A backyard fish pond is a beautiful attraction that adds interest and life to any garden. Fish enthusiasts will enjoy the unique habitat for their fish, as well as the unique species of aquatic plants that are suitable for ponds. However, many people find that having open water in your yard can attract a multitude of pests like mosquitos.
Mosquitos leave bites that are not only itchy and annoying, but sometimes dangerous. Mosquitos are known carriers of many serious diseases. Some, such as the EEE virus, can even be deadly. While it’s true that mosquitoes do rely on water bodies to lay their eggs, there are several factors that will determine whether mosquitoes can thrive in your pond- including which fish you stock.
Will pond fish eat mosquito larvae? Yes, there are many types of common pond fish which eat mosquito larvae. Mosquitos are a part of natural pond ecosystems, and many fish of different sizes really enjoy mosquito larvae as a treat. Some people even feed mosquito larvae to their indoor aquarium fish as a delicacy!
The type of fish that you use for mosquito larvae control will mostly depend on the size of your pond and your personal preference. For larger ponds, you will need more fish to keep the mosquito populations down. Luckily, there are plenty of mosquito eating fish varieties to suit any size pond.
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Large Fish That Eat Mosquito Larvae
For the purposes of this article, we will categorize our ‘large’ fish to mean over 10” long. This does not mean that these fish can’t be placed in a small pond. The rule of thumb is 10 gallons of water per 1” of fish, and many of these fish are amenable to community living. With the exception of very small container ponds, you will likely be able to support a mixture of large and small fish to control your mosquito population.
- Koi: Koi are the quintessential pond fish. They are beautiful, long-lived and hardy. They are a variety of carp, and are primarily bottom feeders, like their wild cousins. They love to continually search for food, and can definitely eat mosquito larvae. However, Koi can grow very large- up to 30” in some instances- and usually can’t be bothered with chasing down mosquito larvae if they are accustomed to a steady stream of fish food. Consider adding a few of the smaller species of fish to supplement the mosquito patrol if your pond is stocked with koi.
- Orfe: Orfe fish are an often overlooked pond fish. They are similar to slender types of goldfish in appearance, though slightly stockier. These fish are incredible at keeping pest populations under control, and are considered a mainstay in pond keeping. They are aggressive hunters and will eat snails, worms and other pests in addition to mosquito larvae. Since they are predatory, they should not be kept with small fish that could end up on the menu. Orfes grow up to 20” long and are a schooling fish, so make sure that your pond has room for several to thrive.
- Goldfish: A relative of the Koi, goldfish are also a very popular choice for ponds. They come in so many shapes, sizes and colors that they are suitable choices for beginners and professionals alike. Goldfish are super hardy and will handle cold temperatures and water fluctuations with ease. If you are looking to maximize your mosquito destroying potential, choose comets or shubunkin goldfish. Their colors are more sedate and their narrow bodies allow them to sneak up on larvae very effectively. These goldfish will grow up to 16”, so they are well suited to smaller ponds. They are a great community fish, and can live with other peaceful species.
- Pleco: Plecostomus are a bottom dwelling fish that are popular in aquariums and ponds alike due to their unique appetite for algae. A single Pleco can clear a 1,000 gallon pond of algae. Eliminating algae from your pond will reduce the likelihood of mosquitos breeding there, and Plecos will also eat mosquito larvae along with any other debris that make it to the bottom of your pond. Plecos will get up to 10” long, but are super common and affordable at most fish supply stores. They are friendly to keep with other fish, however they should not be kept with other Plecos in order to prevent competition for food.
Small Fish That Eat Mosquito Larvae
Not everyone has a pond big enough for Koi or even goldfish. Many people who live in urban areas are successful in creating micro ponds and water gardens in stand alone containers. These smaller fish would be a great addition to such a waterscape, but will also make a great addition to a larger pond to help fight mosquito populations.
- Mosquito Fish: It comes as no surprise that Mosquito fish are at the top of this list. As their name implies, mosquito fish are excellent at eating mosquito larvae. In fact, it’s estimated that a single Mosquito Fish can eat several hundred mosquito larvae per day. They don’t take up much space either, topping out at 2” long- a perfect fit for just about any waterscape. Since they are small, it’s important to provide them with hiding spaces to keep them safe from natural predators.
- Guppies: Guppies are relatives of the Mosquito fish and also have a healthy appetite for mosquito larvae. Guppies come in more exciting colors than the mosquito fish, so if you are looking for a more striking fish for your small pond, guppies are probably your best bet. These little guys don’t get much larger than 2” long and are fast, which makes them a great predator for mosquito larvae. However, they are a tropical fish and are not suited for environments where the temperature dips below 54 degrees. If you live in a cold climate and don’t want the hassle of replacing your fish yearly or overwintering them indoors, you might want a different fish species.
- Minnows: Minnows are very common pond fish that are extremely hardy and great at eating mosquito larvae. They are proven to be very successful at keeping mosquito populations down without additional chemical intervention. However, minnows are a natural food for many other species, from wildlife to larger pond fish, so be prepared to replace them often if placed in a pond with lots of larger species.
Other Ways to Mosquito Proof your Pond
In addition to pond fish, there are plenty of other animals that eat mosquito larvae that are easy to attract to your pond. Bats, dragonflies, and frogs are all great examples of some natural wildlife that can help keep your mosquito populations in check. Attract them by building bat houses, toad houses, and providing lots of unique flowers and plants that are native to your area.
Water circulation is important for fish health, but keeping the water moving is also important for preventing mosquitoes from breeding in your pond. Adding a waterfall or fountain feature is a great and beautiful way to keep water from becoming stagnant and attracting mosquitoes.
Insecticides are also available which specialize in neutralizing mosquitoes in ponds. However as with all chemicals, it’s very important to make sure that there will not be any adverse effects on your fish, or on the surrounding wildlife. Wherever possible, try to use natural means to control your mosquito populations.
Backyard ponds are a fantastic addition to the landscape. The addition of water to your yard does not automatically mean there will be a spike in mosquito activity, but it’s important to prevent an outbreak as much as possible.
Mosquitoes are known carriers of several debilitating diseases, and keeping populations as low as possible is the best way to prevent mosquito borne illnesses. Stocking your pond with fish that eat mosquito larvae is the best and most economical way to combat mosquitoes.
Whether your pond is large or very small, there are several species that are great at keeping mosquito populations at bay. Goldfish and Mosquito Fish are two great examples of pond fish that are great at eating mosquito larvae every day. Many pond fish species are very compatible, and a mix of fish can be used to keep your pond pest-free.
In addition to pond fish, there are plenty of other things you can do to prevent a mosquito outbreak in your yard. Native wildlife such as bats, dragonflies and frogs are all natural predators for mosquitoes and their larvae. Keeping your pond free of algae is another important step in keeping mosquitoes under control- a great job for plecos or other bottom feeding pond fish.
A good waterfall filter or fountain feature is also recommended for keeping the pond water circulating, which will prevent the water from becoming a stagnant magnet for breeding mosquitoes. Finally, there are also several chemical options for treating pond water that has become infested with mosquitoes, but they must be used responsibly. Prevention is the best method for keeping mosquito populations down, and there are plenty of great fish species to make that happen.