As humans, we often eat different kinds of food – and different amounts of it – depending on the weather. For many of us, summer is a time to eat lighter foods like salads, grilled fish, chicken, and fruit. We also tend to eat less food when we’re hot. On the other hand, fall and winter is a time to load up on comfort foods like hearty stews and soups, mashed potatoes and pot roast.
Fish in your backyard water garden are pretty much the opposite, because they need more food in the warmer months of the year and less food during winter. That’s because fish go into a form of hibernation when it gets cold. Their metabolism slows down steadily until it is almost nonexistent, and they spend the majority of their time hovering at the bottom of your pond to avoid freezing to death.
Because of this lack of metabolism, their digestive systems can’t process large amounts of food, or food that has high levels of protein. And during the coldest weather, they actually don’t need to eat at all.
So how should you handle the changing metabolism levels and food needs of your fish?
Feed them the type of food that is appropriate for the weather conditions they are experiencing.
For the winter months, that means giving them cold weather fish food. It’s made with lesser amounts of protein and is instead comprised mostly of wheat germ, an ingredient that is easily digested and contains a higher level of fats. Switching to this kind of food is extremely important, because if you continue to feed your fish food they can’t process, they will produce excess amounts of ammonia that can actually poison the water they are living in.
Another benefit of cold weather fish food is that it has important probiotics that help produce enzymes that break down carbohydrates, protein and fat. So the food you’re feeding your fish is essentially helping their digestive systems to process it. Pretty neat system, huh?
Most pond supplies experts recommend switching to cold weather fish food any time nighttime temperatures can go below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, or when the water temperature drops to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your fish stop coming to the surface for food, or the water falls below 42 degrees Fahrenheit, you can stop feeding them altogether until the temperature starts rising again.
Have questions about cold weather fish food, or how to properly care for your fish during winter? The pond supplies experts at Pondliner can help. Just give us a call today!
*Image provided by Eustaquio Santimano on Flickr