Rules when Stocking and Feeding your Pond Fish

Posted by Bill Hoffman on May 24th 2021

Rules when Stocking and Feeding your Pond Fish

There are many things in a pond for your koi and fish to eat - such as insects, plankton, string algae, and sometimes pond plants. So sometimes it may not be necessary to feed your fish at all.

BUT feeding your finned friends can be fun and a bonding experience. They can actually be trained to eat right out of your hand. Goldfish, shubunkins, and koi are generally the main residents of most backyard ponds. Keeping them happy and healthy is of utmost importance.


Pond fish should only be fed when spring, summer and fall water temperatures are consistently above 50° F and below 80°F. A pond thermometer will help you keep track - since water temperatures and air temperatures do not typically match.

  • Water temperature below 50° F slows down fish metabolism. We recommend to not feed your fish during this time. When water temperatures are this cold, so are your fish’s body temps. Fish food can get trapped in their stomachs and cause ulcers inside the fish. This can be deadly when the water gets warmer.
  • Water temps between 50°-70°F will start to animate your fish, or slow them down depending on the season. At this time a lower protein fish food is easier for them to digest as well as provides high fat and vitamin content for boosting the immune system. Feed your fish every 2-3 days to ease them into the weather changes that are coming.
  • Water temps between 70° and 80°F is when fish are most active and expending lots of energy. A higher protein fish food will help them grow and keep up their strength for spawning. A good rule of thumb is to feed your fish once a day, what they will eat completely, in 3 to 5 minutes. Or, if you want to feed them 2-3 times a day – give them only what they will eat in 1-2 minutes. The more often you feed them, the faster their metabolism gets. This may result in some destructive behavior and shredding of your pond plants.
  • Water 80°F or more does not hold as much dissolved oxygen and fish waste build up can become toxic - even if you have good filtration. We recommend you do not feed your fish no matter how much they seem to beg.

On occasion it can be fun to give your swimming pets a treat. Koi Krunchies are ideal for small hands when letting the kids, grandkids, or neighbor kids see how trained your fish are.

Using a floating feeder ring will make it easy for you to remove uneaten food, and keep it from being sucked into your pond’s skimmer box. Leaving uneaten food in the pond, or skimmer, will decay and cause algae problems - potentially leading to other health issues for your fish.

In addition to the fish food that you provide them, pond fish consume plant and bug life every day. In one end and out the other means it all ends up in the bottom of your pond. *Do not over feed your pond fish.


*Be aware, over-feeding can be just as dangerous as over-stocking.


It is very difficult to keep pond water clean and healthy in ponds that have too much of a fish load. We recommend adding no more than 1 inch of fish per 2 sq. ft. of surface area during the first year. Remember, fish grow and multiply, so you will want to leave them some growing room. You also do not want to overwhelm the pond filtration system (bacteria that break down fish waste) by adding too many at one time.

Size matters. Larger fish consume more, create more waste, take up more space, and put a higher demand on dissolved oxygen in the pond.

A well-established pond may be able to handle many more fish; or larger fish - as long as the filtration is adequate. A bog filter is a great addition to your pond for filtering fish waste naturally when the population has grown and you just can’t fathom getting rid of any fin babies. You can learn more about bogs here.


All your fish and fish care needs can be found at Hoffman’s Water X Scapes either in store or online. Stop in with any questions or check out our blog library for more information.


Related Blogs: Learn the Benefits of a Floating Fish Feeder RingLearn How to Keep your Pond's Eco-System Balanced for Crystal Clear Pond Water