What Do Koi Fish Eat? Top 6 Foods to Keep Your Koi Healthy and Happy

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Feeding your koi fish a healthy and balanced diet is essential for their growth, health, and happiness. But what do koi fish actually eat? Providing them with the right food can be overwhelming and confusing at times, especially if you’re new to the hobby.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll discuss the top 6 foods that can keep your koi fish healthy and happy. We’ll also delve into some important factors to consider when feeding them and answer some common questions about koi fish diets.

“Happiness is a full stomach.” – Japanese Proverb

Koi fish are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Their natural diet in the wild consists of insects, crustaceans, plankton, and various types of vegetation. However, in captivity, their diet primarily revolves around commercial pellets or flakes supplemented with fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich treats.

From high-quality pellets to live food, there’s plenty of options available for you to feed your koi fish. So, let’s get started on exploring the different food choices that will help keep your koi fish healthy and vibrant!


When it comes to feeding your koi fish, one of the most popular and convenient options is pellets. Pellets are easy to store, measure, and distribute in the water. They also offer a balanced and nutritious diet for koi fish.

Pellet Types

There are two main types of pellets available on the market: floating pellets and sinking pellets. Floating pellets stay at the surface of the water, making them ideal for fish that prefer to feed from the top. Sinking pellets, as the name suggests, sink to the bottom of the pond, allowing fish to feed from various depths of the water column.

The size of pellet you should choose will depend on the size of your koi fish. Larger fish will require larger pellets while smaller fish can be fed small or medium-sized pellets.

Brands of Pellets

There are several brands of koi fish pellets available on the market. Some of the leading brands include Hikari, TetraPond, Blue Ridge Koi, and Aqua Master. These brands offer high-quality pellets made from wholesome ingredients that meet the nutritional needs of koi fish.

Pellet Nutrition

Koi fish require a well-balanced diet in order to thrive. Pellets provide a range of essential nutrients such as protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The exact nutritional composition of pellets will vary depending on the brand and type of pellet.

In general, pellet formulations should have a protein content of around 30-40%. This protein should come from high-quality sources such as fish meal rather than low-grade fillers like soybean meal. A good source of fat, ideally sourced from fish oil, is also important for maintaining healthy skin and a strong immune system.

How to Choose the Right Pellet

The right pellet for your koi fish will depend on several factors such as their size, age, and health status. Generally speaking, high-quality pellets from reputable brands will offer a balanced and nutritious diet for most koi fish.

You can also look for specialty pellets that cater to specific needs such as growth, color enhancement, or immune support. However, it’s important not to rely solely on one type of pellet as variety in the diet is key for optimal health and happiness in koi fish.

“Koi are what they eat,” says Jerry McCoy, a koi expert and owner of Mystic Koi & Water Gardens. “Choose a quality food for healthy fish.”


Koi fish are omnivorous, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. Vegetables are an essential part of a koi fish’s diet as they provide many vital nutrients that keep them healthy.

Leafy Greens

Koi fish love leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, and cabbage. These vegetables contain vitamins A, C, K, and folate along with minerals like iron and calcium, which help to support healthy bones and muscles in koi fish.

One great way to give your koi their dose of leafy greens is by feeding them blanched or boiled lettuce leaves. This makes it easier for them to digest the vegetables and get all the benefits they offer. In addition, you can try adding some finely chopped kale or spinach to their regular food to make it more nutrient-dense.

Another option is to try growing your own organic greens and herbs in a small water garden. This way, your koi fish have access to fresh produce at all times, reducing the need for store-bought supplements.

“Koi love eating vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and cabbage because of the various health benefits they provide.” -GardenersPath.com

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, and radishes are also excellent additions to a koi fish’s diet. These vegetables are rich in fiber, potassium, and other vital nutrients that promote digestive health and boost immune function.

You can add these root vegetables to your koi’s diet either raw or cooked; just make sure to peel and slice them into bite-sized pieces before serving. Also, don’t overdo it, as too much fiber can cause digestive issues in koi fish.

