Pondkeepers always have a variety of questions for their trusted retailers, no matter what season it is. The following is a list of frequently asked questions about feeding pond fish that retailers can keep as a reference throughout the year:
Q. Do I feed my fish during the winter?
A. Fish should only be fed when they are active and looking for food. No food should be offered if the fish are motionless near the bottom of the pond. When water temperatures are below 39ºF, fish will not be actively seeking food. Feeding fish below 39º F can lead to metabolic disorders.
Q. When and how much do I feed my fish during the warmer months?
A. When the water temperature is above 50ºF, feed fish as much as they’ll consume within five minutes, three times a day. As the water temperature rises to 77ºF and higher, fish will consume less food in a given time.
Fish in hot water temperatures may not show an interest in food. When fish feed in extreme summer heat, their movement also uses more oxygen, which is problematic if there isn’t a sufficient supply in the water. If this is the case, feed in the early morning, at the coolest time of the day. Also consider the use of fountains, waterfalls, bubblers, spitters and/or oxygenating plants to raise the level of dissolved oxygen in the pond.
Q. Why change the diet throughout the year?
A. Water temperature plays a significant role in how a fish processes and digests food. In warmer temperatures, the food in passes through the intestine quicker and is digested easier. Remember, pond fish are cold blooded and their body temperature reflects that of the surrounding water. In cooler water temperatures, the metabolic rates slow down, making it more difficult to process ordinary pond diets. This can lead to metabolic disorders and poor food digestion.
In addition, at lower temperatures, the fluidity of cell membranes is decreased. To compensate for this, and to keep fish in good physiological condition, a higher percentage of unsaturated fats must be supplied in the diet.
Q. What are wheat germ-based foods?
A. Wheat germ-based foods are high in simple carbohydrates and are easier to digest, making them the best choice for temperatures between 39º F and 50º F. Wheat germ is an extremely digestible source of protein. And, wheat germ is rich in vitamins E, B1, B2 and B6, as well as nicotinic acid. Feeding wheat germ foods will help transition fish in and out of winter and increase their survival rates, especially during the early spring.
Q. How does food affect the overall health of the pond?
A. An abundance of algae and sludge in the pond consistently plagues pond owners. Do not overfeed fish, and remove uneaten food so it doesn’t collect at the pond bottom. Using a premium-quality food can help avoid headaches and minimize maintenance. Because fish absorb the essential ingredients from quality foods, they produce less waste to pollute the water. Food that is easily digested by the fish will produce less ammonia, which will put less pressure on the biological filter. Feeding fish smaller amounts of high-quality food means they’ll receive optimal nutrition while producing less waste.
Curt Nuenighoff is TetraPond director.