Best Koi Food Guide: What to Feed Koi Fish?


There are many types of koi food on the market offered by many different brands and manufacturers. Since there are so many options available, it can certainly be confusing especially for new koi owners.

In order to understand what to feed and how to feed your koi, it is important to understand the needs of your koi fish and what your purpose is as a koi owner. For example, the best food for your koi fish can be different if you are trying to achieve size or color. Some koi owners simply wish to keep healthy koi fish that live a long time.

Regardless of what your goal is as a koi owner, the choice of koi food and feeding methods are very important. It has a significance on the performance and overall health of your koi fish.

Best Koi Food
Feeding Koi Food to Nishikigoi

What is the Best Koi Food?

The best koi food is Saki-Hikari brand koi food. These are koi pellets are manufactured by Hikari, a leader in aquatic nutrition. They are made with quality ingredients that are formulated to promote the development of healthy koi with good body form. In fact, Saki-Hikari brand koi food is considered by many breeders as the best diet for raising champion koi fish. Every year, the winners of the All Japan Grand Champion include koi are raised on Hikari koi food.

You have to feed the best quality food. This fish was raised using only food manufactured by Kyorin

– Kentaro Sakai, Sakai Fish Farm

Kentaro Sakai, a champion koi breeder, describes the importance of quality fish feed. As a winner of multiple awards, he has repetitively expressed that his champion koi fish are raised with food manufactured by Kyorin. Hikari brand food is manufactured by Kyorin Corporation.

What is the best koi food for growth?

The best koi food for optimum growth is Saki-Hikari Growth. This feed was formulated for rapid growth while maintaining good traditional form. The feed is also enhanced with probiotics, which helps the fish digest and utilize the nutrients in the feed more efficiently. The probiotic ingredient in the feed becomes active in the intestinal tract during digestion. This creates beneficial digestive enzymes and results in a reduction of fish waste. Ultimately, this will help maintain good water quality and reduce the load on the pond filtration system as well.

What is the best koi food for color?

As recommended by many professional koi breeders, the best koi food for color is Saki-Hikari Color. This feed is formulated to bring out the natural color and beauty of koi fish. It is designed to help the koi develop more rapid and deep coloration. This formula also contains probiotics, which will help the koi absorb the nutrients more efficiently. If you wish to grow beautiful show quality koi, this is the best food.

What is the best koi food for winter?

During winter season, when the water temperature is cooler, the best koi food is Saki-Hikari Multi Season. The combination of easily digested wheat germ and probiotic makes this the best fish food when the temperature is cooler below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Based on the temperature, feeding levels should be adjusted. The colder it gets, the koi will become less active and require less food. When feeding during the colder seasons, be careful not to overfeed, and try to feed during the warmest part of the day. Once temperatures fall below 41 degrees Fahrenheit, feeding should be stopped completely.

Saki-Hikari has been developed by through many years of breeding show quality koi, and it is formulated with high grade ingredients. The feed is designed to bring out the natural colors in the fish and promote proper growth and healthy immune systems. Hikari has been manufacturing the best selling koi food in Japan for many years.

What to Feed Koi Fish (Other than Pellets)

Koi should be fed a diet consisting of quality pellet food such as Saki-Hikari. This will meet their basic nutritional requirements. In addition to the pellet food, their diet can be supplemented with various treats. Koi are technically carp, and they are omnivorous fish. They will eat a wide variety of foods which includes fruits, vegetables, and invertebrates.

There’s a great variety of treats that you can feed to your koi. This includes many varieties of fruits, vegetables, and seafood.

Here’s a list of food that you can feed your koi as treats:

Citrus Fruit

Oranges can be sliced in half and fed to koi. The oranges will float around in the pond, and the koi will pick at it over the course of a day or two. Once they oranges are eaten, the outer skin of will sink. The outer skin should be removed as it will decay in the water. They are a good source of vitamin C. They koi may not eat it the first time it is fed to them, but once they learn to eat it, they will enjoy it. Lemon and grapefruit are other citrus fruits that are known to be enjoyed by koi fish. Similar to oranges, they can be sliced in half and fed to koi.

Watermelon

Watermelon can be fed to koi. Thinly sliced sections of the watermelon will float on the surface of the pond. The koi may not feed on it right away, but they will enjoy it once it learns to eat it. 

Other Fruits

Other fruits that can be fed to koi include strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, bananas, and apples.

Be sure to remove seeds in the cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and apples. The skin on the apple can be difficult to digest, so it is best to remove the skin as well.

Greens

Koi will eat greens such as cabbage. You can feed cut up sections of a cabbage or simply throw a whole cabbage into the pond. The cabbage will float on the surface and the koi will pick at it throughout the day. It may take a couple days for the koi to eat the cabbage. However, if they are hungry they will eat the cabbage right up to the stalk fairly quickly.

