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Is it Too Early to Feed My Koi? – Water Feature Q & A

Picture of a Group of Koi

Water Feature Q & A

Q: My fish are no longer dormant and they look hungry. Is it too early to feed them? – Joan of Virginia

A: This is a very popular question I get during this time of the year. As the temperatures slowly start to warm up, your once dormant fish become lively again and they look hungry. The best way to determine whether or not to feed your fish is by measuring the temperature of the water:

Water Temperature is under 39 degrees Fahrenheit: DO NOT feed them. When temperatures are this cold, a fish’s digestive system is shut down and anything they do eat would not get properly digested.

Water Temperature is between 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit: Feed them Spring & Fall Wheatgerm Fish Food. As fish begin to wake up from dormancy, you may begin to feed them a Spring & Fall Wheatgerm Fish Food. This type of food is more easily digestable by fish than their regular 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 as assortment of balanced diets fish foods such as Floating Ponstix or higher protein diets such as Growth & Color & Professional Fish Foods. You can also go with an High Protein, Organic Formula as well.

Do I Have to Take My Koi Out of My Water Garden for Winter? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a Water Garden in the Winter with a Bubbler Aeration System.



Q: Do I have to take my koi and goldfish out of my water garden for the winter? – Barbara of Massachusetts

A: No you don’t actually. They are many water garden owners who leave their koi and goldfish in their water garden throughout the winter season with no issues whatsoever. There are really only two things that you need to do to make sure your water garden is fit to allow fish to winter over:

Does your water garden have a depth of at least 18″?:
This is very important. There are places in the US alone where water freezing depths can easily be around 18″ to 24″. I suggest a minimum of 18″ of depth to be safe, but I am more inclined to recommend 24″ just to be double safe. We want to make sure our fish friends don’t become icicles. In either instance, it’s also extremely important to make sure we keep a hole open in the ice during these cold times, which leads me to the second thing.

Keeping an open hole in the ice during the winter:
During the winter, when the ice forms a solid layer across on the surface of your water garden, there are toxic gases, caused by decaying vegetation or organics, that can build up underneath the ice. This build up can become so toxic underneath the ice that it can kill all of the fish in the water garden. The best thing to do in this situation is to keep a hole open in the ice to allow for these gases to escape. This is actually very easy to accomplish. Using a pond heater/de-icer, such as a Pond Saucer or ThermoPond, is a great way to keep a hole open in the ice. Another way to keep a hole open in the ice would be to use a small bubbler aerator. These will not only keep a hole open in the ice, but will also add oxygen as well! Bubbler aerators can be used all year to keep oxygen levels high.

How Many Fish Can I Have? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a School of Fish

Q: How many fish can I have in my water garden? -Several Customers

A: There are many rules of thumbs out there regarding how many fish you can have in your water garden. Just remember, the old saying goes, “The more animals in the barn, the more doo doo to clean up.” With that said, if you have the number of fish that the picture to the left has…my guess is that you have algae! Below I am going to explain the 4-Key Factors in Maintaining a Clean, Clear & Healthy Pond Ecosystem. The way these factors work is this: If you plan to increase your fish load, then you must improve the other 3 to help compensate. Hopefully this helps!

1. The DefensePAC®:
The products included in the DefensePAC provides beneficial bacteria, trace minerals, and a fish and plant safe pond cleaner. The DefensePAC works to breakdown fish waste, leaves or other organics that accumulate in the pond. These are essential to maintain a clean, clear and healthy ecosystem.

2. Fish Load:
When calculating your fish load think of it in pounds of fish or total inches. For example, one 6” fish can weigh as much as four 4” fish. The number of fish will affect the overall fish load, although 10 small fish may only produce the waste of one large fish. With this said, remember that your fish are growing and in many cases multiplying. Always plan for the future and be careful not to overstock your pond.

3. Proper Filtration:
The size and type of your filtration system will depend on your total fish load. If your filter is not properly sized for max potential, your fish will outgrow the filter. In most cases filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or a minimal fish load. It is always best to get a filter that is rated for at least 2x the water volume of your pond.

4. Aquatic Plants:
A simple rule of thumb is to have 60% plant coverage. This should consist of submerged, floating and marginal plants. Floating plants, such as Water Hyacinths, pull their nutrients directly from the water. Rooted plants, such as water lilies and marginal plants, create a great place for your fish to hide from predators. Please note when aquatic plants are not present, algae will take their place.

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.

Adding New Koi – Water Garden Q & A

Q: How do I introduce new koi to my pond? -Ceasar of Hampton, GA

A: When purchasing koi or goldfish they will come in a plastic bag filled with oxygen. Please note that if the pond is new or if the water has just been changed or added, be sure to remove any chlorine or heavy metals using Pond & Fish Conditioner. Follow these steps to ensure happy and healthy fish:

1. Place the plastic bag, containing the fish, into a shaded part of the pond. As the bag floats on the surface, the water temperature in the bag will slowly adjust to the water temperature of the pond. This may take anywhere from 20-30 minutes.

2. After waiting, further acclimate the fish by opening the bag and slowly adding pond water. By mixing the pond water with the water in the bag, the fish will be allowed to adjust to the pH of your pond.

3. Let the bag float for another few minutes and repeat step 2 a couple more times.

4. Once you’re done, slowly remove the bag and free your fish into its new home.

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