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Switching to High-Protein Fish Food – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Switching to Higher Protein Fish Food

I’ve been feeding my fish a wheat-germ based fish food, when can I switch them to a higher-protein fish food? Jena – Tulsa, OK

At this time of year, as the cold wind of winter gradually begins to soften into the warmer days of early spring, and we anxiously wait for the long, hot, blissful days of summer sunshine, your fish will start to stir and wake from their sullen winter respite at the bottom of your pond, slowly ascending their way up from its murky depths, basking at its gently sun-kissed surface, all the while poking and searching with their little mouths agape, longing for their much anticipated and greatly missed, daily feedings…

Like most active “Ponders” I know, you’ve been cooped up indoors all winter long, spending your time reading every water garden article that you can get your hands on! And when you’re not busy reading, you’re spending your time talking with all of your other pond friends, either locally or online. Many of you have been asking the same question: when is the correct time to begin gradually switching over from a wheat germ-based Spring and Fall Fish Food, to one with a greater protein concentration?

Here is the answer to that question, and a few more important things to keep in mind…

Water Temperature is less than 39 degrees Fahrenheit: DO NOT feed them. When temperatures are this cold, a fish’s digestive system is shut down and anything they eat would not get properly digested. Since fish get their “body heat” from their outside environment, metabolic reactions (like digestion) take more time in colder water, which is why feeding can be dangerous to fish in lower water temperatures.

Water Temperature is between 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit: It is important to feed your fish a low-protein, wheat germ-based fish food at this time. As fish begin to wake up from dormancy, you may begin to feed them a whet germ-based fish food, such as Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food. This type of food is more easily digestible by fish than their regular protein based fish food diet and will gently help reintroduce solid food into your fish’s diet.

Water Temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit: At this point, the fish are readily active and their digestive systems are fully up and running. You can choose between an assortment of balanced diet, protein-based fish foods, such as Pond Logic® Floating Ponstix or higher-protein diets such as Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food.

Hopefully this helpful information should keep things simple for everyone; that way we can all get back to more important things… like spring cleaning the pond!

Pond Talk: What time of year do you normally switch from wheat germ-based fish food to a high-protein fish food?

Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food

How do I know when I can feed my koi again? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Koi FeedingQ: How do I know when I can feed my koi again? – Jim in Michigan

A: Now that we’re at winter’s peak, many of us begin to think about the coming spring.  As we start the spring to-do list, we remember those poor little koi that are out in the water garden.  Since you’ve kept a hole open in the ice all winter, you really have nothing to worry about, right? But your koi seem to be a little more active lately with the approaching spring and look like they have a mighty appetite since they haven’t eaten all winter. Should you start feeding now, or later? This all comes down to water temperature. Let me explain.

During the winter months koi go into a state of near-hibernation where their bodily systems are doing just enough to keep them alive.  Much like the frogs and turtles, koi typically do not eat during this time.  This is because their digestive tracts have slowed down so much that food cannot be fully digested by their stomachs. It is for this reason that we recommend that you stop feeding your koi altogether once water temperatures dip down below 40ºF.  As water temperatures being to climb between 40ºF & 55ºF the optimum food to feed your koi is a wheat germ based fish food like Spring & Fall Fish Food.  Wheat germ is specifically designed to be easy on the digestive tract for koi as they transition in and out of winter.

Fish FoodSo in summary, during the spring thaw watch your water temperatures. As they approach 40ºF, you will notice the koi becoming more active. At this point, throw in a very small amount of Spring & Fall Fish Food to see if they are interested. Once they start eating the pellets, you can begin ramping up the spring feeding. As the koi eat, continue to increase their rations (never more than they can clean up in a few minutes) until the water temperatures reach their normal levels for the summer. At this point, switch them over to a higher protein fish food like Growth & Color or Professional Fish Food.

POND TALK: When do you start feeding your fish?

Why should I feed my pond fish Wheat Germ-based food in the fall and spring? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Fall is here! Time to switch to wheat germ-based foods.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: Why should I feed my pond fish Wheat Germ-based food in the fall and spring? – Jessica in Oregon

A: As the weather changes, pond and water garden centers remind their customers to feed a different diet to their fish – a wheat germ based diet. Why? What’s the difference? Do fish experience changes in taste when the weather changes? Well, believe it or not, there’s a reason for switching your fish from a protein-based to a wheat germ-based diet. It all centers on your finned friends’ metabolism.

