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Do I really need to feed my fish? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Do I really need to feed my fish?

Do I really need to feed my fish? Joe – Little Rock, AR

Come And Get It
Those of us pond guys and gals that own large farm ponds have been feeding our fish for ages. Over the years, some of us have pondered, “Do I really have to feed my fish?”

“Fish” Food Versus Fish Food
There are two ways to keep your fish well fed: properly stock your pond or use fish food. We suggest both.

Properly Stocking:
To properly balance your pond, you should stock the water body with 3 prey fish, like Perch or Bluegill, for every 1 predator fish, such as Bass. This will ensure that your predator fish will have a bountiful selection of prey, while still giving the prey fish a sporting chance to mature and reproduce. If you stock too many prey fish, you will experience a very small number of big predators and a ton of tiny pan prey fish. If you stock too many predators, you will end up with very small predators and only a few big prey. When your pond is properly stocked, your fish population tends to keep itself in check. We suggest starting out with 300 bluegills and 100 bass per acre. You can add some feeder minnows into the pond to provide a nice snack that will be able to replenish itself. However, it is not uncommon for the fish in your pond to make short work of the feeder minnows you add to the pond.

Fish Food Pellets:
So you feel your fish should have a little more selection than their regular diet of … well … each other? You can control what your fish are eating by feeding them quality fish food like Game Fish Grower. Foods that are high in protein and low in filler promote rapid fish growth and optimum overall size. Pellet feeding also provides an opportunity to turn feeding your fish into an opportunity to have some fun. Pellet training your fish takes some patience and persistence, and while it can be trying at times, it is truly enjoyable once you get it right. Try to establish a daily routine feeding time and place so your fish will begin to expect your pond side presence. Start by throwing some pellets in the water from a distance, waiting for the fish to venture to the water surface to take the food. Repeat this process until your fish willingly greet you at feeding time. As time progresses, you can close the distance between you and the pond’s edge. Avoid making sudden movements, as this will scare the fish and they will be more hesitant to approach you at feeding time. You can then begin placing your hand into the pond with a fist full of food, opening your hand slowly to release the pellets which will float to the surface. You may not have any takers the first few days you try this, but if you are patient, they will eventually figure out where this food is coming from. As they grow more comfortable to your hand being in the pond, they will start eating from it. If you do not have the time or desire to feed your fish by hand, you can place a feeder, like the a directional feeder, at the pond’s edge to release food at programmed intervals.

What’s On The Menu?
While your fish always eat the food you throw in the pond like they haven’t eaten in years, the truth is, if your pond is stocked properly, they really don’t need any outside assistance. On top of having other fish in the pond to eat, they will also eat bugs from the surface of the pond, leaches at the bottom, and basically anything else they can find in the water. Try to catch some of the fish in your pond each season and record how many of each type you are pulling out of the pond while inspecting them for healthy color, weight, and size. Occasionally checking up on your fish will decrease the frequency and severity of population issues, while making your pond an enjoyable addition to your home with fun activities for the entire family.

POND TALK: How often do you feed your fish?

The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower - Fish Food

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° 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° 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° 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

I found what looks like a sore on my koi. What should I do? Could this have happened over winter? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Dyed PondQ: I found what looks like a sore on my koi. What should I do? Could this of happened over winter? – Fred in Kentucky

A: As we close in on spring and the ice melts off of our water gardens, our koi start to become lively again. This is a very crucial time for koi. When koi begin to awaken from their winter dormancy, they can show signs of weakness. This is because during the winter, not only do their metabolisms slow down, but also their immune systems can be affected.

As the temperatures outside begin to rise above 40ºF begin a Spring/Summer Prep bacterial application, like Seasonal Defense®, and start to feed them Spring and Fall Fish Food. Keep an eye on the koi for any signs of excess slime, sores or lesions. Weakened fish are much more susceptible to bacterial and parasitic infections when the temps are just beginning to rise.

Here are few products to use if your koi happen to be sick:

Using the products mentioned above you can be assured your fish will be lively again in no time. To help prevent koi sickness during the early spring, be proactive and ensure your koi are healthy in the fall time.

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

How do I treat Fin Rot or Tail Rot? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Tail Rot

Q: My mother-in-law has a water garden in her yard. One of her gold fish now has no rear fin. It looks like he had gotten stuck between some rocks or something had gotten a hold of it. The fish is now laying in the rocks, but having a hard time swimming. What do I do? -Faith of Granite Falls, NC

A: When a fish begins to lose their fins or tail, it is usually referred to as “fin rot” which is a bacterial infection. This can happen for many reasons such as stress, poor water quality and/or an over population of fish. Any one of these can all cause a fish’s immune system to become weak making it vulnerable to bacterial infections.

If your fish already shows signs of “fin rot”, the following is recommended: Melafix , Pond Salt and Medicated Fish Food. This will treat both externally and internally. Depending on the size of your pond and your ability to isolate sick fish you can choose to treat your entire pond or set up a treatment tank.

Good Fish Keeping Tips to Prevent Diseases:

1.) Use Pond Salt to lower stress. Adding pond salt to your pond will lower stress as well as treat for almost 80% of the common fish diseases.

2.) Maintain good water quality! This can be accomplished by having an adequate filtration system, reducing fish population, less frequent feedings (and use high quality fish food) and by adding natural bacteria such as the DefensePAC® to reduce excess nutrients.

3.) DO A SPRING CLEAN OUT!!! Empty the water out if possible, power wash and remove bottom sludge and algae. Oxy-Lift™ Defense® can be a great tool when doing a clean out or performing regular maintenance.

4.) Perform regular water changes. You should do a 10-25% water change every 1-2 weeks. When doing water changes it is always recommended to use Water Conditioner to remove and detoxify chloramines and heavy metals.

5.) Add floating plants such as Water Lettuce and Water Hyacinth to reduce excess nutrients.

Melafix Dosage rate:
You will need ¼ cupful (60 ml) for every 600 U.S. gallons (2,280 L) of pond water. Repeat dose daily for seven days. Results can be seen is as little as four days.

Dosage rate for Pond Salt when treating for disease:
Use 5 cups of salt per 100 gallons – Note at this rate you will have to remove pond plants from the treated pond. If removing plant is not possible, isolate the sick fish into another tank with vigorous aeration.

Dosage rate for Pond Salt to prevent diseases:
1-1/4 cups per 100 gallons (for ponds with plants) and 2-1/2 cups per 100 gallons for ponds without plants.