Autumn is here and as pond temperatures across the UK start to fall, one of the most frequent questions the team at Elite Koi is asked is “When should I stop feeding my Koi”.
We always base the answer on our own experience of keeping Koi during the winter which extends to over 25 years.
If our Koi are looking for food, we let them have a little and as much as they will easily consume within 5 minutes.
There will always be exceptions to this general rule of “when to stop feeding your Koi” and these include instances were we may have overweight Koi or Females that are carrying a large belly full of eggs and have not been able to spawn for one reason or another.
Heavy feeding with high protein Koi pellets and Koi treats such as Gammarus Shrimp, Mealworm and Silkworm Pupae during summer months can pack large volumes of growth onto our Koi which is what many Koi Hobbiest wish to achieve. The downside of this feeding regime can also be added fat around our Koi’s organs and poor body shapes.
The winter season allows the Koi to effectively get rid of some of this excess fat and in the case of females, allow them to slim off so they have the chance to reach next season when hopefully they can spawn to release their eggs.
Winter is an important season for Koi and every pond is unique in its makeup of Koi and water temperature etc. The most important thing is that you do not just feed the fish for the sake of it and walk away. Any uneaten food must be removed so it cannot rot and pollute the water and if you do have to remove uneaten Koi food, do not make the mistake of putting it in again, to have to remove it again.
One of the most popular Winter Koi feeds is Wheatgerm and it is widely believed and accepted that Wheatgerm is much more easily digested by Koi as opposed to other ingredients that a Koi may find more difficult to digest. Our Food of choice for cooler temperatures is Takazumi Vital and the Takazumi Koi feeding guide recommends its use at temperatures above 4°c, making it an ideal alternative to Wheatgerm.
Manufacturers advise and feeding guides must always be followed to ensure that the balance of the Koi’s food ingredients are correct for the temperature of your pond. Do not be afraid to blend feeds as the seasons are changing. By doing this the ratio of food can be gradually changed to suit the temperatures. (Top Tip) Only blend a months worth of food at a time.
As with all aspects of successfully keeping Koi healthy, get to know your Koi and they will let you know when to stop feeding them for the winter.
Currently we are feeding Takazumi Vital at the shop despite our temperatures still being around 14°c. The Koi are still very keen to be fed and we have no food left after a minute or two of adding it. Our own collection of Koi in our 5000 gallon pond have now slowed down considerably and are only taking a cup full of food in several minutes. The temperature in this pond is approximately 10°c and the (TOP TIP) cup we use to measure the Vital is a clean container off the top of a Kusuri medication bottle.
Once the winter is over, feed must be introduced very gradually and increased depending on your water parameters. This process will be covered in another blog.