What Do Koi Fish Eat?(Best Koi Food for Growth and Color)

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Legend has it that freshwater Koi carp can live up to 200 years – possibly because they eat so well during their lifetime. 

That said, these non-aggressive descendants of the common carp are far from fussy eaters. They relish all kinds of vegetables and meat, and will even eat out of their feeder’s palm.

Needless to say, their mesmerizing colors and interesting personalities make Koi carp a favorite among aquarists and garden enthusiasts alike. While adding Koi to your garden pond or aquarium will undoubtedly add magic to your home, new owners may be wondering – what do Koi fish eat?  

What Do Koi Fish Eat In The Wild?

Koi fish are omnivorous by nature and will eat just about anything that doesn’t eat them first. Similar to common carp, they feed on worms, algae, larvae, seeds, some forms of aquatic life, and vegetation. 

In the wild, they cruise along the bottom of freshwater habitats and have downwards-oriented mouths that allow them to forage for food by sifting through mud. Some also believe that these fish lay low to hide away from predators. Anyhow, most Koi fish have evolved to come up to the surface for feeding on floating insects and vegetation. 

What Do Koi Fish Eat In A Pond?

Similar to their natural behavior in the wild, Koi fish may bottom feed and also come up to eat floating insects and fish food left by their feeders. Fish food distributed around ponds can broadly be divided into three types

Natural Food

Koi fish feed on naturally occurring vegetation, bacteria, and plankton in ponds. Apart from ensuring that the water quality promotes the growth of these natural foods, feeders may also provide live foods, such as snails, worms, crustaceans, and small fish.

Apart from these, Koi fish will happily devour store-bought live foods, such as silkworm pupae, tadpoles, shrimp, clams, earthworms, and so on. And while it may be tempting to catch fish, bugs, or frogs in the wild to feed your Koi fish, most aquarists will warn against this as the catch may contain parasites.


Supplementary feeds can come out of kitchen and kitchen waste. These include inexpensive food, such as rice, wheat, maize, coffee pulp, scraps of meat, fruits, vegetables, and so on. Fishmeal, blood meal, shrimp meal, and similar commercial products used in agriculture can also be considered supplementary feeds. 


Considered to be the most expensive option, complete feeds are time-consuming and challenging to make. At the same time, there are many costly and high-quality fish feeds on the market that claim to contain most of the necessary nutrients required by the fish. Anyhow, supplementing your Koi’s diet with variety is recommended. 

Although Koi fish are relatively easy to feed due to their healthy appetites, their nutritional requirements change with age along with each season. That said, young Koi fish will generally require more protein than older fish. However, you may amp up the protein in an adult fish’s diet if it is sick.

At the same time, the protein requirements of Koi reduce in colder temperatures and increase during spring months, which is their mating season. You may also want to avoid feeding Koi before a storm or rainfall, as the water does not get oxygenated well during such weather. 

Good sources of protein include soybean meal and fish meal; the fish’s system can break these down more quickly than meat. Although Koi fish enjoy eating carbohydrates that can come from fish pellets and flakes, excessively carb-rich diets can lead to heart, liver, and kidney issues. Other nutritional requirements include fatty acids and vitamins in small quantities.

Can Koi Fish Eat Flakes?

While flakes are suitable for smaller Koi fish, larger fish will easily devour pellets and larger bits of food. However, ensure that you only feed them as much food as they can eat in a span of 3-5 minutes.

High-quality pellets and flakes are rich in nutritional value, and yet they may not be enough. Moreover, these types of feed may be packed with carbohydrates, which inadvertently lead to health problems. That said, feeders should supplement pellets or flakes with live food, fish meal, and, occasionally – human food.

Best Koi Food For Growth And Color?

The color and size of a koi are what make these ornamental fish so unique. They come in a variety of colors, from white to lavender. But they can’t grow to their full size or lose their color when not cared for properly.

