Sharon said...

Cool pics :) And getting put in a magazine, how cool. Get ready for your 2nd 100,000 visitors!

thingfish23 said...

I am definitely going to rock some wild aquaculture in that back this year. Aquariums are, like, $3.00 at the local thrift stores...

Joni said...

now that is COOL! Thanks for sharing.

Deb said...

This is what I love about Pure Florida--a refresher course in biology. Interesting to hear you have bowfin there too; around here we call them dogfish, and I've never seen one in a river. Are we talking Amia calva here?

And Thingfish- I think I just got ripped off. My ten gallon thrift store aquarium cost me $10!

Floridacracker said...

Lucky for us, brains are like stomachs, they stretch! The duckweed? I just like it!

Thanks! Was I teaching? I didn't even notice :)

It really brings home the importance of water. If you provide it, they will come.

Well, I'm totally stoked! Thank you for considering PF! You have made my week!!

If I were a dragonfly I would land on your finger.
The first time I tried giving them the finger, one landed on it immediately. Of course, I did not have my camera on me (weird). The next day, I brought the camera with me and it took ten minutes of looking like a statue to get a landing.

Thanks! There are so many dragonflies around here right now, just clouds of them over the roads.

That is exciting. I need to get off my butt and start freelancing myself again. Pretty cool of Susan to include me.
I'm smiling.

If you fill it they will come.

Glad ya liked it!

I swear I wasn't thinking teaching, I was just talking ...
I'm hopeless.
Yes, good ol' Amia calva. They must have a huge distribution. You know the young were being sold as tropical fish not long ago. The babes have really pretty markings.
Yes, when you posted about the $10 thrift aquarium a while back I cringed because a new ten at Petsmart is ten dollars.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Very interesting. Dragonfly eggs go from prey to predator, and then back to prey. Cool.

Wren said...

Cool idea, using old aquaria outside. I'll have to give that a try. Paint something pretty on the glass and tell the HOA it's art. :)

Congrats on being featured in Florida Gardening.

Expandable brains? Spoken like a true teacher, celebrating the triumph of hope over experience.


rcwbiologist said...

Great shots. Being entomoligically challenged myself, I didn't realize dragonflies laid eggs on the surface of water. I hope some of them survive.

Doug Taron said...

Have you ever done a "gunk tank?" You fill an aquarium with water from a pond. Including a bit of stuff from the bottom is an option. Then you put it out amd let it go. Many people put it in a sunny windoe. The algae take off, then all kinds of other stuff shows up. I remember my high school biology teacher setting one up, and it was really interesting to watch the changes over time.

Floridacracker said...

It's that whole Disney circle of life thang.

Hooray for elastic brains!

I did something like that last year with some water from my aquaculture tank. It was fascinating.