Feeding koi and pond fish can often seem complicated; the temperature at different times of the year affects how much they eat and how easily it can be digested. However, when we are asked " what and when do I feed my pond fish?" our experts here at World Of Water are more than happy to share their expertise.
What should I feed my pond fish in the...
As the beginning of the 'pond season' rolls in and we slowly break in to the warmer spring, after what always seems like a long winter, the temperatures in your pond will begin to increase. This encourages your fish to come to the surface of the pond in search of food. At this time, when the temperature is around 5-10 degrees centigrade, the best course of action is to feed them on a low protein food.
It is important to also note that as the weather warms it takes time for your filter to become fully active again, so it is important to observe whether your fish are feeding on what you give them and make sure to remove any excess food to prevent contamination of your pond. This is especially important during the first few weeks of warmer weather as your fish may take longer than you expect to get back to full feeding, even on low protein food. Feed minimally at first and work your way up to an acceptable feed for your ponds stock level (see below how to work this out).
Once the summer comes around and the pond reaches its warmest, of 18 degrees centigrade and above, your fish will be able to digest high protein food easily and their metabolisms will be working overtime, resulting in them requiring regular feeding. At this time of year if your fish are finishing their food quickly and leaving no excess, yet still seem hungry, feel free to feed them little and often rather than once a day like your other seasonal feeds.
The advantage of high protein feed at this time of year is that it will assist in your livestock's growth, bulking them up in preparation for the cooler months, and colour which will allow them to be at their most vibrant and active whilst you are outside on the warmer days enjoying your pond.
Around autumn and the later days of summer, when your pond begins to cool and the nights begin to grow longer, your fishes' metabolisms will begin to slow down as your pond reaches 10-17 degrees centigrade. At this point, staple food is advised as the high protein diet of the summer would be hard for them to digest and a staple is a good way to wean your fish off their high protein diet in preparation for the winter.
During winter your fish will slowly stop feeding as the temperature drops down, once the water approaches 4 degrees centigrade, we advise you stop feeding your fish as the temperature is too low for them to be able to metabolise the food properly and the unsettled food may cause illness in your fish and issues with your water quality.
How much food do I need to feed my fish?
Well the simple answer is that it varies depending on your pond.
For example, ignoring filter mechanics, say you have a 50,000 litre pond that spans most of your garden but you only have 4 goldfish and 2 koi in there, you simply won't need to feed as much food as someone with a 20,000 litre pond stocked with 10 koi and 20 goldfish.
The easiest way to tell how much food your fish need is to feed a little bit at a time and watch them eat. You can then decide if all the fish have eaten and if they need more food. It is important to remember that koi and goldfish are part of the carp family, a fish species known for appetites that are way larger than their bellies can handle, so it is better to underfeed your fish than risk contaminating your water. We always advise that if your fish do leave food after feeding at any time of year to remove the excesses from the pond.
Okay but what about sturgeons and sterlet?
We advise a low to zero plant-protein diet as sturgeons and sterlet lack the enzyme in their stomachs to digest higher quantities. It is essential that they receive their own specialist food which lacks the plant-protein that most normal fish food contains.
Sturgeon and sterlet food should be fed all year round as unlike koi, goldfish and other pond fish, sturgeon can withstand extreme cold temperatures and will continue to feed even in the winter. Although, we do recommend reducing their feed quantity and frequency in winter as not to pollute your pond water.
Another point to consider when feeding your sturgeon and sterlet, is that if you are keeping them with other pond fish is that it is vital to make sure they are able to get to their food before the other fish eat it all. A common issue people find with feeding sturgeons is that they areunable to get to their food when kept with other fish. To counter this, we recommend feeding your sturgeon at the same time as your other fish but away from each other (if possible at different ends of the pond) This allows your sturgeon to get to their food without disturbance of faster fish.
We're here to help...
Here at World Of Water we stock many varieties of pond fish food for all seasons and species and we hope this guide has helped further your understanding of the fish that live in your pond. If you are ever in need of assistance on what to choose, or are after a recommendation, feel free to ask a member of staff at your local store for advice about your pond.