Koi have been thought to bring good luck in Asia for thousands of years. But more than luck is required when feeding koi fish in the fall and winter. Knowledge, understanding and a thermometer take the guesswork out of feeding outdoor koi.
You have to be aware of water temperatures in order to correctly feed koi. They grow rapidly and build up reserves for winter during the warm summer months. They need more protein at this time because they are growing so rapidly. They are heavy eaters at this time and can be fun to hand feed as they are very sociable creatures.
Seasonal adaptations to their feeding schedules need to be made to account for varying feeding habits. In spring and fall, when temperatures begin to drop, their food needs change, as their growth patterns decrease. It is time to add wheat germ to their normal summer food.
Continue to monitor water temperature throughout the fall, and when the water temperature drops to 60 degrees, use the wheat germ based food only. Koi fish metabolism slows when the water temperature reaches 55 degrees and their feeding needs significantly drop. At 50 degrees and below, stop feeding your koi until spring. Sounds complicated? Keep the 70-60-50 rule in mind. At 70 degrees: low protein and wheat germ, 60 degrees: wheat germ only, 50 degrees: no food needed.
Monitoring the weather as cold fronts and other weather systems come through is useful to determining when to end feeding. If the weather will be changing in the days after the feeding, stop feeding them just before the temperature change. Koi can not process food at colder temperatures and unprocessed food will begin to decay causing potential infection and disease. A mild antibiotic added to the last feedings of winter will help keep the fish healthy during the wintry months when the bacteria are low and the pond water’s balance is not in harmony.
If this all sounds a bit high maintenance, automatic koi feeders will do the work for you. While they won’t load themselves with the seasonal food needed, they will dispense the food you load into them at specific times and intervals. Research shows that it is better to feed koi small meals several times a day rather than distributing one large feeding. An automatic koi feeder also insures that the food is not wasted and the fish are not overeating.
Automatic koi feeders range from under 50 dollars to over 200 dollars. Some are a bit unattractive and detract from the beauty you value while others are beautiful pagodas that enhance the Japanese feel of a lovely koi pond. Either way, a vacation is much more enjoyable when the worry of your fish being belly up when you arrive home is eliminated.
Once spring arrives, reverse the process and begin including wheat germ. As temperatures rise even more, add low protein foods to the wheat germ until the temperatures rise above 70, when you need to resume summer feeding. Your koi will become energetic and ready to entertain and calm you for another season.
Originally posted 2016-12-15 14:31:57.