What Is Safe For Koi to Eat? A Guide to Feeding Koi Various Food Types
Koi are often adventurous eaters with diverse appetites, and really enjoy trying new foods beyond their traditional pellet feeds. However, they also have particular dietary requirements and making sure that these needs are met is a must to ensure their health and happiness. Koi need diets that are high protein, about 35 to 40%, and can be supplemented with fruits, veggies, and the (very occasional) grain to help them reach their vitamin and mineral demands.
In addition, lipids (or fats) should make up 5 to 10% of their diet, with this number increasing to closer to 15% in the fall and winter if you live in a cool area, and less than 10% carbohydrates as having too starchy of a diet can lead to liver degeneration in koi. Vitamins B, C, A, D, and K as well as the minerals iron, copper, and magnesium must be obtained via food, while some other minerals can be absorbed into their bodies from the water.
In addition to making sure that their nutrition needs are met, what you feed your koi must also be, of course, safe to consume. These foods should also be regarded more so as supplementing the koi’s diet, adding to their normal koi feed rather than replacing it to ensure that they maintain a varied and nutrient rich diet. Koi have been known to eat just about anything that’s given to them, but that’s doesn’t always mean that they should. Here we will cover some of the most commonly asked about foods and whether or not they’re considered good or bad for your koi. If you’d like to read our guide on what wild carp eat, you can find it here: What Do Koi Carp Eat in the Wild? (Surprising Facts)
Can Koi Eat Bread, Cereals & Cooked Rice?
In short, yes, koi can eat bread, cereals and cooked rice. They’ll happily gobble these items up, but the issue is that, as mentioned above, koi can’t have too many carbohydrates or they risk developing various health issues. Starchy foods like these should only be fed in moderation to your koi (remember, carbs should constitute less than 10% of their diet), and whole grains are best. For example, whole grain wheat bread is better than white bread, wild rice or brown rice are better than white rice, Cheerios rather than sugary cereals, and so on. These provide more nutrients than do the bleached, non-whole-grain varieties.
Can Koi Eat Banana, Oranges & Apples?
Yes, absolutely! Oranges provide vitamin C, some carbohydrates, and a zesty flavor that koi really seem to enjoy, and can be cut in half or in smaller pieces and place directly in the pond but the peels will need to be removed later. Apples provide plenty of fiber as well as vitamins C and A, but their size and their skin can make them more difficult for koi to eat, so blueberries make an excellent alternative (and they also have loads of antioxidants).
Bananas are soft and easy to consume, and contain a great deal of B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and folate. These are best cut into smaller chunks so that they float more easily than an entire banana would. Koi also really enjoy watermelon, lemons, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and grapefruits, though you should try to remove any seeds before feeding.
Can Koi Eat Lettuce, Broccoli & Spinach?
Koi seem to love eating all three of these items, and all of them provide various benefits. While lettuce and spinach can be fed uncooked, broccoli should be cooked either by boiling or steaming for several minutes to help soften the vegetable for the fish. Broccoli and spinach in particular are absolutely loaded with vitamins and minerals while being low in carbohydrates, and spinach also has a decent amount of protein in it. Lettuce (particularly iceberg lettuce) doesn’t have as much nutrient content, but is high in moisture.
The downside of lettuce is that it may fill up your koi while not providing them with much nutrition, so don’t feed lettuce in as large of quantities.
Can Koi Eat Sweetcorn & Peas?
Peas and corn can be fed to koi, but only in very small quantities because they are not only starchy but also hard for them to digest. It’s actually possible for these items, particularly corn, to cause blockages in the digestive tract. Definitely don’t ever feed koi dried, hard corn or peas, but rather only soft, cooked varieties, and really try to avoid feeding them any corn at all. The peas will need to be thoroughly cooked (and of course allowed to cool down), and then removed from their outer hulls so that the koi only get the soft inside portion.
Suitable substitutes (in moderation!) include grains and cereals like those mentioned above, as well as wheat germ and soybean meal.
Can Koi Eat Dried Meal Worms & Insects?
Of course! Insects are items that wild carp (ancestors of the koi) depend on for survival, and koi aren’t overly different in this regard. Mealworms and insects are high in protein, which is a key component of a healthy koi diet. Many insects they will encounter in the pond naturally, and you can supplement a few mealworms into their diet on a daily basis if you wish. Bloodworms, silkworms, crickets, and even earthworms are also suitable for your koi to feed on.
Can Koi Eat Cat Food & Dog Food?
Koi really aren’t evolved to be able to properly digest animal fats or dairy products, and both dog and cat food generally contain both of these things. It’s alright for them to nibble on a piece every now and then, but these certainly shouldn’t be regular items in their diet and given only very rarely, if at all. The koi will likely eat cat and dog food and may appear to look and behave normally for a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Feeding them either of these on a regular basis will actually deplete them of much-needed nutrients and could result in a variety of health issues, such as underdevelopment, liver problems, fatty tumors, and so on.