Change feeding regimen
Feed fish appropriately. The water temperature is dropping now and we should be feeding our fish less as their metabolism slows down. Hopefully you have been feeding your fish well with a high protein food this summer to allow them to build up a reserve of fat to help them through the winter. After the water temperature drops to the sixties you should decrease the amount of food given and feed only once a day. A wheat germ based food is good at this time as it is easily digested. Pond Care’s Spring & Autumn Food or Microbe Lift Cold Weather folrmula are excellent foods at this time of year. As the water temperatures continue to drop to below 60 degrees you should feed only two or three times a week. It can take your fish two or three days to digest food at this temperature. Once the temperature drops below 50 degrees you should stop feeding altogether until spring when the water temperature remains above 50.
During periods of freezing temperatures, ice can completely cover the entire pond surface. This may not be a serious problem if the ice lasts only a few days. However, a prolonged covering of ice can create conditions toxic to your pond fish. Without an opening in the ice for proper gas exchange, harmful gasses such as carbon dioxide accumulate as dissolved oxygen is slowly depleted. If proper gas exchange is not allowed to occur, water quality degrades to unsafe levels and results in seasonal fish loss called “winter kill.” Invest in a de-icer or an aeration pump to avoid winter kill. Pond de-icers rely on heat to maintain an opening in the ice while aeration pumps prevent ice formation by agitating the water surface with air bubbles. These units rely on different methods but both devices safely maintain an opening in the ice and promote proper gas exchange, even during a hard freeze. Keeping an open area in the ice with a de-icer or aerator is one of the most effective ways of preventing the seasonal loss of prized koi due to poor water quality.
Be prepared during fall to avoid costly mistakes in the dead of winter. Maintain good pond water quality for healthier koi and over-wintering success.
Maintain high oxygen levels
As organics decompose in the pond they can produce toxic gases that could be trapped in the pond if it is covered by ice for more than a few days. It is important to keep at least a small area free of ice so that these gases can escape. Do not break the ice as the shock waves created can damage or kill your fish. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a floating pond de-icer. This device floats in the pond and has a built in thermostat to turn the heating element on when the water temperature drops below 40 degrees. They can also be used to keep a small pond from freezing solid allowing you to keep your fish alive.
Protect your fish. With their slower metabolism and the absence of plants our fish are more susceptible to predation by raccoons, birds and other animals. If you took our advice and added leaf netting to keep the leaves out of your pond this should protect your fish as well. A Koi Kastle will help your fish be more comfortable by providing a place for them to hide. One of the most effective methods of keeping predators away from the pond at any time of the year is the ScareCrow. This device senses movement with a motion detector and sprays any intruder with a burst of water frightening them off.