Webmasters comments: Check out the recipes at the end. Try them at your next
A point of view on food
Thanks to Len Sackler for sharing
with us these two articles
Koi Feeding through the Winter Months
Food Glorious Food
by Gerry Preston
Koi literature is constantly stating the value of wheat
germ revolves around being easily digestible and is, therefore, the
ideal low temperature food. Even assuming that is true, the actual
percentage of wheat germ in the food is very small indeed. Thus begs
the question, how digestible is the rest of the food? Not very much is
the easy answer, and probably a good job too since the major
proportion will be carbohydrates.
Feeding Koi to Develop a Strong Champion Body
9) Feed high quality high protein food for short
period only 4-8 weeks (maximum) after water temperature starts coming
down (early fall) This is when you should feed high protein food. High
protein food is between 36% to 44% protein. Stop feeding high protein
food when water temperatures drops below 74-75F. Increase aeration and
filtration to maximum when feeding high protein food.Watch water
quality very carefully when feeding high protein food. Switch to low
protein or reduce amount of food given. Many Hobbyist filter systems
Feeding for Health
Ben Helm, B.Sc.
two most widely debated topics amongst koi keepers are
nutrition and filtration. This is very understandable when
these two areas of the hobby are likely to have the greatest
combined impact on koi health. As filtration is a very
‘hands-on’ and practical aspect of koi keeping, the
science and principles involved are well understood and widely
practiced. Koi nutrition however, is completely different. Our
understanding and appreciation of koi foods is limited, being
at the mercy of koi food manufacturers that present us with
long lists of ingredients and claims about their products. As
we are not able to test or in extreme cases interpret the
science we are rarely in a position to question such claims.
Consequently, myths abound in the world of koi foods and as
our general understanding compared to that of filtration is
quite limited we cannot fully appreciate the what, why, how
and when of koi nutrition. That is, until now.
is the first in a series of 6 articles on koi nutrition,
looking at how koi foods achieve what they claim, (in
delivering health, growth and color), how they can interact
with our ponds to cause other changes and how recent
innovations may soon lead to a new generation of koi foods.
food and convenience meals have given western culture the
accolade of topping the world’s obesity rates. Equally, our
level of education about our health and environment has never
been greater. We know what is good and bad for us, and yet we
continue to choose the non-balanced route; a recipe for
disaster and certain ill-health.
first consideration for our koi is that unlike us, they do
receive a well-balanced and complete diet. Unlike the
‘natural’ conditions of a koi farm pond, where koi can
graze and forage all day and where snacking is actually
encouraged, our gin-clear, hyper-filtered ponds cannot satisfy
the nutritional requirements of our koi. Put simply, if we
don’t feed them a complete and balanced diet, they won’t
get one, and their health will suffer as a result.
too much, Not too little
do we mean by a balanced diet? A diet is described as balanced
when all of the constituent parts are neither limiting nor
excessive relative to an animal’s nutritional requirements.
Consequently, each animal requires a different balanced diet.
If the diet is deficient in a particular area, or excessive in
others, then prolonged exposure to such a diet will cause
health problems. ‘Fast food’ is not bad for us, as long as
it is part of a balanced diet.
complete diet is one that fulfils all of the nutritional
requirements of an animal, and it is our responsibility to
provide any captive-reared animals complete nutrition, be they
in a zoo, aviary or koi pond.
be able to fully appreciate how a diet can influence the
health of koi, we need to analyze the components of a healthy
diet in the light of the functions each part of the diet
plays. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand how koi
breakdown and utilize each component.
of a koi diet
koi foods can contain a wide range of raw materials in their
formulation and these can be blended to provide an overall
balanced diet. The formulation of a balanced diet must contain
the correct quality and quantity of the various nutrients
groups. These are Proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins
is very important to koi, as it is the only nutrient to
provide growth. It is also the most significant contributor to
the price of a diet.
require protein for growth, repair of damaged tissue and the
production of sperm or eggs. Proteins are made up of soluble
building blocks called amino acids. There are 24 amino acids,
with koi requiring 10 essential amino acids in their diet.
