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Feeding fish - the second most beautiful thing in the world!
Feeding fish is fun for everyone - young and old! Many fish species learn to eat out of your hand very quickly and seem to develop a special relationship with their keeper. Hand feeding has real advantages: You can give a larger amount of food to weak fish and it is much easier to catch them if necessary.
There are a large number of different fish foods with sometimes considerable price differences.
Why is a species-appropriate nutrition so important?
Because fish feeding is such fun, a lot of pond owners tend to forget that there is a lot more to it than that. Food, of course, is important. It influences such factors as growth and resistance to disease. And fish, which can differ from each other as much as a cat does from a cow, have widely differing feeding demands to reflect this! Predatory fish, such as trout or perch, need food based on (fish) meat, whereas semi plant eating omnivores, such as goldfish or koi, need a higher plant content in their food. Do not forget that commercial trout or carb farming food is created to build up as much fish biomass as possible in the shortest possible time (age of slaughtering), whereas in the garden pond more importance is attached to continuous and slower growth for a long fish life. Nobody wants to slaughter their expensive koi carps after 2 years just to eat them. This accounts for the significant differences between most commercially produced fish food and food produced specifically for garden pond fish.
Not all pond fish require the same food and their stage of life (young/old) is also relevant. Another very important point is the metabolic rate (digestibility) of the food. Dog owners know the problem: Cheap food leads to huge piles of faeces, while the dog still shows deficiency symptoms. With fish unsuitable food has identical results, and while this doesn’t annoy pedestrians so much, it badly contaminates the pond water with pollutants. This in turn leads to problems with unwanted algae.
Which species eat which food?
If you keep several fish genera or species in your pond, which is mostly the case, the first question is, of course, how to feed the different species separately. In “community ponds” this is simply impossible unless you feed all the fish by hand. With a collection of various families and species in a pond it is important to offer a range of food which meets all their requirements. That’s the only way to avoid deficiency symptoms and diseases. This difficulty, incidentally, has led to the trend of more and more pond owners building pure “species ponds”. One could contain just koi, another one just sturgeon species.
We distinguish the following types of fish in ponds:
Koi, goldfish, biotope fish and sturgeons. Koi and goldfish are very similar in terms of nutritional requirements, but koi become much larger. You can also feed the right size of a koi food to goldfish and vice versa. The right food size, matching the mouth of the fish, is the decisive factor. The composition of a koi food is often of higher quality than that of a goldfish food. This is the reason for the price differences!
"Biotope fish" continue to be very popular in ponds. Biotope fish include the native fish species of Europe, some of which - depending on the country - are protected. In Germany, for example, unprotected species such as sunbleaks, gudgeons, sticklebacks and minnows are often cultivated as biotope fish in ponds. The nutritional requirements of these fish types differ a lot from the goldfish, Koi or sturgeon. They are small animal eaters and therefore need their own food which is also smaller than that of the other pond inhabitants. Therefore JBL PROPOND BIOTOPE XS has been developed.
What exactly are pellets, extrudates and granules?
Outline of the various food types:
How much do you need to feed?
Please feed as much as can be completely eaten by the fish in about 2-3 minutes. Should uneaten food still be floating on the water surface or lying on the pond bottom after 5 minutes, you have fed too much!
Strangely most pond owners seem to be afraid that their fish will starve to death. As a result they often overfeed their animals. This is extremely unhealthy and causes extreme pollution in the pond (resulting in algae problems).
You can accurately dose the food quantity if you know the weight of your fish. 100 grammes body weight of a large koi requires about 1 - 2 grammes of food per day. But who wants to weigh their fish and the food all the time? The “eaten in a few minutes“ rule is absolutely sufficient and leads, when combined with the right food and feeding frequency, to perfectly healthy fish.
On the side of every ProPond® / NEO Index® pack you will find a table with precise feeding recommendations.
In addition pet shops sell JBL food dosing cups, similar to washing powder dosing cups, to help you to determine the right food amount per type of diet. This is a professional way to prevent under and overfeeding and thus to keep your pond fish healthy and well fed.
