Feeding and Nourishing Your Koi
What do koi
eat? A lot of things. What should koi eat? Well,
that's a different question. Koi generally have such a voracious
appetite that they'll try anything thrown into the pond. They
also have a tendency to take in more than what's healthy for them,
so proper feeding involves control of both the quality and quantity
of food given to them. Overfeeding can result in very fat koi
(such that body conformation suffers severely) and worse, uneaten
food that can foul up the water if not netted out of the pond.
Every koi hobbyist must be cautioned against this second problem,
since water quality can easily be degraded by leftover food.
hobbyists generally use commercially-prepared koi feeds
as staple food for their koi. Koi, however, would appreciate getting
a chunk of fruit, squid, shrimp, or fish once in a while.
Koi, like people, find it stimulating to experience food variety.
Koi keepers who have experimented occasionally feeding their koi
with natural foods such as shrimp report that their koi are
healthier and get bigger faster during periods when such foods are
offered. Fruits will also be a good source of vitamins (like vitamin
C) for koi, a good insurance for the fact that some commercial koi
feeds don't provide vitamins in the right amounts, if at all.
commercial koi feeds, there is quite a broad range of available
choices in the market. So broad, in fact, that new koi
hobbyists sometimes worry about picking the incorrect type for the
fish that he or she is about to bring home. There are two popular
types of koi food available in the market today - pellets and
sticks. Sticks are popular in Europe, while pellets are
popular in US and Asia. Some sticks are fluffy and soft,
making them more water-absorbent and easier to digest. These,
however, may be more expensive pound-for-pound.
easier to bite than round pellets because of their narrow ends. Pellet size,
is important - young koi can suffer from perforated mouths while
trying to swallow a pellet that's too big for them. If
confronted with availability problems, it is thus better to buy
undersized pellets than to buy oversized ones. Undersized pellets
will only make the bigger koi get satisfied longer - that's all the
harm it does.
Figure 1. There
are many types of commercially
available koi food
looking at the size and shape of the koi food, its nutritional value
must also be seriously reviewed. Commercially-prepared koi feeds would
normally list 32%-40% protein, which is needed for growth and tissue
repair. Feeds with high protein content are preferred for
younger koi. Older koi must not get less than 30% protein in
its daily diet. Koi feeds should also contain digestion-aiding
enzymes as well as vitamins A (for better eyesight), B (for energy
and better digestion), C (for immunity and bone development), and E
(for reproductive health). Wheat germ-based commercial feeds are
recommended to develop the body size of a koi. Spirulina-enhanced
feeds are believed to enhance the color of koi. To know what
nutrients your koi need, please see the
Koi Nutrition Table.
frequency is usually determined by the routine or personal schedule
of the koi keeper. However, a lot of people say that it is
better to feed koi at shorter intervals with smaller amounts than to
do a heavy feeding once a day. Still, the bottom line is never
to feed the koi more than what they can finish in a few minutes,
because fouling up the water with uneaten food is one risk nobody