With a fish with an appetite for many different types of food as well as company, feeding your Koi fish represents the most enjoyable way to spend some quality time and learn a little bit about one another. If you are diligent and patient, you can even earn enough of your koi’s trust that they will take the food out of your hand. Eventually, they will welcome you with leaps and splashes.
Feeding your koi is not just a spread it and leave proposition. There is some thought that has to go into both the amount and combinations of food given to them as well as the frequency. They are also omnivores (eating almost anything they can swallow whole) and their diet can be adjusted to suit needs as well as water temperatures as the seasons change.
More or Less
If you feed them, they will come—provided they are hungry. Koi don’t have stomachs, so smaller, more frequent feedings are recommended for better nutrient absorption.
As long as your koi are biting, providing no more food than they can eat in 2-3 minutes, per feeding, is a good rule of thumb. If the koi are hungry, they will eat what you put out. Try to make sure that nothing is left floating.
There are a number of different brands and types of food available for purchase. Doing a little homework will help you decide which one works best for you and your koi fish.
Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality in your pond as well as fish that resemble bellies with a tail. It can also lead to internal organ damage.
Underfeeding will result in stunted or dead smaller fish and thin bigger fish. Half-inch per month growth is a good measure that you are using correct amounts. Sunken eyes, larger head proportion and dull coloration are signs that your fish are not getting enough food.
Your cold-blooded koi fish is sensitive to ambient water temperature and this will influence how and how often you feed your fish.
The warmer the water the more active your koi will be and the more they will need to fuel the machine. Protein-rich food is recommended. The cooler the water, the less active the metabolism, so higher carb, lower protein diets are generally used (Cheerios being one recommended food type!). Below 50F, feeding your koi at all while in it’s dormant phase can be lethal.
When winter changes to spring, reintroducing easily digestible foods to your koi fish is a good way to help them safely jump start their metabolism and digestive process again. For a quick, but informative, chart regarding water temperatures, feeding schedules and food type, take a look at this uekoi page.
Koi fish are very sensitive to change. So newer additions to your pond might not respond to the dinner bell immediately. Also, if you are changing food, mix the old and new and give them a chance to adjust.
Be sure to put the feed out in the same place. The koi will equate that area as the feeding zone, which will help you with the hand feeding initiative. Where to put the food is a topic of debate fueled by skimmer positioning and types of food being used. Regardless of where it is, be sure and let your fish sitters know where that spot is. And then watch the “it’s a fish” face.
As you get to know your koi fish, you will find out which routines serve you and them best. At Next Day Koi, we hope that you enjoy your time with these legendary creatures and we look forward to being the company that helps you add variety to your pond—one day at a time. Contact us to find out how you can get your new koi in one day.