Many animals hibernate during the colder months of the year and it is almost universally true that the behavior of animals will alter somewhat during the winter months. But do koi carp hibernate?
Depending on where you live, the temperature of your outdoor koi pond may drop very low in the winter. Unless you use heaters to raise the pond temperature, you may see a change in the behavior of your koi that makes you think they are hibernating, particularly if your pond freezes over.
But is this hibernation? Do koi carp hibernate? Read on to find out…
What is hibernation?
Hibernation is a state of dramatically reduced activity, or total inactivity, that some animals go through during the colder months of the year. Hibernation is undertaken to allow these animals to live through cold weather conditions that they would otherwise be unable to survive.
Prior to hibernation, the animal in question must build up adequate fat stores within their body to nourish them throughout the period of hibernation, and find a safe place to wait out the cold.
During hibernation, the body’s metabolism slows right down, as does the heart rate and respiration rate. This helps the animal to conserve their energy while food is scarce and survive the cold weather before waking up when the temperatures start to rise.
Do koi carp hibernate?
When the weather is very cold and the temperature of the pond is very low for more than a couple of days at a time, you will notice a dramatic difference in the normal behavior of your koi. Rather than being highly active, keen to feed and generally acting how they do in the summer months, your koi will retreat to the bottom of the pond and keep themselves to themselves.
This often leads fish keepers to believe that koi carp hibernate, but this is not actually the case.
Because they are cold and their body temperatures are lower than normal, the koi will naturally become less active than usual and will head for the deeper parts of the pond where it is likely to be slightly warmer.
This reduced activity allows the koi to conserve their energy and concentrate on keeping warm, but they do not enter a state of true hibernation in the same way that some mammals do. They can quickly be awoken by physical stimulus or a rise in temperature.
So koi carp do not hibernate and if you can keep the temperature of your pond up to a sufficient level when it is cold outside, your koi are likely to stay lively and active all year round.