Fish Care While You're Away

The key to Koi care

The vibrant glimmer of darting koi enhances your pond’s beauty—dotting the water with color and movement to the delight of observers young and old. Koi provide hours of entertainment, drawing us back to the present as we savor Mother Nature’s miracle.  

Marine pets become a part of our brood—we develop an emotional connection to their well-being and mere presence. But when pond owner’s plan to vacation, how should they plan for the welfare of their pond fish? In cold climates, koi have entered a state of suspended animation, so feeding is not necessary. In warmer seasons or areas with temperate climates year-round, several options exist—each having their own set of pros and cons, advocates and opponents.

Asking a neighbor to step in and feed the fish is tempting; proximity lends to convenience and reciprocal neighborly relationships are ideal. Feeding fish is fun, but heavy-handed fish feeders wreak havoc in the pond. Water quality suffers from overfeeding—from unconsumed, decomposing food as well as an unexpected influx of fish excreta. The filtration system can become overwhelmed, compromising water quality along with the health of your fish.

Some pond owners choose not to feed their fish while they are on short vacations—a week or so—opting to allow koi to feed off the pond algae or forage for larvae and insects.

Slow release feeder blocks can be effective for up to 7 days. Choose a high-quality, nutritious option and check the water quality upon your return. Ensure the feeder block is designed for ponds rather than aquariums and is optimal for the number of fish in your pond.

Setting up an automatic feeding station is another option to explore and appropriate for short or long vacations. Automatic feeders are programmable to feed the desired quantity of food at preselected times, so overfeeding is avoided. Automatic feeders can hold enough food for several weeks. Caveat—animals such as raccoons, bears and squirrels may find your fish food station appealing—and may take notice of your fish as well. Most feeding stations can be pole-mounted on the pond’s bank or suspended over the water to curtail unwelcome visitors.

Koi provide hours of entertainment during warmer months—embodying elegance and whimsy as their translucent tails break water’s glimmering surface. When you are not enjoying them from your pond-side Adirondack—but envisioning them from your beach chair—you can rest easy knowing they are well-cared for back home.