Another way to incorporate root vegetables into your koi’s diet is by making DIY gel food at home. This involves blending the vegetable of your choice with a binding agent such as unsalted gelatin and then freezing it in small cubes or balls that can be fed to your koi fish as treats or supplements.

“Carrots are great for koi because they contain beneficial carotenoids that enhance their color, promote vision health, and support immune function.” -ThePondGuy.com

Squash and Cucumbers

Koi fish also enjoy eating squash and cucumbers, which are rich in vitamins B6, C, and K along with other essential nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, and potassium. These vegetables are low in calories and high in water content, making them excellent choices for koi who require a well-balanced diet.

One easy way to incorporate these vegetables into your koi’s diet is by slicing them thin and feeding them directly to your fish. Alternatively, you can try grating them and mixing them with other fresh ingredients to make a homemade salad that offers all-around nutrition and variety. Avoid adding salt or spices to the mix as this can harm your koi’s delicate digestive system.

“Cucumbers are ideal snacks for koi since they promote hydration and provide essential nutrients like antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.” -Aquariumcarebasics.com

Offering your koi fish a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of vegetables ensures they get all the nutrients they need to thrive. Experimenting with different types of leafy greens, root vegetables, and squashes/cucumbers not only provides variety but also helps keep your koi healthy and vibrant for years to come.


As omnivores, Koi fish require a variety of foods to stay healthy. Feeding your Koi diet consists of fruits can be beneficial if done correctly.

Tropical Fruits

Koi fish are known to enjoy sweet tropical fruits such as bananas, mangos, and papayas in their diet. These fruits make up part of the nutritional needs of Koi since they contain numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that ensure healthy growth in both ornamental and edible Koi varieties.

But it is essential to remember not to give them too much or use fruits as the only food source for your Koi – it’s best as a treat alongside an already balanced diet routine. Giving too many fruits can lead to digestive problems and disrupt the fish’s metabolic system.

“Tropical fruit offers a range of health benefits from digestive regulation to aiding weight loss, but like any other component of our diets, intake should always be controlled.” -Dr. Julian Forde


Berries like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are also a great snack option for your Koi due to their high levels of Vitamin C, fiber, and flavonoids. The bright colors of berries attract koi like human eyes; hence, they’re perfect treats during feeding time.

It’s important to note that when feeding berries, you must wash them thoroughly before introducing them into the pond. Pesticide residues on non-organic sources may intoxicate the water and harm the fish. Also, remove uneaten berries 20 minutes after feeding so as not to dirty the water they live in.

“Berries are extremely nutritious and offer tremendous antioxidant power.They are a low-calorie and low-glycemic index food option that provides a sweet snack without spiking insulin levels.” -Dr. Sarah Brewer

Incorporating fruits like bananas and some berries into the diet of your Koi can have many health benefits alongside other balanced diets such as live or prepared fish foods. A combination feeding routine involving fruits ensures a balanced nutritious meal fit for any healthy Koi.

Insects and Worms

Koi fish are omnivorous, which means they eat both plant matter and animal protein. In nature, koi will consume anything from algae and aquatic plants to small invertebrates and insects. They have a particularly fondness for insects and worms, making them an excellent source of nutrition in captivity as well.

Feeder Insects

When it comes to feeder insects, crickets and grasshoppers are two great options that provide a good balance of protein and fiber. These insects can be found at most pet stores and can be fed to koi either live or dried. Other common feeder insects include mealworms, waxworms, and bloodworms.

“Crickets and other insects are a nutritious food option for koi fish,” says Dr. Greg Burkett, DVM. “They contain high levels of protein and essential amino acids.”

It’s important to note that while insects make up a vital part of a koi’s diet, they should not be the sole source of their nutrition. Koi need a variety of foods to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.


