Koi Nutrition & Health

Erik Johnson


- We will be discussing Koi feeding. Feeding is something most folks do daily.

- You will learn what to feed, what not to feed, how to avoid common mistakes.


- Feeding & How to feed

- Ingredients evaluation

- Skip the science: What to feed

- Feeding mistakes


- People feed Koi. It’s the “interactive” part of Koi keeping (Er, swimming with them is, too.)

- What, when, how and why to feed are important elements.



- Protein – Essential to fish, and there are essential amino acids. An imbalance in energy or Amino acids will cause fatty liver disease

- Carbohydrate – Important to fish, however many fish lack insulin production and are functional diabetics. Still, in Koi carbohydrates improve body shape.


- Lovell; “Fish Eat Fish

- Beef, poultry and plant protein less easily digested and assimilated

- One-sided protein sources will cause fatty liver. Excess amino acids used for energy and stored as fat.

- Wheat, Soybean, corn all provide protein, but more importantly, carbs.

- Feeding nothing but silkworm pupae is an example of one sided protein source.


- Energy source for most animals, not as important in fish.

- Feeding carbohydrates gives fish fatter faces and wider bodies without giving pot bellies.

- Cheerios as a nitrogen-free source of “sustenance” and carbohydrate source.


- Foods rancidify at room temperature

- Vitamin C will break down unless it’s the phosphorylated (stabilized) vitamin C

- Freezing breaks down the fats through ‘freeze-drying’ and the loss of vitamins A,D,E and K are the result.


How to Feed

- We feed Koi ponds differently than we feed water gardens.

- Koi ponds usually have no additional feed sources. Water gardens do.

- Water gardeners want smaller Koi, for a longer time.

- Koi Ponds: Feed all that your fish want, for five minutes once per day. If you feed more than that, water changes are more crucial.

- Pushing growth requires water mastery.

Water Gardens          

- One should feed Koi living in water gardens less food.

- Filtration is usually minimal when the pond is prioritized over the fish.

- Larger Koi tumble and uproot plants, so water gardeners want them to “stay small” so feeding every other day is recommended.

Feeding Mistakes

- Overfeeding causes accumulation of organics, wastes, noxious gases, and chemical byproducts.

- Filtration must be matched to feeding rates, not pond volume. Turn your pond through the filter every hour.

- Lack of variety is a common mistake. Poor foods is another.

What To Feed

- Two good foods which are ‘different’ in formulation. Look for fish or sea creature protein as the first ingredient.

Snacks: Cheerios, krill, dark green vegetables, grapefruit, silkworm pupae, earthworms, water melon, canteloupe, small children for the very large Koi.

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