By: admin | Posted On: June 2nd, 2011 | 19 Comments | In: POND FISH


One of the first questions that new fish keepers ask is “how much do I feed my fish?”. The more appropriate question could be “how do I feed my fish?”. The part about quantity of food is best answered by the fish themselves, because they will let you know when they’ve had enough and lose interest in feeding time.
Feeding fish in your pond is different than feeding other types of pets, but most new fish keepers tend to treat feeding time for fish like they do other types of pets like birds, rabbits, cats, or dogs. For most of these pets you can fill a bowl and walk away, the animal will eat what it wants to eat, when it wants to eat, and you’re done. As a side note, even for those types of animals this is not the best feeding practice, nor one I recommend; but let’s face it, that is how many people handle the feeding of their pets.
One thing the fish will have in common with other pets is that they will eat what they need and then they are done. If you have thrown in too much food the fish will ignore it, but then this excess food has nowhere to go, it stays in the pond. Excess food quickly breaks down and begins to drag down water quality, raise nutrient levels (which is great for algae growth), discolor water, create odors, encourage pesky flies to hang around the pond, and create maintenance for the pond owner because this food clogs filters and pump intakes.
To toss in food to your fish and walk away is not good practice. Remember, fish do not over eat, we overfeed. Overfeeding a pond will only create poor, possibly deadly, conditions for your pond fish. So with the understanding that poor feeding practice can have possibly disastrous results, let’s bullet point some feeding tips:
• When feeding fish, take your time, at least several minutes. Do not toss food and walk away. This feeding time lets you connect with your fish, and observe them to see how they are doing health wise.
• Give small portions, let them clear ALL of it, and offer small portion again until they are slowing or not showing interest in feeding. Pay attention to how much it is they are eating so you can portion feedings if necessary.
• Do not throw food out to your fish, you are teaching them to stay away from you during feeding time. Offer food close to the edge of the pond where you are standing so they associate your presence with food. You are the FOOD GOD, so work it, be it.
• Try to have a “feeding station” for yourself and offer food from that area. This will also train the fish to associate your presence with the reward of food.
• If you have a skimmer system on your pond (like you should), try to choose a feeding station away from the draw of the skimmer, slow water is the best feeding area.
• Do not feed your fish twice as much before you go out of town, because they do not know you are going out of town and will not eat twice as much because they tomorrow they will not get fed.
• If you have someone coming by to feed your fish while you are away, make sure you pre-portion the feedings for the hired care taker, and make the portions smaller than typical.
• Keep in mind that fish eat different quantities of food at different times of year. How much a fish eats in May will be very different from how much they are eating in September. Adjust your feedings accordingly.
• In colder climates, do not feed your fish once water temperatures have settled around 52F, the fish will not properly metabolize/digest the food and this can lead to health issues.

Proper feeding habits for your pond fish will lead to happier and healthier fish with good growth rates and nicer coloration. Good feeding habits will also lead to a healthier nicer looking pond, cleaner water, and a lot less maintenance for the pond keeper. Do you have any feeding tips you want to add? Send them in!
The LOVE YOUR POND blog is written by Mike Gannon of Full Service Aquatics. Mike is a professional pond builder and expert in the broad topics of fishkeeping and water gardening. Mike also produces THE POND HUNTER video series which can be viewed on Youtube. “In The Pursuit Of All Things Aquatic” the Pond Hunter videos provide how-to pond construction videos, pondumentaries, and videos of related interest. Mike resides in Summit, New Jersey with his wife and 2 daughters. To visit his website go to and visit The Pond Hunter at or on All copyrights to this material belong to Mike Gannon.

Written by admin


    Comments Feed
  1. cas Says:

    on March 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    If you have a skimmer system on your pond (like you should),………

    To avoid the feed to flow into your skimmer, an easy solution is to place an air-stone close to the skimmer and switch it on when feeding. The small waves of the air-stone avoid the feed to get in your skimmer and your fish have all the time to take it.

    In Holland you can buy a special plug which will be automatically switch of after 15, 30, 60 minutes or even after 2 hours.

  2. Mgannon Says:

    on March 15, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for reading and adding some great tips!!

