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Feeling outdoor Koi in the winter! Yes? No? How much?


Rosie
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I have been feeding my fish in the Winter months only when the water temperature is above 39 degrees - according to the food brand instructions. Because the temperature is so much higher this Winter I wonder if I should keep feeding them or not. Someone I respect said to not feed them from November to March - regardless of the temperature. What can you share with me about your experience?

 

There are no plants in the water and the pond is a 8ft old jacuzzi tub - about 800 gallons. There are 9 good size fish. No one seems to be very hungry but I want to do right by my fish!

 

Thank you for all of your support,
Rosie

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For me, anything under 40 degrees, I completely cut off food and don't worry too much about my koi since bulk them up heavily during the summer. As for right now since it's getting warmer, I feed around once a week or so. My pond this month has been around 50-55 degrees and try to pick a sunny day or near the middle of the day when its the warmest to feed. Also I switch from a higher protein based pellet to something with more wheat germ to avoid any digestive issues. Since colder water slows down the kois metabolism they might not be able to digest larger amounts of protein. I use food with wheat germ, green beans, or duckweed just to ensure their digestion track stays clear. Really though koi should be fine and if you're not too sure its always safer just to not feed. I think somewhere in the 30s and 40s koi hibernate and know some people that don't feed for 1-2 months.

I'll add that something you should think about is the beneficial bacteria. There is the idea that some types of beneficial bacteria can't survive under 50 degrees so there is a fear that it wont be nitrified as quickly. I can't really speak to the truth of that but I do know from my own experience that the colony of bacteria is still there maybe just not as much as saying during the summer. Also when I cut off feeding during the whole month of December, wether it's the because of the cold or lack of feeding I know a lot of my bacteria has died off so when i do start adding food again I do it very slowly. Maybe just a few pellets for each koi a week while monitoring water parameters until the colony has built back up.

A lot of this is speculation and I could be completely wrong though. This is just more of my thought process as to why I go this direction since I tend play it on the safe side with my koi. I would just emphasize being cognizant of ammonia if you do choose to feed and your parameters should tell you if you can or can't.

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I forgot to mention that once temperatures reach above 60 degrees you can resume normal feeding. And I think you're definitely doing the right thing just by asking questions instead following arbitrary rules blindly, every system is different and nobody will know your pond better than you. There is a lot to be said about just observing your fish and I feel like a lot of people get into trouble being complacent and assuming everything is fine. The more time you spend with your pond the more in tune you will be with its problems. Your fish and water will tell you almost everything you would need to know.

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