They are able to manufacture the remainder themselves. Raw
ingredients such as fishmeal, poultry meal and wheat germ are
included in the diet as high quality sources of these
essential amino acids.
requirements decrease with the age of koi, but
with the water temperature. Juvenile koi that are actively
growing require high protein diets of 30-40% to fuel such
rapid growth whereas larger koi on a maintenance diet will
require less protein in their diet. Similarly, as the
temperature increases, so do the koi’s metabolic rate and
its demands for energy and protein.
are vegetable in origin and include the complex sugars such as
starch. They also include cellulose (fiber) as a source of
roughage which assists the movement of food through the gut.
To keep waste in ponds to a minimum, artificial koi diets will
have a reduced fiber content compared with their natural diet.
(oils and fats) are used by koi as a source of energy. They
also play an essential role in the formation of cell membranes
and are carriers of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
are included in the diet as fish or vegetable oils. The oil
content of a koi diet should be less than 10% as excessive oil
levels can lead to koi health and water quality problems. This
is one of the reasons why koi should not be fed exclusively on
trout pellets that are traditionally very oily.
is essential that koi are fed unsaturated lipids (oils) that
remain liquid at low temperatures. If koi are fed saturated
fats then dietary problems are likely to occur as they are
unable to utilize large quantities.
require vitamins in their diet to carry out essential
functions for healthy growth. Vitamins are complex organic
substances that are required in minute quantities. A number of
vitamins are notoriously unstable and may have to be
supplemented by adding premixes during the manufacture of
pellets to guard against deficiencies. These will deteriorate
over time, so keep an eye out for ‘best before’ dates on
are inorganic compounds required in the diet to aid metabolic
functions and the deposition of tissue such as skin, scales
and bone. They are also required in small or trace amounts and
are included in the diet in the form of ash. Koi have the
luxury of obtaining minerals from either their diet or the
pond water. Something we cannot do.
pellets may also be formulated to include a number of
additives to improve or enhance various functions of koi.
C is vital in the diet for fish health, fighting disease and
repairing damaged tissue. The fragile nature of vitamin C
means that it can be lost during the manufacture of expanded
koi pellets. As koi are unlikely to obtain vitamin C from
within a koi pond it must be included in the diet to maintain
health and to prevent the occurrence of deficiency problems. A
stabilized form of vitamin C is now an important additive to
many koi foods that will remain unchanged through the
manufacturing process and prevent deficiency problems in koi.
summary, the health and vitality of our koi rests in our
hands. We should be satisfied that the food offered to our koi
provides all they need to remain healthy. Check the labeling
for vitamin declarations and best-before dates and that there
is a good balance between animal and vegetable ingredients
Should You Koi Be Eating This Food? or Food for
by Robert Cirillo
Reprinted from KOI USA
I saw a gentleman throwing stones into a pond. When I questioned his
actions, he said he was feeding his fish. He was serious. He was feeding
pebble hard pellets to Koi and assumed that because it was sold as
premium food he was doing the right thing. WRONG!
Let's start by asking ourselves where Koi in nature (since the only
means of digestion is an intestinal tract and they do not have stomachs)
consume this substance? I can't think of any. Can you? Where in nature
would a Koi swallow a gritty rough, extremely dry substance to sustain
life? Just imagine what damage is taking place on both ends of this
equation, not withstanding scarring the intestinal walls. All food
should be moistened before feeding if they are hard and dehydrated.
Improper digestion of foods can lead to disastrous results.
Let's now ask ourselves exactly what foes into these foods. How are
they manufactured? What are the ingredients? Does the label give a
realistic picture of contents? Can I feel good about my Koi's diet?
Ingredients are either heated , irradiated, cooked homogenized,
hydrogenated, sterilized mummified, fortified, with color enhancers and
preservatives added and then packaged. Many manufactures use several of
the above processes along with the flattening or rounding or extruding
of the ingredients to obtain a uniform shape. All of the above steps
destroy most nutrients and add unwanted saturated fats or dangerous
carcinogens. The hydrogenation process and preservatives alone bring
many negative side effects. When you add vitamin destruction, there
really isn't much left. Tossing all of this into a clear container adds
insult to injury since light destroys water soluble vitamins. Look to
see how many manufacturers package their foods incorrectly.
