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Thread: Protein feeds - constant or variable?

  1. #1
    Sansai
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    Protein feeds - constant or variable?

    I have a heated pond, so after a month off in January I started my low protein feed. As I increase temperature I increase to a higher protein feed. I'm quite happy with that but was interested to see that some high level Koi keepers alternate between high protein and wheatgerm feeds even at higher temperatures. Some Japanese growers even recommend low protein for all year except for sept/oct.

    I can understand that this will reduce the load on filters and improve water quality. Is that the rationale behind it? How long on and off do they use and what advantage is this for optimal (ie healthy) growth?
    thanks in advance.
    Last edited by pondlife; 03-12-2012 at 05:19 AM. Reason: wrong word

  2. #2
    Daihonmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by pondlife View Post
    I have a heated pond, so after a month off in January I started my low protein feed. As I increase temperature I increase to a higher protein feed. I'm quite happy with that but was interested to see that some high level Koi keepers alternate between high protein and wheatgerm feeds even at higher temperatures. Some Japanese growers even recommend low protein for all year except for sept/oct.

    I can understand that this will reduce the load on filters and improve water quality. Is that the rationale behind it? How long on and off do they use and what advantage is this for optimal (ie healthy) growth?
    thanks in advance.

    Good topic! And I'd have to say “which Japanese" are you referring to!
    The Japanese I know are ZNA members and the old breeders of Niigata. They taught me that koi are 'four season ' fish. The new production breeders have taught me marketing, forced growth techniques and how to understand modern koi genetics. Two very different worlds
    But if we want to know our koi-- I mean really know them as living creatures then we need not know anything more than the biological/physiological fact they are a temperate water species.
    Temperate water species does not just me that koi are found in water that happens to be in the temperate regions. It means they are evolved to certain reoccurring conditions and have been molded to those conditions in physiology, natural behavior and dietary needs.
    Often when we think of 'cold' or any extreme condition, we think of tolerating it and not much more. But if we understand the nature of a creature we begin to break away from that human reaction. For instance, I bred Siberian Huskies for many years. And it was amazing to see how they would 'come alive' when the snow came and the nights were cold. They would roll in the fresh snow and curl up and go to sleep in snow drifts. And they would 'tolerate' the hot summers as their under coat (second coat type) of fur would naturally fall of in sheets of dense downy fur.
    Koi are creatures that come from a 40,000 year old modern fish known as common carp. Koi strain or nishikigoi broke off as a unique strain some 160 years ago. And 'koi' have only known extended summers for some 90 years as they were introduced to the world and slowly moved to the southern parts of Japan were the temperate climate becomes more muted.
    And it is only 40 years that the first koi were brought inside for winter. And only 25 years that heat was actually applied as a way to make tateshita grow for better prices in the spring (bigger koi get more yen).
    I say ALL this to say--- koi are carp and carp are 'intimate' with their surrounds. And surroundings are not limited to the water column. 'Intimate' extends to the temperature and the light. And in this setting, their entire world changes, as it has for 40,000 years, with each season. Food sources and type changes with the seasons. The koi's metabolism changes with the seasons. And the utilization of energy changes with the seasons.
    In short - YOU CAN TAKE THE KOI OUT OF THE TEMPERATE ZONE; BUT YOU CAN'T TAKE THE TEMPERATE ZONE OUT OF THE KOI! - JR

    ( to be continued)

  3. #3
    Sansai
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    "And I'd have to say “which Japanese" are you referring to!"

    Well I read it on the internet so it must be true

  4. #4
    Daihonmei
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    LOls.
    I wrote a bit of a rant on Erns excellent thread, about growth as a goal but then removed it as it was disruptive to the flow of that thread. In that rant, I was attempting to flesh out the subject of growth as a function of genetics and environment. All 'roads' lead back to the concept of the koi as a four season fish.
    In our desire for maximum growth for our koi we should really build a foundation of understanding of koi as four season fish and THEN and only then, move to adjust seasonal temperature and diet.
    As it turns out- 'eternal summer' is not a desirable thing. Extending 'summer' and reducing the time and depth of 'winter' is the goal.
    And secondly, we should not disrespect the koi's biological clock when it comes to these things as it is not just about growth. It is also about hormonal cycling and metabolic cadence. In short we can fool Mother Nature temporarily but we can't cheat her in the long run.
    To the point--- when sunlight is lower in the sky and the temperature is below 55 F, food sources for wild carp change dramatically. The plant life disappears and insects disappear. The protein source is profoundly cut yet decayed plant life and decayed proteins (denatured amino acids) become the sole diet. The overall calorie intake drops as the water cools and the fish become less able to digest and absorb food. It is a harmony of lowing momentum in the environment and in the koi's energy consumption/need.
    Ironically water quality can become much better in these conditions of high oxygen saturation and low organic decomposition.
    In captivity-- guess what? THEY don't know they are in captivity! They only know their instincts and all cues come from that biological clock that not only tells the koi what to do in the present, but on a physiological level, tells them what to do to prepare for the 'next' season. The actual cues being a complex feedback message from temperature (night temperatures and trend in day/night temperatures) and light (intensity and spectrum) and diet shifting (in mix of protein/starches- and also amount/calories).

