Q: 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.
So 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?