The Best Automatic Pond Fish Feeder 2018 (Reviews & Costs)

Best Automatic Koi Feeder for Ponds 2018 (Top Models Compared)

Automatic pond feeders are a great option for pond owners who require a more scheduled feeding routine, or for those of us who are away from the pond for longer periods of time. Here we discuss the advantages of disadvantages of a range of different auto feeders, as well as review the current top automatic feeders currently on the market.

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What is an Automatic Fish Feeder? 

If you have a heavy fish stocked pond, or a very large pond, automatic feeders can help with daily feeding.

A nifty range of devices which have always been popular with fish breeders and industry, but which are now also growing in popularity for garden pond owners, are automatic koi and goldfish feeders!

As the name suggests, these products provide a method of scheduled automatic feeding to fish, which can be extremely beneficial depending on your circumstances. Even though feeding by hand is usually best for most fish keepers (socializing is important), sometimes it just isn’t a viable solution – such as for breeders, very large ponds, or pond owners on extended vacations or holidays.

Auto feeders solve problems for heavy stocked ponds by being able to distribute specific amounts of food a regular internals, making it much easier to monitor and adjust nutrition accordingly. Likewise, you won’t be able to feed your fish while away from your pond, and even though fish can usually survive a few weeks alone, it’s always best to continue a feeding routine they’re used to so they don’t become stressed. Since stability, both in feeding and environment, is so vital to healthy fish keeping, it’s not really surprising that auto feeders are becoming more popular for everyday fish keepers.

Even so, automatic feeders are certainly not for everyone, and they can share both benefits and drawbacks depending on your situation. They also come in a wide range of different shapes, sizes, and feeding mechanisms, so you’ll need to make sure what you’re buying is correct for your pond and fish.  With that said, if you struggle with keeping up with feeding or just want a more structured feeding routine, automatic feeding devices are well worth a look!

Are automatic feeders suitable for both goldfish and koi?

Most auto feeders work for both goldfish and koi, but you’ll need to check capacity and pellet size.

Automatic feeders are suitable for any kind of pond fish, both goldfish and koi carp included. The only thing to take into account when selecting a feeder for your fish is to make sure the device can hold and distribute your chosen fish feed. Some automatic fish feeders will be more suitable for smaller feed pellets, such as for goldfish, and may become clogged with larger carp feeds. As well as this, the maximum capacity of the device needs to be taken into account as it may be far too small for your stock levels or fish size. Unless you want to be re-filling the device regularly, you will need to choose a feeder that can hold, at the very least, the daily required feed quantity for your fish and stock levels. With that in mind, so long as the feeder can work with your food size, selecting a bigger capacity product is usually a safer bet than going too small – and since you can program feeding, anyway, fish can’t get greedy and go for more!


Benefits of Automatic Pond Feeders

1) Automates Daily Feeding Routine

The major benefit of installing an automatic fish feeder is the ‘hands-off’ feeding routine it provides, meaning you just need to top up the food when it runs low. This is great for pond owners who may not have time for regular feeding, or for those who just don’t particularly enjoy it.

2) Easier to Feed Heavy Stocked Ponds

It’s also ideal for ponds with heavy fish stocks where keeping up with feeding is difficult, such as koi and goldfish breeders. Since both goldfish and koi benefit from regular feeding throughout the day, rather than big doses morning and night, auto feeders help you keep up with a more natural feeding pattern without requiring you to physically be present.

4) Wasted Food is Minimized (Money saved)

As well as this, auto feeders are a good choice if you want to save money long-term and minimize food wastage. Feeders can be programmed to only provide a certain amount of pellets, which helps prevent waste build-up and water quality problems due to uneaten food. Likewise, they’re very useful for feeding fish more exact doses throughout the day, which can help with maximizing growth and health.

5) Easy to Install & Set-up

Commercial automatic feeders are also very easy to set-up, making them quite accessible to the everyday pond owner, and means you can get one installed very quickly without requiring additional knowledge of the equipment beforehand.


Drawbacks of Automatic Pond Feeders 

1) You Lose the Social Aspect of Feeding 

Automatic feeders also have some drawbacks which should be considered, with the biggest being the loss of social interaction between you and your fish. Hand feeding is a great time to say “hello” and meet your fishy friends, and over time your fish will get used to you and enjoy your presence. If you have a personal garden pond with fish, we always recommend hand feeding as much as possible so your fish have a chance to grow accustomed to you as their owner. Even if you have an automatic feeder, setting it to feed when you’re away but still feeding by hand when you’re back is always better than a fully automated routine. This is less an issue if you’re breeding fish to sell, but for your own personal stock, hand feeding is a big part of growing a social bond with your fish.

