Winter can be a challenging time for koi keepers, as the colder water temperatures can slow down the metabolism of the fish, making it more difficult for them to digest their food. To ensure that your koi remain healthy and active during the winter months, it is important to follow a few key guidelines when it comes to feeding.
One of the most important things to consider when feeding koi during the winter is the type of food you are providing. During the colder months, it is recommended to feed your koi with a low-protein, high-starch food that is easily digestible and provides them with the energy they need to survive in the colder water temperatures. Examples of good winter feeding options include wheat germ and other slow-release protein sources, as well as high-starch foods like peas.
You also need to be mindful of the amount of food you are providing to your koi during the winter. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues, as well as contribute to other health problems for the fish. As a general rule, it is recommended to feed koi only small amounts of food severals times a week during the winter months, and to monitor the water quality closely to ensure that it remains within safe levels.
In addition to the type and amount of food you are providing, it is also important to consider the temperature of the water when feeding koi during the winter. As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to stop feeding koi when the water temperature drops below 50F. At this temperature, koi's metabolism slows down tremendously and they become less active, which means they require less food.
Another factor to consider during the winter is the presence of ice on the surface of the pond. If the surface of your pond is covered in ice, it is important to ensure that there is a hole in the ice to allow for gas exchange, as well as to provide a source of oxygen for the fish. Stop feeding completely if there is ice on the surface of the pond.
Finally, always monitor of the overall health of your koi when feeding them during the winter. If your koi are showing signs of illness or stress, you need to seek the advice of a veterinarian or a fish specialist, as feeding them during this time may do more harm than good.