What to Feed Koi
There will always be different ideas around about what to feed koi but nearly everyone agrees on the basics.† This article covers what you need to feed to your koi to keep them healthy and happy.
Koi were originally bred from wild carp and it is this background which gives us some ideas when it comes to what to feed koi.† Wild carp are omnivorous which basically means that they will try anything.† In the wild they are used to rooting around in the bottom of streams and lakes, scavenging for anything that they can eat.† Your koi are much the same.† Any koi keeper who has tried keeping plants know that koi have a voracious appetite and will try digging up anything in the pond.
Koi live in a closed environment within their ponds.† They also have no stomach as such, just a digestive tract that everything passes through.† These two things combine to mean that whatever you feed your koi has a direct impact on the water quality and potentially on their health so approach the subject with caution.
Koi also have different requirements depending on water quality.† During the height of summer you may be feeding your koi anything up to eight times a day.† Remember that a number of small meals are a lot better than one or two large meals.† The protein content of their food needs to be higher in summer than spring and fall and stop feeding your koi altogether once the temperature drops below 50 degrees as they stop digesting the food and will simply end up with rancid food in their gut all through winter.† You will soon see in spring as they start to wake up but donít be tempted to start feeding them too soon or too much to start with.
Because they are inbred to acquire the colours there immune system has been compromised and they are more prone to illness than their wild cousins so making sure that their diet contains the right vitamins and minerals is doubly important.† Donít try to save money by going for a general commercial fish food that isnít specifically for koi.† Trout food for example is heavily biased towards growth and will not give your koi the vitamins and minerals that they need.
Look for pelleted food that has been specifically designed for Koi.† Donít go for the most expensive.† Check out the ingredients and avoid those which have any filler in.† Remember to vary the protein levels.† Fish are not actively growing at the start and end of the year so do not need high levels of protein.
You can supplement their pelleted diet with other things.† The more varied their diet the better.† Koi will get bored with the same food everyday and the more used they are to variation the easier it is to change their diet when you need to.
So try them with small pieces of brown bread (not too much as it is a bit of a filler) they love fish such as cockles or prawns.† Small pieces of cheese once or twice a week give them a useful boost of calcium and things like sweet-corn, oranges and grapefruits will go down well whilst boosting their vitamin intake.† Like us they thrive on a healthy diet so steer clear of processed food and stick to food that is as fresh as possible and as organic as possible.
One question that I am often asked is how to get koi to eat from your hand.† This can be done but it will take patience.† You need to find a time when you can spend some time feeding the koi.† Start off by sitting at the edge of the pond so that you can comfortably get your hand in the water.† Then simply put your hand in with a few pellets in the palm.† Allow these to float out and leave your hand their as the koi come up to feed on the pellets.† Repeat the process over and over so that your fish get used to your hand being in the water as they feed.† Gradually over the next few days you will find that your koi become less nervous, getting closer and closer to your hand until eventually one will brush against it.† You are now almost there.† A few more days of patient feeding and the first koi will start to nibble on pellets while they are in your hand† After that the other koi will be motivated by hunger and jealousy until you have them all literally eating from the palm of your hand.
But donít be impatient.† Spend time on this and you will be rewarded.† Once you have succeeded make sure that you feed them like this on a regular basis.†
Enjoy your koi.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Fisher has been a keen koi keeping enthusiast for nearly twenty years and is the author of the ebook Ponds of Koi- all you need to know about the koi keeping hobby He shares his knowledge and experience of koi and black koi through his articles and website.
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