When can I start feeding my koi or pond fish again?” is a question we are asked almost daily this time of year. We understand why, too! Your pond has either been cleaned or turned on for the spring, the fish are becoming more and more active almost begging for food. You can’t wait to interact with your friends who have been hibernating all year.
When is the right time?
As you can imagine, your koi and pond fish “telling” you they are hungry doesn’t mean its the right time to feed them. The right time to start feeding your koi revolves around one thing: WATER TEMPERATURE. We recommend commencing feeding at 55 degrees F. Even though the water temp may be ok at 55, we still recommend only feeding once a day and quite possibly a lower protein food. Once the water temp is above 70, it's game on with the feeding frenzy! There are many opinions to this, but we feel it’s better to be safe than sorry and there is plenty for your koi and pond fish friends to snack on while we are waiting for the water to warm up.
Here’s a quick why:
Fish metabolize protein at warmer water temperatures and will eventually lose the ability to metabolize protein at lower temperatures. If protein is digested at lower water temperatures the food may get stuck in the gut causing sickness in the fish which could ultimately cause the fish to die.
But...they look so hungry!
It’s the end of February beginning of a April the water temperature is still fairly chilly, but we get a string of 70-80 degree weather. Our fish begin swimming around like they are in the Kentucky Derby, having fun and enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. They greet you at the pond edge begging for some food. We enjoy feeding them as much as they enjoy the food we throw out at them. BUT we know we shouldn’t, the water temperature just isn’t quite there.
What are we going to do? We really want to feed our fish. CHEERIOS (Honey Nut seems to be their favorite)! Throw them some cheerios. This is safe and a great way to enjoy those warm early spring spells.
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Tim Trammell has been building, designing, servicing and maintaining pond in the Oklahoma City Metro area for over 20 years. His company Continental Ponds, is Oklahoma's first Master Certified Aquascape Contractor and is an national award winning pond and water feature builder.