Besides cabbage, koi are known to feed lettuce, kale, and many other types of greens.

Peas

You can feed peas to your koi fish. They are not high in protein, but they are rich in vitamins and minerals. Dry pellet koi food can be low in vitamins and minerals, especially if they have been opened for a prolonged period of time. Giving them some peas may help supplements their vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Cooked frozen peas are available in the frozen section of the grocery store. To feed green peas, thaw them out, peel the skin, and give it to the koi fish. Do not feed raw peas to you koi since they can be difficult to digest.

Other Vegetables

Koi will feed on a variety of vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, zucchini, and garlic. Cutting them into smaller pieces will make it easier to digest for the koi.

Vegetables such as broccoli, pumpkin, and carrots can be fed to the koi after cooking them. Pumpkin and carrots contain carotenoids, which can enhance the koi’s color.

Cheerios Cereal

You can feed koi Cheerios. They are known to enjoy the honey Cheerios very much. While they can not be a staple food, it is a fun treat to give the koi occasionally.

Dried Gammarus Shrimp

Dried gammarus shrimp, also known as scuds, are great treats for koi. They are rather small, so they are especially suitable for smaller koi. They are a great source roughage, which will aid in digestion. Gammarus shrimp are also known to be high in carotenoids, which will help bring out the colors in the koi fish. Gammarus is a type of amphipod, which is an organism that serves as a natural food source for the common carp (FAO).

Seafood

Seafood such as mussels are great treats for koi. The koi absolutely love them. Even the most finicky feeders will enjoy mussels. Sometimes they are available in fish stores. However, they are often sold cheaper in the frozen section at grocery stores. Just make sure that they are not pre-seasoned. The frozen mussels can thawed and cut up before feeding to the koi.

Other seafood that can be fed to koi includes clam and shrimp.

Black Soldier Fly

Black soldier fly can be fed to koi. More specifically, the black soldier fly larvae are great treats for koi fish. They are available in dried form, which makes it very convenient for feeding. As a high protein treat, they are suitable if you are trying to grow your koi. They do not have a strong odor, as some would assume.

Mealworms

Mealworms are often fed to reptiles, but they can be fed to koi fish as well. They are often available in both dry and live form. The dry form can be stored easily and they are convenient.  It is also possible to maintain a live culture of mealworms. The benefit of maintaining a live culture is that you can gut-load them before feeding them to the koi.

Earthworms

Earthworms can be fed to koi fish as a treat. The koi will most certainly enjoy them. Earthworms such as red worms can be a great source of protein for koi. If you decide to collect the worms, be sure that they are healthy, disease-free, and uncontaminated. If the soil was treated with chemicals, the trace chemicals could be present on the earthworms. If you can culture your own earthworms in a worm bin, you would have more control.

Keep in mind that koi food should be their staple diet. Treats can be a beneficial supplement, but since they are not always nutritionally balanced, it should only be fed in moderation.

Food to Avoid Feeding or Be Cautious of Feeding to your Koi

There’s a lot of different food that you can give to your koi as treats. Koi fish are omnivorous, and they will eat a wide variety of food. As opportunistic feeders, they may eat things that they normally wouldn’t if they are hungry enough. However, just because they will eat it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthy for them.

Here are some food to avoid, or be cautious of feeding your koi:

White Bread

You can feed bread to koi fish, and they will most likely eat it without hesitation. However, too much bread can cause digestive issues for koi. While koi are able to consume more carbohydrates than many other species of fish, too much of it can be harmful to them. Therefore, it should be fed with caution, and it should only be fed in small quantities. Considering that there are many other healthier options available, it is best to avoid it altogether.

Meats

Meat such as beef, pork, and chicken can be difficult to digest for koi fish. These land based animals are not a part of their natural diet. For the same reasons, dairy products should be avoided.

Dog Food and Cat Food

Some people feed dry kibble intended for dogs and cats to their koi as treats. You can feed dog food and cat food to koi fish, and they will most likely eat it without hesitation. However, it should be fed with caution, and it should never be fed as a staple diet. Feeding dog food or cat food occasionally will most likely not kill the koi fish, but it may not be very healthy for them in the long term. They often contain animal fat from land based animals such as cows, which is more difficult to digest than the content that are normally in their fish food. Koi may be able to process small amounts of it in warmer temperatures. However, it should be avoided in cooler temperatures when the koi require food that are easier to digest.

Other Foods

Food with tough outer skin such as corn and beans can be difficult to digest.

Raw seeds and grains are difficult to digest and should be avoided.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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