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Is it OK to continue feeding my fish summer food and just feed them less of it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Is it OK to continue feeding my fish summer food and just feed them less of it?

Q: Is it OK to continue feeding my fish summer food and just feed them less of it?

Don – Livingston, TN

A: Koi have temperamental digestive systems. To stay healthy and happy, they need specific types of food at different times of year—so no, we don’t recommend feeding your fish summer food as we go into fall. Here’s why.

Feeding Less

Giving your fish less food is a good idea; especially as water temperatures start to drop. This will cause them to produce less waste, which will help in maintaining good water quality, and slow down their digestive systems. Fish naturally do this on their own; they will eat less food as temperatures decrease because the cooler water will slow their metabolism.

Macronutrient Shift

As water temperatures cool, fish need a diet that’s easier for them to digest—a wheat germ-based diet like our Spring and Fall Fish Food—that’s carbohydrate-heavy rather than protein-rich. We recommend using a wheat germ based food when water temperatures are between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, fish crave protein to grow and put on muscle weight. But in the fall and spring, they’re in transition between fasting and feasting and lacking some digestive enzymes, so they’ll need something that’ll gently slow down (or wake up) their metabolism.

Up the Veggies

Even though wheat germ is the most common food to feed fish in the fall, you can still give your finned pals a treat in place of high-protein foods, too. Toss them some Cheerios, oatmeal or brown rice. Share some healthy vegetables, like carrots, pumpkin or frozen peas. They’ll provide important nutrients while being gentle on their system.

40-Degree Mark

As soon as water temperatures consistently read below 40 degrees Fahrenheit on your pond thermometer, remember to stop feeding your fish for the winter. Don’t worry: They won’t starve. The fast will give your fish the opportunity to give its digestive system a break and live off its fat reserves it added in the summer. In the spring, they’ll clean up and look fresher and healthier than ever.

Pond Talk: What’s your fish’s favorite fall treat?

Wheatgerm Formula for Cooler Months - The Pond Guy® Spring and Fall Fish Food


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11 Responses

  1. What is the meaning of 50 degree mark and then stop feeding at 40 degrees?

    • Hi William – You should switch your fish to a wheat germ based fish food when water temperatures drop to 50 degrees. This will provide the nourishment needed and still digest the food easier as their systems begin to slow down for the winter. Once water temperatures are below 40 you should completely stop feeding fish so they do not enter dormancy with undigested food.

  2. In the summer (spring & fall as well) I feed my large koi wheat germ base food.
    I do this because I was told if I wanted to slow the growth of my koi this would help and that is safe for the fish, is that true?
    Thank you, Craig

    • Hi Craig – Less protein will mean slower growth. You are still providing your fish what they need, however while they are more active during the summer months they may need to eat more of it in order to fulfill their hunger.

      • Thanks for the info, I will feed them summer food in the summer for now on so they get enough protein. Craig

  3. Should the carrots be cooked?

    • Hi George – You do not need to cook them though I would still recommend washing them and cutting into small pieces.

  4. This article refers to the “50 degree rule” but then says stop feeding your koi at 40 degrees F. Which is it – 40 or 50?

    • Hi Eric – Sorry for the confusion. Feed fish wheat germ food down to 40 degrees and then stop feeding completely when water drops below the 40 degree mark. I will have the heading on the article corrected.

  5. I live in Southern California, where we seldom even see frost during the winter. My pond’s water temperature seldom varies from a max of 72 degrees in summer to a min of 45 degrees in winter. How does this effect the seasonal feeding regimen?

    • Hi Pat – I would switch your fish to a wheatgerm food once you reach 50 degrees water temp. consistently. Since your pond does not drop below 40 degrees you should be fine to continue feeding them the wheat germ food until warmer weather returns.

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