How to Feed Koi

a group of koi fish swimming in a pond.

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We know koi don’t come with any feeding instructions and it’s impossible to estimate a weight for proper calories. Here is the correct method on how to feed koi.

What do I feed my koi?

Figuring out the right food to feed your fish can be a tricky task. Remember, unlike your fluffy pets, a fish’s metabolism is tied to the water temperature. Please keep in mind that this is different from the ambient (air) temperature! All pond owners should make sure they have a reliable thermometer in their pond.

Below 55 degrees F: Koi metabolism slows down greatly. Some fish may not be interested in eating at all, where some may want a little bit every few days or so. As long as you are seeing poop in the bottom of your pond, it is okay to feed your koi a little. Avoid high carbohydrate foods, such as Cheerios or rice.

Between 55 and 65 degrees F: Most koi will be eating at these temperatures. Koi require a protein around 30-35% for maintaining their current body mass. Ultra Balance Maintenance feed is a good choice. Your pond needs to be between these temperatures for 5 hours minimum in order for your fish to completely digest their meal.

Above 65 degrees F: Koi can eat an all-season, higher protein food at these temperatures. However, this is usually only for fish that are used for shows and breeding. You can feed your “maintenance” diet year round. All-season foods typically have higher protein, with some specialty diets promoting color enhancement. We recommend Ultra Balance Growth feed as a higher temperature diet.

How much do I feed my koi?

We get asked this question all the time. The simple answer is that there is no set measurable amount for fish feeding. We recommend the 5 minute method: Sprinkle a tiny bit of food into the pond for the fish and after they’ve eaten it all, sprinkle a bit more. Continue for 5 minutes, then stop. This will prevent excess food from ending up in your filtration and adding to your water quality woes.

When do I feed my koi?

For ponds without a lot of direct sunlight, it is best to feed your koi midday, around noon or 1pm, when your pond is warmest and your koi have a high metabolism.

For ponds with a lot of direct sunlight, it is best to feed in the morning or evening, when your pond is nice and warm, but not so warm where your fish do not want to eat.

Again, these recommendations are temperature dependent. Check your thermometer at least a few times a day and see when your pond reaches its peak and how high the peak goes. Some ponds reaching into the mid- to high-80s or higher may see fish that are not interested in eating.

What else can I feed my koi?

In addition to their regular, balanced diet, there are many treats available to koi. Some like fruit, such as watermelon and oranges. Others like lettuce. Experiment with some healthy snacks before reaching for the dried krill candy. And, as always, ask us any questions you may have!

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2 thoughts on “How to Feed Koi”

  1. Pingback: Top 5 Fish Mistakes – #3: Poor Nutrition – Aquatic Veterinary Services

  2. Pingback: What do I feed my fish? – Aquatic Veterinary Services

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