When to Start Feeding Koi in Spring

feeding koi fish

The days are becoming longer, the air is getting warmer, spring is just near, and all your winter worries are gone, and you may be wondering if you can start feeding your koi. Sorry to be honest- April is among the worst months. It is this season when overwintering koi die. 

Their metabolisms have been dramatically modified to handle the frigid temperatures and the insufficient food supply in the fall. Any koi that was not in good condition during the autumn is likely to be at risk in the spring. After the winter is over, koi (and the immune system) get a boost. That’s excellent news.

The negative is that your koi have fallen behind the pace of getting going. The parasites and bacteria which have spent the last few months sleeping (no, they’re not dead, but resting) in the bottom of the mulm (the thick layer of organic material, such as unfiltered debris, odd fragments of leaves as well as dead plant material) of your pond and are hungry and starting to awake. Like a herd of tiny Tasmanian beasts, they’re hunting around looking for food, and mulm is the beginning of what they’ll consume.

Bacteria can enter any crack in the koi’s skin and will immediately begin multiplying, and external parasites will start feeding and reproducing. They’re more alert during this time than the koi’s immune system. Keep an eye out for holes in the sides or anchor worms and fungal infections. Watch for flashing, curving the body to scrape the sides or bottom of the pond. Most koi-keepers feed minimally or don’t feed until the water is beyond 60 degrees. Then, the meals should begin at a low level. (We’re doing this to guard the delicate digestive systems of your koi. 

The aim is to prevent an increase in nitrate and ammonia levels when your biofilter bacteria get active. As the water temperatures rise over 70 °, you can slowly increase the food intake available, however, be careful! If your koi takes longer than a minute and one-half to eat, it’s too excessive. Feed them small portions twice every day, and check the water’s ammonia as well as the content of nitrite at least once a week. Perform partial water changes (5 to 15%) each week to maintain ammonia and nitrite levels to a minimum.

NOTE: This is the case for cold-water fish that you keep on an outdoor pond. The tropical fish that move to a tank or an aquarium indoors in colder weather will be fed differently.

When should I start feeding Koi Pond Fish Following the winter?

It would help if you began feeding goldfish, koi, and other fish in ponds after winter when the pond’s temperature typically stays above 40deg F. 

The feeding schedule for your fish needs to be entirely based on the water temperature in your pond. This is the way to know when you should stop feeding them and how often you should feed them at various times.

It also emphasizes using an accurate pond thermometer and frequently checking the temperature.

Koi Feeding Temperature Chart

Water TempFeeding
Below 40FDon't feed at all
40-50FAlternate feeding days
50-60FOnce a day
Above 60FOne or two times a day

This helpful koi feeding temperature chart can help you determine the amount you need to feed your fish.

You can observe in the graph above when the temperature of the water increases (not temperatures in the air but the water) to 40 degrees F and continues to rise for at least a week.

It’s also the perfect time to get your koi pond ready for spring and begin cleaning.

As the temperature in your pond increases, it is necessary to alter the diet of the fish according to the temperature range of the chart.

Don’t fret. The fish in your pond can eat without worry throughout winter (when temperatures in the water are less than 40 degrees F) as their metabolism slows, and they lose appetite in entering what is called phlegm.

It’s crucial not to feed your fish at this period as they usually stop eating, and any food they don’t eat will float to the bottom of your pond, possibly producing issues with water quality. If they happen to eat food when the water temperature is lower than 40 degrees F, it is possible that the food could remain within their bodies, leading to problems with health and, in some instances, even death.

What to Feed Koi Fish in Spring

Your koi fish should be fed food with high-quality nutrition that is easily digestible. It is recommended that the food floats over the surface (unless there are bottom feeders) and has all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and proteins for optimal health and long-term longevity.

We recommend Blackwater Premium fish pellets since they meet all their needs. It’s excellent for koi carp or goldfish and other fish you may keep in your water garden or pond.

It would help if you never fed your fish bread; the central part of their diet must consist of premium quality fish food and natural foods found in the ecosystem.