As the winter draws closer and the temperatures start to drop there will come a time when you will need to stop feeding your pond fish for the winter months, but when do you stop feeding them and why.
The truth is your fish will give you a good idea of when to stop feeding them, but in general it’s usually when the water in your pond drops down to below 50°F/10°C.
Fish: As the weather gets colder the first thing you will notice is that your fish are not that keen in coming up for food, in the summer months they greet you with their mouths wide open ready to be feed, but now they don’t seem that interested.
If your fish are still asking for food just give them a little and leave the food sit for about 30 seconds, if they gobble it all up they are still hungry so you can add a bit more.
If on the other hand they just nibble at the food they’re telling you they are getting ready for winter and don’t need to feed.
You will notice as the water gets colder your fish will not be looking to be feed that often, it starts with just feeding them once a day and reduces to about once a week as it gets a lot colder.
And dont forget if you have a well balanced pond with plants there will be plenty of food for your fish to graze on, so they are not going to starve.
Temperature: If your not happy with your fish telling you when to stop feeding them you can go by temperature, once the temperature is constantly around 55-60°F/ 12.5°C-15.5°C just feed them once a day using a wheat germ based food.
When it drops to a constant 50-55° F/10°C- 12.5°C you can feed two or three times a week as it takes a lot longer for your fish to digest the food and when the temperature drops below 50°F/10°C your fish’s digestion system shuts down so you can stop feeding them completely.
Make sure you have a good pond thermometer to monitor the temperature of your pond water, not the outside air temperature, it’s the temperature of the pond water that you need to take the readings from to determining when to stop feeding your pond fish.
Why pond fish dont need to feed in winter
It’s all about temperature, as the weather gets colder so does the pond, and as the pond gets colder your fish slow down and get ready to hibernate for the winter.
As your fish start to hibernate their metabolism slows down, their gut bacteria also slows down, at this point they will have problems with breaking down high protein foods.
Cold blooded fish such as goldfish and koi don’t have a stomach, they just have an intestine, so if they feed when their gut bacteria has slowed down the food will sit in their gut longer which could cause a bacterial infection.
To overcome this problem as winter gets closer and your pond drops down to about 60°F/ 15.5°C during the autumn you need to stop feeding your fish high protein food and give them a wheat germ food which is low in protein and a lot easier to digest.
As winter arrives and your pond gets down to around 50°F/10°C it’s time stop feeding your fish altogether as they will now be in a state of hibernation.
Your fish will hibernate at the bottom of your pond over winter, but if you do see your fish coming to the surface during short mild spells in the winter and you think they are looking for food please don’t feed them, they will take the food but this could cause them harm.
I know it’s hard not to feed your fish, but you must resist the urge for your fishes sake as this can hinder them rather than help them, the food you give them at this stage would take a lot longer to digest in your fishes gut, if the food is not digested it could decay and rot in their indigestion system causing bacteria to enter their bloodstream which could kill them.
Your fish would have built up enough fat reserves during the summer and autumn months to see them through the cold winter months.
To sum up
You can stop feeding your fish when the water temperature in your pond drops below 50°F/10°C or when you notice your fish are not asking for food any more.