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My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A


My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal?My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal?

Karen – Arlington, VA

When the water gets cold, koi fish get lazy. Okay. Maybe not lazy – but they slow down considerably as their bodies conserve energy to withstand colder temperatures. But despite their natural tendency to slow down in the off season, their survival instincts remain intact. Thus, when they sense motion from the outside world, they get nervous.

As denizens of the deep, it’s only natural for koi fish to assume that everyone out of the water is looking for a quick meal. With that logical perspective, it’s normal for them to demonstrate a brief burst of energy in the interest of self-preservation.

It’s also natural for koi fish to lose their appetite when things get chilly. During the winter months, both their mobility and their metabolism slow down to preserve energy until things warm up in the spring. That’s why we recommend our PondLogic® Spring & Fall Fish Food for the months leading up to winter. This food is designed for easy digestion, and provides healthy nutrition until the water drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, koi fish can subsist safely on available organic matter at the bottom of the pond. They’ll eat what they need, and no more, and resume feeding when temperatures climb above 40 degrees again in the spring.

Pond Talk: Are you fish still coming to the pond side to greet you or have they taken cover for the winter?

Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food

8 Responses

  1. Those are great suggestions Vickie! I agree Al, their bright colors make them an easy target so adding aquatic plants for cover as well as a decoy or two to deter predators can really help. It is never fun to loose your pets or hard earned cash to hungry birds. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at some of these predator control blogs for water gardens: http://blog.thepondguy.com/category/water-gardens-features/predator-control/.

  2. There are things to do to keep herons out. Have you tried a sprinkler system, adding an area where the Koi can hide, use a fake heron and move it every few days, or putting a fine net over the pond? I’ve even heard that floating an alligator (fake) in the pond will help. It would be a shame to not have Koi anymore.

  3. I live in south Louisiana, so my koi and goldfish still come to the side begging for food. I have plenty of water lettuce and hyacinths for cover.

  4. I switched to colorful goldfish after my koi were eaten by herons and it seems like the herons don;t touch them. After the second year they are as large as koi and just as colorful.

  5. I won’t have koi anymore because the herons come and eat them immediately because they’re so easy to see.

    • I cover my ponds with netting when the lilies start to go dormant — also when the deciduous tree leaves start to turn in the fall. Covering with netting serves two purposes for me. It keeps the Herons from dining on my fish and it also keeps those pesky leaves out of the water. the nets also will discourage raccoons and other 4 footed fish eaters. It won’t prevent them – only make the task of getting the fish more difficult and that may deter them so your fish will be safer. Keeping the leaves out of the water also makes spring cleanup MUCH easier and also helps keep the water quality where it should be.

    • I’ve gotten this fencing material that is for 24 ” high fences and cut it every 36″ and rolled them into tunnels. I put a bunch of them in the pond. They don’t rust. I’ve removed any sharp wire sticking out and they do fine going in and out of them. Different size fencing for different size koi. They are also easily removed from the pond when I’m cleaning with anything with a hook.

      The large holes allow the fish to retreat through and into it while the predators are blocked. I’ve also gotten a load of feeder goldfish which grow into some very beautiful fancy lacy veil goldfish when they’re big. They cost about 15 cents each and if a heron gets one of them by chance at least the odds are in the koi favor.

    • Harv and Wayne are absolutely correct, pond netting and fish shelters are great tools to keep your fish alive and well. While you can’t prevent every potential encounter it greatly increases the survivablilty of your fish. You can make your own shelters out of fish safe materials that won’t damage your fish or pollute pond water or purchase fish shelters for cover. Like Harv says, pond netting is an excellent multi-purpose tool for not only keeping predators and leaves out of your pond but for making sure your fish stay in as well. Keep up the great comments guys.

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