Handfeeding A Koi Fish

One of the most rewarding activities for any koi enthusiast is hand feeding a koi fish. For a fish already renowned for its sociability, it makes for an even more remarkable relationship.

There is no guarantee that you will be able to hand feed your koi. Koi have their own personalities and some might never take to hand feeding, but if you can you will develop a truly special bond. There are a few things to know as well as some insights as to how you can better help your chances.

Time and trust

Your koi will require both of these things before they will consider eating from your hand. Patience is the virtue you will need most. You will also have to commit to the process as it involves consistency and routine.

Koi are normally a social fish; however, you will still need to develop a level of trust with these living jewels. Don’t get frustrated. If at first you don’t succeed, keep on swimming.

Dine and Dash

Don’t drop the food and leave. Stick around at the edge of your pond or tank at mealtime. Allow your koi to become comfortable with your presence while they are eating. They will eventually equate you with the feeding routine and not get skittish with you being there.

And no sudden moves when you are standing or feeding your fish. Remain as motionless as possible. Creating a tranquil and peaceful environment has a calming effect.

Be consistent with your feeding time and feeding area. Make sure that the spot where you feed is the same every time. If possible, make it in an area that is away from a filter or waterfall where it is relatively quiet and not turbulent.

Choose a spot (if you have a pond) that is deep enough to allow the koi to eat from below. The safer they are, the more likely they are to trust the feeding spot.

The Hand that Feeds

Eventually, your koi will become used to you being a surface dinner guest. Now it is time to introduce your hand. When you start, submerge your hand, allowing the food to float out. Slowly remove your hand and let the koi feed. Eventually, the koi will acclimatize to your hand and recognize it as a food source.

When starting the training, keep the amounts relatively small. Hunger rather than timidity will be a bigger motivator for koi. The hungrier they are, the bolder they are likely to be.

Remove your hand less quickly at each subsequent feeding. Some of the less shy (and probably hungrier) koi might not wait for you to take your hand out once they are comfortable with it being there.

What to Feed

Start with food that you know they love. Trying to introduce something they are unfamiliar with or disinterested in will not entice them to your hand of plenty. “Treats” are a good idea, too. Shrimp, watermelon and lettuce are a few good foodstuffs to try. There are various fish food brands that offer different options so find one that works for you and your koi.

Feed Them and They Will Come

Well, some of them. Koi are generally more sociable in larger groups and more apt to “follow the herd” as a result. Once you can get a few to commit, the others that are going to hand feed will likely follow suit.

To get the rest interested, you can try to introduce some of the varieties from the Kawarimono class (specifically the Chagoi, Kigoi and Ochiba Shigure). They are usually the most willing to hand feed. The Chagoi in particular are larger and love to eat.


Other than the personal interaction you get with your koi, with them so near to the surface you have the added advantage of being able to inspect them a little closer and check for indicators of illness or parasites.

Next Day Koi offers a wide selection of koi fish for sale sourced from some of the best farms around the world. Choose from any of the Kawarimono class as well as many others to get your pond stocked.

Coupled with a great selection of both sizes and types, we leverage our high volume of shipping through UPS to bring you some of the most competitive Next Day Air shipping rates in the industry.

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

3 responses

  1. Dr. David R. Crandall :

    I have five large fish in a pond of 1,000 gallons, I assume that all five must be the same sex as they have never had baby fish.
    Can you send me two KOI that will be male and female?


    Dr. David R. Crandall

    1. Sales Staff :

      Hello David. All of the koi that we have available for sale are listed on our website. Currently there are no sexed koi listed for sale. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *