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Re: Itching to put livebearers outside.
I've not sunk one in the groud but I half a dozen in use each season. I also use kiddie pools-You can find notes from the last few years looking at Breeding fish in Kiddie pools and stock tanks.
You could use a solor set up, but it will run you a good chucnk of change. I have used, sometimes together other times not, sub tank heaters 200W or 250 heat lamps like they use for baby chickens. If you want to cheat winter, just construct a box structure that goes almost to the water surfance and hang the heat lamp through the middle. That will draw the fish in and all will be an inch or so under water under the lamp. The fish stay in that area as the water gets increasingly cold as you move out of the box. You can sink a couple of 200W tank heaters through the same hole as the light fixture. With stock tanks keeping the water level 4-6 inches from the top allows the lights to spread the heat further.
Early stocking or late havest really depends on what fish your stocking. Least Killies can take the temps all year as long as water doesn't freeze solid. Endlers are able to take the chill as well. Once water temps hit mid-60s turn on the heat lamps and stock in a few brooder males and females. I try to wait for several nice days in a row and have the heaters and lights running 24/7 before stocking the Endlers. I increase my growing season by 3-4 weeks in the spring and extend it 3-4 in fall. Next come the mollys. Either race of sailfins can handle the colder temps, same set up same procedure. Platys are a bit tougher than swords, but water temps have to be in the low 70 range regardless of using heat or not. Fry born outdoors somehow go straight to the lights in the fall. In an 8'x8' kiddie pool I had over 1,200 Chilli Endlers crowded into an area where two lights hung suspended by 2"x4"s.
Last bit of advice, understand the numbers if all goes right. Those Chilli Endlers started with 15-18 brooder females and 6 males. My Black Bars started with 12f / 6m=850, Red Sunset Mollys, 10-12f / 4m=680. I add Least Killies to every pool and this helps in the production of the gold varient. Just cull and you will find them. I also dumped 12 Red Cherry Shrimp in my Least Killie / Blue Crayfish pool. I forgot to do it so they only had about 3 months. To my shock I pulled out around 50 all huge and all with blood red color. These were not high quality reds to start with, so go figure. They remained outside until the water temps were close to 50f before I brought them in-Note I didn't realize they were even there in the 110"x72" pool and discovered them when I was wrapping up for the season.
Hope this helps. If you have questions just P.M. me or keep the thread going.