The Best Wheat Germ Koi Food 2018 (Nutrition Analysis & Reviews)

The Best Wheat germ Winter Fish Food 2018

Many pond owners choose to switch their summer feed to a winter later in the year, but is this the right choice for you? A guide to cold weather pond feeds, as well as reviews on the best winter koi food currently on the market for optimum winter nutrition.

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What is a Cold Weather Fish Food?

Wheatgerm feeds are designed to help with digestion, as well as provide slower energy release for koi during winter.

As water temperatures cool down during the build-up to winter a koi’s metabolism will begin to slow, until eventually, a process called “hibernation” takes over which allows koi to survive even the coldest winters with minimal energy requirements. This usually occurs when water temperatures hit around 50ºF (10°c), and will continue until Spring when water temperatures start to rise again.

Even though koi will start eating less in colder weather, they will still need to be fed until hibernation kicks in fully so they have sufficient fat stores for winter. This is usually the time pond owners and fish keepers may switch their summer feed to a winter feed, often containing something called “wheatgerm” as one of the primary ingredients.

A cold weather koi food is usually designed to complement a fish’s slower digestion, containing ingredients that are easier to process and energy that is slower to release compared to summer feeds. Since a koi’s metabolism and eating habits are directly related to water temperature, switching to a “slower release” winter feed can sound an attractive option during the build-up to hibernation. However, there are still some aspects that need to be taken into account to ensure your koi is getting the best nutrition from a wheatgerm food, as there is a lot of misinformation surrounding what’s actually best for winter.

What is Wheat Germ? Is it actually Beneficial to Koi?

Wheat germ is high in good fats, vitamins, and slow release carbohydrates. It is, however, lower in protein and devoid of amino acid content.

Wheat germ, or cereal germ, is the reproductive part of wheat that germinates and eventually grows a new plant – essentially the embryo. The benefit of wheatgerm is that it is naturally high in polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, as well as having a fairly high crude protein value (20-30%). It is also high in complex carbohydrates, meaning the energy it supplies is more gradually released in comparison to simple sugars contained in other germ based foods.

For these reasons whaetgerm has been long used as a primary winter feed to match a koi’s slowing metabolism and digestive system. But is it truly as beneficial as most manufactures claim?

Wheatgerm certainly is a great source of complex fats, vitamins, and slower release carbohydrates, which can be very beneficial for the build-up to winter when fish need to maintain their fat stores for hibernation. However, the main problem with most winter feeds is they contain ONLY plant based proteins and carbohydrates, and fish really don’t benefit from this much plant matter in colder weather. This is because carbohydrates are simply not needed when energy requirements are already so low; but protein, fats, and essential amino acids are still beneficial for maintaining weight and strength. If a wheatgerm feed contains nothing but plant based proteins and ingredients, your koi will be getting too much of what they don’t need (carbs/energy) and not enough of what they do need (protein/amino acids).

This problem can be eliminated by making sure your wheatgerm feed still contains a high quality aquatic protein source, such as fish meal, anchovy meal, or krill meal. This ensures koi are getting the best of both worlds, including the complex fats and carbohydrates from wheatgerm, as well as natural protein from an aquatic based source.

The Protein in Winter Digestive Myth

Many manufacturers claim wheatgerm protein is easier to digest for koi, and regular proteins will remain in their ‘stomach’ and rot during winter. This is simply untrue, and there is no evidence to support this happening in koi carp, or any other fresh water fish for that matter (note: carp don’t even have stomachs, only a straight gut.)!

A koi’s metabolism certainly does slow down as water temperatures drop, but it still can process food the same as before. Koi carp will not take food if they’re not hungry, and the only worry you have of feeding regular food in winter is the food going to waste in the pond due to overfeeding – not rotting in their gut.

For this reason, you shouldn’t purchase a wheatgerm feed because of any digestive benefits, you should consider it for it’s rich fats, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbs which can be a beneficial maintenance diet before and after hibernating.

Can I use a Summer Feed in Colder Weather instead?

Summer feeds may not contain wheatgerm, but they can still be used during winter so long as feeding is monitored.

The main problems with feeding in colder weather isn’t whether or not the food is designed for winter, but more so the amount of food you’re giving your fish. Koi carp are intelligent animals, and they won’t eat for the stake of eating, especially in winter. As weather cools down, they’ll start taking less food, and you just need to reduce the amount you feed them as this happens. This practice applies to both summer feeds and winter feeds, so it really doesn’t matter which you choose.

