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What Can You Feed Fish in a Pond? (The Best & Worst Options)

What Can You Feed Fish in a Pond? (The Best & Worst Options)

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You can definitely find ponds in gardens, but you can also add one to your home.

A pond conserves water, improves your property’s curb appeal, and supports local wildlife. Moreover, it will balance the feng shui energy in your home.

But, to maintain your pond, you need to keep the fish healthy and well-fed.

So, what can you feed fish in a pond? Can you overfeed pond fish?

This article will answer these questions to help you care for these fantastic creatures. So, let’s dive in.

What Can You Feed Fish in a Pond?

Goldfish, koi carps, fathead minnows, and golden tenches are among the most popular pond fish. And the feeding process is probably the best part of keeping fish in a pond.

Most pond fish are omnivorous and can eat various types of food. This includes tadpoles, aquatic plants, shrimp, bloodworms, plankton, and algae.

Yet, choosing the best type of food depends on the fish species you’re keeping in the pond and the water temperature.

So, for example, in warm weather, when the water temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to provide your pond ish with protein-rich food. Fish have higher metabolism rates and can digest and benefit from this protein-rich food.

In colder weather, when the water temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you can provide fish with more carbohydrates and less protein.

Since pond fish are cold-blooded, they become sluggish in cold weather. So, it’s best not to overfeed your pond fish in cold weather, especially when there’s ice in the pond.

Uneaten food can disrupt the ecological balance in the pond and affect the fish’s health.

When the temperature increases in spring, feeding pond fish will help them recover from the coldness of winter. In the fall, feeding the fish will help prepare them for the cold winter.

What Do Pond Fish Eat Naturally?

In an entirely natural environment, you can feed your pond fish without supplemental food. The fish will adapt and eat different types of food.

The amount of snails, aquatic invertebrates, plants, and worms present in the pond water depends on the season and the water quality.

Natural food can be live or dead and distributed at different water levels.

Smaller goldfish are usually opportunistic eaters, feeding on different types of aquatic plants, insects, larvae, crustaceans, invertebrates, and tadpoles.

Larger goldfish will feed on smaller goldfish, tadpoles, and frogs. They can also eat insects and larvae.

Fathead minnows are also opportunistic feeders, so they’ll eat anything they can find in the pond. This includes plant matter, algae, insects, and larvae.

Koi fish are bottom feeders and sweep the bottom of the pond, feeding off any food they can find there, like live or dead plants and animal matter.

They can also feed on insects, tadpoles, frogs, snails, and smaller fish.

What to Feed Fish in a Pond?

In addition to natural food, you can supplement the fish’s diet with different types of food. This includes supplementary and complete feeds.

Supplementary Feeds

Supplementary feeds are made of kitchen scrap and waste and can be regularly provided to increase the food in the pond to help fish grow.

This type of food suits vegetarian, carnivorous, and omnivorous fish.

You can provide your pond fish with supplemental proteins by adding brine shrimp, fishmeal, soybean meal, bloodworms, silkworms, and the blood and innards of birds and animals.

Soybean meal and other vegetarian protein sources are suitable for most types of fish, but animal-based proteins should be provided less often. In general, younger fish need more proteins than bigger fish.

Add rice bran, peas, berries, spinach, carrots, watermelons, and broccoli for extra carbs and sugars. These vegetables are also rich in minerals and vitamins.

However, you should be careful not to add too many carbs to the pond, as pond fish are prone to liver degeneration.

You can also offer some vegetables and fruits as treats.

Protein-rich feeds can also be a good source of supplemental fats that give the fish energy. In addition, fish oil and linseed oil can be added to the pond to protect the fish from stunted growth and deformities.

All these supplemental feeds are rich in the minerals and vitamins the fish need, so you won’t have to supplement them separately.

Complete Feeds

When there isn’t enough natural food in the pond, providing complete feeds will be necessary to keep the pond fish healthy.

Complete feeds are made of carefully selected ingredients to keep the fish healthy. They contain the necessary minerals and vitamins to allow the fish to grow and fight off diseases.

These ingredients are processed in a form that the pond fish can easily eat and digest.

Picking the type of complete feed to provide to your pond fish depends on the size of the pond and the type of fish you’re keeping in it.

Flakes are easy to digest and contain the necessary nutrients that goldfish need to thrive. Yet, this feed isn’t suitable for bottom feeders like koi and won’t satisfy larger fish.

Pick a warm day to sprinkle fish flakes onto the water’s surface, as they can easily be blown away by the wind.

Pellet food is larger and denser, so it’s more suitable for larger fish and bottom feeders.

Pellets are available in floating and sinking types to suit the different species of your pond fish. They contain all the necessary nutrients.

Yet, excess pellets will sink to the bottom of the pond, eventually affecting the water quality.

Stick food suits small and large fish, and some will sink to the bottom to satisfy bottom feeders. It also produces less waste than pellets.

