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Holiday Leftovers for your Pond Fish- Create “Holiday Koi Fish Food Balls” by Kerri Bailey

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

As fall turns into winter we look forward to this year’s upcoming holiday season filled with festive foods and family cheer. Many of us have extra leftovers and wonder what to do with them. I thought of an excellent way to help process those leftovers while creating tasty treats for your swimming pets.

Koi and Goldfish are omnivorous cousins that eat a variety of foods- algae and other plant material and protein from fish & insects. Many of us feed a balanced diet of commercially made fish foods during the active periods with occasional treats of fresh food.

Typically, during the colder months we do not feed our fish, but there may be times when we warm up a bit and they become active for a short period of time. During this window, we may feed – very sparingly-a high carb / low protein diet – like Cheerios or try Honey Nut Cheerios. If you decide to feed during the winter- use caution! Fish must process what they eat, if not they can get an almost fatal disease called Dropsy (learn more about Dropsy: We also do not want to keep uneaten food in the water to rot and create poor water quality issues or algae blooms.

There are many fresh or cooked foods our Pond fish would love to devour as treats to supplement their diets. Here is a list of fresh fruits and vegetables fish can consume, followed by Holiday Fish Balls Recipe.

  •  Apples (no seeds)

  •  Bananas

  •  Berries- Blueberries, Blackberries (avoid excess, or remove seeds), Cranberries, Raspberries, Strawberries

  •  Broccoli, Cabbage & Kale

  •  Brown Bread / Wheat or Cheerios

  •  Carrots

  •  Citrus Fruits- Grapefruit, Lemons, Oranges, Tangerines

  •  Figs

  •  Greens & Lettuces

  •  Melons- Watermelon & Honeydew

  •  Papaya

  •  Peaches (no pits)

  •  Squashes & Cucumbers

  •  Sweet Potatoes & Yams

  •  Tomatoes (ripe only) & Potatoes (cooked) Limited Quantity

Avoid Feeding: Avocados, Corn, Peas, White Bread, Night Shade Family Plants (they contain Solanine, excess may cause glycoalkaloid poisoning): Tomatoes (feed sparingly, ripe only), Eggplant, Potatoes (a little is ok).

Now, what to do with those leftovers? Create Koi Fish Food Balls

1. Combine cooked foods- Root veggies, Potatoes & Yams, Stuffing,

Cooked Rice, Cranberry Sauce (fresh made is better than canned)- into a bowl.

2. Mash together and form 1-2” balls (like meatballs) then coat them in crushed cheerios or leftover dried out bread crumbs.

3. Place in a freezer proof container or plastic bags. Then you can pull them out and briefly thaw before you feed them to your fish. They should have fun nibbling off the sides of their “holiday koi balls”. If not, remove any uneaten food before they rot in your pond. Remember to only feed sparingly during the winter or wait until spring when your fish begin to awake from dormancy and need to extra carb boost!

Fresh fruits and vegetables are best fed during their active period. You can make frozen treats by combining your fresh foods into a food processor or blender into a slurry. Then add into ice cube trays, freeze, then remove and add into freezer bags for storage. Feed while semi-frozen, remove uneaten food to avoid rot.

We would love to hear your feedback. Let us know if you were successful with this fun family project. Read more about feeding your fish and learn how to create a nutritious paste.

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