  3. Lori Smith Says:

    on May 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    What time of the day is best to feed your fish?

  4. Mgannon Says:

    on May 24, 2013 at 1:35 am

    Hey Lori, there is not necessarily a best time to feed your fish. I think whenever is a convenient time for you is a good time to feed!

  5. pila jackson Says:

    on May 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    i would like to lernt more on how to feed fish from the fish pond,am afarmer.

  6. Mgannon Says:

    on June 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for reading the blog post. If I can answer any questions for you just let me know!!

  7. Christine Pulido Says:

    on June 24, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I was wondering if you have a snail, two in fact, since they eat algae, do you think overfeeding would still be a problem? I will clean but do you think it will be less trouble?

  8. Mgannon Says:

    on July 2, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Snails are great to add to a pond to increase the diversity of organisms and the ecosystem, however; even though they eat algae I would not rely on them in any way to help keep the pond clean. If you keep them, keep them because they are fascinating creatures that will thrive in your pond.

  9. todd childrey Says:

    on August 19, 2013 at 2:09 am

    my dad has a backyard pond about 4 feet deep and 120 feet in diameter in it he has 12 rainbow trout. he lives in central oregon. how much should he feed these fish as they are all about 12 inches long. also the pond is a little green how do you clear that up

  10. Mgannon Says:

    on August 27, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Hello Todd. Thanks for commenting! I am not too sure of an exact quantity that I can recommend you feed your trout. I know that trout chow is a good food to use, and daily feeding is recommended; however I think the best amount to feed will need to be gauged by whoever does the feeding since the quantities will vary during different times of year. The green water condition your pond has can occur for various reasons and I would need more information on the pond to give any direct suggestions, but generally green water is caused by excess nutrients and those can typically be lowered through filtration, but I’d need more info to give you some real good advice.

  11. Bob Says:

    on June 26, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I’ve had a pond for years and my fish fed fine . My fish died due to a very cold winter add I put in new fish but I can’t even find them. They must be hiding. How do I get them to start eating, I miss being able to feed them.

  12. Mike Gannon Says:

    on July 1, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Hey Bob, sometimes new fish can take some time to acclimate to their new surroundings and owners, maybe many weeks (or more!). Patience is the best thing. Spend time by the pond so they can see you and get comfortable. When you feed them be sure to stay by the pond so they associate you with food. and then spend more time by the pond! Koi and goldfish are very social by nature and your fish will not be any different, BUT they all need time to develop trust, and soon enough they will be following you around the pond, begging for your attention! -Mike

  13. Mashauri Says:

    on July 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    My friend told me about feeding fish in pond with chicken manure by building a chicken house on top of the pond so that the chicken manure will drop into the pond ready for fish food. How effective is this practice?

  14. Mike Gannon Says:

    on July 18, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Hello Mashauri,
    I do not think that would be a good idea for you pond.

  15. Sarah Jane Says:

    on August 31, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    We have just moved in the previous owner fed the fish every day of the year regardless of the temp, should I continue this routine or follow the winter rule, also if the pond freezes over do I break the ice. When I go on holiday is there a long life food I can put in the pond or best to ask a friend to feed them, also should I stick to the food she was using although I don’t know the name of it or are fish foods much the same thank you sj

  16. Mike Gannon Says:

    on September 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Hello Sarah, I am not sure exactly where you live however if you live in an area where your pond freezes I would say that you would likely stop feeding in late October, and resume feedings in April (weather temperatures permitting on both counts). DO NOT feed your fish in freezing weather. When water temperatures are below 52F it is typically time to stop feeding, and commence again when temperature reach 52F-55F in spring. Thanks for reading and commenting!! -Mike

  17. Sarah Jane Says:

    on September 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you Mike I am south Coast England
    It looks like we have babies (goldfish) is there any extra care I need to give them ?

  18. Mike Gannon Says:

    on September 23, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Hi Sarah Jane, there is no real special care you need to offer your baby fish they will do just fine on their own. When they get a bit bigger they will begin to feed with your other fish. -Mike

  19. Sarah jane Says:

    on October 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you Mike.

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