What to Feed Baby Koi

6 min read

After spending so much time with your wonderful koi in their beautiful koi pond, you may end up exploring your hobby farther.

This can mean breeding, or you end up with some baby koi that you didn’t plan on having to deal with.


Never fear, it can be a great experience. The most important question to answer right away is what to feed your baby koi.

When your bay koi first hatch they will consume their own yolk sac that they are born in. You won’t have to feed them for the first 2-3 days. For the next 3-4 weeks they can be fed a complete diet of live Daphnia or daphnia cubes, liquid or powdered koi fry food from koi dealers or aquatic outlets. After a few weeks, your baby koi will eat koi flaked fish food broken into chunks or powdered koi pellets.

After the first 2-3 days, you will see your baby koi swimming around, usually to the top of the water. This is how you know to start feeding them. The best food for baby koi are live daphnia but mainly some type of fish food that is high in protein.

It is important to raise your baby koi in a separate tank so that they aren’t eaten by grown koi and to ensure they have a proper diet.

What are Daphnia?

Daphnia PetAquariums What to Feed Baby Koi

Daphnia are actually one of the many forms of plankton – the microscopic organisms drifting in sea or fresh water. They are diatoms, protozoans, or small crustaceans.

They live in calm or still water, such as small ponds. Really, any freshwater body of still or very slow-moving water can house daphnia which are mainly food for any type of younger or smaller fish.

Fish get vitamins A and D from daphnia. Vitamins A and D are primary vitamins that fish can not live without. Vitamin A is necessary for growth and development and Vitamin D is necessary for bone growth and development. Vitamin A also defends fish against infections.

Daphnia also provide Very small amounts of vitamin B and C. Vitamin B is for appetite and tissue growth while vitamin C is for good skin growth and color.

Daphnia also provide a lot of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.”

Live daphnia are much better to offer your baby koi rather than dried foods because dried foods lack the vitamin content offered by live daphnia. Live daphnia will not pollute your koi pond if you feed your baby koi too many and they go uneaten because they are living creatures so they will live until they are eaten later on.

Live daphnia will also develop your baby koi natural instincts to hunt for live food.

How to Raise Your Own Live Daphnia

The easiest way to raise daphnia at home is to purchase a live starter kit from your local aquarium store or you can even order one online.

Make sure you place the aquarium or container that will house your daphnia in a well-lit place. You can place it in direct sunlight or use some good artificial lights like LED lights if there is not a practical space in your house place your daphnia in direct sunlight.

Pour some water in your container and add your daphnia starter culture. You will want to keep the water 72-75 degrees and it is recommended to use an air stone to keep plenty of oxygen in the water.

To feed your live daphnia, just mix 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of dry yeast with one cup of warm water and pour it into your daphnia container. It will make the water misty with the yeast mixture. Just wait until the mist clears up and you will know the daphnia ate all of the yeast mixture. Just repeat and feed again.

You don’t need a filter in your daphnia tank, but you will have to do regular water changes. The reason you don’t want a filter is because it will catch a lot of little unseen creatures the Daphnia like to eat.

When you are doing the water change you can pour your old water through a shrimp net to keep daphnia from being poured out.

You will have to remove the sludge that collects at the bottom (or walls) of an aquarium, consisting of fish excrement, decaying plant matter, and other assorted detritus.

To separate your daphnia by size, to feed to different size fishes, you can just use different sizes of nets.

You can also buy live daphnia online rather than raise your own. Anyways, live daphnia are the best food for your baby koi but let’s discuss some other options.

Brine Shrimp

Brine Shrimp PetAquariums What to Feed Baby Koi

The next best food to feed your baby koi are brine shrimp which are tiny live organisms like Daphnia. They are also known as Sea Monkeys. They were sold as sea monkeys because you could order them in the mail and just add water.

They come to live instantly. People were disappointed that the brine shrimp didn’t really look like the sea monkey in the picture, but this is exactly what makes them great to feed to baby koi. Baby koi need lots of protein and small live creatures are the best because baby koi have tiny mouths.

Just add water to the brine shrimp in their own container. As soon as they start to hatch you can feed them to your baby koi as a live protein.

Liquid Chicken Eggs

Yes! You heard me right. Chicken eggs from your very own fridge!

The easiest way to feed liquid eggs, which are high in protein, to your baby koi is to mix the eggs with some of your pond water in a blender. It turns the eggs into liquid form. They are high in protein and the liquid is thin enough to be consumed by your baby kois tiny mouths.

The easiest way is to put the liquid in a spray bottle and spray it on the water surface. You can store any unused liquid in your fridge.

Make sure to keep track of how much food your baby koi are consuming in 5 minutes. You want to try to feed them only what they will eat and nothing more, so the water doesn’t become contaminated.

Fry Powder/Adult Food

After a week or two with the egg liquid, you can start using fry powder or specially formulated food for baby koi.

You want to slowly increase the size of food you feed to your baby koi as the size of their mouths grow. You can even use adult koi pellets at this point as long as you grind them into powder. It may take a while for the baby koi to switch between foods because they may not realize it is food at first.

When you are feeding your baby koi, you want to feed them a few times a day to make sure they are getting enough food but as stated above, make sure that they aren’t getting too much.

More Brine Shrimp

When your koi start getting bigger, you can also start feeding them frozen brine shrimp or growing live brine shrimp.

Freeze Dried Krill

Krill are just small crustaceans. They are rich in protein and when they are freeze dried, they can be broken up into smaller pieces for your baby koi. Just another food option with high protein. You can also add wheat germ and spirulina to your baby koi food to make sure it packs a nutritional punch.


It is very important to keep your baby koi tank aerated with a lot of oxygen.

Don’t sweat it when it comes to their diet. Just choose from the foods listed above and go from there.

It is also important to do what is called culling. You will have to get rid of some of your baby koi because they have so many eggs. Try to weed out the baby koi that have something wrong with them.

I hope this answered your question, what to feed baby koi. Enjoy.

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Pet Aquariums

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