Owning fish in your pond is a delightful experience. Whether you have koi, goldfish, or native Australian fish, feeding time is a moment of interaction and joy. Amidst the excitement, it's essential to avoid the most common feeding mistake: overfeeding your beloved finned friends. To ensure the well-being of your fish and pond, it's crucial to understand the how, when, and what of their feeding routine.
Finding the Right Balance
Overfeeding not only makes your fish sick but also strains the pond's biological capacity to handle excessive fish waste, leading to a decline in water quality. Ideally, fish should be fed no more than three times a day. However, be cautious about bacterial blooms and oxygen depletion if you feed heavily and have a significant amount of fish waste.
During each feeding session, aim for about five minutes of feeding time. If your fish don't eagerly consume the food, it could indicate that they are either too cold, too warm, or simply not hungry. In such cases, feed them lightly. On the other hand, if they are voraciously eating, sprinkle food on the water's surface for up to five minutes, as long as the fish are actively feeding. Be mindful not to overfeed to the point where excess food accumulates and ends up in the skimmer or filter. As long as your fish continue to eat, you can continue sprinkling food for the full five minutes.
Balancing Act: Underfeeding
Life can get busy, and occasionally, you might forget to feed your fish every day. This can affect larger fish during summer, potentially causing weight loss due to inadequate calorie intake for their substantial bodies. Underfeeding can also stunt the growth of smaller fish. In ponds with natural forage and plant material, fish can find sustenance from nature's offerings and become less reliant on human-provided nourishment. That's why having a bit of algae in the pond is beneficial.
To determine if you're feeding the right amount, monitor your fish's growth. On average, they should grow about half an inch to one inch per month. If the growth rate is slower, it may indicate underfeeding, a small pond size, or inadequate food quality. Signs of underfeeding include wider heads than bodies, slightly sunken eyes, a kink at the base of the tail, pale colouration, thinness, white stools, and decreased activity.
Feeding Strategies: Location Matters
The location where you feed your fish plays a significant role in their feeding experience. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of feeding all the fish near the skimmer, resulting in the skimmer consuming most of the food. This can lead to water pollution as the leftover food decays in the skimmer, which is harmful to your fish and pond.
To prevent food from migrating to the skimmer, you can create a "feeding ring" using a two-inch PVC pipe and four elbows. This simple ring floats on the water's surface, keeping the food contained within it. Use a string anchored under a rock to keep the ring in place. Your fish will learn to gather around the floating ring to enjoy their meal.
Size Matters: Choosing the Right Food
When it comes to fish food, size matters. Smaller fish need small pellets that they can wholly engulf. Watching them chase a large pellet around the surface of the pond as it softens in the water might seem entertaining, but it's best to provide them with a pellet they can consume in one gulp. This ensures they receive the appropriate nutrition without unnecessary effort.
Proper Food Storage
To maintain the quality of your fish food, proper storage is essential. 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 instead of freezing it. Freezing can damage the fats in the food, compromising the nutritional value of the food and the fat-soluble vitamins it contains.
Pay attention to the condition of your fish food. If it starts to smell strange, develop fuzz, change colour, stick together, or crumble down, it's a sign that the food has gone bad and should be discarded. Feeding your fish spoiled food can cause unnecessary problems, as it may contain harmful substances like aflatoxins, which can lead to injuries, deficiencies, and even spinal issues in the fish.
Not All Food Is Created Equal
Investing in high-quality food for your pond fish is worth it. Aquascape Premium Fish Food products are designed with the optimal health of your fish in mind. These products provide the essential nutrients and balanced diet that your fish need for their overall well-being.
By understanding how, when, and what to feed your pond fish, you can ensure their health and happiness. Remember to strike a balance, avoid overfeeding, provide the right-sized food, and choose high-quality options.