How to Go About Feeding Baby Koi
Once your koi has laid eggs, the next few steps of the koi raising process will soon be upon you. One of the biggest things to consider when raising koi babies is their diet and nutritional requirements. Let’s discuss how to go about feeding baby koi and what to expect in the first few days, weeks, and months of their aquatic lives.
The First Few Days
Once your koi eggs are laid, they will typically hatch in around four days (more or less depending on the water temperature of the hatching area). Once they hatch, your new koi fry will appear as little more than tiny drops in the water. They will not even have gills or lungs, let alone the ability to eat! They will probably just hang onto their fry net and soak up nutrients from their egg sac remnants for quite a few days.
You will know your koi are ready to eat when they begin to swim about a bit on their own. They will usually congregate around airstones or otherwise group up. When this happens, you can offer their first meals! Expect this to come after three or so days, but, again, the timeline can vary so always keep a close eye on your fry; watch for strong movements and the ability to swim close to the surface of the water before you feed.
The First Feeds
Once your babies are ready, you have a few options concerning their starting diet. Many people go for a liquid food. This is usually some sort of larvae suspended in a fluid that is very easily eaten. This is a high fat, high protein food that provides exactly what the baby koi need from a nutritional standpoint and mimics their natural diet in the wild.
Still, it is often easier to go for a powdered option. To do this, you can either buy specialty koi fry powder food or simply choose a type of high-quality adult koi food and grind it up yourself into a very fine powder. Again, make sure the food is high fat and high protein to support growth and organ development.
As They Age
As your koi get a bit older, you can slowly up the size of their food. Try making it less crushed with some larger chunks or move up to a fully formed piece of baby koi food. Once they are large enough, you can begin feeding them regular koi food, though this will take several months.
If you are live feeding, you can opt for larger prey items like daphnia or brine shrimp. Koi love these foods and they provide a lot of good nutrients to support your horde of growing fish!
In all stages of early development, including when they first begin to eat, koi need to be fed small portions four times per day. Feed no more than what can be eaten within five minutes to prevent tank pollution and always offer four meals to support growth and prevent larger babies from preying on smaller ones.
Treats: Yes or No?
So, while treats are a popular part of keeping koi fish due to the plethora of cute feeding videos online, most human foods are not good for koi fish in general, let alone very young ones without fully developed digestive systems.
Due to this, you should refrain from feeding young koi things like bread, peas, corn, and other high carbohydrate foods can all cause serious health problems in large fish and small koi alike. Additionally, feeding your babies wild-caught prey items like worms from your yard or insects you found or do not know the origin of is a bad idea since they can carry diseases, pesticides, and parasites that can make your fish sick or even kill them.
You can still give your young koi treats. Once they are almost ready to be introduced to the pond, you can give them things like vegetables, fruits, and pieces of seafood. Just use moderation when offering these foods and be sure they are not too large in size. Koi can choke or become digestively impacted, which can be serious if severe.
Can Baby Koi Be Fed Dog/Cat Food?
There is an odd common misconception that baby koi can eat wet or dry dog and cat food. This belief started since many foods contain similar ingredients to certain koi products but, unfortunately, the ratios are not comparable and many other animals that have commercial foods available actually eat things that are toxic or non-nutritious for koi fish.
Try sticking to either live feedings or food specifically designed for koi fish. Even some other fish foods are not nutritionally adaquate for koi since they get so large and need a lot of protein and fat and very little carbohydrate content in their diet plan.
Kois are omnivores so, while they do eat plant matter, they also need meat which eliminates most small animal (rabbit, rat, mouse, gerbil, etc) foods, as well, since many use plant proteins that can actually be irritating to the koi’s digestive system due to their pea protein content.
All in all, stick to high-quality foods that are safe for koi fish and you should be set!
A Simple Process
Feeding baby koi is a very simple process that generally is a lot less work than it seems upfront. Koi babies eat very similar diets to their adult counterparts, even to the level of comparability that you can literally just crush up adult koi food and use it as the bulk or entirety of a baby koi’s diet. While delicate in their early stages, koi fish are resilient, tough fish and as long as you provide good nutrition, it is quite hard to go wrong.