Feeding Ornamental Fish:
In this section our aim is to try to give you a basic guide of how, when and what to feed your fish.
From the humble Gold Fish (which descend from the crucian carp) to spectacular Koi we hope this will give you an insight of correct feeding methods and foods for your pets..
Some people don't tend to regard ornamental pond fish as pets, but of course they are and like any other pet they need the proper nutrition and attention.
A little about fish digestion:
Fish do not have a stomach – what they do have is a long intestinal gut (tube), this is where food is broken down and the nutrients absorbed by the body before any waste is excreted.
Digestion actually starts in the mouth (yes Koi do have 'teeth') these are at the back of the mouth which they use to grind their food into small particles (rather like a rough paste). There are also small hollows at the back of the gill arches that trap food in the water. Rather like humans that produce saliva fish produce a mucus that is secreted by the lining of the mouth which in turn mixes with the food. The food then moves down through the esophagus to the long intestinal tract. Muscles in the esophagus eliminate the excess water by squeezing it out of the food. The eaten food gets broken down by digestive enzymes as it passes through the intestine. Proteins form amino acids. Carbohydrates form sugars. Fats become fatty acids and glycerol. All of these nutrients are absorbed into the blood stream along with any vitamins and minerals. The very end of the intestine contains a lot of mucus producing cells this mucus enables any undigested food to be easily excreted.
So just a few basic feeding rules:
Because of having no 'stomach' as such fish are naturally inclined to overeat and this not what we want, as the extra food taken in is merely passed out undigested into the pond. Only feed your fish as much as they will take in a five minute period. Of course one of the pleasures of keeping fish is to watch them eat, but an important part of feeding is to make sure after meal time is over any uneaten food is netted out of the pond straight away.
Following this practice will ensure that you are leaving no uneaten food in the pond that will rot and ultimately foul the water and present your filtration system with a biological over load!
A simple calculation shows us that a Koi consuming for example 10 grams of food a day will deposit 30% or 3 grams of waste into the pond water.
The best time to feed your fish is during the day – by this we mean if possible not first thing in the morning or too late at night. Food can be given in one feed or ideally broken down into two or three smaller feeds – mixing different foods can also bring benefits - just remember not to over feed...
Fish Treats also have a place in the scheme of things, these can be dried Crustacea such as shrimp and krill also silkworm pupae is usually readily accepted. Vitamin C in the form of quartered oranges or lettuce can also be an occasional treat. Don't be tempted to feed high carbohydrate food such as white bread, peas etc. once upon a time this was common practice but in this day an age not a good one.....
Seasonal changes also bring a different feeding regime into play: the rule of thumb is once the water temperature in the pond drops below 10 degrees C defiantly stop feeding the higher protein foods, if your fish are hungry (you will know this if they are up at the surface looking for food) then feed a good quality wheatgerm food. It's often a good idea to start mixing a little wheatgem in with the normal summer food a few weeks before the temperature drops too much, this will ensure that your fish will readily accept just wheatgerm when the time for transition comes.
Holiday times can be problematic and unless you have a very dependable neighbour or friend that will do the job safely for you then an Automatic Feeder is a must.
Automatic Feeders as the name suggests allows you to set a timer so that food is dispensed at intervals throughout the day. It must be said here that these sort of feeders will only dispense pelleted foods and not the pond stick type as automatic feeders will crush the sticks into a powder and ultimately block the mechanism causing the unit to fail.