• Watertight glazed-ceramic or plastic pot, at least 50 to 60 cm tall and 45 cm in diameter
• 3 or 4 bricks
• Pebbles or gravel
• 3 or 4 aquatic plants
• Goldfish (optional)
Choosing the plants
• To make a pleasing multilevel arrangement and help keep the water clear, choose from three types of aquatic plants:
1. An immersible oxygenating plant to help keep the water clear;
2. A floating plant; and
3. A tall plant with leaves that will extend upward out of the water.
• In this arrangement (shown, top left) are:
1. Immersible Bacopa caroliniana, or water hyssop;
2. Hybrid pink-flowered Nymphaea, or water lily 'Firecrest' (the leaves float, but the roots are potted), and purple-flowered Eichhornia crassipes, or water hyacinth (the whole plant floats); and
3. Tall Acorus calamus 'Variegatus,' or variegated sweet flag.
• Ask nursery staff to help you choose a good mix of plants.
1. Thoroughly rinse the pot, bricks and pebbles. Set the pot in a sunny spot, ensuring that it is level. Fill it with water. Let stand until water reaches air temperature.
2. Stacking bricks to make small platforms to raise the pots and using pebbles to weigh them down, add the plants, immersing the oxygenating plant. If you've purchased a goldfish to add, let it float inside its water-filled bag in the pot for about 30 minutes to acclimatize it to the water temperature, then release it.
Care and maintenance:
• Check the water level regularly, particularly in hot weather, and add water when necessary (make sure to match the temperature to that of the water already in the pot to avoid shocking the fish).
• Feed the fish with floating granulated fish food, following manufacturer's instructions.
• In June and July, add fish-safe fertilizer for the aquatic plants, following manufacturer's instructions.
• In September, protect the pot with a plastic cover overnight if it's chilly.
• As soon as there is a risk of frost, bring the pot indoors and place it near a sunny window. Alternatively, empty the pot, storing the plants in a bucket indoors and the fish in an aquarium for the winter. Don't leave the pot outside; if water collects inside it and freezes, the pot may break.
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