If you don’t monitor and reduce feeding accordingly, waste will build up from left over food which can cause all sorts of issues with water quality during winter. Spikes in ammonia, drops in oxygen, and even swings in pH can all happen with excess waste, so keeping it to a minimum is always good practice.

So long as you keep on top of feeding, and know when to cut back feed when koi start eating less, you can use either a summer or winter feed without problems. A winter food containing wheatgerm may have some benefits, but you certainly don’t need to switch if you and your koi are happy with your current food.


Wheat Germ Pond Food – What ingredients matter?

Similar to our summer feed article, here we’ll quickly list some important ingredients to look our for in wheatgerm winter pond feeds. Always check the label to ensure you’re getting the right ingredients for your koi!

1) Source of Protein & Percentage

Even in a winter feed, you should still want a high protein percentage from an aquaculture, such as fish meal.

Although you won’t need as much protein content as a summer feed, keeping protein fairly high can still be beneficial for cold weather feeding to ensure your fish are getting the correct amounts of amino acids. Unlike plant based proteins (wheat germ included), which are devoid in amino acids, proteins that come from a quality aquatic source will contain plenty of amino acids to keep your fish healthy and strong. Quality protein sources include fish meal, white fish meal, krill meal, anchovy meal, and herring meal. These should STILL be ingredient number 1 or 2 on the label of your winter feed, meaning they represent one of the highest percentages per weight of the feed – i.e, “Fish Meal, Wheatgerm Meal, Soybean Meal” etc.

As well as this, checking the winter feed’s crude protein percentage is still fairly high is a good indicator of overall feed quality. Winter feeds are loved by some manufacturers as plant based matter is much cheaper to include in comparison to animal matter. Fish do not need this much plant matter (carbs) in cold weather as they’re naturally using less energy, but can still benefit from high protein to keep their bodily functions optimal. A crude minimum protein percentage of 30-38% is ideal in a winter feed, which should mainly be coming from both an aquatic sourced protein and wheat germ.

2) Wheatgerm Content

Another primary ingredient that should make up a high percentage of both fats and protein in winter feeds is wheatgerm. Although it’s crude protein value is around 20-30%, the overall protein content in feeds should be closer to 10-15% (with the other 15%+ being from fish meal).  This is perfectly acceptable, as the main benefit from wheatgerm is the added vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats, which help build weight and maintain energy. An aquatic animal protein source should still make up the largest amount of protein for cold weather feeding, with wheatgerm simply supplementing the overall protein content.

3) Fat Percentage

Hibernation is all about the fat stores! If you’ve already been feeding your fish a high quality summer feed they’ve likely packed on a few pounds already, but this can still continue through autumn to ensure your koi are comfortable during winter. On the other hand, too much fat can also be bad, so you’d want to look for a crude fat value from around 4-10%, which is ideal for colder weather. Some of this fat content will also being coming from wheatgerm, but this will be included in the overall fat content value so you don’t have to add this on yourself.

4) Vitamins, Immune support & Parasite Protection

Natural garlic can help deter parasites which are a common problem during winter.

Another important aspect of winter feeds is the vitamin and mineral profiles, which should include a wide range of essentials to boost a koi’s immune system. Hibernation is a period where koi are most vulnerable to infections and parasites, so making sure they’ve getting all the correct vitamins and minerals can help keep their immune system firing. Vitamin C, usually in the form of “ascorbic acid , is particularly beneficial for combating bacterial and viral infections, so you’ll want to make sure this is included as a minimum.

As well as this, any immune boosters included in winter feeds can be beneficial for hibernation, including aquagen, torula yeast, bee propolis, lactoferrin, or opimuim. Although not as essential as basic vitamins and minerals, an added immune booster is always welcome addition for keeping koi fighting fit during colder months.

A final thing to take into account is the addition of any ingredients to help combat parasites, such as worms and flukes. Koi are the most vulnerable during winter to parasites, so feeds that contain natural repellents, such as garlic, are a good choice.


The Best Wheat Germ Koi Food for Ponds 2018

Due to the different brands available between the US and UK markets, we’ve researched and divided our categories to provide both American and UK pond owners a review on the best wheatgerm fish food available!


US - Best Winter Pond Foods US - Best Winter Pond Foods

1) Hikari Wheat Germ Pond Food Review

One of the only feeds with high quality wheat germ as the primary ingredient is Hikari’s winter pond food! Having a high amount of wheat germ in a wheat germ feed may not sound like much to shout about, but you’d be surprised at just how low the wheat germ content can be in some lower quality feeds. On top of this, the crude protein value is 32%, with most of this coming from both wheat germ meal and fish meal – which is great.