Cooler Temps, Slowing Systems

Fish, including the koi or goldfish in your pond, are poikilothermic, which is a fancy term for “cold-blooded.” Their internal temperature varies with the ambient external temperature. So in the wintertime when your pond’s water cools, the body temperatures of your fish cool, too. And with that dip in body temperature comes a reduced need for nutrients.

A wheat germ-based diet is designed to transition your pond fish from eating a high-protein, high-energy diet, like Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food – which they enjoy throughout the summer to fuel their active underwater lifestyles – to their annual wintertime fast, when they enter into a torpor state, or period of metabolic inactivity.

Wheat germ diets, like Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food, are high in carbohydrate-based nutrients, packed with natural vegetable proteins and designed to provide your pond fish with the immune-system boosting vitamins and minerals to get them through the winter. They require less energy to digest, so they’re perfect to ease the fish into or out of the colder months.

Time to Switch!

So, when do you start transitioning your pond fish to the wheat germ-based diet? In the fall, when the water temperature falls to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or so, feed your fish a mixture of the wheat germ and protein-based food, gradually increasing the wheat germ and decreasing the protein-based food until you’re feeding 100 percent of the wheat germ-based food. As soon as the water temperature reaches 55 degrees F, stop feeding your fish altogether.

In the spring, after the ice thaws and the water reaches 55 degrees F, start feeding the wheat germ-based diet once again. As the temperatures warm, begin adding small amounts of the protein-based food. By the time the water temperature reaches 70 degrees F, switch completely over to the protein diet.

When you help your pond fish through the temperature transitions and provide them with the right types of nutrients to support their health, you’ll be rewarded with active, colorful fish with strong immune systems that can fight parasites and viruses that show up in the spring.

POND TALK: In your geographical area, when do you generally switch from a protein-based food to a wheat germ-based food?

Why are my goldfish changing colors? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Why are my goldfish changing color?

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Why are my goldfish changing colors? – Emily in New York

A: Whether you have a traditional goldfish in your pond or one of the many fancy varieties, you may notice their colors change over time – don’t worry. It doesn’t necessarily mean your fish have some sort of disease! In most cases, it’s normal for goldfish to change color. So before you start dumping antibiotics in your pond, first consider these possibilities:

Genetics

Goldfish naturally change color as they age. Though most do so during their first year or two of life, others change throughout their lifetime. Fish experts have identified two different types of color changes in fish: physiological and morphological.

Physiological changes occur when the pigments in the cells either spread out, which makes the colors more pronounced, or when the pigment clusters in the center, which makes the colors more muted. Morphological changes occur when the actual number of pigments in the cells increase or decrease. An example of a morphological change is when a black goldfish starts to turn orange or a young goldfish loses its black markings as it ages. In this case, as the fish matures, it’s losing its black pigment cells.

How and when their colors change really depends upon their individual genetic makeup. Inexpensive goldfish whose parents are unknown can change in unpredictable ways, while expensive show-quality fish will be a bit more predictable.

Color-Enhancing Foods

Certain types of food, like Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food, can accentuate subdued colors in goldfish, too. Sometimes, a dull orange goldfish can be made a deeper shade of red with these specially formulated diets, which contain natural color-enhancing supplements like spirulina, beta glucan, vitamin E and vitamin C.

Keep in mind, however, that some of these color-enhancers may affect other colors, too. White areas on calico orandas, for instance, may take on an orange hue – which may not be the look you’re going for.

Illness, Poor Water Quality

If your goldfish’s color becomes very dull or it starts to become inactive, that could be a sign of illness or poor water quality. Use a test kit, like the Pond Care Master Test Kit, to check your water quality, including your pH, ammonia and nitrite levels. Then, if necessary, add a broad-spectrum medication, like Pond Care’s MelaFix or PimaFix, to treat parasites or bacterial infections your fish may have.

POND TALK: Have your fish changed their “spots?”

Why Are the Catfish in My Lake Changing Color? Pond & Lake Q & A

Catfish: Changing Color

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: Why are the catfish in my lake changing color? – Carlos in Texas

A: When summer sun causes water temperatures to rise in your pond or lake, you may notice color changes in your catfish. Sometimes, the changes are caused by natural reasons like age, spawning and temperature fluctuations. Other times, their coloring lightens from environmental causes like stress and disease.

