Brrr its Cold! What About My Pond Fish?

by Aquatics on October 31, 2011

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The question is often asked…. How do my pond fish survive without eating much during the cold parts of the year or even under the ice? How can I help them?

Pond Fish

Koi and goldfish are poikilothermic (cold-blooded) and thus their metabolism is determined by the temperatures of their surroundings. As the temperatures drop, koi and goldfish slow down and their nutrient requirements are greatly reduced. A lot of the needed energy is derived from fat reserves built up during the warmer waters temperatures. Pond fish DO eat during the cold weather periods; however, it is very infrequent and can stop when temperatures drop into the 40’s. As the temperatures drop below 60 degrees, koi and goldfish can benefit from an easier-to-digest diet containing a higher level of plant materials such as wheat germ. Drs. Foster & Smith Spring and Fall Diet For Koi is a great choice.

Super Koi Food

Prior to the cold season, a great way to ensure your pond fish have adequate fat reserves is to feed them a high energy/fat diet such as Drs. Foster & Smith Super Food Koi Food or Aquatic Nutrition’s Gold-N diets. This is typically fed when water temperatures are above 65 degrees.

As the water warms up in the spring, your pond fish will become more active and look for food. They will tell you when they are ready, as they will roam the pond sampling tidbits of pond edges and greet you for a feeding.

Preparation for cold weather is the key. Many steps will ensure your wet pets get the best conditions possible.

  1. Proper feeding keeps them in shape.
  2. Cleaning pond bottoms and filters will reduce ammonia build up over winter.
  3. Addition of sludge eating/fall winter bacteria will help ensure the best fauna in the bio-environment.
  4. Checking and repair of pumps etc prior to the cold ensures a hassle free cold season.
  5. Ensure proper aeration and degassing by keeping holes open in the ice using a de-icer when the pond surface freezes.
  6. The best-case scenario would be to bring your pond fish into an aquarium or indoor pond of adequate size so you can enjoy them throughout the cold season.

The best thing about koi and goldfish is the fact that they are easy to care for and very hardy. They have the ability to thrive in a variety of environments. Enjoy your pond and a great hobby.

This is a guest post by:
Joe Pawlak, President
Blackwater Creek Koi Farms Inc


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer November 20, 2011 at 12:41 am

Years ago we had Koi and Goldfish in an outdoor pond. I was just thinking the other day how much I miss them! Then I came across your article tonight! Thank you for sharing this insight. I always marveled at my big yellow and orange “floating rocks” that were underneath the pond ice… lol.

the chevy mysta May 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm

do you know if oranda goldfish can live in a pond

Claire H. May 29, 2012 at 8:50 am

Yes, goldfish can live in ponds. Here’s an article you might find useful. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?c=5163&articleid=646&d=159&category=313

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