What Do Small Koi Eat? Are they Omnivorous?

9 min read

what do small koi eat

Small koi fish are one of the best fish for an aquarium.

They are active and one of the amazing things about them is their feeding. You can see them coming to the surface to eat and you can even feed them directly. Like most other fish keepers the next question that you may want to ask is what do small koi eat?

The answer to this question is very simple. Koi are omnivorous fish and that means that they can eat a variety of foods including vegetables, insects, and algae. However, small or baby koi have a bit of a more restricted diet.

Groups of Food Baby Small Koi Fish Can Eat

There are three groups of food for small or baby koi:

Commercial Foods – Made especially for baby koi such as liquid fry food or adult koi food like freeze-dried krill that is broken into smaller pieces.

Live Foods – Foods such as baby brine shrimp or live Daphnia.

Foods from Home – Take some hard-boiled eggs and blend them together with some water to make a liquid.

But you have to understand that the type of food you will give your koi depends on the age and size of the fish as well as the season of the year. And in this article, our focus will be on what small koi eat.

Small Koi Food List

Frozen Daphnia Cubes16 0z.
Liquid Baby Koi Feed50 tubes
Live Brine Shrimp15 oz. can
Frozen Baby Brine Shrimp2 oz.
Powdered Baby Koi Food 50 lb, Hard Boiled Eggs (make as needed), Flaked Fish Food 1-2 lb, Adult Koi Floating Pellets 5 lbs.
Freeze Dried Krill16 oz.
Baby Koi Pellets That Sink5 lbs.

The Small Koi’s First Month

When your small koi are growing it is important to feed them as wide a variety of foods as you can so that they are getting the proper nutrition that they need.

During the first month, you will use a lot of liquid food. It dissolves in the water so they will be able to munch on it long after you put it in their water.

You won’t have to start feeding your baby koi for a couple of days because they feed off of their own yolk sac for the first two days of their life.

You want to feed your koi at least four times per day during their first month. During each feeding of the liquid foods, try to add a little bit of solid foods to see if they will eat them. The liquid foods will be harder to monitor to make sure they eat it all since the liquid dissolves in water but with the solid foods, you want to make sure they consume it all. Any leftover solid food is wasteful and could harm the water quality if too much of it builds up.

During the first day stick with the liquid food one tube at a time. This is the specially made liquid fry food that comes in tubes.

After a couple of days give them a couple of tubes and try to start adding some hatched brine shrimp or live daphnia. Live brine shrimp and live daphnia can both be purchased online or from an aquatic store. You can also grow your own which we will explain later.

After a few days, the baby koi will associate your appearance with feeding, and you can start adding your boiled egg recipe which is hard-boiled eggs blended with some water to turn it into a liquid. Some people blend it with water from their koi pond which is supposed to make it more appealing to them.

After the first week, you can start introducing more foods like powdered fry food, daphnia pellets, and koi pellets.

Remember, when feeding larger foods like pellets or squares, you need to reduce their size with a blender or smash them with something in your kitchen. Some people like to use a rolling pin.

After a couple of weeks, you can stop using the liquid diet and switch mainly to solid foods. You have been slowly introducing different kinds of foods so your small koi should be fine with the change.

We recommend feeding them crushed or ground krill and fish flake food (preferably a formula specially made for koi) for the rest of the month.

Small Koi’s Second Month

You want to keep feeding your koi four times a day. Try to make sure you feed them as much as they can eat in 5 minutes so that they are getting enough nutrients to grow but not wasting any uneaten food that will harm your water quality.

Small Koi’s Third Month

For the third month, you only have to feed your small koi three times per day instead of four. Just make sure you are still feeding them as much as they can eat in 5 minutes.

Most people like to start adding adult koi pellets and pellets made especially for koi. You should only feed frozen Daphnia once per day at this point.

Growing koi need more protein than grown koi. Check the ingredients of any type of packaged commercial food and make sure that it is at least 40 percent protein.

What is a Small Koi Fish?

A koi fish is an aquarium fish belonging to the same family as the carp and the goldfish. They have distinct body coloration ranging from white to different patterns of blue, yellow, red, orange, and black. A small koi and a small goldfish will often look alike but the visible difference between the two is the barbel on the lips of koi fish. As they grow older, koi tend to become bigger than goldfish. You can keep a koi fish in an outdoor koi pond or an aquarium.

What Types of Food Do Small Koi Eat?