First consideration should be whether or not ingredients are
pharmaceutical grade or animal grade. The former must pass standards for
human consumption. The later has standards less strict and imposing. The
former takes into consideration purity and negative substances. The
later passes on many negative compounds. The manufacturer decides which
road to take.
Proper protein (with all amino acids, which are their building
blocks), proper lipids (which are fats that must be unsaturated), proper
carbohydrates (derived from plant material) and proper fiber (which
should be water soluble) must be fundamentally correct if any Koi are to
exist or flourish.
A) Protein from
insects, earthworms larvae, etc. is desire for Koi. Our fish do not
consume crab by-products or meat by-products laced with preservatives in
their natural habitat We are dealing with a fish, without a stomach.
From the beginning to the end, digestion of food is quick and should be
easily absorbed and manufactured into new cells. If the feces sinks
proper absorption is not occurring. If hydrogen is added to protein, a
saturated negative altered by-product, which prevents cells from
absorbing nutrients, occurs. PLEASE READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY BEFORE
B) Lipids, fats that
are unsaturated are the only fats Koi should obtain. Fats not only
supply needed energy, but are the catalyst by which all nutrients are
distributed to cells. Hydrogenated fat becomes super saturated, causing
cell damage, mutation and total blockage of nutrients. The only reason
to add hydrogen to a fat is to extend shelf life. It does not benefit
the Koi's life in any way,. Fats from animal sources are harmful, unless
they are omega 3 essential fatty acids. None of the labels, to my
knowledge mention omega 3. Fat, from plant material, as long as they are
not saturated due to processing are fine. AGAIN, PLEASE READ THE LABEL.
C) Carbohydrates all
convert into sugar. This is how all animals, including fish, derive
their major source of energy for movement and mental functions.
Excessive carbohydrates or improper carbohydrates become fat. Excessive
fat, however, When going into a dormant winter cycle many be helpful.
During an active cycle, excessive carbohydrates leading to excessive fat
are not warranted. Carbohydrates derived from basic plant forms are
preferred. They break down quickly, aiding digestion and place less
demand on the liver. Grain carbohydrates break down slower, have a
tendency to convert to unnecessary fat, and place an unwanted load on
the liver. Feeding Koi cereals was never a good idea. In a natural
environment a Koi would eat plant material e.g. algae, pond grass. etc.
There is not much grain here. Most, if not all, carbohydrates in
manufactured foods are derived solely from wheat, which is inexpensive
and readily available. Grain must be balanced with green vegetation to
be acceptable. Does any food manufacturer balance its carbohydrate mix?
PLEASE READ LABEL CAREFULLY.
D) Fiber should only
be derived from undigested plant material occurring naturally in the
digestive tract and never intentionally added to increase fiber content.
Plant material contains a water soluble fiber and is the only type
acceptable for Koi. Gritty, fibrous materials are dangerous and not
warranted. PLEASE READ LABEL.
An aspect that has not been mentioned is electrolytes. Electrolytes
are simply minerals. Minerals are essential for all electrical nerve
functions, formation of skeletal material and maintenance of a proper
immune system. An imbalance of any mineral leads to negative results.
Simply adding minerals to food is not enough. If one mineral is not
balanced properly with all the others, a lack of absorption of one or
several can occur, and this leads to poor health; even death. Minerals
are as essential to life as water. Without food many creatures can
exist, but dwindle away over a long period of time. Without water death
is guaranteed and without minerals death is also guaranteed.
Finally the Label
Unfortunately, the label and complete packaging of the manufactured
product receives most of the manufacturer's budget. Yes, the outside
costs more that the inside! More time is focused on the look, appeal and
image than anything else. One manufacturer can come out with many
different labels boosting different results but the contents are
basically the same.
They will add selling point remarks on the label such as: fortified
with stabilized vitamin C (even though stabilized vitamin C is not
absorbed by fish); contains synthetic vitamin E, (except only 20%, if
that much, of the synthetic vitamin C is utilized); contains color
enhancers, which is fine as long as your fish have red or orange, if
they contain any white pigmentation this becomes muted gray and less
intense. PLEASE READ LABEL CAREFULLY.
What then would be the best approach when purchasing food for Koi.
