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How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Q: How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Steve – Wallingford, PA

A: When feeding your koi and pond fish, a “lighter diet” doesn’t mean that your finned friends need to switch to low-cal, low-fat foods. Instead, it refers to an easy-to-digest wheat germ-based diet that’s formulated for the fishes’ slowed activity and metabolism during the transitional fall and spring months.

Wheat germ-based diets, such as The Pond Guy® Spring & Fall Fish Food, are packed with vegetable protein, amino acids and digestive enzymes. These diets, which help them ease into and out of winter, are gentle on their digestive systems while keeping their constitutions strong to fight off disease.

How do you know when it’s time to switch diets? Here are three clues:

  • Temperature: When your water temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you should feed your active, hungry fish protein- and carbohydrate-balanced foods, like The Pond Guy® Growth & Vibrance Fish Food. But when water temperatures dip to between 40 to 50 degrees, they require the lighter, wheat germ-based foods. Use your Pond Thermometer to keep an eye on the water temperature as the days and nights get cooler.
  • Fish Mobility: Are your koi and goldfish moving a bit more slowly than they normally do? That’s another clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter food. Fish will naturally begin to slow down their activity in cooler water as their bodies begin to prepare for their annual “hibernation.”
  • Feeding Interest: As the fish slow their activity and require less food to fuel their metabolisms, they won’t be as interested in the tasty morsels as they are in the summer. So if your koi and goldfish seem to have turned into picky eaters, that’s your third clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter diet.

When water temperatures fall to below 40 degrees, that’s when it’s time to stop feeding your fish altogether. Don’t worry: They won’t starve! Their bodies, which need very few nutrients to sustain them during the cold months, have plenty of fat stored—but you can bet they’ll be ready for a nice, big meal when spring arrives.

Pond Talk: What changes do you see in your fishes’ behavior during the fall?

Wheat Germ Formula For Cool Weather - The Pond Guy® Spring & Fall Fish Food

 

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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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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

Why should I feed my pond fish Wheat Germ-based food in the fall and spring? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Fall is here! Time to switch to wheat germ-based foods.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: Why should I feed my pond fish Wheat Germ-based food in the fall and spring? – Jessica in Oregon

A: As the weather changes, pond and water garden centers remind their customers to feed a different diet to their fish – a wheat germ based diet. Why? What’s the difference? Do fish experience changes in taste when the weather changes? Well, believe it or not, there’s a reason for switching your fish from a protein-based to a wheat germ-based diet. It all centers on your finned friends’ metabolism.

Cooler Temps, Slowing Systems

Fish, including the koi or goldfish in your pond, are poikilothermic, which is a fancy term for “cold-blooded.” Their internal temperature varies with the ambient external temperature. So in the wintertime when your pond’s water cools, the body temperatures of your fish cool, too. And with that dip in body temperature comes a reduced need for nutrients.

A wheat germ-based diet is designed to transition your pond fish from eating a high-protein, high-energy diet, like Growth & Color – which they enjoy throughout the summer to fuel their active underwater lifestyles – to their annual wintertime fast, when they enter into a torpor state, or period of metabolic inactivity.

Wheat germ diets, like Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food, are high in carbohydrate-based nutrients, packed with natural vegetable proteins and designed to provide your pond fish with the immune-system boosting vitamins and minerals to get them through the winter. They require less energy to digest, so they’re perfect to ease the fish into or out of the colder months.

Time to Switch!

So, when do you start transitioning your pond fish to the wheat germ-based diet? In the fall, when the water temperature falls to 70° Fahrenheit or so, feed your fish a mixture of the wheat germ and protein-based food, gradually increasing the wheat germ and decreasing the protein-based food until you’re feeding 100 percent of the wheat germ-based food. As soon as the water temperature reaches 55° F, stop feeding your fish altogether.

In the spring, after the ice thaws and the water reaches 55° F, start feeding the wheat germ-based diet once again. As the temperatures warm, begin adding small amounts of the protein-based food. By the time the water temperature reaches 70° F, switch completely over to the protein diet.

When you help your pond fish through the temperature transitions and provide them with the right types of nutrients to support their health, you’ll be rewarded with active, colorful fish with strong immune systems that can fight parasites and viruses that show up in the spring.

POND TALK: In your geographical area, when do you generally switch from a protein-based food to a wheat germ-based food?

Changing to a Wheatgerm Fish Food As the Temperatures Get Cooler – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Koi Eating Fish Food

Q: I heard as the temperature gets cooler outside that you have to change to a different type of fish food when feed my koi. Is that true? If it is, when would I do that? – Linda of Kentucky

A: Yes, it is true. As the temperatures get cooler you will want to switch from feeding your fish a high growth, high protein fish food to a wheat germ fish food that is much easier for the fish to digest in cooler temperatures.

Why wheat germ fish food?: As the temperature continues the drop, your fish’s digestive system begins to slow down. Feeding your fish a wheat germ food will ensure that the fish can digest the food easily. Wheat germ fish food is specifically designed to be fed to your fish in early Spring or late Fall when the water temperatures are cooler.

When to switch to wheat germ: The best time to switch is when the temperature of your water drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

No feeding under 40 degrees Fahrenheit: It is also very important to remember to not feed your fish once the temperature of your water drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, a fish’s digestive system has shut down and will remain in a dormant until the temperatures come back up in the early Spring.