2) Can be an Expensive Investment

As well as this, automatic feeders are a little expensive and can be overkill for smaller ponds or lightly stocked ponds. They will also add to your energy bill if you choose a non-solar powered device, and will need to be properly secured and checked regularly to make sure animals are not breaking in and taking feed (Cats, raccoons, and rats being the main culprits).

3) Feeder can Breakdown

A final thing to take into account is the chance of the device failing, but this can be solved with proper care, daily checks, and choosing a quality model with a good warranty period. Making sure to check the feeder daily is important as a broken device means no food for your fish!


Solar Power Automatic Fish Feeders – Worth it?

Solar power has some great advantages, and can cut-down your energy bill by a large chunk over time.

As with most modern pond equipment, you may also have an option of going full solar power to save money on your monthly electricity bill! Solar power is an attractive option for pond owners living in countries that get plenty of sun, but can still be a good investment for gardens which get less sun. Most auto feeders will not be 100% solar powered, but will also include an option for mains power as a back-up and alternative. This means if you invest in a unit which provides both options, you can make use of the solar power when the sun is shining and switch to mains battery electricity when it’s not. Quality solar powered automatic feeders will come with a large capacity battery pack which should provide plenty of power on overcast days, and can be recharged when the sun arrives again.

We definitely wouldn’t recommend a solar-only automatic feeder as even with a good battery you may run out of juice, but an automatic feeder with options for both mains and solar power is an attractive option for maximum long-term savings.

Mounted Ground Feeders Vs Hanging Feeders

Some automatic feeders will need to be mounted hanging, and this can be achieved with a basic hanging pole.

As well as options for solar power, another thing to consider before purchasing an automatic feeder is how the device is mounted. Cheaper automatic feeders which are designed for aquariums and smaller ponds are often ground mounted for convenience. This means you can just set your feeding times, add some food, and let it get to work on the side of your pond without any extra fuss. These type of feeders usually work great for indoor ponds, breeding tanks, or for pond owners in countries which don’t have certain pests – namely raccoons! The problem with ground mounted automatic feeders is they bring your fish to the edge of the pond, usually within catching distance for predators. Smart animals, like raccoons, will quickly learn that the feeder will bring them an easy catch, and it’s also very difficult to stop them breaking in and taking extra fish food in-between.

You can get around this problem by purchasing a auto feeder which has options for being installed hanging above ground level, which will make sure pests and predators cannot get to the feed or fish. As well as this benefit, hanging auto feeders can usually cast food further into the pond, making sure none goes to waste along the edges. A downside is that they usually don’t come with a mounting system, so you’d need to set this up separately, but that may be a small price to pay for keeping your fish safe. A typical mounting pole which should work with most feeders can be found here.

Selecting the Right Fish Food (Size may matter!)

A final thought before purchasing an automatic feeding is regarding the size of your preferred fish feed. Some of the smaller feeders will only work with smaller pellets, so you may struggle getting them to work with medium-large pellet sizes. Most food brands will have a smaller variety, but if not and you want to keep using your current feed, we suggest investing in a larger automatic feeder instead. Along with being able to use a wider variety of food, you’ll also get a larger overall capacity so less maintenance is required. We’ve included what pellet sizes each of our top recommended models use below so it’s easier, so all you need to do is double-check your feed to make sure it’s compatible!


Best Automatic Fish Feeders for Ponds 2018

Below are some of the best auto feeders on the market for garden ponds, with an option for all types of water gardens – from small ponds, to large ponds, to massive koi ponds!

1) Fish Mate P7000 Fish Feeder Review

An affordable automatic feeder which would be ideal for smaller ponds or goldfish ponds. The Fish Mate P7000 is a 1.8 US gallon (7 liter) maximum capacity feeder with an automatic release mechanism, and support for programmable auto daily feeding. The model is powered by 4x C Cell batteries, which provide up to 9 months of battery life depending on usage.

The capacity is very good for such a small device, and you’ll easily get a few weeks worth of automated feeding done before needing to re-fill the unit. The feeder comes with an programmable LCD display for setting up the feeding schedule, allowing you to customize feeding up to 3 times daily. The interfere is fairly complicated to use at first, so we suggest checking out the video below from the manufacturer for clarity. It essentially allows you to set a time, and then customize your daily feeding quantities, as well as provide a means to give extra feed manually when needed. One of the biggest downsides of this automatic feeder is trying to work out how to set it up – so the video guide is highly recommended.