Mix and match. Do not become locked into one company, one food, or one
set of ingredients. This assures, no matter what, a balance can be
obtained. But, never, never, obtain a food that contains negative
substances, e.g. hydrogenated ingredients saturated fats, synthetic
substances, high fiber content, unnecessary coloring and preservatives.
Remember to moisten foods that are hard and dehydrated. Preventing a
problem is easier than fixing one.
If proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber are all correct, then
adding vitamins and minerals at our won discretion at the time of
feeding assures proper nutritional balance, We spend more time with the
technological end of Koi keeping, such as complicated filters, vortexes,
oxygenators and bottom drains, then we do with the most important aspect
- feeding. Many of us pick up a bowl of Koi food, empty it into a pond
on our way to work and never consider what the ramifications are to this
simple task. Not only should we maintain the best diet, but we should
also watch while they are feeding to inspect closely for unnatural
habits. You know your fish. Remember they do communicate! You simply
have to know how to "read" them.
Please read labels carefully. Your Koi's future is in your hands.
You are what you eat. It's that simple.
FACT: Whether human, bird, dog or fish, the more a food is touched
by man, processed by man, and handled by man, the more dangerous,
negative and non beneficial it becomes.
FACT: The lower we all eat of the food chain, the healthier we all
Web Masters' comment.
I have found a recipe to make your own food. Everybody loves home
Koi food recipe. By Bill
This is not just a recipe, but also goes into the whys and wherefores of
The amounts and ingredients are totally variable, and can be adapted to
what you have available. All the information, while as accurate as
possible will not all apply to every pond, and common sense should be
used in interpreting it.
A suggested simple ratio to start with might be as follows.
2 kilos whole* herring, sprats or any other good cheap fish
The waste* from 2 kilos of prawns
Tentacles and waste* from 2 kilos of squid, or 1 kilo whole squid.
1 cup clay
1 table spoonful yeast.
seaweed flour to thicken
(*Always remember, "Guts are good.")
Cook and puree all the fish, squid, prawn heads etc, and mix together
with the cod liver oil. Put 1 cupful of the mix back in the processor
together with the desired additives. Process this while adding the
seaweed flour till the right texture is achieved. Mould into balls, bag
and freeze. I don't cook any of the seafood, I slightly freeze it to
make it easier to chop up in the food processor. When I use small boned
fish, I leave the bones in and grind them up too...more calcium.
There is no need for a winter food and summer food. (ie a carbohydrate
rich winter food high in wheat germ, and a higher protein food for the
summer.) If it's bad to feed protein in winter, why does "winter
food" contain so much protein?
So called summer food can contain as much as 60% carbohydrate.
(If you read the labels on commercial foods, carbohydrate is used as a
binder, to hold the food together, fiber is irrelevant, and ash provides
minerals. In reasonably hard water, this too may not be important.)
As regards cold water feeding, again, opinion is mixed. Some view it
with horror, other view it as sensible to feed if the koi are willing.
If you are going to feed at cooler temps, the following should be borne
in mind. Make sure your biofiltration is excellent, rather than
adequate, and test regularly to ensure that ammonia or nitrite isn't
building up. Large females that are building up egg masses are best
starved for some of the winter to reduce the risk of their becoming egg
bound. However, the usual winter period where they show no interest in
food is probably well in excess of this, and the average ponder is
unlikely to need to worry about it.
One school of thought says what little carbo koi need, they can make
from protein. The other, that carp require 40% of their diet to be carbo.
This apparent divergence can, I believe, be explained by the difference
between the diets of wild and pond carp. What carbo wild fish require,
they will get from algae, water plants and, an important but often
overlooked source, their live food. A lot of live food contains
carbohydrate based food in their guts, and this is a source of carbo for
a lot of apparently non carbo eating animals.
In a pond, these food sources are mostly absent or reduced to very low
levels, and in the case of the live food, often low levels of variety
too. If fish in these conditions are simply fed fish derived protein,
and nothing else, deficiency diseases and other dietary deficiencies
will be a distinct possibility.
Most (not all) pellets contain a high % of carbo, which can reach as
high as 50%.
