Rule #1: You must go home every day to feed your Koi at lunch.
Just kidding! In a perfect world, we would all be at the pond, feeding our Koi multiple times a day to mimic their eating habits in nature. Sadly, most of us do not have this luxury…
Above all, correct feeding and food are the key ingredient to improving your Koi’s health, happiness, and longevity. While we recommend auto feeders and will tell you more in this article, it is important that you still do light hand feeding daily!
Automatic feeding technology has made the Koi hobby more fun but remember that nutrition is just as important as fun!
My name is Taro Kodama and here at Kodama Koi Farm, for over 50 years my family has learned and incorporated many Japanese Koi breeding best practices into our farm from Niigata in order to nurture their maximum growth, color, and health of our Koi fish through Koi food.
This blog is about how you feed a proper diet for creating the most beautiful living jewels with the least stress.
Koi Feeding Content
- What do Koi Fish eat Naturally?
- What Influences Koi Diet?
- How Much do I Feed my Koi?
- When Should I use an Auto Feeder?
- What are the Benefits of an Auto Feeder?
Do you Feed Fast Food or Nutritious Food?
Just like with humans, what your Koi eat is what they are. If you eat lousy food, like a fast food hamburger everyday, you will get sick. If you eat healthy, you will stay healthy and look quite youthful. So it is with your Koi.
Always Avoid Cheap Koi Food!
There is a reason that cheap food is cheap. For this reason, we do not recommend choosing your Koi’s food by the economical price.
Your Koi may beg for cheap food like it’s a burger on the dollar menu at a fast food joint, but it’s up to you as the responsible party to make healthy decision on their behalf. After all, your Koi babies are getting all of their food from you, whether they like it or not!
Although I will leave most of the details of what is good Koi food to my other blog, let me just beg you – Please do not to feed your Koi cheap food. Not only does the type of food you select directly influence your Koi’s health, it also affects water quality. To get the best “bang” for your buck, you have to pay more for healthier food.
To get the best “bang” for your buck, you have to pay more for healthier food.
Cheap Koi foods have a lot of low quality, old ingredients, and fillers. It may seem to you that your Koi eat a lot when they eat this cheap food, but that is an illusion, as it does not stay in their bodies long. Most of it will simply go out as waste, contributing to poor water quality of your pond, burdening your filter.
Believe us when we say: You may not see it now, but it will end up costing you more in the long run. It’s better for your Koi to feed quality Koi food only once a day than to feed low grade Koi food three times a day (though we don’t recommend doing this!).
So, let’s start with what Koi fish eat naturally!
What Do Koi Fish Eat?
Koi fish are omnivores (just like humans!).
In the wild, Koi fish will eat a buffet of algae, bugs, plant matter, and animal matter, depending on what edible morsels float their way. In captivity, it is up to you to decide what your Koi will eat, so below we will review what foods we recommend and what foods you can feed from your home as treats.
NIshikigoi are not as cautious as their relative, the black wild carp. This different behavior is caused by how they grew up. All Nishikigoi are bred by Koi breeders. Koi farms, koi breeders feed them 7 or 8 times a day in order to maximize the size with their potential, and the Koi are already used to staying with humans when you buy them. All breeders have a gentle personality, so koi believe that all humans are kind and never hurt them.
For showing respect to their beliefs, please feed your koi several times times per day to make them always happy.
We Only Feed Koi High Quality Food – Just like in Japan!
There are many different types of Koi food that serve different purposes. At Kodama, we use the following foods in combination based on our Koi’s needs to grow our Koi into the most beautiful champions that they can be:
For Vibrant Color: Kodama Koi Colorup
This food is designed to enhance the color and health of koi scales because it include high quality spirulina. Spirulina will also improve the immune system and flesh quality of your koi.
Benefits of Colorup include:
- Beautiful Scales
- More Vibrant Colors
- Boosted Immune System
- Noticeably Faster Growth
- Improved Health
- Easier & Smoother Digestion
For All Occasions: All Season Wheat Germ
All Season/Wheat Germ is formulated for maximum koi growth and health, and its digestibility will allow you to feed your koi all year round.
Benefits of All Season Wheat Germ include:
- Noticeably Faster Growth
- Improved Health
- Beautiful Skin
- More Vibrant Colors
- Easier & Smoother Digestion
For Training, Low Temperatures, and Easy Digestion: Manda Fu
If you enjoy the time spent feeding and petting your koi, you will want to have Manda Fu on hand year round.
With the best digestion rate of 98.2%, Manda Fu is the most suitable koi food for autumn, winter and spring. You can feed your koi Manda Fu even when the water temperature drops as low as 45F to 50F degrees.