Your pond fish likely looked darker in the spring or fall – for good reason! The cooler water holds more oxygen, which your fish need to thrive and look their best. In warmer water, oxygen levels tend to drop off. The lack of sufficient oxygen, coupled with poor water quality, can cause your pond fish to stress. When stressed, they’re more prone to disease and health problems, which can cause their color to lighten.

In worst-case situations, stressed fish can succumb to disease. One that commonly affects stressed and oxygen-deprived catfish is Columnaris (Flexibacter columnaris), also known as cotton-wool, cotton-mouth, flexibacter or mouth fungus. It is a highly contagious bacterial infection that appears as white spots on the edges of the fish’s scales, fins and mouth area. When one fish is affected, the bacteria causes death within days; when an entire lake population is affected, it will wipe out an entire population within hours.

As the saying goes, “Prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so the best way to keep your catfish healthy and deeply colored is by making sure they’re getting enough oxygen and proper nutrition. Pond Logic Game Fish Food helps by strengthening immune systems while promoting good health and longevity. An aerator, like the Airmax Aerator, breathes life-giving oxygen into ponds and lakes, ensuring a clean water column, even water temperatures and reduced sediment.

With a healthy diet and oxygen-rich water, your catfish should start to show their true colors again!

POND TALK: What do you do to keep your fish healthy?

Why Are My Fish Hiding? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Why Are My Fish Hiding?

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Why are my fish hiding now when they didn’t before? Is something wrong with them? – Rob in California

A: There’s nothing more frustrating than hiding or skittish fish. Part of the joy of having a water garden is to sit by the pond’s edge, feed your fish and relax while you watch them enjoy their underwater world. When they dash off and hide at the site of anything coming near them, or they hole up and never come out, it almost defeats the purpose of having koi or goldfish in your pond! Here are a few reasons why your fish may be hiding.

New Digs

It’s tough to move into a new pond. If you’ve recently added new koi or goldfish to your water garden, you can expect them to be a bit shy or skittish. They need to check out their new home, get used to having new roommates and adjust to a new way of life. The fish already living in the pond could turn tail and hide, too. The new fish could spook the old fish, causing them to retreat to their favorite hole.

If this is the case in your pond, give the fish time to adjust. As soon as they’re used to their new home and used to one another, they’ll eventually come out of hiding. Encourage them to be social by tossing some floating food, like Pond Logic Floating Ponstix Fish Food, into the pond. That’ll bring them to the surface!

A word of advice: Before adding new fish to your pond, remember to quarantine them for a week or two in a separate tub to be sure they don’t have any parasites or fungal infections that could infect the rest of your population.

Water Changes

Fish can also become skittish and hide after water changes. Any change to their environment – like the water quality, pH level, or oxygen level – can cause them to stress, and when they stress, they may retreat to their favorite hiding spots.

To keep the water quality as even as possible, test your water’s pH, ammonia, nitrite and phosphate levels regularly using a commercial water testing kit. You’ll also want to keep your water well-aerated using a diffuser, like the Water Garden Professional Aeration Kit, to be sure the fish get an ample supply of oxygen. Also, be sure to check your filtration system regularly, cleaning or replacing filter media as needed.

Predators

Imagine looking up and seeing a clawed paw grab for you or a sharp beak slice through the water. Predators, like raccoons and herons, love a good sushi dinner – and that’s how they see your fish! If your pond and its inhabitants have been visited by hungry predators, your fish are hiding for their lives.

To chase off unwanted visitors, you can try a range of deterrents, including motion-activated sprinklers, like the Motion Activated Scarecrow; decoys, like the Great Blue Heron Decoy or 3-D Coyote Decoy; pond netting, like the Atlantic Pond Protector Net Kit; or reflective tape hanging from trees. Having 40-60% surface coverage of aquatic plants such as water lilies, water hyacinth or water lettuce will give your fish a place to shelter themselves from predators.

Under the Weather

Stressed or sick fish will also hide. If they’re not feeling well, it’s normal for them to segregate themselves away from the crowds. If you think your fish may be sick, try taking a closer look at it. Using a net, like the 4 in 1 Interchangeable Pond Net, fish it out and put it in your quarantine tank. After you determine what the problem is, treat the fish and the pond accordingly.

POND TALK: How have you coaxed shy fish out of their hiding places?