You can also get live food from pet stores. It’s specifically beneficial to fish during the spawning season and encourages healthy growth.

Can Pond Fish Eat Bread?

Although pond fish can eat a lot of food types found in your kitchen, bread isn’t one of them.

Bread isn’t naturally found in nature, so wild fish won’t eat it. They’ll only eat it when offered to them, and it can be pretty dangerous.

Most fish are opportunistic feeders and will eat everything offered to them, even if it’s harmful.

So, as a pond owner, you should refrain from offering bread to your fish. You should also advise your kids and guests to do the same.

Bread is unhealthy because it contains yeast and gluten, and fish can’t digest either. This means that fish won’t be able to absorb the necessary nutrients when they eat bread.

Moreover, when soaked in water, bread increases in size. So, when the fish eats it, it will expand in its stomach, causing bloating and swelling.

Can Pond Fish Eat Dog Food?

No, dog food isn’t suitable for pond fish because it doesn’t contain the necessary nutrients.

There might be some similar ingredients in fish and dog food, but this doesn’t mean you can use them interchangeably.

The size of dog food makes it unsuitable for pond fish to eat. Even if the fish can take small bites after the food has been soaked in water, it won’t provide them with the necessary nutrients.

What Eats Pond Fish?

A pond attracts different wildlife forms, and predators contribute to maintaining the balance of the pond’s ecosystem.

There are a few predators that eat pond fish, and it’s perfectly normal. Yet, if one species gets out of balance or attacks your pond fish too often, you might want to take action.

Pond fish’s predators include the following.

  • Herons feed on pond fish and amphibians, usually attacking at dawn and dusk.
  • Frogs usually attack smaller fish.
  • Cats, even domesticated ones, will catch pond fish skillfully.
  • Birds of prey, like hawks, can feed on pond fish in urban areas. However, owls rarely do this, as they prefer small mammals.
  • Raccoons feed on fish, especially in shallow ponds, as they’re not skillful divers.
  • Opossums occasionally feed on smaller fish.
  • Some snake species will attack small fish and feed on fish eggs. They usually attack pond fish during the spawning season.
  • Muskrats are primarily herbivorous, but they can occasionally feed on small fish. They also dig tunnels, lowering the water level in the pond.
  • Most turtles rarely attack pond fish, except for snapping turtles, which can be pretty aggressive.

Do Raccoons Eat Fish in a Pond?

Raccoons are among the most common pond fish predators because they’re common in urban areas and are opportunistic feeders. This means they will eat anything they find, including the fish in your pond.

They can also feed on anything they find inside or around the pond, including turtles and frogs. However, they won’t dive deep into the pond and will prefer to attack fish in shallow waters.

How Often to Feed Pond Fish

This depends on the temperature of the water. When the water’s temperature measures between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, you can feed the fish three times a day.

Warmer water makes fish more active, so they need more food to give them energy.

As the temperature drops between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you can feed your pond fish once a day. However, providing too much food will create more waste in the pond and make it unhealthy for all creatures that live in it.

Can You Overfeed Pond Fish?

Overfeeding will make pond fish sick and affect the water quality. This is why you need to consider the pond’s size, number of fish, water temperature, and aeration before feeding your fish.

If you’ve been providing supplementary food and you see it’s not eaten in a minute or two, you’re overfeeding your fish. Eventually, this extra food will fall to the bottom of the pond affecting the water quality.

The extra waste in the water might also clog the gills, decrease oxygen levels, and increase the levels of nitrogenous compounds, eventually making the pond fish sick.

Can Pond Fish Survive Without Feeding?

This depends on the types of fish you have in your pond.

Tropical fish should be fed at least once a week, while cold-water fish can survive for one or even two weeks without feeding.

In winter, your fish don’t have to be fed regularly, and you might be able to feed them twice monthly.

If you have a well-balanced ecosystem in your pond, you might not have to feed your pond fish at all. Instead, they’ll feed on the aquatic plants, insects, and animals in the water, and supplementary feeds won’t be necessary.

How Long Can You Leave Pond Fish Without Feeding Them?

Fish are more likely to die from overfeeding than from starving. So, don’t worry if you go a few days without feeding your pond fish.

You can leave pond fish for a week without feeding in summer, and they’ll be fine. In winter, you can leave them for two weeks or even more.

Larger fish will start feeding on the smaller ones when other food sources are unavailable. So, you should have a balanced ecosystem in your pond.

This includes providing fish with several aquatic plants, animals, and insects that represent a nutritious food source.

Final Thoughts

Keeping a pond on your property will enhance your landscape and curb appeal. But before committing to pond fish, you should research what, when, and how to feed them.

Most fish are opportunistic feeders, so they’ll feed on whatever is found in the pond.

This is why you should ensure that there are several creatures that pond fish can feed on to provide their bodies with the essential nutrients.

In some cases, you might have to provide supplementary or complete feeds. But be careful not to overfeed your fish, as this can make them sick.


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