Properly feeding your pond fish, including koi and goldfish, during the colder months is crucial for their health and well-being. Understanding fish metabolism and the impact of water temperature is key to providing them with the right nutrition. In this blog post, we will explore the feeding requirements for different seasons and how to adapt their diet to ensure optimal digestion and minimize the risks of bacterial infections and ammonia poisoning.
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As temperatures cool down, fish metabolism slows, and they prepare for winter hibernation. During this period, their gut bacteria also slows down, making it harder for them to digest high-protein foods. To address this, when the water temperature reaches around 15 degrees Celsius or 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to transition from regular fish food to wheat germ-based food. Wheat germ is lower in protein and easier for fish to digest, reducing the risk of bacterial infections and undigested food passing through their system.
When the water temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s crucial to stop feeding your fish altogether. Even if the temperature temporarily rises above 10 degrees, avoid feeding them, as the food may sit undigested throughout the winter, leading to bacterial infections. During this period, both the bacteria in your pond and filter go into hibernation, limiting their ability to break down waste. Any uneaten food or fish excretions will accumulate and rot, producing ammonia, which is harmful to fish.
Related: Guide for feeding your koi in the winter.
Early Spring Feeding
As the water temperature gradually rises above 10 degrees Celsius, and consistently stays there for at least a week, you can start feeding your fish wheat germ-based food in small quantities. Since the bacteria in your pond and filter are still recovering, be cautious not to overfeed and cause ammonia spikes. Feeding them a small amount every other day is recommended until the fish are fully active.
Late Spring Feeding
When the water temperature reaches around 15 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two weeks, and the bacteria in your pond and filter have regained their activity, you can introduce a higher protein diet alongside wheat germ-based food. Alternate between the two to gradually transition the fish to their regular diet. As the water temperature consistently approaches 20 degrees Celsius, you can resume feeding your fish as you would during the summer months.
By understanding the impact of water temperature on fish metabolism and adjusting their diet accordingly, you can ensure the well-being of your pond fish throughout autumn, winter, and spring. Following this feeding guide will help minimize the risks of bacterial infections and ammonia poisoning, keeping your fish healthy and thriving. Remember, always monitor the water temperature and adapt the feeding routine accordingly.