What do I Feed My Koi?

To understand what food your koi fish needs, you need to know the basics of koi nutrition. A koi’s diet must always be respected with only the highest quality of ingredients. If you take proper care of your koi, it can live for 25 to 35 years, although in some cases the fish have lived up to four decades.

What do I Feed My Koi?

A koi’s food has an effect on their entire organism. It can change or enhance their color, make them grow faster, breed, and primarily – survive the seasons. Proper care would mean a balanced meal in compliance with the season, along with well-maintained water quality and living conditions. 

Koi Fish Food

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Proteins and amino acids are the main components of koi food. The koi use the proteins to regenerate their tissue and to obtain energy. These proteins are built from molecules of amino acids, which are important in koi food as well. A balance between amino acids and proteins in koi food is advisable.

Proteins come from many sources, but the protein source most generally used in koi food is derived from fish meal. The freshness of the fish food is crucial, as any level of spoilage causes the nutritional value to plummet and also increases the possibility of harmful substances to be formed in the fish food.

Lipids are the energy source for koi fish. The fats and oils provide your fish with much-needed energy and they help them absorb certain vitamins. Just like proteins, fats and oils are an important part of the koi’s diet. You must remember that the freshness of the food is vital. Any rancid food can be toxic to koi fish and they can develop liver disease.

Vegetables, fruits, and grains are also part of the koi’s diet, as they help the fish absorb and utilize proteins and amino acids. The regular ingredients in most koi foods are sweet corn, potato, and wheat.

Additives like ash, immuno-boosters, and antibiotics are often included in Koi Fish Food. Usually, sellers and manufacturers list them if they are contained in the package.

You can also find color-enhancing koi fish foods that heighten the natural color of your koi. Those foods include carotenoids, the source of which is the natural prey for koi–-the crayfish.

Koi Treats

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A richer meal is something koi need that packed koi food cannot provide. Vitamin C, for instance, is important for koi, and it’s not unusual for people to feed their fish with oranges, grapefruits, and mandarins. Simply cut the fruit in half and toss it in the water, or in small slices and let the koi eat it off your hands.

Whole bread, watermelon, romaine salad, and lettuce are equally good nutritious treats for koi every once in a while. Exotic foods offer the koi’s favorite crustaceans as part of the meal. Those would include prawns, lobster shells, shrimp and crabs. It’s unsettled whether fish food should include phosphorus, potassium, sodium or calcium. However, all are certainly acceptable for koi and are actually needed for the metabolism, skeletal, and nervous systems of the fish.

Dried silkworms are another delicacy that koi just love having, but you should avoid including it often and in large quantities. When the silkworms dissolve in water, they will increase the level of ammonia, which can be dangerous to your koi. 

Koi Feeding

The diet and feeding schedule of the koi has everything to do with the temperature. Koi lack a stomach and digest the food in the long gut. Feed your koi according to the season since their digestive abilities change with the weather. Overfeeding koi is also a bad idea, as they won’t absorb much of the food, and it will go to waste.

80->72 °F – Warm weather is the perfect opportunity for you to gradually help the koi to get ready for winter by feeding them high protein koi food (35% and above). You can also give them color enhancing food, shrimp, greens, vegetables, and fruits. Feed them three to four times a day and avoid overfeeding.

72->65 °F – Another meal high on protein (35%), planktons, fruits, and vegetables.

65->60 °F – Feed koi once to twice a day with protein pellets, vegetables, and fruits.

60->59 °F – Feed six days a week with a low protein food (no more than 25%),  fruits and vegetables high in carbohydrates. Whole grains, watermelons, citrus, corn, zucchini, and similar fruits and veggies.

59->55°F – Feed Koi no more than five times a week, and only if hungry, and decrease the quantity as temperatures drop. Give them low protein (less than 25%) food and vegetables.

55->50°F – Usually when temperatures drop many koi aren’t hungry as often. It’s best to avoid feeding your koi more than three times a week and only if they are craving food. Wheat-germ based koi food, high on carbohydrates and low on protein, some iceberg lettuce, whole bread or squash are the best options.

<50°F – Avoid feeding koi for the course of the next month if temperatures maintain low levels. If this continues for more than a month, feed your koi once with an easily digestible low-protein high-carbohydrate food.