Feeding Koi Fish

PetPonder Staff Sep 27, 2018
Feeding Koi fish can be very tricky as their diet depends on various factors such as temperature and requirement of different nutrients that aid in digestion. This article provides tips for feeding these fish in the right way.
Koi are mainly decorative fish kept in any outdoor water features or gardens. They are a variety of the common carp or Cyprinus Carpio. They are particularly known as a symbol of love and friendship.
The Asian carp have been cross-bred with the German carp over centuries, and now appear in several colors such as blue, red, cream, pure-white, orange, green, and coal-black. To keep them looking beautiful, it is important to observe healthy feeding patterns.

What to Feed

Koi fish are known to be omnivores and feed on foods such as prawns and worms. They can also survive on certain algae if not fed.
Feeding silkworm in limited amounts is useful for these fish as it is a rich protein source. This kind of carnivorous diet should not be made a staple, as it lacks the nutrients that are essential for the growth of the fish.
However, it is excellent as an occasional treat, and will even help strengthen your bond with the fish. These fish also love watermelon and citrus fruits. Foods such as peas and corn should be avoided as they are unable to digest the outer coverings.
A balanced diet is the most important aspect to be kept in mind when feeding these fish. Like human beings, they also require a balanced amount of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, fats, and minerals.
Depending on the size of the fish you have, the amount of food you should feed it will vary. The food should be small enough for it to be swallowed whole by the smallest fish. In cases where there are large and small fish placed together in a pond, it can get difficult to analyze whether one fish has over eaten while the others are still starving.
It is a good idea to keep the smaller fish aside with the help of a net while the larger fish eat, and vice versa.

How to Feed

These fish are known to eat from the depths of the water body they belong to. There are sinking fish foods available, that settle at the bottom of the water body. In such a situation though, it is difficult to figure out whether the fish have eaten at all, especially if the water is not clear. These fish may also eat out of your hand.
However, for that, it is important to establish familiarity with them by feeding them from the same place at the same time everyday. For such purposes, a variety of foods known as floating fish foods have also been created. As the food is floating, it is easier to understand how much the fish have eaten.

How Much to Feed

Always remember to feed your fish enough food to last only five minutes. These fish do not have stomachs, and therefore are looking for food all the time. They have a tendency to overeat if not watched. This can even lead to their death.
It has been established that they are to be fed according to the weight of the nutritional value of food, and not according to the volume of the food. It means that a small fish is to be fed 5% of its body weight, while a mature fish is to be fed only 2% of its body weight.

Water Temperature and Weather

Koi fish digest food easily, or have a high metabolic rate when the temperature of the water is around 72 °F to 80 °F. In such a case, they should be fed at least 3-4 times a day on high-protein fish food. It should include additives that will enhance its color. Fruits, vegetables, and shrimp can also be included in their diet.
When the temperature is between 65 °F to 72 °F, feeding them once or twice a day is sufficient. The diet should mainly comprise 35% high-protein pellets. Fruits and vegetables may be added for the sake of variety.
At a temperature of 60 °F to 65 °F, feed the fish only once a day. The protein in the pellets should be 35%, with a combination of fruits and vegetables.
As the temperature decreases to 59 °F, they should be fed only once a day, and only six days a week. In such a case, the food should comprise only 25% protein along with fruits and vegetables that are rich in carbohydrates.
With further reduction in the temperature to between 55 °F to 59 °F, the fish should be fed 4-5 times in a week, only if they are hungry. Reduce the quantity of vegetables further, and maintain the low-protein pellets at 25%.
At temperatures between 50 °F to 55 °F, or during winter, the foods should be laxative and rich in carbohydrates. Wheat germ, squash, and lettuce should be a part of the diet. The fish should be fed only 2-3 times a week, and only if they are hungry.
Ensure that when feeding food pellets, they should be no more than 3 months old, or else they begin to lose their nutritional value, rendering themselves useless.
Feeding the right amount of food to these fish, especially around winter, is essential as they tend to die if overfed. The appetite of a Koi fish during winter is very small, and sometimes non-existent. On the other hand, during the summer, the appetite is at its prime. The fish can eat almost 4-5 times more than it does in winter.
This is because the ability of the digestive system to digest protein is nearly zero during winters. Carbohydrates provide the necessary energy for them to survive at such times. Thus, keeping a check on the seasons as well as the water temperature is of utmost importance to have healthy, bright, and colorful Koi fish.