How, When and What Do I Feed My Pond Fish?
Pond fish are one of the best parts of owning a pond. No matter what kind of fish you have, from shubunkin to goldfish to koi, the feeding process often the best of part of being pond owners.
Due to its excitement and feel of bonding of the fish, people tend to overfeed fish. This is not good for your finned friends! To help your fish maintain optimum health, follow our guide on Pond Fish Care on how, when, and what to feed them.
How Much Is the Right Amount?
What is wrong with overfeeding your fish a little bit? After all, they “look hungry,” say many children (and some adults!) Too much eating equals too much fish waste and the pond is not set to handle that much a change. This results in poor water quality. Fish should be fed no more than once a day.
Fish should be fed for about 1.5 minutes per feeding. If they don’t rush to you for food, they are not hungry. If this is the case, feed them lightly. If they are eating a lot and aren’t seeming to stop, you can sprinkle food on the water for a few more minutes, as needed.
Avoiding feeding so much that there is an excess of food left to float into the skimmer or filter. As long as your fish are eating, you can keep sprinkling the food for up to 3 minutes.
What About Underfeeding Fish?
Oops. We have been there. You get super busy and forget to feed your fish every day. This could be a problem for larger fish since they could lose their needed weight with enough calories. So for them, those daily calories are important.
Underfeeding can also cause underdeveloped growth in very small fish.
However, occasionally missing some feedings is fine (or for some, no feedings at all) is fine for your pond fish, If you think about, no one feeds the fish in nature, they live off the algae and plants. That’s why it’s good to have a little algae in your pond. AND if you are having a problem with fish eating your pond plants, just make sure to feed them every day.
How to tell if you are underfeeding your fish
If your fish are growing about one-half to one inch per month, you’re feeding enough. If not, they are either underfed, their pond home is too small, or the food is not adequate to support growth. Signs of underfeeding include heads that are wider than the bodies, slightly sunken eyes, a kink at the base of the tail, poor color, thinness, training white stools, and inactivity.
Where to Feed Your Fish
Believe it or not, where you feed your fish really does matter. Some people tend to feed their fish all in one spot, right near the skimmer. But when you do that, most of the food goes into the skimmer, not the fish. And then the pond water can get polluted with decaying food.
To keep your fish food from migrating to your skimmer, you can make a “feeding ring” out of two-inch PVC pipe and four elbows. This is simply a square ring of PVC with water secluded from inside, so it floats while retaining the food. The ring can be held in place with a string anchored under a rock. Your fish will learn to eat the food that’s floating in the ring.
Proper Food Storage
Ideally, you should only keep fish food for one season and dispose of any uneaten food. Always start a new pond season with fresh fish food. If you buy large quantities of fish food, refrigerate it – don’t freeze it. Freezing damages the fats in the food and the fat-soluble vitamins become compromised.
If food begins to smell funny, develops a fuzz on it, changes color, sticks together, or crumbles down, it’s “bad” and should be discarded. Feeding bad food to your fish can cause unnecessary problems. Bad food often contains aflatoxins, which can cause injury, deficiency, and broken backs in fish that eat it. It’s better for your fish to go hungry while waiting for fresh food then it is for them to be fed spoiled food.
Small fish need small pellets that they can wholly engulf. If necessary, they will spend time chasing a big pellet, badgering it around the surface of the pond as it softens in the water, and eating off it like a giant peach. It’s better to give your smaller fish a small pellet that they can consume in one gulp.