Which Koi Food is most Suitable to Feed Koi Fish during Every Season?


The market for fish food is very vast and koi fish have become a very popular fish breed in many outdoor ponds in recent years.

Koi fish owners will need to understand what koi fish need and kinds of foods and nutrients to provide them with to keep them healthy. It is very important to understand that quality of the koi food matters more than the fish food brand name and what to look out for when selecting fish food specifically for koi fish.

What is a Koi Fish & What are their Requirements?

Koi fish or Nishikigoi are coloured variations of the Amur Carp that are kept solely for decorative purposes in koi ponds and water gardens. Koi is a widely known informal name for the coloured variants of the Amur Carp. Many variants of these ornamental koi originated from the breeding that began in Niigata, Japan, in the early 19th century.

The varieties are distinguished by colour, patterns, and scales. The major colours of Koi fish are white, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, brown, and cream. Goatsnake is the most popular category of Koi fish, which comprises the Kōhaku, Taishō Sanshoku, and Shōwa Sanshoku variants.

Every koi fish owner wants to see these fish live a healthy life. These fish can easily live for 50 years if given the correct nutrients in their diet. To understand what to feed koi fish, it is very important to know the needs of koi fish in the first place.

What do Koi Fish Need?

The right Temperature

Koi are hardy fish with a high durability. They are cold water fish but prefer a water temperature of around 15–25 °C (59–77 °F) as they tend to get ill in cooler waters below 10 °C. As they’re kept in outside ponds, it is vital to ensure that the temperature is regularly checked and that the ponds are constructed in ways that keep the water rather warm than cold.

A spacious and clean Pond

A well-designed outdoor pond for koi fish should protect them from natural predators such as herons, cats, foxes, and badgers. It should make it very difficult for mammals to reach in and catch them. Tall trees surrounding the pond can avoid aerial passers-by trying their luck. If all fails, nets or wires can be placed above the pond surface to reduce the risk of the koi fish being eaten. The pond should also be equipped with a pump and filtration system to keep the water clear and clean.

Enough Water

Koi fish need sufficient space as they are quite large and can grow to between two and three feet in length. The Chagoi variety of koi can grow up to four feet in length in some cases. Young koi can first remain in large indoor aquariums but need to be transferred to a large pond when they become too big. They are a heavy-bodied fish that can weigh around 35 pounds. Because of these physical features koi ponds need to be large enough to contain 500 to 1,000 gallons of water for each adult koi in it.

Good Fish Buddies

Koi are social fish that prefer to live in pairs or groups. If a koi fish owner wants to mix koi fish with other fish, they need to ensure that their environmental and nutritional requirements are the same or similar. Koi do not tend to eat other fish or fight with them. If you add different fish species to the koi pond, choose fish that have similar features. Koi have a good memory apparently and remember who feeds them, so they may perhaps also be able to bond with other fish.

The nutrients given to koi fish will also differ according to the goal of the owner. For example, some owners want their koi fish to be of a specific size or colour, while others just want a healthy koi fish that lives for a long time.

The choice of food will always remain the major factor in the growth and lifespan of koi fish. Feeding techniques must be known for keeping an overall healthy koi fish.

What to look out for in Koi Fish?

Observing your koi carp is key to ensuring that they stay healthy and happy. Depending on how many fish you keep in your pond you may want to take them out from time to time to examine them briefly as some swim to the surface more than others. Over time, you’ll become familiar with each fish and their behaviour which will enable you to spot when something is wrong early.

Things to look out for:

  • Fish are not eating
  • Fish are visibly injured
  • Fish colour has changed
  • Fish continue to swim
  • Fish act lethargic
  • Fish have clamped fins
  • Fish have swollen areas
  • Fish have raised scales

Upon spotting any of these signs immediately examine your fish and check for the following:

  • does their underside show injuries or lesions?
  • are their gills damaged and discoloured?
  • are their gills moving faster or slower than usual due to a possible oxygen deficiency?
  • are their scales red where they should not be?

Hopefully your koi fish will remain healthy and with the right koi food you can certainly contribute to that.

Which suitable Koi Fish Food to Feed in Different Seasons and How?

Table scraps are generally not advised to be fed to pets by veterinarians and the same applies to koi fish.

Understanding what to feed a koi carp impacts on their health and longevity significantly. Koi carp are generally not fuzzy eaters and will eat meat, fruit and vegetable products, meaning they are fairly easy and cost-efficient to keep as pets. They may even feed out of your hand if they trust you.

The quality koi carp fish food you choose to feed the fish should contribute to their health, growth and colour and include vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates just like in a human diet. Avoid feeding them fish flakes or bread. Instead feed them healthy fruit or vegetables.

Feed the right Amount

You may discover that overfeeding koi carp is much easier than underfeeding them. Many koi keepers fall victim to this mistake as they do not understand the metabolism of a koi fish. More food equals more waste and ammonia in the pond, which affects the water quality negatively over time. Make sure that if you observe fish food floating on the surface shortly after feeding the fish to reduce the amount of fish food provided.

Feeding one’s aquatic friends with natural nutrients surely is the best way forward. It is therefore wise to provide these fish with natural koi food that are easy to include in your koi’s diet, which will surely keep them happy and healthy.

However, it is important to understand that their digestive systems slow down in the winter, and they require very little food. Feeding should pause when the water temperature drops below 10 °C (50 °F) and koi fish keepers should wait until their appetites come back in the spring when it gets warmer.

Feed right according to the Season

In winter you can feed your koi carp a bit of low protein wheatgerm food if required. In summer a high protein growth diet is more advisable. Giving koi carp too much food during winter means that food remains in their guts longer, which could make them ill.

So, try to give them healthy snacks in good measure such as the following:

  • Grapefruit:

This can be a good treat in the summer season. Make sure that you cut the grapefruit in quarters before feeding. Though it is good for koi, try not to feed too much grapefruit as an excess of Vitamin-C acid can scorch their lips and turn them pale pink. You can feed one grapefruit per week.

  • Orange:

Your koi fish will love these treats in the cooler months as they provide them with Vitamin C to keep healthy. They will take mandarin segments right from your hands. Be sure that the larger seedless oranges are cut into smaller segments before feeding them to your koi fish.

  • Worms:

In their natural habitat, koi eat worms and they’re available all year around. Georgia reds, night crawls, pinks, etc., including fresh and active earthworms, are safe and can be fed to the koi.

  • Sardines:

These are some of the healthiest koi snacks you can offer. The sardines that are thawed, chopped, and frozen without any parasites should be given to the koi. Do not overfeed sardines to them and they’re best fed in the autumn months as otherwise they may smell very quickly.

  • Romaine Lettuce:

These are the least messy greens you can offer to koi fish for munching at any time of the year.

  • Watermelon:

It will not provide your koi with many nutrients but is perfect as a refreshing snack in the warmer months during spring or summer.

Final Thoughts

Koi keepers must keep in mind that cheap koi foods are made from low-quality ingredients and fillers. It has been seen that koi eat more of this cheap food, but that is because these low-quality animal feed do not provide their body with sufficient nutrition for a longer period, hence they must eat more.

Koi fish are cold-blooded creatures, and the colder it gets, the slower their metabolism becomes. The ideal amount of koi food that should be fed is claimed to be one that can be finished in 5 minutes. Take care of your koi fish with the right amount and type of nutrients as well as feeding pattern to keep them healthy living longer lives.





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