Once the LCD is all programmed, the device will distribute food via an automatic release mechanism down the chute and into the pond. The amount of feed is dependent on the number you program into the feeding routine, but is roughly 1/3 cup for every 3 numbers on the LCD screen. We found the feeder very accurate in terms of dosage, and feed was distributed routinely without problems. However, due to the design of the device, you’ll need to place it on the edge of the pond at ground level – meaning it can’t be hanged above the water. This may cause issues with pests and predators coming to the edge of the pond for a snack. Raccoons in particular will quickly figure out this gives them an easy catch of fish when they eat, so we don’t recommend it for pond owners with major pest problems (hanging feeder would be better suited).

Overall, an affordable and reliable automatic feeder which would suit smaller ponds but is limited by its placement and may attract pests and predators. May also be a good buy for in-door ponds or breeding tanks where there is no risk of damage and you can easily re-fill when needed.

Good storage capacity
Reliable automatic feeding
Great for goldfish
Cost effective for small ponds
Complicated to program
Feed chute is very short
  • Power: 4x C Batteries
  • Solar Power: No option
  • Capacity: 1.8 Gallons (7 Litres)
  • Food size: Smell Rounded Pellets (Not flakes/sticks)
  • Distribution mechanism: Automatic release
  • Casting distance: Very short (straight from chute)
  • Auto feed amount: 3 times daily
  • Auto feed dosage: 1/3-1/2 cup
  • Placement: Edge of pond (ground mounted)

2) Moultrie Automatic 30 Gallon FeedCaster Feeder Review

A more heavy-duty automatic feeder which would work well in larger stocked ponds or even smaller lakes! Moultrie are known for their high quality and reliable automatic feeding units, with the 30 gallon FeedCaster Model working as a perfect middle ground for both large and small-scale use.

The device requires a 6 volt rechargeable battery for constant operation, with the battery being able to provide power for several months without a recharge. The unit comes with a programmable timer which allows you to set daily feeding times, frequency, and maintain an accurate dosage. We like this automatic feeder has it allows custom feeding up to 6 times a day, and works well with a large variety of feeds, from smaller to medium sized pellets and sticks. The interface is much easier to program in comparison to the FishMate auto feeder, but may still prove a little tricky on first use depending on how experienced you are with these kind of devices.

Due to the large 30 US gallon (114 liter) holding capacity, it would be an ideal automatic fish feeder for large koi ponds, breeding, or even smaller lakes. The distribution mechanism is a far-casting system which is able to shoot feed up to 25 foot depending on installation location and height. Unless you’re able to install the feeder in an elevated position, however, a more realistic distance would be between 5-10ft. The unit is fairly heavy, especially when filled with feed, and works in a standing design on a durable steel tripod. The legs can be bolted down at a distance away from the pond or even staked at the waters edge due to the anti-corrosion and rust proof coating. We like this design of feeder as it makes it more difficult for pests to take food and for predators to catch fish, as the feed can be cast far into the middle of the pond with the powerful far casting mechanism.

There is also an option for solar power which would need to be purchased separately, which can provide some extra operation outside of mains and battery power in summer months. We feel the solar power option is only really useful to pond owners installing the feeder in very open areas, as it needs strong sunlight to operate efficiently. A downside of the auto feeder is that is can be quite nosier when distributing food, so if your home is close to your pond we’d recommend setting feeding times not too early and not too late.

Overall, a very reliable and heavy duty automatic feeder that would work well in large ponds, koi ponds, or smaller lakes. The great casting distance, strong materials, and large capacity also means less chance of predators and pet problems – which is a plus!

Large storage capacity
Very sturdy & durable design
Great far-casting distance
Ideal for large ponds or koi ponds
Rechargeable battery & Solar options
A little noisy during operation
  • Power: 6 volt Rechargeable Battery
  • Solar Power: Yes – purchased separately here.
  • Capacity: 30 Gallon (114 Litres)
  • Food size: Pellets or Sticks (not Flakes)
  • Distribution mechanism: Automatic release
  • Casting distance: 25 ft Maximum (depending on elevation)
  • Auto feed amount: 6 times daily
  • Auto feed dosage: Adjustable
  • Placement: Edge of pond

3) Hozelock Automatic Pond Feeder Review

An interesting automatic feeder working with a fully mechanical mechanism and timer is the Hozelock 3958 Auto Feeder.

Just like the Moultrie feeder, Hozelocks device is mounted above the pond and distributes food from your chosen set height. However, this feeder doesn’t have a LCD panel system and operates fully on a mechanical timer which you can manually set inside the structure.  This makes it a useful option for pond owners who want something extremely simple and easy to set-up, without having to learn how to operate an LCD screen.