Benefits of Manda Fu include:
- Hand Feed Your Koi
- Enhanced Health
- Softer & Smoother Digestion
- Gorgeous Scales
- More Dynamic Colors
There Are Human Foods that Koi Can Eat – Only as Occasional Treats…
You may have heard that some feed their Koi fruits and vegetables such as water melon, oranges and even cereals. I know Koi love them. Personally, I think it is OK to feed these foods to your Koi. The only exception to note is that cereals should only be fed as an occasional treat and you must clean out any leftovers.
Koi pellets are designed to complete the needed diets for Koi’s health and beauty. So as long as you feed proper Koi food, your Koi should be well with these additional treats.
Remember, human foods should just be additional treats.
You must clean out any leftover human treats!
Learn The Many Influencers of a Koi Diet
There are several factors to consider when feeding your Koi fish, most of which have to do with the Koi’s body and how the external environment affects their digestive tracts.
To understand how the influencers of your Koi’s diets work, first you must understand how the Koi’s metabolism and digestion are subject to these changes.
Koi Digestion 101: Koi Have No Stomachs and are Cold Blooded
Remember Koi do not have stomachs. This means that they cannot eat a lot all at once and store the food in stomach for digestion. They need to eat small amounts frequently.
We human beings have a stomach to temporarily store the food, so we can eat larger amounts and digest slowly. We don’t feel hunger for about 5 hours after the meal. However, Koi fish don’t have a stomach, so they feel full very quick. This is the reason why they are hungry all the time and they will want to eat little amount in different times.
Temperature plays a big role in assisting the Koi to digest food as well, as they are cold blooded creatures. The colder it gets, the slower your Koi’s metabolism and their metabolism will increase with heat. This is why during the summer time, that the Koi are always hungry and during winter temperatures the Koi’s ability to digest is impeded, therefore they will eat much less or not at all.
As you will find, there are so many extreme variables in feeding your Koi, which is why I love auto feeders. An auto feeder can do the guesswork for you to calculate the right amount of food based on the feeding schedule and temperature of the water. As you cannot always be near your Koi pond to monitor the following changing variables, having a safe and secure backup is paramount.
Factors that Affect Koi Feeding Amount and Frequency
Here are some factors to consider when deciding how much and how often to feed your Koi. Based on the temperature, the size of your koi, and the water quality, you will soon come to an understanding of what feeding needs there are for your specific pond.
- Koi Fish Size – When your Koi are smaller, feed smaller portions of food. Our Manda Fu Koi Food can be broken down into smaller bits for hand feeding. A larger Koi will need more sustenance than a smaller or younger Koi fish.
- Season – Some locations undergo drastic seasonal/feeding changes, such as high heat in the summer and extreme low temperatures in the winter months. Other climates are much more temperate and may have more regulated feedings all year round.
- For example, our Florida Koi Store location will have a different feeding schedule than our New Jersey Koi Store location. For more details on how to deal with these different climates, please feel free to contact our stores that are closest to your climate.
- No matter what your climate, preparing your Koi pond for the spring still requires annual maintenance.
- Please remember Koi go into hibernation once winter comes. They spend the whole winter with no food. So they must eat and store nutrition as much as possible during the summer time. If they do not eat enough, at many times, they go into winter in poor health and that may result in sickness in spring.
- Temperature – Why is water temperature important to feeding Koi? This is because the water temperature determines what and how often Koi can eat.
- Please see the Feeding Chart for more instruction about feeding during different temperatures.
- Remember your Koi do not have stomachs and are cold blooded animals, so the ability to produce digestive enzymes in their intestines is dependent on temperature. Don’t risk your Koi’s life!
- Weather influencing Oxygen Content – Koi need oxygen for digestion. The less oxygen in your pond, the less that your Koi can digest food. Some recommend that you do not feed Koi during or right after a storm, as the oxygen in the water is very low at this time. Whenever your Oxygen is low, you should feed your Koi less.
- Water Quality and Pumps affecting Oxygen Content – Please do not forget that when Koi fish eat more, they poop more. During feeding season, please monitor not only water temperature, but also water quality. Always keep your water parameters within the healthy range.
- Again, if the oxygen content drops in your water, your Koi will not be able to digest to the best of your ability. If your pump also fails to work, then you will encounter the same problem. You must make sure the water quality is correct or else your Koi may become sick or unable to digest food properly. We will discuss water quality in more detail in another blog.
How Much Do I Feed My Koi?
The safe amount for Koi to eat per feeding is said to be the amount of food that they can finish in about 5 minutes.
I usually recommend customers to feed the amount Koi can finish in 5 – 10 minutes. if you see any leftover, please scoop them out. If you leave uneaten food in the water, it will end up ruining your water quality.
Earlier we mentioned that temperature plays a big role in assisting the Koi to digest food as well, as they are cold blooded creatures. Remember this fact and you will be successful at adjusting your Koi’s feeding schedule:
Cold impairs and heat speeds up your Koi’s digestive ability. This is why Koi eat more in the summer and less (or nothing) in the winter.
