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Article - Feeding Year 'Round

Feeding Year 'Round

Proper winter feeding

This year, in Southwest Florida, I expect to be able to enjoy my koi all year, unlike the New York winters with the pond covered with ice and snow.  This year, I don’t expect to use the floating de-icer because I’m not anticipating any ice on the pond.  With summer water temperatures generally above 85F, I hope the fish will not experience anything lower than 50F throughout the winter.  If the water is not going to dip lower, suddenly, as it always did up north, then I can continue feeding all year, even at 50F.

But what happens to the fish when they are fed all year, with no period of dormancy?  For one thing, they continue to grow.  They will reach larger sizes earlier in life, while their skin is fresh and supple.  This will better serve them at koi shows if they are ever entered into competition.  Big fish are always impressive, whether at a show or in a pond.  At 50F, I don’t expect to feed them MICROBE-LIFT/Growth & Energy, or other high-protein foods, but they will remain active and will be maintained on Wheat Germ.

Do fish need time to sleep in winter?  There is some controversy here that suggests fish that are deprived of their dormant months will not live as long.  My fish may live only half as long as fish that are given the winter “off”.  So, it seems that rather than the dormancy being a “long time with no nutrition” it is a veritable resting period and a natural process for these fish, koi.  Koi are not tropical fish.  They are temperate zone fish, more suited to New York than Southwest Florida, apparently.  But time will tell…

On the other hand, if you are feeding all summer, trying to fatten up the fish and make it grow larger, the food simply gets “pushed” through the system and no more nutrients will be absorbed than if they were fed every other day.  More is not always better when it comes to feeding fish.  The little fish in the corner will manage to get a meal at least every four days, I assure you, if it is healthy.  And if it is healthy, that is all it will require.  I, on the other hand, with a stomach and complicated digestive system, will be very hungry if I miss one meal and probably become quite cranky.   Let’s try not to think of these fish as humans.  They are built differently and have different requirements.  Once you understand this, you can have the nice, clean pond your fish deserve.