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My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them?

Q: My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them?

Rick – Great Falls, MT

A: Fish sure seem know when spring is coming. This time of year, your koi and goldfish that have been hibernating over the winter are waking up—and they’re hungry.

Slow Eaters

When water temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months, your fishes’ metabolisms slows down. They enter into a hibernation-type state, during which time they require little or no food. They literally live off the fat stores in their body.

As the water temperature rises above 45 degrees in the spring, the fish start moving. Their metabolisms turn back on, and they need food to fuel their increased activity. To transition the fish from no food to daily food, fish experts recommend feeding a wheat germ-based diet when water temperatures are consistently between 45 and 55 degrees. A diet like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food is quickly and easily digested by the fish.

Summertime Bounty

In the warmer months when your water temperature tops 55 degrees, you can continue to feed the wheat germ-based diets, or you can choose to gradually re-introduce protein-based diets that help the fish grow quickly and show off their colors. Here’s what we recommend:

Choose the diet that best fits in with your goals for the fish. If you’re not interested in growing your Kohaku into show-quality specimens, for instance, stick to the everyday or color enhancement diet.

Word of Warning

The weather may be warming up, but make sure the water temperatures are at a consistent 45 degrees before you start feeding your fish. Feeding them before they’re able to properly digest the food can lead to health issues.

Pond Talk: What’s your pond’s water temperature where you live?

Specialized Cool Weather Diet - Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

Why are my koi gasping for air? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Gasping Koi

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: My koi seem to be gasping for breath at the surface of my pond. Why are they doing this? – Bill in Louisiana

A: If your koi are coming to the surface of the pond to gulp for air, they’re doing more than just saying hi. They’re employing a survival strategy! Due to a lack of aeration or poor water quality, your pond’s water probably does not have enough dissolved oxygen in it for the fish to “breathe,” so they’re gasping for oxygen from the air.

This lack of sufficient oxygen can then cause the fish to stress, which then inhibits their immune systems and opens the door for parasites and disease. But you can prevent that from happening by aerating the water and keeping the water quality as crystal clear as possible.

Koi breathe by pumping water over their gills to extract dissolved oxygen from the pond water. Depending on their activity level, koi require varying amounts of oxygen. For instance, a koi’s active summer metabolism will require more oxygen; a hibernating winter metabolism will require less oxygen.

This can be a challenge during the warm summer months, when the pond’s water temperature rises. Warm water holds less dissolved oxygen, so just when the fish need it the most, it’s at a lower concentration!

To pump more oxygen into the water, you can also add plants to your pond, which naturally release oxygen into the water during the day. Your waterfall or fountain will also add oxygen to your pond. But depending on your fish load and pond size, plants and a fountain often aren’t enough – especially during the summer. That’s where an air diffuser, like the KoiAir® Water Garden Aeration Kit, can help. Powered by a silent, reliable compressor, a diffuser system will add oxygen to your pond, aerate, circulate and eliminate dead spots, keeping your pond and fish active and healthy all year long.

Because poor water quality can also cause fish to gasp for air at the pond’s surface, you should also check your filtration system, and test your ammonia and nitrite levels with a standard test kit, like the Pond Care® Master Test Kit. If your levels are high, consider adding beneficial bacteria, like Pond Logic® LiquidClear™, to kick-start your pond’s nitrogen cycle.

Once you aerate your pond and make sure your water quality is in check, your koi should stop gulping oxygen at the surface. When they do greet you at the water’s edge, it’ll be for a juicy slice of watermelon or some Pond Logic® Floating Ponstix fish food instead!

POND TALK: When you see your fish gasping for breath, what do you do?

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