THE RIGHT FEED AMOUNT – FOR POND OWNERS AND POND DWELLERS
We project our behaviour on our fish and tend to feed them too much rather than too little. Besides feeding is fun and makes our fish love us. Unfortunately overfeeding doesn’t only create blow fish, it also has other consequences. Uneaten food sinks to the ground and pollutes the water and the filter, with the result that algae gladly eat the food. Since fish never really feel satisfied, they always give the impression that they need to be fed. That’s why the correct food amount really is essential for healthy fish and a healthy pond! Easy to read tables on the bag show the feeding recommendation for each product. This will show you how much food your goldfish, koi or sterlet needs per day. The recommended food amount can either be given in one go, or (Ideally) in several portions throughout the day. The practical dosing cup will help you to determine the right food amount without kitchen scales, according to the feeding recommendation.
How often do you need to feed?
The basic rule applies: little and often is better than rarely and a lot. Here too the similarities with the human diet are obvious. Young animals need their food ration at least 3 times a day, whereas older animals can easily manage with one feed in the evening.
Let us not forget that most ponds of more than two years possess comprehensive microfauna and flora which can serve as dietary supplement.
The vitamin cure
Your pond fish and koi will receive vitamins through the food you feed them and through the natural nutrition present in your pond. As with us humans the vitamin supply is only sufficient when an optimally balanced diet can be achieved. The same applies to your pond dwellers, and it is therefore advisable to administer an extra dose of vitamins at least once a week. The most efficient method is to drip the vitamin concentrate JBL Atvitol onto the food, shortly before it is fed to the fish. When your fish show symptoms of disease, the vitamin cure is, along with medicinal supplements, the most important step. Medications only have an effect on pathogens, whereas the vitamins strengthen the fish’s resistance to disease and help them to get well.
JBL ProPond NEO Index
The JBL ProPond® food with the NEO Index® food is the only physiological-nutritional concept on the market.
Even if your pond fish are always hungry and greedily eat any food they can get it’s important to get to grips with the issue of correct nutrition. Which factors are really important? It is simply not enough to select the right seasonal food. Proper nutrition needs to provide energy at the right time and in the right place. JBL’s scientists have summarised all these factors in an index, the so-called NEO index (natural, energy- optimised nutrition). For the first time ever PROPOND Estações do ano food sorts will give you over 100 articles which are created on the basis of the criteria animal size, age, function and water temperature, along with the corresponding protein/fat ratio.
The protein/fat ratio
The NEO Index is all about the ratio of proteins to fats in fish food. If we only took the season into account, the fish would need half as much protein in winter (2:1) as in summer (4:1). But because it’s not just the season (i.e. the water temperature), but also the size and age of the fish, and the food function (e.g. growth food = Crescimento ) which are highly significant, the NEO Index® has been developed to indicate the right protein/fat ratio.
On the front of each ProPond® / NEO Index® food packaging you will find two big NEO index numbers showing the protein/fat ratio, and on the back of the packaging you will find the details. If you find, for example, for the spring food ( Primavera ) the same protein/fat ratio (3:1) as on the autumn food ( Outono ) a glance at the exact composition shows that they are not the same food in different packaging but that the ingredients show significant differences:
In autumn the fish need a higher protein and fat content than in spring to build up energy reserves for the coming winter. So both contents have the same ratio to one another, but are higher than in the spring food. In return the crude fibre and crude ash content is slightly lower in autumn, as the digestive tract needs to be less stressed over the coming winter. Furthermore the spring food is a floating food and the autumn food a sinking food, in order that the animals can slowly unwind in autumn without needing to exert themselves by feeding at the water surface.
Proteins are the basic components of the body and necessary for the building and renewal of body cells. Proteins as enzymes and hormones are also responsible for a wide range of tasks in the body. Amino acids are also classified as proteins and they create important conditions for healthy and good growth. Proteins can be found in all raw materials. Particularly suitable for the pond fish are protein sources from fish, crustaceans and molluscs.
Fats provide an important storage of energy in the body and are therefore an especially important food component when higher storage is required (before winter). In addition there are also essential substances in fats (which the body cannot produce and have to be taken via food). High-quality fats with many Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are therefore an important supplement in fish food. Fish oil especially provides quite naturally the ideal composition of fats for our pond fish and further important substances, such as carotenes which support the colouring of the fish.
Just like us, our fish need an indigestible proportion of their diet to support the digestion. The crude fibres make sure that the food is better absorbed. In crude ash substances can be found which can be absorbed as minerals or trace elements and are essential for many processes in the body. Important for the formation of the skeleton are, for example, calcium and phosphorus, for the metabolic processes sodium, potassium, magnesium and chlorine, and iron for the function of oxygen transport.