Koi can eat almost any food that you give to them. They are omnivores and that means that their diet contains food from plant sources as well as those from animal sources. However, there is food designed specifically for koi to meet their nutrient requirements.

It is important to feed them with nutritionally balanced food at the right proportion and at the right time. Their diet should contain an adequate quantity of every nutrient such as protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The nutrition of koi is important if you want them to stay healthy and grow very well free from diseases.

Nutrition is not only important for their growth; it will also enhance their color.

There are koi foods designed specifically to enhance their color. They contain essential vitamins and minerals as well as other synthetic and non-synthetic color enhancers. Some of these vitamins also work to boost the immune system of the fish and keep them away from diseases. It is important for you to know that none of these can change the color of the fish. That is, it won’t make a yellow fish turn red but it can make the yellow color brighter.

Some common examples of food you can give to your koi are listed below:

1. Algae: koi will always enjoy feeding on algae in their ponds. They feed mainly on algae during the cold season when their feeding is reduced.

2. Plants: koi like to eat food that is a plant source as well. Some examples are watermelon, orange slices, lettuce, broccoli, and any other fruits and vegetables.

3. Insects: shrimp, and worms.

4. Commercial food: there are many commercial feeds available for koi with essential nutrients for growth.

How to Store Small Koi Food

If you want to buy your koi food, it is advisable to buy it in bulk to save cost. Now that you have a lot of feed that your fish cannot finish within a few days it is necessary that you store the remaining food. Always store your koi food in a cool and dark place. The reason is to avoid insects such as weevils and to avoid moisture to prevent the growth of mold.

Always avoid stored food that smells funky as it may no longer be nutritious, and it is dangerous to the health of the fish. Do not feed the fish with such feed and any feed that has grown mold.

Feeding Habit of the Small Koi

Most koi food is designed to float to encourage the fish to come to the surface to feed. Although there is other koi food that sinks to the bottom of the pond. The floating feed has the advantage that it does not easily pollute the water and you can monitor the fish when they are feeding. You can tell whether they are okay or not from the way they respond to the food. You can also observe their body for injuries during feeding.

You will notice that the koi are naturally bottom feeders. The position of their mouth is pointing downward which makes it easier for them to pick food at the bottom of the pond. For this reason, most koi feeds are made to contain floating feed as well as sinking feed to allow them to feed on the substrate.

Koi can be trained to feed at the surface. And with time, once they recognize the person feeding them, they will be willing to take food directly from the person.

What Size of Fish Food Does Small Koi Eat?

Koi will prefer to eat pelleted food because it is easy for them to pick with the least effort. While the smaller fish will prefer flakes and other small pellet koi food.

You can feed the small koi fish the same food that you will feed the adult fish such as vegetables like lettuce, peas, watermelon, bugs, and insects. Make sure that their food is smaller otherwise, they won’t be able to pick it.

How Much Food Should You Give Your Small Koi Fish?

It is best to feed the fish several times a day with a small quantity of food that they can finish in less than five minutes. The reason for this is the food that they do not eat will decompose and affect the water quality and cause pollution. This can affect the fish.

Another reason is that feeding your fish with too much food is actually a waste of money. You can’t take back the food that has melted in water.

Therefore, it is okay to feed your small koi 4 to 6 times a day. This way you can avoid overfeeding and you will be sure that they are all eating the food you are giving them. You can reduce the number of times you feed when the weather is cold and stop feeding the fish when there is extreme cold.

What is the Best Time to Feed Small Koi Fish?

During winter when the weather is cool and the temperature drops, the amount of food that they require is low. This is because their metabolism is low at that period and the amount of food they need to sustain their energy is low. They will often go without food and if they will eat, they only require little.

Also, don’t feed your fish before a storm. The oxygen level in the water usually drops after a storm and fish require oxygen to digest their food. You can increase the fat content of the food you feed them when the temperature of the water is slightly cold. Fat is good to store energy and they will be needing it to store more energy since they won’t be eating much during the cold winter.


I trust this article has answered your question of “What do small koi eat.” As I pointed out there are certain foods they should have in the first three months and they should be fed multiple times a day. As they get old their diet is less strict and very simple. Remember to not feed them more than they will eat as this will pollute their water which will lead to other issues.

Koi fish are very easy to maintain and a beautiful addition to your aquarium or pond.

Starting The Koi Hobby: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Pet Aquariums

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