SF Bay Area Koi Club

Organization of Pond and Koi Keepers

What to Feed Your Pond Fish

07/01/2018 7:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

This months blog is from guest writer Katie Michaels <katiem.aqua@gmail.com>

Image result for koi feeding

While it might seem quite straight forward, many first-time pond owners worry about what and how much they should be feeding their pond fish, to get the most out of them and to avoid causing pollution problems in the water.

There is no doubt that feeding pond fish well and appropriately, leads to healthy, bright fish and it’s important to realise that they need different feeding approaches depending on the season, as their needs change depending on the time of year.

During the summer, it’s warmer and the fish are far more active so they need to be given a high quality protein fish food as their metabolism will be at its peak around now.

When Autumn arrives, the fish will slow their metabolism as the water temperature drops, so fish require a mixture of protein and wheat-germ based food to accommodate this level of change in their daily activity. During the winter months they will only require wheat-germ based food.

Then, once the temperatures start to warm up again as Spring arrives, it’s important to switch the diet around, moving from pure wheat germ, back to the combination, and then when summer hits, remove the wheat germ and stick with protein only.

One of the key things to understand about fish is how to feed them to their optimum level. It shouldn’t be a case of just throwing a load of food in the pond and walking away although sadly this does seem to be a common approach.

Fish will only eat as much as they want and need and will ignore the rest. If you overfeed your fish then that excess food will stay in the pond lowering the water quality, encouraging algae growth and will lead to discoloured water, bad smells and flies.

This situation causes pond maintenance issues as filters will get clogged up as will the pumps, causing even more problems for the environment in which your fish are living. It’s really important therefore, to feed fish correctly and efficiently, to avoid the pond turning into a nasty, toxic environment which no-one will enjoy.

Here are some top tips for feeding pond fish:

        Take your time and observe the fish behaviour. During this time you can watch them and look for any health problems or issues

        Only offer small amounts – wait until the fish have eaten all of it before giving more and stop as soon as they start to lose interest.

        Offer the food to the fish, close to where you are standing so they associate you with food – this helps to create a bond, rather than just throwing the food in any old way.

        Always feed the fish from the same place, so they associate you standing in that area with food to come.

        If you are going away for some time, do not just feed the fish twice as much – they will ignore the food and it will go to waste and rot in the pond.

        Make sure someone else comes to feed your fish if you are going away for any length of time, and instruct them on the feeding rituals and portion sizes.

        Adapt your feeding techniques according to the seasons as fish will require less food in the colder temperatures.

        Make sure you buy higher quality koi food during the summer– don’t use fish tank food for ponds – you can always ask advice from the local pet store or aquarium shop.

        Feeding the fish can become part of a relaxing ritual for yourself as you spend time with the fish and watch them swimming which can be incredibly stress-relieving

        Always keep an eye on the levels of food which you have left to make sure you never run out and leave the fish hungry

        If you have children, get them involved in feeding the fish as a family activity and a way for them to learn how to take responsibility for looking after animals.

        As you spend time with your fish, watch for any changes in their feeding habits (outside of seasonal changes) which might indicate illness or diseases causing problems.

        Make sure the pond isn’t so overgrown with algae and/or pond plants that fish can’t find or see their food.

Starting a new pond with appropriate feeding habits and routines will result in colourful healthy fish and a pond environment which is pleasant and requires far less maintenance than one which is full of rotting leftover food.

Feeding pond fish isn’t rocket science so as long as you select the right food, take account of the seasonal changes in fish eating behaviour, and then take your time to feed your fish carefully every day, there is no reason at all why your fish won’t be happy and healthy living in your pond.

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