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Koi Food Koi Nutrition

Koi Nutrition

Koi and all other fish are just like us in that they have particular dietary requirements. Naturally, koi will scavenge and root around a pond bottom as an aquatic pig eating worms, algae and debris, but where they are stocked in an artificial garden pond their diet and overall health is reliant on what they are fed artificially.

As a close relative of the carp (they even share the same name Cyprinus carpio) the nutritional requirements are almost identical to that of carp and similar to ourselves in that they are omnivores, eating both plant and animal material. In fact, there is very little difference between the dietary requirements of koi and other pond fish such as goldfish, comets and shubunkins.

Manufactured koi diets tend to be a little more refined than pond fish diets with a greater emphasis on protein content and color enhancement. Artificial koi diets can contain a wide range of raw materials in their formulation as long as they provide an overall balanced diet. Just think of the vast range of foods we can eat and still remain healthy. However, the blend of raw materials in a koi diet must satisfy specific criteria to provide sufficient of the following:

  • Protein.  Levels of approximately 30% are typical but will be higher if a growth food and lower than this if a low temperature food. Protein is present for growth and repair and is the diet’s most costly ingredient. Sources of protein include both animal and plant derivatives and meals such as fishmeal, soya, wheat and egg.
  • Carbohydrate.  These are the complex sugars such as starch and cellulose. They are all plant in origin and are included in high quantities in koi diets as a cheap source of energy. They are also included as a source of fibre to aid digestion. 
  • Oils. Oils are included as fish or vegetable oils. Usually less than 10% in the diet they are used by koi in the production of new tissues etc. If too much oil is included then pellets appear greasy and oily as in a trout pellet. These tend to be too rich for koi and can cause water quality problems.
  • Vitamins and Minerals. Manufactured diets often rely on the natural vitamin and mineral content included in the raw ingredients. More recently better quality brands have been including stable supplements of the notoriously unstable Vitamin C.