Opening the feeder reveals a large timer which can be manually set to a certain time of the day, and then 6 individual feeding times can be adjusted. These are chosen via little green switches which you “click-in” to set each feeding time; with the feeding times working alongside the local time you choose. Although this kind of timer gives you less flexibility compared to some other feeders, it’s still a well designed and reliable system for someone who just needs the basic functionality in place. It runs off of 2 standard AA batteries which provide many weeks of constant operation.

The feeder has a fairly small capacity, around 0.2 US gallons (800ml), so would be suitable for small ponds, goldfish, or koi if you can top up feed regularly. It works with a wide range of pellets, and even fine flakes would be suitable as the device only drops them instead of casting a far distance.

Included is a mounting pole and everything you need for hanging installation, so there is no need for DIY mounting or finding an overhanging tree branch. Once fitted it hangs nicely over the side of the pond, and should be far enough away from the edges to stop pests taking food and predators catching fish. Since the feeder doesn’t have any far-casting potential, we feel this automatic feeder is far too small and limited for very large ponds, but would be ideal for smaller pond builds.

Overall, an interesting mechanical automatic feeder which is very easy to use and doesn’t require knowledge of a programmable panel. The capacity is quite small, however, and since there is no option for distance based food distribution it is only really suitable for smaller koi and goldfish ponds.

Very easy to install & set-up
Mounting system included
6 times daily feeding
Great for smaller ponds
Very small feed capacity
No far casting options
  • Power: 2x AA Batteries
  • Solar Power: No option
  • Capacity: 800ml (0.2 gallons)
  • Food size: Smell pellets, sticks or flakes
  • Distribution mechanism: Automatic release
  • Casting distance: Very short (underneath)
  • Auto feed amount: 6 times daily
  • Auto feed dosage: Adjustable
  • Placement: Edge of pond (hanging mounted)

4) Koi Cafe Sweeney Fish Feeder Review

What many people consider the golden standard for automatic pond feeders – the Koi Cafe Auto Feeder range! Built from extra durable steel, and with options for both solar power and battery power, Koi Cafe’s automatic pond feeders are some of the most reliable and feature-rich in the industry.

Just like some other feeders here, the Koi Cafe Sweeney automatic feeder is designed to be mounted above the pond, either on your own mounting system or a tree branch. It’s made from extra strong steel, which makes it a great choice if you get constant visits from pests, such as raccoons. Unlike plastic feeders, it would take a huge amount of force to break into this one, and since it hangs above ground too, there is almost no chance food will be taken by pests.

The basic Sweeney unit comes with a rechargeable 6 volt battery pack, and also comes with the option to add solar power at extra cost. Although we would have liked to see the solar panel included by default, we would still recommend the additional cost of purchasing one as having a solar option will likely save you far more money later down the road. The solar panel is easy to install and can be mounted on any side of the feeder – so you can install where you get the most sun!

Without the extra solar panel option, the rechargeable battery still does a great job keeping the feeder working for several weeks without a mains recharge. The automatic feeder holds up to 10 ponds of fish food, depending on size, and has a convenient adjustable flow meter so you can set how much is released each time.  Feeding can be programmed up to 5 times a day and is done so via an electronic LCD panel inside the roof of the unit, which sits alongside the flow adjuster. Feeding is on a 24 hour cycle, with each of the five feeds being able to have a different dosage amount – which provides great flexibility! The panel is also very easy to use and everything is clearly labelled on the buttons, so you shouldn’t need much more in the way of instructions to get started.

A downside is the feeder is more expensive than others here, and both the solar panel and mounting system would need to be purchased separately. However, this is one of the most durable feeders available, and with the solar panel added, it may be a great long-term investment for your pond.

Overall, a very high quality koi and goldfish automatic feeder which would suit pond owners who need something extra durable with the added option for solar power. A great choice for both small, large ponds, koi ponds, and everything in-between! Also comes with a 3 year full replacement warranty as standard.

Very strong steel casing
Solar power & battery options
High feed capacity
Lots of programmable settings
3 year warranty
Expensive + Solar Power is extra
  • Power: 4x D Batteries
  • Solar Power: Yes – purchased separately here
  • Capacity: 10 pounds
  • Food size: Small-large pellets, sticks, or flakes
  • Distribution mechanism: Automatic release
  • Casting distance: Very short (underneath)
  • Auto feed amount: 5 times daily
  • Auto feed dosage: Adjustable
  • Placement: Edge of pond (hanging mounted)

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