Last Updated:

How To Feed Koi Fish So They Are Happy & Healthy

“How to feed koi fish?” is a question pond owners ask us every so often. Here you can learn the different ways to feed them, what to and not to feed them, and when not to feed them. Then you won’t have to worry about whether your koi are hungry or overfed.

John is about to feed his koi fish for the first time.

He’s fed his friend’s koi fish before, but those are his friends’ fish. These are his koi. The first feeding is a special time because it is the start of him bonding with his fish, much like owners do with their dogs.

His koi fish will begin to recognize him as their feeder.

How to feed koi fish - sprinkle the food in a bit at a time

They’ll swim up to him when they see him like dogs running to their owner. Well, they should at least. He isn’t sure how long that will take…

John goes to grab some food for them when he realizes it: he doesn’t know how to feed koi fish or even what to feed them. He doesn’t want to feed them the wrong food. He also doesn’t want to give them too much.

If they get sick it will be his fault.

That thought is what makes him go to his computer and get on Google. Let’s see what John finds as he searches for what and how to feed koi fish.

Other fish questions and answers >>

What Foods Koi Fish Eat

John starts with “what to feed koi fish”.

If he doesn’t even have the right food then it doesn’t matter how he feeds his koi fish. He’ll have nothing to feed them. Hopefully, he has something around the house.

He finds out that, surprisingly, koi fish can eat almost anything organic.

In the wild (and John’s ecosystem pond) koi can feed off many foods: insects, algae, aquatic plants, seeds, worms, and anything they can get off of the pond bottom. So, he doesn’t really even have to feed his koi fish.

Things get interesting when he finds out what else they can eat (besides koi fish food). He can feed them human food too, even the Cheerios he’s eating.

Koi fish like fruit, finely cut vegetables, shrimp, and everything. Of course, if you feed them a poor diet they will start showing it (just like us). Moderation and a good diet are key to healthy koi fish.

John has most of these foods. Now he just needs to know how to feed koi fish.

How To Feed Koi Fish

John reads he can feed his koi fish up to 3 times per day in a 5-minute buffet-style period.

As for technique, there are 2: throw it in the pond or hold it in his hand. If he holds it in his hand the koi should come and eat right out of it.

“I can’t wait to try the hand feeding,” John thinks as he reads.

He can picture it: taking the food out to the pond, grabbing a handful, and throwing it in his pond. He won’t be near the skimmer because it’ll suck the food in. After the first throw is gone he’ll throw in another handful, and so on. This will go on for about 5 minutes.

Feeding koi fish in pond

John doesn’t want to overfeed them though. It can lessen the water quality as the fish use the bathroom more. This can strain his filters and dirty the water as they can’t fully clean everything out.

Then the oxygen levels drop and his fish will be in danger. He doesn’t want to hurt his fish so he’s going to be careful.

Speaking of hurting them, he wonders if there’s anything he shouldn’t feed them.

What Foods You Shouldn’t Give Koi Fish

Koi can get sick or hurt from eating certain foods.

John reads that peas, corn, and such can cause blockages in their digestive tract. This can be especially true if he doesn’t cook them first.

He also reads that carbohydrates aren’t good in larger quantities. Too many and his koi can become sick. If anything, whole grains are better (eg whole grain instead of white bread). Fats and dairy products are a strict no. John also finds out that he shouldn’t feed them anything he catches. Fish, insects, and frogs can carry parasites or diseases that can harm his koi.

Feeding them at the wrong times can also hurt his koi fish.

When Not To Feed Your Fish

‘When’ is an important part of how to feed koi fish.

How to feed koi fish in winter - don't

Koi fish start hibernating at around 50℉ (John had no idea fish can hibernate). Basically, their entire body starts slowing down, including their digestive system. Feeding them at this time can cause food to become stuck in their bodies.

It would be like having indigestion for weeks.

John also finds out that if there are low levels of oxygen his fish shouldn’t eat. This can happen after storms and during hot summer days.

Caring For Your Koi Fish Friends

John grabs some watermelon slices and heads out to his pond.

He now knows how to feed koi fish and what their diet is like. He can care for them so they live happily and healthily. If they are happy then he is happy too because he can enjoy watching them swim around. John doesn’t worry about feeding his koi fish anymore.

Now, you don’t have to either.