As well as the good protein content, the feed also comes with a wide vitamin and mineral profile including all the basic ingredients a koi needs. These include vitamins A, D E, and vitamin C as L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate. Alongside the vitamins you can also find folic acid, biotin, zinic, copper and manganese which will all contribute to digestion, immune support, and overall fish health.

Hikari’s wheat germ food comes with both natural occurring brewers yeast extract and garlic, which are great for building a strong immune system and helping ward off bacterial and viral infections. Garlic may also help prevent parasites from infecting koi as easily, as it works as a natural deterrent.

Fat content is around 4%, which is decent for a winter feed, with much of this coming from the healthy fats contained within the wheat germ meal. The pellets are floating, medium sized, and are easy for koi to eat as they soften quickly in cold water.

Overall, a very high quality winter food with wheat germ as a primary (1st) ingredient and a good vitamin and mineral profile. The feed is also very affordable, so it won’t break the bank!

  • Type: Medium Pellets (Floating)
  • Season: Cold Weather Feed
  • Protein: 32% (Wheat germ meal & fish meal)
  • Fat: 4%
  • Ash: 12%
  • Vitamins: A, C, D E and Phosphorus
  • Immune Booster: Yes – Brewer’s Yeast & Garlic
  • Color Enhancer: No

2) Aqua Master Wheat Germ Koi Food Review

Another great choice of koi food if you want to maintain a high protein content through the colder months. Aqua Master’s wheat germ pond feed contains a large 38% crude protein, with the majority being from fish meal, krill meal, and what germ – which are the 3 primary ingredients. This makes the feed similar in protein percentage to a summer feed, but you have the added benefit of wheat germ for it’s fatty acids and extra vitamins which can help during winter.

It’s also a good choice of cold weather food if you would like to keep your koi looking extra vibrant over the season, as it contains the synthetic color enhancer Astaxanthin. This, alongside a varied mineral profile, provides strong anti-oxidant benefits and good color retention. Although keeping color vibrant may not be as important to some fish keepers during colder months, it may be an attractive option if you want maximum color going into Spring.

As well as the minerals, the feed contains all the basic vitamins a koi carp needs to stay healthy during the season, including vitamins A, C, D and E. Brewers Yeast can also be found here, which can help with digestion and improve the immune system of a fish. The food is also coated in bacillus subtillize, which is a beneficial bacteria found in the fish’s gut which can help further with digestion and reducing waste from food – thus improving water quality.

The pellets are of a medium size and soften quickly while floating on the surface water. They’re very easy for both large and small koi to eat, and the 4% crude fat content should be sufficient for maintaining fat stores over the winter season.

A good all-round cold weather feed with high protein content, immune boosters, and color enhancer! Great for pond owners looking to maintain strong color throughout the colder months.

  • Type: Medium Pellets (Floating)
  • Season: Cold Weather Feed
  • Protein: 38% (Fish meal, Krill meal & Wheat germ)
  • Fat: 4%
  • Ash: 12%
  • Vitamins: A, C, D E
  • Immune Booster: Yes – Selenium (brewers) Yeast & Antioxidants
  • Color Enhancer: Yes – Astaxanthin

3) Dainichi Wheatgerm All Season Food Review

Dainichi make some of our favourite koi foods, with this one being perfect for both winter and summer feeding! This “all season” feed contains a very high protein percentage of 39%, coming from both white fish meal and wheat germ as the 1st and 2nd ingredients. Since these two ingredients are in such high percentage, the feed is ideal for summer for packing on weight, as well as winter for providing slower release energy and added vitamins. You can easily use this food in summer and not lose any benefits compared to a regular summer feed, which makes life easier if you don’t like switching food throughout the year.

On top of it’s super high quality protein, Dainichi has included both krill and spirulina for natural color enhancement and brewers yeast for digestive support. The feed contains all the basic vitamins and minerals a koi needs to thrive in winter, including vitamins, A, B, C, D, and E from wheat germ. Garlic is also included to help combat winter parasites, which can cause all sorts of issues if your fish become infected.

An interesting addition which sets this food apart from the other US feeds here is the calcium montmorillonite clay. A popular ingredient for show koi, the clay works alongside the fish’s gut to help stimulate the natural ingestion of minerals, as well as helping to remove any lingering toxins. 

In terms of fat content, it contains a fairly standard 4% crude fat minimum, which should be sufficient for maintaining fatty stores. Ash content is fairly low at 9%, which means less waste in your pond and better overall clarity.