At Kodama Koi, we analyze the parameters of our Koi gardens to ensure the correct feeding schedule. Are you ready for the inside scoop on how a champion is fed?
Kodama Feeding Chart: When do we feed and how often?
I think the below chart is helpful to answer this question. This chart uses Kodama Koi food and other popular Japanese Koi food as examples. The frequency is conservative. If you would like to push the growth of your Koi, you may be more aggressive. Each Koi food brand usually has a recommended water temperature located on the package to ensure you choose the right amount.
To maximize Koi growth, feeding as often as recommended at each water temperature zone is very important because it is only a small amount of food for each feeding.
You Can’t Always Be There To Feed Koi, But An Auto Feeder Can!
Any connoisseur knows that, in feeding Koi, consistency is the key!
We eat breakfast in the morning, lunch at noon and dinner in the evening. And, we usually eat each meal at about the same time. I believe that Koi are smart. They learn who feeds them and when. And they expect food when they think they should be fed. So to maximize the benefit of their diet, please be consistent at what time to feed your Koi.
If you decide to feed your Koi at 7 am before you go to work, and 7pm after you come home, keep a consistent daily routine for your Koi.
After reading this article, you will know there are many factors that influence your Koi’s diet. There are benefits to having an auto feeder as a support to your Koi’s normal routine, while we don’t mean to make you more paranoid about your Koi’s health while you are not around.
This invaluable device can mimic your presence and will give you the peace of mind that your Koi are being fed and monitored to the best or your analytical ability, even while you are on vacation.
All Koi Breeders in Japan use Auto-Feeders
So, we return to the first question in this article: Who feeds your Koi at lunch? I bet most of you reading this work outside of your homes. Few have the luxury of coming home at lunch and feeding your Koi around noon. For that reason, I usually recommend automatic Koi feeders.
With auto feeders, not only can you feed your Koi around noon, but also you can also feed them as often as you want – whether you are around or not. Your Koi will get the food exactly the same amount of food at the same time every day – which is the ideal circumstance for growing healthy, happy Koi.
Additionally, if you live in the area where the water temperature falls below 50 during winter, it is critical you that you feed your Koi as much as you can before that shift happens – so that they can hibernate for a long and healthy winter.
There are several auto feeders on the market, but I love the one from Japan “Esayari Meijin” or Feeding Master in Japanese. All the breeders in Japan use this one. At my farm in Hawaii, I use them for most of my 80 ponds. I love this device and I recommend this to many of my customers for several reasons.
Benefits of an Auto Feeder
There are many benefits of the auto feeder that I personally recommend:
Put it Anywhere – Solar or Electric Powered
First of all, it comes either with solar power or a power cord. So you really do not need power supply by your pond. There are no restrictrictions for where you must put your feeder.
It is Easily Programmed for Scheduled Feedings
Also, it can program up 12 feeding per day. And, at each feeding, you can program how wide, how far, and how many seconds (how much food) this feeder will shoot out.
It Supports Your Hand Feeding Relationship with your Koi
Even with an auto feeder, I do recommend you should feed by yourself at least once a day. Having an auto feeder is great, but it should serve as a “peace of mind” when you cannot be present to hand feed.
Remember, hand feeding is an important tool for Koi care, as it helps you monitor their behaviors and check their health. More than anything, it helps the Koi to feel your care.
Achieve Consistency and Peace of Mind
The last great benefit of an auto feeder is that you can feed your Koi as frequent as you want, even while you are not at home.
Want to go on a vacation in the Bahamas? Auto feeder. Sudden illness befalls? The auto feeder is in place. Never worry that you cannot check the parameters of your pond to ensure the health, growth, and color of your prized living jewels. Leave that to the auto feeder.
Don’t Ask a Friend To Help, When You Can Invest in an Auto Feeder!
In this busy lifestyle, there is nothing more paramount than peace of mind with your Koi fish. Nothing zaps your energy more as you are enjoying the other areas of your life than the worry you may have for your Koi fish when you cannot be present.
I highly recommend this Koi Auto Feeder as I use them daily on my Koi farms. You can feed your Koi as frequent as you want, especially while you are not at home. Maximize the growth, color and health of your Koi everyday by supplementing your feeding schedule with an auto feeder.
As a serious hobbyist, having an auto feeder by your side really steps up your game and reduces your worry.
Learn more about how the Feeding Master Automatic Koi Feeder monitors the parameters of your pond for the perfect feeding schedule.
Looking for quality koi? Visit our koi farm site online to view our best koi for sale.
This Solar Koi Feeder can save you time and is powered by the sun for even more convenience. Set your feeding times and amounts, put your koi food in it (up to 15 lb), and let it take care of the rest.