Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Overwintering Pond Fish

By Brett Fogle
The metabolism of koi and goldfish is controlled primarily bywater temperature. As the water cools, pond fish require lessprotein in their diet. When koi and goldfish are fed high-proteinfood in cool water, the excess protein is excreted as ammoniafrom the gills. The microscopic organisms that make up thebiological filter (and consume ammonia) also slow down in coolerwater.
Improper seasonal feeding can lead to a build-up of toxicammonia, which stresses fish and reduces their wintersurvivability. When the water temperature drops to approximately65° F, start feeding with Spring & Autumn Pond Food. This type offish food is better suited for the dietary requirements of pondfish in cool water and won’t pollute the water with excessammonia. Some water gardeners continue to feed their fish untilthey no longer come to the surface. I stop feeding my pond fishwhen the water falls below 42° F.
There is no need to worry about "frozen fish" if a section of thepond is at least 18 inches deep. Pond fish will seek the deepestpart of the pond and over-winter there until the water warms inthe spring. If your pond is less than 18 inches deep, the fishmay freeze during a harsh winter. Check with your local pondsupplier if you live in an area with harsh winters.
Some water gardeners with shallow ponds attempt to keep their koiand goldfish in kiddie pools or aquariums set up in a coolbasement or garage. This is not recommended because of the extrastress involved in netting, transporting, and re-acclimating thefish to the new environment.
However, if you dont have a choice, and need to bring your fishinside for the winter, be sure to have an aquarium air pump orsmall fountain to provide oxygenation. The fish should be fedinfrequently, if at all, depending on the water temperature. pH,ammonia and nitrite, which should be monitored weekly andespecially if the fish are fed.
Small water changes (20%) each month will keep the water in goodshape until spring. Koi are "jumpers"-so be sure to cover thepool with bird netting!
Brett Fogle is the owner of MacArthur Water Gardens and several
other pond-related websites
and He also publishes a free monthly
newsletter called PondStuff! with a reader circulation of over
9,000. To sign up for the free newsletter and receive our FREE
'New Pond Owners Guide' visit MacArthur Water Gardens today!
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