What Do Fish Eat In a Pond? Should You Supplementary Feed?

Last Updated on September 17, 2021 by cmoarz

One of the many pleasures of owning a pond is seeing your fish rush to the surface as they see you coming with food at feeding time. You don’t even need to start throwing pellets before they’re at the surface waiting eagerly with greetings and open mouths.

Summertime feeding of pond fish is a fun pastime that the entire family can participate in, but there are a few things to bear in mind when you feed fish. Mainly, What do fish eat in a pond anyway? What do you feed pond fish? Should I supplement? The answer is yes! And here’s what they eat and you should feed koi, goldfish and other pond fish. Baby fish, Small fish, larger fish, younger fish, it doesn’t matter, we answer it all here.

What do pond fish eat?

All pond fish should be fed a combination of pellets, flakes, and fresh food at least twice a day. If you have any catfish or pleco in your pond, feed them once a day as they tend to not require as much food compared to other types of fish.

Fish flake is easily digested by most pond fish, but it’s also the cheaper option for feeding your pets koi and goldfish. Flake can be supplemented with other foods such as shrimp pellets and live daphnia, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex. All these forms of supplementary feed will give a more natural diet to the fish in your pond.

Most pet stores stock pellet food specially designed for koi and goldfish which are high-quality protein-rich foods specially formulated for them and other larger fish.

Younger fish do well on a diet of crushed flake food and newly hatched brine shrimp. As the fish grow, you can introduce bigger types of pellets as well as daphnia and tubifex worms.

It is important to know if your koi and goldfish are young or old before determining what do fish eat in a pond. This will help determine how much supplementary feed you put in.

Some fish like bottom feeders will prefer sinking pellets, while others will enjoy floating pellets and floating flakes.

What kind of fish food should supplement my pond with?

Not all fish are created equal. Some fish are going to need a different diet than others. It’s important that you know what kind of fish do you have in your pond since not all fish eat the same thing.

Certain types of fish should be fed bloodworms because they require more protein, while bottom feeders won’t need as much protein because they typically get their proteins from vegetation and algae sinking at the bottom of the pond.

When feeding goldfish or koi, use floating pellets that can be placed on top of the water for them to see and swim up towards the surface and eat it off the surface. This is common practice when using floating food troughs. Make sure these empty within 3-4 hours after feeding time so that other animals don’t come and eat them.

You should follow the 5-minute rule when feeding pond fish

Don’t offer your fish more than they can eat in around 5 minutes. They’ll be able to get everything they need in that time, however, bigger fish require more food than little ones. If you see some of your larger koi eating your plants, give them a bit more food. However, uneaten fish food will only drift into the skimmer and decompose. Furthermore, because the more fish you feed, the additional waste they create can upset your pond’s ecosystem and result in ammonia spikes and high nitrates.

So keep the 5-minute rule in mind!

Is feeding pond fish a good idea?

Yes! Feeding your fish is a great idea! Feeding pond fish will help prevent them from being too hungry or lethargic, which could result in stress for the animals and possible death if they’re not fed at all.

While it’s true the pond natural ecosystem should have enough protein sources and insects and algae/plant matter to keep your fish alive, Maybe not so healthy. For all the work you put into a pond, it’s still not a perfect ecosystem like it would be in the wild with a naturally occurring lake or pond or river.

So it’s important to supplement with a balanced diet of high protein pellets, bio enrichment foods with all the essential vitamins and minerals (including vitamin e) to keep a good nutrient flow, boost blood circulation and immune system.

Water quality is also essential to a healthy fish and pond, all species of fish want nice clean water.

Water temperature will also play a big role in how much your fish will eat. Cold water will make them eat more for thermoregulation purposes, while very hot summer days will make them eat less or not at all because they are stressed within the pond environment.

Now that you know what to feed your fish, have you ever wondered how often do koi and goldfish need to be fed?

How much food should I give my fish?

This is a very good question. People overfeed their fish. They don’t realize it but they are doing far more damage than no feeding at all! Most of us have been guilty of the 5-minute rule where we basically dump as many pellets in there as possible so that our beloved pets can eat whatever they want for about 5 before everything sinks to the bottom.

That’s all fine and good except for the sinking part. After 5 minutes we should be removing everything that doesn’t get eaten, and in fact, probably not dump everything in at once either to make it easier on ourselves later!

If you have too much food in your pond, it will affect the water quality. It throws off the balance of nutrients in the environment. Once these nutrients get out of whack, they can cause a buildup of toxins which will result in algae blooms and depleted oxygen levels for your fish. The increased toxic load without enough oxygen results in unhealthy conditions that are not desirable for our aquatic friends.

Unfortunately, if food gets into your filter system (and it most definitely will) then you’ll end up with an overpopulated filter (which usually means less efficient filtration). You don’t want to do that because when these bugs multiply excessively inside the filter they break down, releasing ammonia back into your water source. That’s basically like having your fish take a bath in their own urine! No thanks.

Also, there’s a chance that you’ll have to deal with sick fish, and the fact is that if feeding pond fish is done correctly it will be healthier for them because they receive a well-balanced diet into their system on a regular basis.


Owner of AquariumGravel.com and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!