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Choosing the Best Food for Pond Fish

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Oh, my aching muscles...

To ensure that your pond fish have healthy and long lives, it is important to select high-quality food according to the size, type and digestive abilities of the fish. When you feed your fish a nutritionally balanced food based on the age of the fish and weather conditions, you are contributing to their health and longevity.

Nutrition and Growth

Fry and young fish grow rapidly, and koi often increase in length by four to eight inches each year. Therefore, it is important that they receive a nutritionally balanced diet throughout their lives to continue to grow and thrive.

Fish food is made of various components such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A careful balance of these components must meet standard nutritional requirements. The amounts of these nutrients that fish need varies depending on water temperature, species, size of fish and maturity.

The Vital Components

Proteins are essential for tissue formation, healing, and reproduction. Because proteins cannot be stored in the body, fry and young fish need large quantities on a regular basis, especially in captivity where protein sources are not readily available in their habitat. A deficiency of protein causes koi to grow more slowly. Proteins can only be used effectively for growth when water temperatures are over 50°F.

Fats provide a source of energy. Fatty acids, such as triglycerides and phospholipids, are vital components of cell walls. Koi are unable to make important fatty acids known as linoleic and linolenic acids that are essential for growth—therefore they must be provided in their diet. Omitting fatty acids from the diet can cause fin erosion and heart and liver problems.

Carbohydrates are a source of energy. An overabundance of carbohydrate in the diet is very bad for koi health and may result in degeneration of the liver and heart failure.

Vitamins are essential for the normal metabolism and growth of fish; requirements for some vitamins increase during spawning. Vitamins are divided into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are found in a variety of forms, all of which are metabolized slowly and can be stored in body fat. Water-soluble vitamins are quickly absorbed and any excess is excreted.

Minerals aid basic metabolic functions and contribute to healthy bones, osmoregulation (water balance), and a healthy nervous system. Fish get minerals from their diet (contributed by ash in the food) and from the water in their environment.

What to Feed and How Much

Choose a premium food to ensure fish receive proper nutrition. This is particularly important with koi, which are often kept in a relatively bare pond with few natural sources of food.

The amount of food to give pond fish depends on many factors, including water temperature and the size of the fish. In general as the fish grows, its
metabolism slows down and, consequently, its food requirements are reduced.

Weather Conditions and When to Feed

The nutritional requirements of pond fish vary considerably throughout the year. For optimal fish health, follow these seasonal guidelines.

A wide variety of foods are available to feed in water temperatures above 50°F. Some of the specially formulated foods to meet specific needs are:

Maintenance food provides nutrition for energy, longevity, and overall health.

Color enhancement diet is highly nutritional and brings out vibrant reds and yellows on koi and goldfish.

Growth food is high in protein and contains essential amino acids that help rapidly growing young fish.

Variety blend promotes natural color enhancement, health and vitality.

Feed wheat germ-rich foods in water temperatures below 50°F. It is a vital ingredient that maintains the immune system during late fall and early spring when fish are prone to disease. When water temperatures drop below 50°F, the fish’s metabolism slows and the ability to process foods is greatly reduced.

Stop feeding completely in temperatures below 39°F. Feeding fish in water temperatures below 39°F upsets the natural intestinal flora, diminishes the immune system and can lead to infection and disease. Koi can obtain what little nutrition they require from within the pond (e.g. from algae) or from their stored energy reserves.

Remember, feed fish one to three times daily and only as much as they can consume within five minutes.  NWGN

Information contained in this story was provided by TetraPond®.

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