Meet my water chicken
Meet “Roc,” the red oscar cichlid. He is the latest Garden Pals member; and eats like a very hungry caterpillar. In fact, his favorite snacks are very hungry caterpillars. A very eager feeder, he wastes no time waiting for his meals to hit the water. Often he will leap out of the water and help himself. (See video below.)
I am fortunate enough to be able to enjoy and tend to the gardens at least a few times a day. The access makes it possible to practice pesticide-free growing. Pests like worms and caterpillars are managed through the use of the observe and interact design principle of permaculture. In observe mode, I am looking for telltale signs of caterpillar presence. Signs include the accumulation of droppings on surrounding foliage and foliage damage.
If I am top of my game, the ones I catch tend to be small. However, in more occasions than I would like, I would come across worms that are good at masking themselves. They would eat at night, retreat away from the scene of the crime, and hide in the soil.
Sometimes I get lucky and the creepy crawlies are spotted out right. In the Front Garden on this day, a moth worm of some sort was spotted. When caught, the pests are entered into the food chain so as to produce no waste. Before Roc, the caterpillars would be offered to Garden Pals, Ernie and
Bert (the red foot tortoises). Now that Ernie and Bert have grown larger, they have become disinterested in rather small treats. A new Garden Pal that is less picky about size was sought.
If I had a chicken, it may not be as picky and will probably gobble down whatever sized caterpillar offered to it. While I continue to lobby my wife to allow me to add a chicken to the Garden Pals club, Roc will be the happy recipient of the pests that I find.
In a way, Roc is a water chicken. He will help eat the things I find in the garden and help fertilize it as well– every two weeks or so, the filter is sprayed clean over the plants.