    (To be continued) JR

  5. #5
    Oyagoi Eugeneg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pondlife View Post
    I have a heated pond, so after a month off in January I started my low protein feed. As I increase temperature I increase to a higher protein feed. I'm quite happy with that but was interested to see that some high level Koi keepers alternate between high protein and wheatgerm feeds even at higher temperatures. Some Japanese growers even recommend low protein for all year except for sept/oct.

    I can understand that this will reduce the load on filters and improve water quality. Is that the rationale behind it? How long on and off do they use and what advantage is this for optimal (ie healthy) growth?
    thanks in advance.
    The big problem is that age of fish plays a significant role in protein requirements and we as pond keepers keep all together. The same applies to heating while beneficial to have a dormacy period for your older females
    it is not so for tosai.
    The ideal I found is if you have heating capabilities is to start with tosai
    and raise them reducing the number each year and with a little luck
    you should be able to recover your cost providing they are a higher quality
    tosai and you will then be able to get the maximum growth from your fish.
    Regards
    Eugene

  6. #6
    Sansai
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    Thanks Eugeneg, but you didn't really answer my question.
    I know that younger fish benefit from higher protein levels when growing rapidly. I was asking why I had seen reports of high level Koi keepers not feeding say 40% protein feed throughout the month of July (Northern hemisphere summer). But instead feeding some lower protein feeds despite the temperatures justifying user higher protein content. What pattern of feeding do they use and what do they aim to achieve ?

    Jaspr hasn't answered my question yet either, but I know he just takes longer to get around to it.....

  7. #7
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    here in the pacific northwest, unheated outside ponds in july are very lucky
    to be in the mid 60's range for temperature. At the zenith of summer, you might depending on the kind of temperatures that year hit 70 F.The vast majority of these types have a chart based on temperature and protein percentage that they keep to. Most of the high end show types have heated ponds and pour their favorite food to the koi in an effort to push them along the length game as quickly as possible. They're working with 50% protein foods.

    If your hearing different protein % in the heat of summer, then you might want to contact those individuals and ask them why they may be feeding less than is popularly accepted.

    The last coupla years I have gone away from the accepted norm of matching pond temp and protein % and have gone to feeding 49% food when feeding ,in the amount that is appropriate to their needs according to water temperature.

    I'm very happy with the results. last summer i started with sinking only and have kept that type of food used thru out winter.
    Dick Benbow

  8. #8
    Sansai
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    Dick, that's very useful. It is certainly an attractive idea to just have one food and feed more of it in the summer and less in spring and fall.

    Once your pond is heated it can be tempting to feed 3% body weight 45% protein all the time. Not sure that is good for the Koi's ultimate health though (although they certainly fatten up pretty quickly).

    Clearly in harsher climates like yours, the challenge is to get plenty of colories into them so that they have reserves to survive under the ice in the winter.

    Hot weather keepers and heated pond owners have different challenges. As you say, I'm hoping to hear one of them explain their thoughts.

  9. #9
    Tategoi
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    Pondlife,

    I think you are going to find that your question evokes a range of opinions and practices -- with no singular *correct* answer clearly emerging. Even among people with quite a few years of Koi-keeping experiences, there are strongly differing opinions as to if/how much to feed Koi at varying water temperatures, as well as the issue of protein content which you originally raised. Also on the subject of protein, there is quite a bit of debate as to the optimal type and source of protein (in addition to sheer percentages). Finally, I have read of considerably differing assessments as to what wild carp may be eating during colder months. In all, I don't think you are likely to find a singular "right vs. wrong" approach to this question.

  10. #10
    Sansai
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    paultergeist, as you say much of it is opinion. I was just surprised to read of opinions that weren't obviously logical to me yet by people whose Koi growing skills are such that you can't dismiss them readily.

    There are lots of people out there advocating feeding 3% body weight of high protein feed and some with the right genetics grow jumbo koi. The logic of cramming as much food with as high a calorie/protein load as possible is clear. Not sure if it makes for happy healthy koi in the long term but that's another posting...

    I'm still not getting any understanding of why some people feed wheatgerm low protein foods in the summer during peak growth period. Is this for people with heavily stocked ponds with fully mature fish in them who are growing more slowly?

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