When planning for the winter months, there are several actions that you as a pondkeeper need to take to ensure that the transition to colder climes is smooth and efficient.
One of the key factors in understanding pond fish care during winter, is that most fish are poikilothermic. This means that that when the water temperature changes so does their body temperature.
Consequently they rely on the temperature of their water to determine the rate of digestion. Because of this, their metabolism tends to slow down as the temperature begins to drop. Once their metabolism slows down enough, they will enter into a kind of ‘hibernation’ state. This helps them survive the cold months where they would struggle to digest food properly.
When easing them into this state of ‘hibernation’ you should be mindful that as the temperature drops – your feeding regime should change accordingly.
As autumn approaches and the temperature drops into the low sixties (60°F – 15°C) you should then begin to restrict feeding to around once to twice a week. A solid wheat germ based food will be ideal.
This should be kept in place until around mid to late October or as a better guide; when the temperature drops below fifty (50°F – 10°C), once this happens your fish will start to become disinterested in food and you should cease feeding altogether. At this point the temperature should be so low that the fish will be generally inactive, their metabolism will have slowed down almost completely and they will spend the bulk of their time, motionless at the bottom of the pond.
Feeding should only be resumed in the spring once temperatures have permanently risen over fifty (50°F – 10°C).