Feeding Your Koi
By David Lass
Feeding your koi, and other pond fish, is the most enjoyable way that most pondkeepers interact with their fish. Yes, cleaning the filter and netting debris from the pond are important, but the residents of the pond look upon activities such as those as intrusions, and usually dive for the deepest and most remote sections of the pond when you come at them. Feeding time is very different, and it is eagerly anticipated by both the koi and the pondkeeper.
Koi are large, very active and inquisitive fish, and they have absolutely gorgeous colors. Keeping them active, happy and colorful is dependent on, besides water quality and filtration, what you feed your fish. If you look carefully at the mouth of a koi you will notice a set of barbells or “whiskers”. This is because in nature koi spend most of their time feeding by pushing through the soft bottom of their habitat, scrounging for every edible thing they can find. Koi are omnivorous – they will eat just about anything – but they require good protein and aquatic plant material. Anyone who has tried to keep plants in a pond with koi very quickly realizes that they will mow down anything green they can find. And if you think they don’t/won’t eat animals just tell that to any small fish, frog or crayfish that comes their way.
THEIR DIGESTIVE TRACT
However, koi (and goldfish) really do not have a stomach, but rather they have a long and continuous intestine. This fact tells us that koi are built for continually eating small quantities of food, and for digesting it completely as it passes through their digestive tract. The foods that you feed to your koi need to be highly digestible and high in protein – but it is very important that the protein and vegetable sources are aquatic and not terrestrial. Koi are simply not built for digesting land foods. Their food should also be as low in carbohydrates as possible, since they are not very effective at digesting carbs. If their food is highly digestible, the koi’s body will be very good at using that food as completely as possible. The more digestible their food is, the less waste the koi and other pond fish will pass through their system undigested, and therefore the less burden on the pond filter and the higher the water quality. As the old saying goes, “Feed your fish, not your pond.”
As we have learned more about the science of feeding fish, especially koi, it has become clear that there are additives that are important to the health of the fish. In addition to the required vitamins, there are other crucial additives called “probiotics”. They are natural substances (primarily yeasts and bacteria) that are added to the food; they act on the secretions and excretions of the fish. The probiotics degrade fibers and any non-digestible proteins, which helps lower the waste produced. In addition, Young Again adds “Rejuvene”, which is a naturally derived compound found only in Young Again. “Rejuvene” provides your koi’s immune system with what it needs to fight infectious diseases and parasites. In addition to probiotics, koi require a high protein diet. The higher the percent of protein you feed your koi, the less food they will require, and the less waste they will produce.
While the natural feeding habits of koi are to grub and poke along the soft bottom of the pond for anything edible, they will very quickly learn that on a regular basis the “Pond Food Fairy” comes by, and drops delicious and nutritious morsels into the surface of the pond. It only takes a few days for the koi and other pond fish to learn that when the shadow of the Pond Food Fairy looms over the pond, they are in no danger of being eaten, and they come quickly to the surface with their mouths working wildly to skim off whatever is dropped on the water. If you are feeding your pond using an automatic feeder, it is advisable to use a sinking food, since you do not want your fish to get conditioned to coming to the surface when the feeder motor moves and it clicks, as this can also be an invitation for birds, raccoons and other predators to make an attempt at a fish for dinner. On the other hand, you do want everyone in the pond to come up when you approach, so you should hand feed them floating food. Many pondkeepers tap on a rock or the side of the pond and then drop in food – the fish very quickly learn the routine. When you do feed your koi and other pondfish it is best to feed them small amounts a few times a day. Remember, they are continuously processing food in their long gut, and they are designed to eat constantly.
Young Again Pet Foods LLC
31008 Fox Hill Avenue
Stacy MN 55079
Contact: Matt Sklar
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