Be sure you keep up with providing proper nutrition to make sure that your Koi fish are always showing off their true potential!

What is the Best Koi Food for Growth?

Koi fish are one of the largest species in the world – the largest being a whopping four-feet long. And while most Koi may peak at about 12 to 36 inches by the third year, getting them up to this size takes planning and effort.

You can encourage rapid growth in your Koi fish by providing a diet that comes in wheat germ oil. It will ensure they are in peak health and help them grow to their maximum size.

What is the Best Koi Food for Color?

Red, black, blue, cream, white, or yellow – Koi fish come in beautiful colors, but the beauty only lasts as long as their colors are bright and shiny. Moreover, their exterior color may be an indication of their overall health.

Red, black, blue, cream, white, or yellow – Koi fish come in beautiful colors, but the beauty only lasts as long as their colors are bright and shiny. Moreover, their exterior color may be an indication of their overall health.

That said, high-quality food, low levels of waste in their habitat, and healthy body functions – all contribute to a Koi’s color. Apart from careful monitoring of your Koi fish, some feed options on the market may promote healthy coloration.

For the best colors, try to feed your Koi with food that contains color enhancers such as carotene and spirulina, especially in July and August- their prime growth months.

What Human Food Can Koi Fish Eat?

Generally, human food is nutritionally deficient for fish, but it can serve as a fun and occasional treat. Not to mention how the Koi fish relish these snacks – whether they are fruits, vegetables, or meat. As a rule of thumb, ensure that you don’t feed your fish human food more than twice or thrice a week. 

Apart from citrus fruits, such as grapes, oranges, and lemon, here are a few treats you can feed your Koi:


  • Banana
  • Peaches
  • Kiwi
  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries


  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

Other treats

  • Bread
  • Cereals
  • Popcorn
  • Cooked Rice
  • Cooked Pasta
  • Nuts

Can Koi Fish Eat Bread?

Koi fish will eat bread, but ensure that you only feed them whole-wheat brands as bread is a rich source of carbohydrates.

Can Koi Fish Eat Cheerios?

Not just Cheerios, feeders can treat their Koi fish with most cereals, including Rice Krispies and oats.

Can Koi Eat Boiled Eggs?

Koi fish can eat hard-boiled eggs, but ensure that you cut up the egg into pellet-sized pieces before feeding.


Can Koi Carp Eat Dog Or Cat Food?

Although it will not add many nutritional benefits, it is safe to give Koi fish cat and dog food. However, other pet food should not be used as an alternative for fish food as these may cause nutritional deficiencies and other heart, kidney and liver-related health issues. 

What Do Baby Koi Fish Eat?

A Koi fry will require more protein than its adult counterparts as it is still in the crucial growth stage. During its first week, the fry should be fed liquid food, after which feeders can upgrade to hard-boiled egg yolks or brine shrimp larvae. As they grow bigger, most feeders will feed the fish tiny flakes or powdered pellets. 

Can Koi Fish Eat Goldfish Food?

The nutritional requirements of Koi and Goldfish are pretty similar. In fact, most packaged goldfish food brands are safe to use in freshwater ponds containing Koi fish.

Why Do Fish Eat Rocks?

Some fish species are bottom feeders and are known to put rocks into their mouths to scrape off the remains of fish food and algae that may have settled on them. 

Final Thoughts

Apart from being friendly to its human feeders, a Koi fish will also be gentle to most other fish – unless they can fit into its mouth.

That said, these are opportunistic omnivores who tend to eat most things that come in their way. And due to their large appetite, Koi fish won’t know when to stop eating or when to say no to food that is unhealthy for them.

In the end, it is the feeder’s responsibility to feed them the right amount and the right kinds of food, depending on the season, their age, and size. That said, too much human food or carbohydrate-rich treats may lead to health risks that will reflect on the fish’s color.

On the flip side, a healthy and shiny Koi fish may even outlive the feeder if fed right!

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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