Now we are properly into autumn, the cooling process outlined previously is well under way – the meetings have all finished, the shows are over and there is no reason to take the Goldfish outside the fish house again this year. The focus now is preparing the Goldfish for the winter hibernation.
Maintaining the temperatures at a level where feeding continues is important – your Goldfish need to build up reserves that will see them over the winter without food. For young Goldfish bred this year this is particularly important as they are still relatively small. Therefore pellet foods that will help them bulk up are very useful as is clean water – the need to maintain the best possible conditions continues throughout the year. You need to watch the food quantities – as the temperatures fall and the daylight period (including the use of artificial lights) reduces so the appetite of your Goldfish will diminish so you need to watch that all the food is being eaten quickly and deal with leftovers and reduce quantities accordingly.
Older Goldfish that have been though the process before are unlikely to need special treatment so the continued supply of good quality foods will make sure they are ready for the winter. Some breeders use wheatgerm based pellets as the temperature nears 10C and some continue to feed as temperatures go slightly below that. I understand the wheatgerm is more easily digested and therefore less likely to remain undigested (and therefore go off) inside the Goldfish if temperatures fall to the point where the Goldfish ceases to process its food. However, as I control the temperature I can avoid that happening and simply cease food supply at the 10C point and cool the Goldfish down from there following a final water change and no further food.
It is also true that Goldfish will continue to eat below 10C. After all, there is a long period in the UK, in garden ponds for example, when water temperatures are at or below that level and the fish continue to be somewhat active, and to enable them to move around they will need food. If you are very watchful it may be small quantities of frozen bloodworm will still be taken at these times so you may want to try it, but be prepared to remove the food if it is not eaten.
Finally, however, there comes a point at which you need to stop feeding and water changes and let your fish rest. We will talk about that, next week.