How Long Can Koi Fish Go Without Food?

The question of how often Koi should be fed comes up frequently. These fish are typically kept in a backyard pond. They will happily consume anything from fruit and vegetables to fish.  Domesticated Koi, sometimes known as carp, are more and more commonly kept as pets. Koi thrive on natural and man-made foods, such as fish pellets. 

Koi can easily go two weeks or more without eating. They go for months without eating during the cold months. That doesn’t mean they’re not hungry! For a little bit of nutrition, they’ll eat bugs, algae, and anything else they can find in the water.

So, if you want to feed your fish, how frequently should you do so?

How Often Should Your Koi Be Fed?

One of the many fish-keeping myths is that Koi can go for long time periods without eating. Yes, Koi can go for long periods without food and do not require daily feeding to remain healthy. Having said that, it’s still recommended that you do so.

Feed your Koi once a day, no more than what they can eat in three minutes. When there is still food left after 3 minutes, feed less the next time. The amount of food required by Koi differs widely depending on the season and the temperature of the water.

Remember that even when you are not feeding them, they are still eating throughout the day. You may not need to make any preparations if you are only going away for a long weekend. Most fish can survive for at least two to three days without being fed.

Feeding your fish is most likely the most satisfying activity you can have with them. During feeding time, the Koi will come to the surface to eat, allowing you to see and interact with them. They will eat any unfortunate small insects that land on the water surface. They’ll be feeding on mosquito larvae and tadpoles as well! 

So only feed your Koi the amount of food that will be consumed in three minutes. And only once or twice a day!

What Foods Koi Can Eat and Cannot Eat, as well as Changes in Water Temperature

You can feed Koi almost anything people can eat. The type of food you’ll feed your fish will depend on the water temperature. Fish can’t tell when they’re full so they won’t stop eating as long as there’s food to be had. 

Natural Food for Koi

As previously stated, Koi consume algae, plants, insects, worms, seeds, and anything else they can scavenge from the koi pond’s bottom. They prowl the pond’s floor and surface. They can continue to eat their natural diet if you have an ecosystem pond. 

So, not only should you have plants in your koi mud pond to keep the water clean, but also to attract free natural food for your Koi.

What Foods Can Koi Eat?

Koi can be fed almost anything. Shrimp, fruit, vegetables, and anything low in carbohydrates are examples. Bread and similar foods are difficult for your fish to digest. Uncooked rice will expand in their stomach. High-carbohydrate foods should be avoided.

You can also give them fish pellets. However, make certain that they are the correct size. A more appropriate size allows your fish to digest more efficiently, resulting in healthier fish that can grow to their full size. Remember that Koi don’t have teeth and swallow their food whole.

Because Koi have cold blood, their bodies are the same temperature as the water they live in. As a result, the water temperature has a significant impact on how their bodies metabolize food throughout the year. The type of food you’ll feed your fish will depend on the water temperature. 

Warmer Weather and Water Temperature

Concerning Koi fish, 65˚ F is considered a warm temperature. As a consequence, we recommend foods with higher protein content.

A high-protein diet is essential for your pond fish. However, not all proteins are created equal. Protein will be abundant in high-quality fish food (30 % or higher). This protein should primarily come from fish meals.

A high-quality fish food will not pollute the water and will provide your fish with all of the necessary minerals and vitamins. More vibrant fish colors should thus be your reward.

Feeding fish regularly, even with high-quality fish food, should only be done when the water temperature in the pond is above 65˚ F.

When Temperatures Range From 45 To 65˚ F

When the water temperature is between 45 and 65˚F, feed your fish a wheat-based food.

As the temperature of the water cools, the fish’s metabolism slows, making wheat germ (used in colder temperature food) easier for their bodies to consume.

The food they eat must be easily digestible so that they can absorb all of the beneficial nutrients.

The Water Temperature Is Less Than 45˚ F

When the water temperature falls below 45˚ F, it is time to stop feeding completely! If you enjoy feeding your fish, you should invest in a water-resistant thermometer to keep track of the water temperature in the pond.

You naturally want to keep feeding your fish, but doing so during the colder months will cause more harm than good.

When your fish begin to become active again after the colder months, you can resume feeding the wheat-based fish food when the water temperature rises to between 45 and 65˚F,

When the temperature rises above 65˚ F, you can resume feeding with high-protein premium foods.

Which Foods Should Koi Not Be Fed?

Your Koi don’t have to use much energy since they live in a pond. Koi fish should not be fed anything high in carbohydrates.  

Carbohydrates are difficult for Koi fish to digest. Therefore, you should also avoid feeding them white bread, peas, and corn.  Koi should avoid grains. They have a high-fat content,

Related read: Can Koi Fish Eat Bread?

If you want to feed them pasta or rice, make sure you cook it without salt beforehand. Otherwise, the food could well expand inside your Koi.

Of course, these foods should not be the core of their diet. They offer no real nutritional value to Koi.

The Most Common Koi Feeding Tips

  • Koi always appear to be hungry! Don’t fall for it!
  • Allow them a day to rest if they are new to the pond.
  • Only feed enough food that can be eaten in 3 minutes.
  • Overfeeding fish is a sure way to harm your biological filtration system and result in poor water quality.
  • Poor quality fish foods are more difficult for fish to digest and can cause water quality issues.
  • Pay close attention to the temperature of the water and the differences in food requirements.
  • Skim any remaining food from the pond so it doesn’t affect the quality of the water.
  • Reduce their food intake during the winter because their metabolism slows.