Feeding Your Pond Fish Throughout the Seasons

As the seasons shift, so must your approach to feeding your pond fish. Proper nutrition is essential year-round for the health and well-being of your aquatic companions. Whether you're contending with the heat of summer or the cold of winter, understanding the seasonal dietary needs of your fish is paramount. Join us as we explore the intricacies of feeding your fish throughout the changing seasons, ensuring they receive the optimal care to thrive in any climate. As with all things pond fish, speak with your pond fish dealer for additional advice. 


Your pond fish will gradually become more active as water temperatures increase in the spring, which means it’s time to eat! You can start feeding your pond fish once the water temperature stays consistently above 50°F. A good rule of thumb: If your fish are looking for food at the surface of the water, they’re probably hungry and have decided for themselves that its time to start eating. Ease their systems into things with a cold-weather wheat germ-based diet. When the water temperature reaches 60°F, you can switch to a protein-rich diet 

Late Spring to Early Summer (aka breeding season) 

The mild temperatures of late spring and early summer kickstart the pond fish breeding season. Goldfish will appear striking in color and brightness with an impressive level of activity. This increase in activity means they will need even higher levels of protein to support the production of milt and eggs. Depending on the type of fish in your pond, a balanced diet for pond fish breeding season may include a combination of high-protein pellets, blood worms, brine shrimp, pond plants, and vegetables. 


Summer is the most active time of year for pond fish, so feed them a protein-rich diet but be careful not to over-feed. Most pond fish can eat up to 3 times a day in the summer, while Koi can eat up to 6 times a day, so we understand this can be tricky. A general rule of thumb for feeding your pond fish is to give the fish no more than they can eat in 5 minutes.  Reminder: The summer heat will cause a drop in the oxygen levels of the pond, so its important to aerate the water with a pond aerator, spitter, waterfall, floating fountain, or fountain nozzle. 

Fall and Winter 

As the water temperature starts to cool, you will want to prepare your pond fish for the winter ahead. Having a thermometer is important so you can determine the water temperature, which is the only way to know how to feed your fish correctly. The lower temperature means reduced activity for fish and the slowing of their metabolism. The higher protein diet from summer will allow them to build up a reserve of fat to assist them during the cold winter months. Fish will generally slow feeding when water temperatures are at or below 60 degrees. When the water temperature is steady between 55-60° F, only feed once a day and switch the food to a wheat germ-based diet because these foods are highly digestible at lower temperatures. When the temperatures stay between 50-55° F, reduce feeding to once a week. If there is a chance the temperature will drop below 50 degrees within a few days, do not feed the fish. They are not capable of proper digestion in cold water and the food can decay in their system, sending bacteria into the bloodstream and killing the fish. If the temperature stays below 50° F, you can stop feeding them until the weather warms in spring. It is important not to overfeed because uneaten food will add excess organic matter to the pond increasing the chances of low oxygen levels and a fish kill. Discard any remaining fish food since the nutrients in any open packages will disintegrate over time. Sometimes there are warm spells during the winter seasons and fish may come to the surface. Be sure not to feed them as they may be coming up for air and any food they eat will not be digested.

Food Options

Following these guidelines will help with a feeding program aimed at supporting healthy fish. We suggest also feeding your fish insects such as spiders, grubs, and worms regularly to reap the health benefits. Just make sure they don’t bite the fish. You can even feed dried insects but make sure to soak the bugs first so the fish can swallow them easily. Flakes should also be soaked before feeding to aid in digestion. These floating foods can be a great way to add vitamins to their diet. Some great supplements to add to their diet are Vitamins B and C, spirulina, and wheat germ oil. Also, fish oil can be a great source of energy for your fish. Variety is key in a fish diet so they can get all the nutrients they need. Adding fruits and greens is a great way to provide these nutrients besides just giving supplements. If giving dry food, then be sure that the pellet is a size your fish can swallow and that it is of high quality. It is costly to manufacture high-quality food so unfortunately it is expensive to invest in. However, if you are buying lower quality food to save a few dollars then you may be putting your fish at risk as well as your entire pond. Inexpensive foods can contribute to water quality and clarity issues. When giving your fish a quality brand, you are keeping your fish healthy which means less waste in your filters to pollute your pond ecosystem.