Will Koi Fish Bite You?Hmm,Is It a Bite or a Tickle?

5 min read


Koi fish have become a wildly popular hobby fish mainly because of their unique colors. Over time koi owners came to realize that they live a long time and can also bond with their owners. The main way to bond with their owners to let the owner feed the koi fish by hand.

Starting The Koi Hobby: A Step By Step Guide…

When you feed your koi fish by hand, you may get a surprising answer to a popular question, will koi fish bite you?

Yes, koi fish will bite you, but their teeth are actually too far back in their throat to do any damage to your finger. A bite of a koi fish is just a gummy tickle on your finger so don’t worry about it haha. They are actually using their lips and mouth to decide if your finger is food before your finger gets to their teeth.

A koi fish bites to try to eat food from the bottom of the koi pond. Their little bites may be dangerous to other fish, but they are not dangerous to your fingers haha. Don’t be afraid to try to tech your koi to eat from your hand, swim in your pond or just let your feet soak.

A lot of koi owners enjoy the bond of feeding their koi fish from their hands so this is when the koi fish will actually bite you. But, when a koi fish is attacking your finger with viscous bites, you may just laugh because it will only ticklish. The only harm is that you may laugh yourself to death. Just joking.

Why Do Koi Fish Bite You?


Koi fish are just crazy eaters. They are omnivores, which means they eat meat and plants. They pretty much eat what we eat, so if it isn’t healthy for us then don’t feed it to your koi. I always recommend a staple daily diet of koi pellets with food from our plates added as treats.

Anyways, koi are voracious eaters when they are hungry. So much so, that it is dangerous to keep other fish smaller than koi in the pond. If the koi get too hungry, they may panic and start eating anything they can get their mouths on!

This includes other fish that will fit into their mouths or even your finger if they happen to see it. Of course, their teeth are to far back in their throat to latch on to your finger but if a fish is small enough to fit into their mouth, they will do more than bite it. They will eat the poor little fish.

I don’t want to paint a picture of koi being demonic carnivores. You can actually keep some fish in the pond with koi, but I would recommend fish of the same size that won’t eat the koi.

You can get a hint of a koi fish’s appetite when you first sprinkle their food into the pond. They will vigorously attack the food and eat as fast as they can. This can actually help you feed them the proper amount. All you have to do is keep sprinkling food until the koi fish movements slow down and then you can stop feeding them.

So, if your koi fish does bite you, which is only a tickle, don’t think they are doing it to be mean. They are just voracious eaters. They are anxious to get there share of food first before the other koi fish.

Koi Fish Mouth


I was surprised to learn that koi fish use their mouths for more than just eating food. Koi fish have cells in their lips, whiskers

(barbels), and over their heads. These sensitive cells let the koi fish know when they are in contact with objects, predators or even your finger if they are tickling it!

The koi use their lips to grab things and then move them around inside their mouths to see if it is eatable or not. If the object is edible they will reject it and release it before it even gets to their teeth. This is what you will feel when a koi fish bites your finger.

A koi’s natural instinct is to continuously hunt for food so if your finger gets bitten it is probably cause your finger happens to be one of the objects a koi is constantly putting in its mouth to decide if it is food or not.

Do Koi Fish Have Teeth?

“As discussed earlier, koi fish do have teeth. Their teeth are too far down in their throat to bite you. Since biting actually involves teeth, you could argue that they can’t bite you.

Koi fish do have a lot of teeth which they use to chew up their food. However, your finger will never reach the teeth because koi will reject it as inedible.

Koi Fish do lose their teeth regularly, so you may find some teeth floating around your koi pond or even in your filter.

Their teeth are called Pharyngeal Teeth. They are the same type of teeth found in many freshwater fish.

Do I Need to Worry About My Koi Fish Biting my Finger?

No, koi fish are pretty renowned for recognizing their owners at feeding time. This is one of the great attractions of having a koi fish.

Don’t worry and don’t feel bad if a koi fish gums your finger. As stated before, they probably just got o excited at feeding time and latched onto your finger to see if it was food

Once again, koi fish are loyal to their owners and will frequently begin to associate them with feeding time. It’s likely that this was the case and your fish simply got caught up in the moment and mistook your finger for food.

The first time it happens, you may get startled so much that it seems like they bit your finger, but I think we have made the point that it is just heir lips and gums that you feel. Their lips and gums are so strong that it may actually feel like a bite the first time that it happens, but you will get used to it.

After time it will just seem like tickling and add to the amusement of having a koi fish.

Finding Koi Teeth in Your Pond

As stated above, you will usually find some koi teeth in your filter. This is nothing to be alarmed about as koi shed many teeth during their life.

Koi can actually shed all of their teeth 20 – 35 times or so during their lifetime so it is natural.


We have decided that koi fish can bite, even though it isn’t a real bite since they can’t use their teeth. You could argue that it technically isn’t a bite.

So, let’s just say they will grab your finger with their mouth, and it is nothing to worry about because it just tickles.

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Pet Aquariums

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