Overall, one of the best all-season koi feeds which can easily be used throughout the year in both summer and winter! High protein, high wheat germ, good vitamins, and the addition of clay for digestion – highly recommended.

  • Type: Medium Pellets (Floating)
  • Season: All Season Feed
  • Protein: 39% (White fish meal and wheat germ)
  • Fat: 4%
  • Ash: 9%
  • Vitamins: A, B, C, D E
  • Immune Booster: Yes – Brewer’s Yeast & Calcium Montmorillonite Clay
  • Color Enhancer: Yes – Spirulina

UK - Best Winter Pond Foods UK - Best Winter Pond Foods

1) Kusuri Wheatgerm Pond Food Review

A great all-round cold weather feed with high concentration of wheat germ and fish meal as the primary ingredient. Kusuri’s winter pond food comes in at 34% crude protein by weight, coming from primarily fish meal, shrimp meal, and wheat germ. Fish and shrimp are ingredients numbers 1 and 2, with wheat germ meal coming in at 5 – which means the ingredients make up the bulk of the feed, which is great!

We like this particular feed as it includes a similar ingredient for digestion as the US Dainichi brands, which comes in the form of Kusuri Montmorillonite Klay. This works in a very similar fashion to Dainichi’s, improving digestion and helping reduce toxins which may build up in the gut as a fishes metabolism slows down. Although we wouldn’t say clay in feeds is essential for winter, it is always nice to see them included for the extra benefits.

As well as clay, this wheatgerm feed has a some quality ingredients that help strengthen a koi’s immune system, including Propolis and Optimum. Both of these should improve the immune system of your fish, making sure they can fight back bacterial and viral infections more easily. Garlic can also be found here, which is a great natural deterrent from parasites, such as worms, skin flukes, and gill flukes.

For color benefits we have natural Atlantic krill and spirulina, as well as the synthetic enhancer astaxanthin. Combined with vitamins A, C, D, E and some natural antioxidants, you have a fantastic food for strong color enhancement and skin health.

The pellets are medium sized and designed to float on the surface water. They’re suitable for both young and adult koi, and would be a great choice of feed for maximum immune support and color retention over the winter season.

  • Type: Medium Pellets (Floating)
  • Season: Cold Weather Feed
  • Protein: 34% (Fish meal, Shrimp Meal & Wheat Germ)
  • Fat: 4%
  • Ash: 14%
  • Vitamins: A, C, D, E
  • Immune Booster: Yes – Kusuri Montmorillonite Klay & Garlic
  • Colour Enhancer: Yes – Astaxanthin & Spirulina

2) Sera Pro Winter Koi Food Review

A good choice of UK cold weather food if you’re looking for a high protein percentage with the added benefits of wheat germ. Sera’s Professional cold weather koi feeds contain 40% crude protein from fish meal as the primary ingredient, whilst being supplemented by wheat germ meal and krill meal.  The unquie “ring” shaped design of the feed means the outside is coated in easier digestive material, and the inside consists of all the vitamins, minerals, and trace elements for immune support. Although we don’t know for sure how beneficial this design of feed actually is, it’s certainly a nice touch!

It’s crude fat content is approximately 6% minimum, which makes it a nice choice of seasonal feed for younger koi who need to maintain more fatty stores before hibernation.  The ash (waste) content here is also very low for such a high protein feed, only containing 7% by volume. Lower ash means less fish waste, and this can be beneficial in winter when you’re forced to turn off your pump and filtration system,

As well as this, the feed contains a wide vitamin profile, including the essentials A, B, C, D and E. Garlic has been added to aid with digestion and help combat any unwanted parasites, and Krill and Spirulina will help your koi maintain a strong color over the winter period.

The pellets are medium sized and will float and soften on your water surface even under very cold temperatures. They’re suitable for both young and adult koi, and would be a good choice of cold weather koi food if you’re looking to maintain maximum weight and growth during the build-up to winter.

  • Type: Medium Pellets (Floating)
  • Season: Summer feed
  • Protein: 40% (Fish meal and wheat germ)
  • Fat: 6%
  • Ash: 7 %
  • Vitamins: A, B, C, D, E
  • Immune Booster: Yes – Garlic & Brewer’s Yeast
  • Colour Enhancer: Yes – Spirulina

 

Pond Informer (Chris)

Pond consultant and long-time hobbyist who enjoys writing in his spare time and sharing knowledge with other passionate pond owners.

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