However what is often overlooked in the garden pond especially, is the quantity of food required . Sample calculations and numerous tests about maintenance metabolism show quite clearly that many garden pond owners do not feed enough for fear of algae growth. A koi pond with 20 koi carps of 40 cm needs 600 g food per day (!) in the summer months.
If you preferably feed something like breeding food for trout (mostly brown pellets in transparent large bags for little money) to goldfish and koi, this is like putting cows on a meat diet. The animals grow fast but they can’t process the food correctly and become susceptible to diseases. The missing extensive digestion of the food and its consequent excretion can lead to higher water pollution. Moreover a fatty degeneration of the liver occurs, which can sometimes be recognised by a very round body shape.
Juveniles: Compared to larger fish, smaller fish need smaller food, if only due to their smaller mouth size. Because smaller goldfish and koi will grow more than big ones (fish grow throughout their life time) their food composition also has to be appropriately adapted to suit this growth.
Fish grow throughout their lives
If we visualized the growth of a fish as a growth curve it would become a rising curve which flattens at the top. The growth thus slows down with increasing age, but never stops. There can also be dents in the curve because fish growth is also dependent on food availability and living conditions. A 5 cm long koi weights about 2.2 g. When it reaches its threefold size, its weight will have increased to nearly 60 g. When it is 50 cm in length it will weigh more than 2 kg. A 50 cm koi needs approx. 110 g food per day since it needs 3.5-5 % of its body weight as daily nutrition.
As varied as the demands on the fish’s metabolism
Even if your pond fish are always hungry and happy to eat any food they can get, it’s important to get to grips with the subject of correct nutrition. It is not enough to select the right seasonal food. Proper nutrition needs to provide energy at the right time and in the right place. Fish are cold-blooded animals! Therefore their metabolism always depends on the ambient temperature (water temperature). While you need to stop feeding in cold winter temperatures (below 5 degree Celsius), the fish need more and more food as the temperature increases. Although the metabolism of the fish depends on the ambient temperature, a classification into metabolic rate, (required for the maintenance of the life functions), and the active metabolic rate can still be made. These types of energy are dependent on the ambient temperature, the age, sex and the activity of the fish.
Do sturgeons require special food?
Yes, because sturgeons are small animal eaters, which search for food on the bottom of the pond. For these interesting fish JBL PROPOND STERLET S in two granule sizes have been developed.
Sturgeons and other fish in one pond
How do you feed fish with different requirements?
Sturgeons not only need a different food than your koi or goldfish, they also have a different feeding behaviour! Generally goldfish and koi are eager feeders and swim to the feed area when a human approaches the pond. After feeding there’s usually nothing left for the sturgeons and sterlets! You can solve this problem with a trick: take an opaque plastic tube and put the sturgeon food inside it.
JBL PROPOND STERLET M is a sinking food and reaches the bottom through the tube, where the sturgeons learn to pick it up. That’s how the sturgeons get “their” food and the other pond dwellers can’t eat it away!
Should you also feed pond fish in winter?
Even when the water temperature sinks under 15 °C the fish are still active. Activity means energy consumption, which needs to be fed back to the fish. For this purpose JBL has developed a special low temperature food ( Inverno ). The composition of this food is such that the food is easy to digest and doesn’t affect the digestive tract, because in low temperatures the digestion process works very slowly. A good winter food needs to supply the animals with more energy than required for the digestion of the food. Otherwise the fish would be greatly weakened by their energy loss, despite eating!
Professional tip: Do white koi need different food to red-and-white or orange-coloured koi?
The fish colours are created by pigments in special pigment cells inside the skin. Natural substances such as carotenes and astaxanthines enhance special yellowish and reddish colours in the skin. But if too many natural colorants are added to the food, a white koi can become pink! Therefore a lot of experience and knowledge is required to achieve colour enhancement with clear colour separation at the same time! Now there is no need for fish owners to worry about feeding their fish artificial chemicals to make them beautifully coloured! The carotenes (from carrots etc.) and even more so the expensive astaxanthines originate from high-quality feed animals, such as krill, gammarus, brine shrimp, cyclops and water fleas – thus from a natural fish diet. They are extracted and concentrated and then, carefully dosed, are added to the pond food. Metallic shimmering colours, depending on the light, are called structural colours and can’t be influenced by the food.
JBL NEO Index is worth it!
Feeding your fish in accordance with the NEO index, means you are providing your fish with the perfect food for each fish size, fish age and season and for all living conditions. That way your fish stay healthy, grow the right way and display very beautiful colours with clear colour separation.