Mealworms are a popular feeder insect among koi keepers due to their high protein content. They are commonly sold live or freeze-dried at pet stores. Mealworms can be fed to koi as a treat or mixed into their regular pellet or flake food.

“Mealworms can be a great addition to a koi’s diet, but they should be given in moderation,” advises Dr. Bailey McEntire, DVM. “Too many mealworms can cause digestive issues for your fish.”

If you plan on feeding mealworms to your koi, it’s important to purchase them from a reputable seller and avoid feeding wild-caught insects, as they can contain harmful toxins or parasites that could be harmful to your fish.


Waxworms are another popular feeder insect among koi keepers. These soft-bodied caterpillars have a high fat content, making them an ideal food source for koi during the colder months when their metabolism slows down.

“Waxworms are an excellent source of energy for koi,” says Dr. Richard Crowell, DVM. “But remember, just like with any other treats, moderation is key.”

While waxworms provide many benefits, they should only be fed as a treat and not as a regular part of a koi’s diet. Like mealworms, it’s essential to ensure that any waxworms you feed to your koi are purchased from a reputable source to prevent the ingestion of harmful toxins or parasites.

Shrimp and Crayfish

Types of Shrimp

There are many species of shrimp that are commonly kept in aquariums, such as cherry red shrimp, ghost shrimp, amano shrimp, and crystal shrimp. Each species has different physical characteristics and care requirements.

The cherry red shrimp is one of the most popular types of shrimp for beginners because they are easy to care for and breed quickly. Ghost shrimp are also relatively easy to care for but are less colorful than cherry red shrimp. Amano shrimp are larger and more active than other species and do well with plants. Crystal shrimp are known for their striking colors but require a specific water parameter to survive.

Crayfish Care

Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans that require special care compared to fish. They need a tank size of at least 20 gallons, plenty of hiding places like driftwood or rocks, and clean water conditions.

Crayfish are omnivores and should be fed a balanced diet of high-quality pellets and fresh vegetables such as spinach or kale. Overfeeding crayfish can result in aggressive behavior toward other aquatic pets.

“Make sure that your pet crayfish has a place to hide. This will make him feel safer and help keep any other animals in your tank safe from being injured.” -The Spruce Pets

Feeding Shrimp and Crayfish

Both shrimp and crayfish have a similar diet of algae, plant matter, and meat-based foods. Feeding them a varied diet is important for their health and preventing boredom.

You can feed them sinking pellets specifically made for crustaceans, blanched vegetables, and dried shrimp pellets. It is also recommended to provide them with live or frozen foods such as bloodworms or brine shrimp occasionally.

“It is important to remember that both crayfish and shrimp have a high metabolism. This means they need frequent feedings throughout the day.” -Aquarium Source
In conclusion, keeping healthy shrimp and crayfish in an aquarium requires proper care and attention to their unique needs. Understanding the different species of shrimp and their requirements can help ensure their well-being in your tank. Providing a balanced diet for both shrimp and crayfish is important for their health and happiness.

Treats and Supplements

Koi fish are known to be omnivores, meaning they feed on both animals and plants. Their diet mainly consists of pellets or flakes specifically formulated for koi fish. However, it’s always a good idea to give these beautiful creatures something extra from time to time.

Healthy Treat Options

If you want to spoil your koi with treats that provide additional nutrition, consider the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Like humans, koi fish benefit greatly from consuming fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, lettuce, broccoli, and peas.
  • Shrimp and squid: These protein-rich delicacies make great occasional snacks for koi. You can also chop them up into small pieces to supplement their regular diet.
  • Insects or worms: If you have access to insects or worms like silkworm pupae, earthworms, or crickets, your koi will love munching on them. Just added moderation since too much of these treats isnt healthy for koi fish nutritionally.

It is worth noting that while treats should never replace their daily pellet feedings, they bring variety to their diet, making mealtime more fun! Moreover, providing fresh food options in addition to processed foods adds nutrients that your fish need to thrive.

