Koi and goldfish are the two most popular fish among backyard ponds here in New Jersey. These two species are very closely related to each other; they are both in the cyprinidae (carp) family, but they do have a few key differences. This article will teach you what separates koi from goldfish and common carp, and help you determine which kind is best suited for your pond.
For koi living in South Jersey, the feeding months run from roughly mid-April through mid-October. This is the time of the year when the pond water is over 55-degrees, and koi metabolisms are actively digesting food. The first few weeks you should only feed them a small amount once every other day. When water becomes warmer than 65-degrees you can begin feeding them every day. Knowing how much food to give the fish per session is easy, just give them whatever they will eat within five minutes. One feeding per day is enough. In fact, don't do multiple feedings per day until June or when the water is safely into the 70's.
It is better to underfeed than to overfeed. Koi are foragers, and in an ecosystem pond there will naturally be lots of stuff for your fish to eat among the plants and rocks. To keep the system in balance, a good rule of thumb is to stay at 3" of fish for every 100 gallons of water in the pond. Adhering to this rule will ensure that you don't have more fish waste being created than the filtration can process.
If you would like to learn more about feeding koi, I suggest reading the following page by our go-to fish expert, Dr. Erik Johnson. He has written a very thorough article all about koi food, koi eating habits and recommended feeding practices.
Everything you need to know about feeding koi, by Dr. Erik Johnson.
As you might imagine, there are a handful of animals here in South Jersey that given the chance would instinctually treat your koi pond as their private food stash. This is not too surprising considering this is a fish whose beginnings were as a humble food fish, farmed by people in Eastern Asia. As far as we know, the modern ornamental koi has only been around for one or two thousand years, barely a blip on the grand scale of evolution. Its existence here in the pinebarrens is a recent development, brought about by the fascination with Japanese koi ponds in the minds of American soldiers returning from WWII. Even the koi's ancestor, the common carp, has only been in the waters of NJ since the mid to late 1800's. This means that the wild animals in our backyards have not evolved alongside these fish, something that is both a blessing and a curse for koi-keepers. On the positive side, not having lived among carp/koi means the predators are not accustomed to considering them as a food source; when they get hungry there is no instinct telling them to fill their belies with carp. On the negative side, it means that when one of those animals discovers a novel and untapped food source in your pond, it will likely exploit it for all its worth.
Click 'Read more' down on the right to learn how to keep your koi safe...
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