What Kind of Fish Food Should I Be Feeding My Koi? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

A Family of Koi Posing for a Picture.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: What kind of food should I be feeding my pond fish? – Jamie of Florida

A: One of the greatest joys of keeping koi or goldfish in a decorative pond is mealtime. When it’s time for the fish’s daily dose of food, they’ll swim right to shore and seem to beg for those tasty morsels!

Of course you want to provide your finned friends with a diet that’s healthful, but choosing one can be a challenge. Food makers have formulated all sorts of blends for difference purposes. They’ve designed special fish foods for summer and spring/fall. Some are enriched with vitamins to enhance color. Some even come up with organic meals for fish owners who want to go eco-friendly with their ponds.

As omnivores, most pond fish, whether they’re koi, goldfish, comets or even mosquito-eating minnow, will eat both plant and protein matter. However, depending on the time of year, certain types of food are more easily digested than others. To help you decide which type of fish food to feed when, here’s a quick rundown of the different types available on the market today:

Wheat Germ-Based Foods: These wheat germ-based diets, such as Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food, are packed with easy-to-digest plant matter and should be fed to fish during the fall and spring months when their metabolisms have slowed. As water temperatures cool, pond fish enter into a hibernation state and gradually stop eating for the
winter. Helping them ease them into and out of winter, these diets are gentle on their digestive systems while keeping their constitutions strong to fight off disease. Feed these spring and fall fish foods when the water temperature is between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Well-Balanced and Maintenance Foods: When water temperatures warm to 55 degrees or higher, you’ll want to change your fish’s diet to one that’s formulated for growth and maintenance. Some great well-balanced fish foods are Pond Logic Floating Ponstix if your feeling green you can choose Pond Logic Nature’s Blend Organic. These fish foods contain protein, minerals and vitamins to help the fish develop muscle as it becomes more active during the summer months. These foods are especially important if you have young or growing fish.

Color-Enhancing & Growth Foods: Color-enhancing foods bring out the color in your fish, making the reds more vibrant, the blacks deeper and the oranges richer. These unique protein and nutrient-filled diets can be fed throughout the summer months. Vitamins like Beta Glucan, Vitamin E and Ascorbic Acid, along with chelated minerals and natural color intensifiers, make your fish’s color pop in the pond. These foods also include extra protein. This extra protein will help allow koi to grow at a faster rate. For Color-enhancing and Growth fish foods use Pond Logic Growth & Color or for the best of the best use Pond Logic Professional Growth, Health, & Color.

Besides feeding your fish a healthful, balanced diet, you may wish to supplement it with some treats, like fresh watermelon or lettuce. Not only will your fish gobble them down, but you’ll also be developing a closer relationship with them, and ensure they’ll follow you around the pond at mealtime!

POND TALK: What do you feed your fish?

Changing to a Wheatgerm Fish Food As the Temperatures Get Cooler – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Koi Eating Fish Food

Q: I heard as the temperature gets cooler outside that you have to change to a different type of fish food when feed my koi. Is that true? If it is, when would I do that? – Linda of Kentucky

A: Yes, it is true. As the temperatures get cooler you will want to switch from feeding your fish a high growth, high protein fish food to a wheat germ fish food that is much easier for the fish to digest in cooler temperatures.

Why wheat germ fish food?: As the temperature continues the drop, your fish’s digestive system begins to slow down. Feeding your fish a wheat germ food will ensure that the fish can digest the food easily. Wheat germ fish food is specifically designed to be fed to your fish in early Spring or late Fall when the water temperatures are cooler.

When to switch to wheat germ: The best time to switch is when the temperature of your water drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

No feeding under 40 degrees Fahrenheit: It is also very important to remember to not feed your fish once the temperature of your water drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, a fish’s digestive system has shut down and will remain in a dormant until the temperatures come back up in the early Spring.

When to Start Feeding Fish Again – Water Garden Q & A

Q: When do I start feeding my fish again? -Louis of Buffalo, NY

A: Thank you for your inquiry Louis. We recommend using the Spring and Fall Fish Food until the water temperature stays above 55 degrees. The Spring and Fall fish food is a wheat germ formula that s easier for the fish to digest when they are less active in cooler water temperatures. Once the temperature is over 55 degrees start using another blend of fish food such as our growth and color, organic, professional or ponstix.

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