When and Why to Stop Feeding Your Koi Fish in Winter

We’re moving into the winter season, and temperatures are dropping. You might be thinking about your koi pond and how your koi will fare during the winter months.

Your fish will be just fine, but colder weather does mean you need to adjust your feeding schedule.

Here’s how your koi feeding schedule will change as the temperature falls – even to the point where you stop feeding them until the spring.

How Weather Affects Feeding Schedule

As the air temperature falls, your koi pond water temperature will drop. There’s a direct relationship between water temperature and koi feeding because your koi’s digestive system slows down as the temperature does (with one exception).

During late spring through late summer/early fall, when water temperatures are 86 degrees F or above, you’ll feed your koi twice a day (up to 4 times a day for smaller koi).

Between 68 and 86 degrees F is the most active time for your koi. They’ll feed more than they will in any other temperature range, so you’ll feed your koi two to four times a day.

Their digestive systems start slowing down again once the temperature falls below 68 degrees F. From 59 to 68 degrees F, you’ll feed your koi one to two times a day. Between 50 and 59 degrees F, you’ll start really watching your koi closely – it’s possible they may not eat very much at all, so you’ll feed them no more than twice a day, preferably once.

The next phase is important. As water temperature falls below 50 degrees to 41 degrees F, you’ll only feed your koi two to three times weekly. And as water temperature gets below 41 degrees F, you’ll stop feeding your koi altogether because they should be in hibernation mode at that point.

Once your koi are in hibernation mode, their digestive systems will slow to their lowest point, and you won’t have to start feeding them again until spring. When koi hibernate with food in their stomach it can rot and start a bacterial infection that could kill them. Once you completely stop feeding for winter (water below 41 degrees) do not start feeding again until Spring. Even if they beg during an unseasonable warm-up in January because it can it quickly cool down again and catch them with food in their stomach.

Taking Care of Your Koi Feeding

It can be time-consuming to care for your koi ponds and follow the right feeding schedule all throughout the year. You’ll need to watch your koi and observe their feeding habits; the above guidelines are just guidelines, especially as the weather gets colder.

Alabama Aquarium helps koi owners keep their animals fed on schedule. Get a quote for our koi water garden maintenance services and let us maintain your ponds for you.