Feeding Hungry Koi Fish

Making sure that your koi stays healthy is not a function of emptying a coffee can of food in your pond and heading back inside. Not only can it be an incredibly rewarding experience to watch your koi fish feed, it has an element of an art form to it, too.

Here are a few aspects of feeding your koi fish that you will need to know (amounts and types of food will be covered in a future post).

How Frequently

As a cold-blooded creature, a koi’s metabolism is dictated by the ambient water temperature. So as much as you want to see your “dragon fish” feed, grow and be healthy, how often you feed your koi is a function of water temperature. The amount and dietary requirements are, too.

Hotter weather usually means more food, whereas chillier temperatures can mean almost none at all.

Warm Weather Feeding

This doesn’t necessarily mean summer time, as some areas might not experience large seasonal fluctuations. At optimum summer temperatures, three times a day is as many feedings as you should need.

Even then, the fish will let you know. Your immediate inclination might be to keep feeding to try and up the caloric count, but if they aren’t eating it can represent that they are too warm, not hungry (yes, it does happen!) or the oxygen concentration is low because of the higher water temperatures.

These are general guidelines (within a few degrees) that many experts agree are the optimal number of feedings for the corresponding water temperatures:

72—90ºF*                               3x daily

65—72ºF*                               1-2x daily

60—65ºF*                               1x daily

*Note: The temperature ranges need to be consistent for a few days.

Cold Weather Feeding

As temperatures start to drop, the enjoyable hours spent feeding your koi will start to diminish. As the metabolism slows, so will their appetite and capacity to digest food.

At or approaching 59ºF is when the switch from feeding every day occurs. Feedings under now will be based on whether your fish seem hungry, especially so as the water temperatures approach 50ºF, at which point it is recommended that you stop feeding altogether.

Here are the generally accepted lowered temperature-to-feeding-frequency ratios:

59ºF                                         1x daily (5-6 days per week)

55—59ºF                                 4-5x weekly

50—55ºF                                 2-3x weekly

50ºF (and lower)                     Do not feed

Some Things to Consider

  • As part of the regimen, regardless of season or temperature, feedings should not last any more than 5 minutes or at least until it is still being nibbled on. Some koi experts don’t recommend more than 2-3 minutes. This applies to each meal though, not total for the daily feeding/s. This is an important point to remember.
  • Find a quiet place away from your skimmer. You don’t want hungry fish and a well-fed (or clogged) skimmer.
  • Post-feeding oxygen requirements rocket for koi fish, and with algae switching to “respiratory mode” at night—thereby helping themselves to the dissolved oxygen in the water—early morning and late evening feedings are not ideal if oxygen is already at a premium. Try feeding when there has been a few hours of sun before it goes down.

Next Day Koi not only has a wide selection of koi fish for sale sourced from some of the best farms around the world, but offers a selection of food from Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery to compliment your koi’s dietary needs, too.

Contact one of our representatives to see how we can help you stock your pond and your food bins.

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