There are many options for pond fish food available. We even have our own floating pellets!
No matter which one you pick, look out for a few things. Floating foods are generally better as you can easily remove any uneaten food, they are available in pellets or sticks. You should pick a pellet or stick size appropriate to the size of the fish in your pond. Just like most food, fish food can become stale once the pack is opened, we recommend to only buy what you can use within 3 months if the bag is sealed or kept in a sealed container.
When feeding fish, a handful is normally enough (depending on the amount of fish). If you feel like you should add more then do so but only feed what can be taken by the fish in a couple of minutes. If excess food goes uneaten, you should net it out to avoid pollution and feed less next time.
If fish stop eating or go off their food it may be for a few reasons. Any birds like a heron may make them scared, fish disease or even poor water quality. If the fish continue to not eat it may be time to test the water. If the water comes back ok you may need to check the fish to see if anything is visibly wrong.
Fish will eat at almost any time of the day, and they will be ready if you feed at a regular time each day. We would recommended feeding two to three time per day in the daytime as you can see how much the fish are eating and remove any uneaten food.
Prepare your fish for spring
In spring, pond fish need easily digestible but energy-rich food that will not unnecessarily pollute the water. Although their metabolism is not yet working at full speed in the cold water, the weakened animals still need to top up their energy quickly after the winter.
Feeding in Spring
Pond fish are “cold blooded” and the amount of food needed depends upon their activity, which is closely tied to the water temperature. Ideally use a floating/pond thermometer to measure the water temperature; air-temperatures from weather forecasts are a second best. Goldfish and Koi become very slow and sluggish below 8-10 degrees C and it is generally best not to feed them when daytime temperatures fall below 10 degrees C. Other pondfish (e.g. Rudd, Orfe and Tench) may start feeding at slightly lower temperatures. Feeding at too low a temperature can result in food being uneaten and polluting the water, or worse, being undigested by the fish and causing internal problems.
Changes in temperature have a big effect on fish appetites e.g. a drop from 12 C to 10 C may put fish off feeding whereas a rise from 8 C to 10 C may encourage them to look for food. Keep an eye on forecasts and avoid feeding if colder weather is due.
Even when spring arrives, feed only lightly until the weather is reliably warmer. It is best to increase feeding quantities gradually so that the filter and pond organisms can adapt to dealing with the increasing amounts of fish waste.
Test the water parameters
When preparing your pond for the season ahead, good water parameters are essential for a healthy environment. If you know your pond’s water parameters, you can specifically counteract any issues and restore their balance.
Change the water in spring
Over the winter months, excess nutrients build up in the pond, which can cause the water to turn brown, green, murky or putrid. A partial water change using treated water removes excess nutrients, stabilises, revitalises (the water) and makes the pond safe for fish and plants.
Clean the pond floor and edge areas
After winter, you should check both the pond floor and the edge areas for foul odours and visible pollutants. If the pond floor is covered in sludge (sediment) and possibly even smells foul, the sediment should be removed.
Switch on the filter
When first putting the filter back into operation after winter, a ‘bacteria starter’ should be used so that bacteria quickly settle on the filter again. These are essential for good pond water filtration.
Check the pond water parameters
Check the pond water parameters
Check the phosphate level
Clean the pond and edge areas
In the autumn, when really cold weather finally arrives, it is best to stop feeding altogether. Only start feeding again when temperatures rise reliably above 10 degrees C in the spring. Feeding during short mild spells in the middle of winter can hinder rather than help fish, as they can use up energy continuing to look for food after the mild spell has ended. They can usually find a little natural food in these brief breaks from winter.
Keep an eye on the water parameters
Winter is a time of rest in garden ponds. Despite this, you should still occasionally remove foliage or branches from the water or edge areas. The cleaner the pond in spring, the quicker it can be prepared for summer. Be careful not to disturb the fish during their winter dormancy though.
Holes in the frozen water surface
If the surface of the water freezes in winter, you should not hack a hole in the ice. This disturbs the fish and subjects them to unnecessary stress during their winter dormancy. Instead, place a pan of hot water onto the ice to slowly melt a specific area or install a pond air pump at the edge of the water.
Do not disturb the fish
Fish are cold-blooded creatures – the cooler the water, the slower their metabolism. As a result, they do not eat in winter and move around as little as possible. This saves important energy reserves. It is therefore all the more important to leave the fish in peace over winter and not disturb them.
Feeding During Winter
There is a common misconception amongst pond owners that fish hibernate in the winter. Hibernation is where an animal uses seasonal cues to lower its own body temperature, however fish enter a dormancy period where their body assumes the temperature of the environment. Therefore, their energy requirements will fall but never reach zero.