I appreciate the concept of Holistic Horse — it is what everyone should be practicing. However, regarding your [Natural Tank Cleaner] article by Shari Frederick: I would like to know just how holistic it is to have goldfish in a water trough? Holistic for whom? Certainly not for the fish.
It is an inhumane practice. As the article says, expect half the fish to die within 4 days...how long do the other fish survive? Animal cruelty is just that — whether it is cruelty toward a horse, a dog, a bird, or a fish. All creatures great and small should be treated with kindness and respect.
I have had the same fish in my trough for over a year. The reason some die in 1-4 days is because they were going to die anyway. Many distributors will tell you if a fish is weak or diseased and not going to make it; they will die in the first few days. The fish in the trough have increased in size more than 6 times their original size and are quite happy (my perception).
This year we had days of 4-inch thick ice on the troughs. I feared for the fish, but every single one lived. I am not certain if ice continued week after week that would be good, but it was ice for almost 4 days straight and many below 30 days in a row.
I have never fed the fish -- there is plenty in the trough to keep them fat and healthy and happy.
I'd like to respond to Laurra Maddock and Shari Frederick regarding fish in water troughs. Fish are naturally in water be it a man made pond, natural tank, creek, river, etc. I've had manmade ponds for years and fish thrive. And yes, occasionally they die. Fish are an important part of nature’s balance where water freshness is concerned. The way I look at it, it's a win-win; the fish have a great food source (with no competition of predators) while providing clean water for horses.
Inhumane to fish ... certainly NOT!
I have to agree with the woman who said it’s inhumane to use goldfish in troughs. But I also think it’s not that good for the horses either. I want my horses to have clean water. I make sure they do. I have seen troughs with fish in them and they are hardly clean. Not only are they most often full of algae, but even if they were spotless they would be no cleaner than an aquarium. I have had aquariums that looked spotless, but they are not clean and I sure wouldn’t drink the water. In my opinion, using goldfish in troughs is for the lazy who don’t care about how their horses might feel about it. It’s very simple to put only enough water in the trough for a day or two, and then when it’s low scrub it, dump it, and refill it.
Thank you for taking the time to voice your opinion. I agree that the best and most efficient option for cleaning troughs is by partially filling, emptying, scrubbing, and regularly refilling smaller (100-300 gallon) troughs. That is what I do with my own 15 smaller troughs (every 2-3 days), but I also have three 600 gallon troughs which are very well supported by the "goldfish" method. The article was to stress 600-gallon tank use (not the average smaller trough sizes). Indeed, you may call such use of goldfish lazy, but I prefer to think of it as more efficient use of time, yet still providing a good water source for horses who might go without water especially in times of drought. It takes hours to refill (even 1/2) a 600-gallon trough, plus wastes a lot of water to regularly refill. Realistically, unless staffed with employees to maintain perfection around the ranch (which I do not have), I am grateful for the support goldfish can provide the 600-gallon troughs. My rescue herds of 15-20 who roam freely on larger acreage (75+; not a stalled or confined setting) may unexpectedly be without water from a seasonal creek or tank that dries up. I am much more confident having a 600-gallon backup water source for emergencies. If the water were truly poor, the goldfish could not survive. It is not to say goldfish must be (nor should be) the only support for a larger water source, it is simply an optional natural support without using harmful chemicals.