Supplement Benefits

While conventional flake or pellet food provides all necessary nutrients, adding supplements could protect your koi against ailments and improve certain qualities of their livelihoods. Here are some benefits that different supplements provide, among others:

  • Pond salt: Adding pond salts to the water supply has several benefits, such as strengthening koi skin, removing harmful nitrates and promoting beneficial bacterial growth.
  • Probiotics: These bind with dangerous bacteria in the intestines of koi fish to increase survival chances during sickness.
  • Vitamins: Vitamins boost the immune system of a koi, keeping them strong enough to resist common diseases and infections.

Supplements should always compliment feeding pellets rather than substitute for their complete diets—another critical caution is not to mix types of pills since they may interact negatively against each other. It’s advisable first to consult with an expert before adding any new supplement to your koi’s diet to ensure that no supplements interfere negatively with their usual meal programs.

How to Incorporate Treats and Supplements

“It is important to avoid overfeeding treats regardless of how healthy they are – the wrong amount of anything can still cause issues,” advised in one Fishkeepingworld.com post. -Fishkeepingworld.com

As mentioned earlier, moderation is crucial when giving your koi extra nourishment. Too much or too little supplement or treat could lead to prolonged health consequences. One way to ensure you provide meals safety is to do it several times while monitoring possible impacts on behavior or appetite. Here are some specific tips on how to best feed treats and supplements to koi:

  • Feed treats by hand: Select high-quality fruits or vegetables, wash them thoroughly, cut crooked pieces and let them float in water where the koi fish lives; once the koi ate all of them(continue watching till they do), toss another set into the pond directly and monitor the situation throughout.
  • Use recommended portions: Supplements usually come with precise quantity instruction labels; always follow those instructions strictly. Accompany such portions with the regular feeding patterns of koi fish for better application.
  • Monitor your Koi’s reaction: When you introduce supplements in their feeding routine, observe any changes in behavior or appetite carefully. Over-supplementation can lead to pathological diseases over time if left unchecked as well.

Treats should be served only sparingly during moments between each mealtime while supplement intakes must be accurately regulated. A healthy and varied diet composed of a high-quality base pellet feed will save you unnecessary costs associated with treating sick koi caused by nutritional imbalances. Remember that indulging these beautiful creatures is highly encouraged but not at the cost of their health!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the natural diet of koi fish?

Koi fish are omnivores and their natural diet consists of insects, crustaceans, plankton, and plants. They also eat algae, which provides them with essential nutrients. A balanced diet is important for koi fish to maintain good health and vibrant colors.

What kind of food should be avoided when feeding koi fish?

Foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta, should be avoided when feeding koi fish. These foods can cause digestive problems and lead to health issues. Koi should also not be fed food that contains high levels of fat or protein, as this can cause excess waste in the water and pollute the environment.

How often should koi fish be fed?

Koi fish should be fed small amounts of food multiple times a day, rather than one large feeding. This helps to prevent overfeeding and maintain good water quality. Generally, koi should be fed 2-3 times a day, with the amount of food depending on the size and age of the fish.

What are some common commercial koi fish food options?

Commercial koi fish food options include pellets, flakes, and freeze-dried products. These foods are designed to provide a balanced diet and contain essential nutrients for the health of koi fish. Some popular brands include Hikari, Tetra, and Omega One.

Can koi fish eat fruits and vegetables?

Yes, koi fish can eat fruits and vegetables, but they should be given in small amounts as a treat rather than a staple in their diet. Some good options include peas, oranges, and watermelon. It is important to avoid feeding koi fruit that is high in sugar, such as grapes or bananas, as this can cause health problems.

What are some signs that indicate a koi fish is not getting proper nutrition?

Signs that indicate a koi fish is not getting proper nutrition include a loss of color, sluggishness, and a lack of appetite. Koi may also develop health problems or become more susceptible to disease if they are not receiving a balanced diet. It is important to monitor the health and behavior of koi fish and adjust their diet accordingly.

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