It’s always difficult to say goodbye to pond season and the warm temperatures of summer, but you may be considering adding one or two new koi to your pond before the fall chill completely sets in. While adding new fish to your pond late in the season is typically okay, there are a few considerations to keep in mind before doing so.
Fall and Your Koi
Before introducing any new koi to your pond, it’s crucial to understand how the change in seasons impacts koi.
When water temperatures start to drop, the metabolism and digestive system of koi begin to slow. This typically begins happening when water temperatures are consistently below 65℉. As this change happens, it’s essential to adjust your koi’s food and feeding schedule accordingly.
Once water temperatures drop below 40℉, koi enter a hibernation mode called torpor. During this time, koi cannot properly digest any type of food and should not be fed again until temperatures rise in the spring. They’ll become almost completely inactive and motionless to conserve energy during this time.
Adding New Koi Before Fall
The best and most recommended time to add any new additions to your pond is late spring or summertime. That said, it is possible to introduce new koi before the fall chill sets in, but only in the right conditions.
Regardless of what time of year you add to your pond, it’s vital to ensure that your pond is clean and healthy. This means making sure your pond is adequately aerated and filtered and that your water parameters are at suitable levels. It’s also important that your fish are healthy and free of any disease or illness and that your pond is large enough to accommodate new fish.
If you check all those boxes, the next thing to consider is temperature. Any new additions need adequate time to acclimate to the new environment before temperatures plummet. Prior to entering your pond, all new fish need to be quarantined for two weeks. This allows the koi and its immune system to recover from any shipping or traveling stress. Plus it gives you time to monitor for any possible signs of illness and treat any issue without the risk of it spreading to your entire pond population.
Once your new koi is finally added to your pond, it will take about a month to acclimate fully. So, the whole process from the start of quarantine to complete acclimation takes about six weeks. It’s essential that any new fish are completely acclimated before they begin to transition into torpor. When this occurs depends on your climate and geographical location.
How Your Climate Plays A Role
It’s no secret that fall looks different in different parts of the country. Average October highs linger around the low-60s in the Northeast and Midwest, the low- to mid-80s in parts of the South and Southwest, and the mid-60s in the Pacific Northwest. Where you live largely determines how late in the year it’s safe to add new koi to your pond. While pond temperatures will drop and koi will begin hibernating earlier in colder climates, warmer regions typically have some extra time.
One of the biggest draws of adding koi to your pond later in the season is that it’s usually one of the most cost-effective times to purchase new fish. Many retailers reduce prices in an attempt to get rid of the season’s stock before cold temperatures set in. September and October are typically when prices are the lowest. If you live in a warmer climate, purchasing koi in early fall is relatively low-risk and a great time to buy if you’re hoping to save a few bucks.
For colder climates, it’s a bit riskier since pond temperatures typically drop during this time. In these regions, early- to mid-September is the recommended cut-off for purchasing new fish unless you have a greenhouse or indoor pond. But, as we all know, weather is unpredictable, and it’s hard to know precisely when temperatures in your area will fall. The size of your pond will also affect how quickly it cools. The best way to predict when fall will reach your pond is to pay attention to your local weather forecast and regularly check your pond water temperature. If the pond temperatures are already in the high 50s or low 60s or rapidly approaching that range, it’s probably best to play it safe and wait until the springtime to add any new koi.
Sometimes, even when you’ve been consistently monitoring the weather and your pond temperatures, the unpredictability of the weather can throw a wrench in your plans. For example, it’s possible that you purchase new fish or already have a new fish in quarantine when the weather takes an unexpected autumnal turn. Perhaps water temperatures dropped more quickly than anticipated, or they’re beginning to fall sooner than expected, and you’re worried your new fish won’t have time to properly acclimate before fall. In this case, it’s best to play it safe and keep them indoors until the springtime if possible. This will help ensure they stay healthy by protecting them from any extreme temperature they may not be equipped to handle yet.
Should I Add Koi To My Pond Before Fall?
With the proper planning and pond maintenance, late summer to early fall can be a great time to add new koi to your pond. It’s a cost-effective time to buy koi, and the stress of mating season is over. The most significant consideration is the climate of your geographic location. In regions where it gets colder earlier in the season, you’ll probably want to avoid adding new fish much past August and September, as the water will get too cold, and it’ll be harder to acclimate your koi in a healthy way. However, if you live in warmer zones, you can potentially introduce new fish at any time of the year.
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