This is usually derived from corn, wheat or soy, none of which can
remotely be called part of their natural diet. (There is a brand of
pellet that uses algae as binder.) I have no experimental evidence to
prove this, but it is my opinion that it is not good to feed koi wheat,
corn or soy based carbohydrates. I think that this leads to cloudy
water, clogged filters and fat fish, and I would prefer that my fish
had, wherever possible, all their carbohydrates from algal sources.
A cynical view would be to point out that carbo is a comparatively cheap
energy source compared to the more natural fish oils. These provide
energy in addition to being an excellent source of essential oils and
In the spring, when the fish start to show an interest in food,
conventional wisdom states that they should be fed a carbo rich diet to
"awaken" their digestive systems. However, if koi are given
the choice between pellet, paste food or a high protein item like prawn
tails, I have found that they will start feeding earlier and more
aggressively on the prawn tails, and it is not until they have been
eating these for a while will they start eating paste. Even then, they
prefer paste to pellet.
This recipe is aimed at the average hobbyist, to provide a good all year
round food which needs no great variation. It does not claim to be
"The Ultimate", or even to be complete, in the sense that it
is guaranteed to contain every single element essential for growth. It
does try to come close, and it does offer you the opportunity to
manipulate and alter the mix. For example, if you add more fish oil to
the diet in the autumn, it will give the fish more of a chance to build
up valuable energy reserves to see them thru the cold winter months.
This paste food is an attempt to give the koi a similar quality and
variety of foodstuff as it would find in the wild.
A lot of people make the mistake of transferring observed feeding
practices in humans and other mammals to carp. Carp are fish. In the
wild they feed all year round on live food; worms, snails, bugs etc.,
none of which are renowned for having a high level of carbohydrate. This
high protein food increases and is supplemented in the summer months
when the plants grow and seeds etc are blown or fall into the water. For
humans, carbohydrate is a necessity. It provides us with a concentrated
source of energy to move us great distances while holding us up against
gravity and at the same time keeping us warm. Koi do not need energy to
warm themselves like we do, and none under normal circumstances to fight
against gravity. A fish swimming normally only uses a fraction of its
muscle mass, so even there, its energy expenditure is minimal, and is
best supplied by fish oil in the diet.
Don't feed bread and cereal products etc, but where you feed pelleted
foods, stick to a good quality pellet food, and feed as much live food
as possible. Make sure that wherever you collect live food, especially
snails, no slug pellets or other "bug killers" are used. Koi
love snails, but you have to crush the shells which is not for the
sensitive or squeamish. Small slugs are usually taken with enthusiasm,
but the big ones like severed thumbs can be a bit too much for them.
Without a doubt, live food is the best. It is often rich in some of the
amino acids and other substances that can be scarce in pelleted food,
and this can enable the fish to make better use of the other food you
give them. A wider variety of proteins, and hence amino acids, means
better use of proteins for growth, and less waste amino acids meaning
less ammonia for the filters to deal with. Woodlice, worms, spiders,
grubs, centipedes, the list is almost endless. Avoid maggots, mealworms,
millipedes and adult beetles, and it is wise to crush the
"head" of anything like spiders or beetle grubs which could
bite the fish's mouth, and possibly put it off these valuable
foodstuffs. Live freshwater foods should be avoided due to the risk of
transferring parasites. Remember that some parasites are not removed by
washing and cleaning, but are embedded in cysts deep in the tissues
where they wait for their host to be eaten.
Dried insects can be bought from bird food suppliers as an excellent
dietary supplement, and while I dislike feeding maggots, the pupae are a
nutritious and valuable ingredient.
Vegetable food. As the water gets warmer, the fish can start to get
interested in plant based foods. Soft lettuces floated upside down will
give them something to chew on, and sliced oranges and grapefruit are
often recommended. Some types of lettuces are better than others. If
they aren't interested in sliced citrus fruit, you can mix some juice
into the day's paste food, and if that makes it sloppy, add a little
more "flour" to restore the texture. (Or you can just add
vitamin C powder to each day's food.)
Animal proteins. Stick to seafood. It is very unwise to feed proteins
from terrestrial animals, eg chicken, beef, pork lamb etc. The reason
for this is fat.
Fat and oils are both lipids, and fish need lipids. Seafood contains
oils, ie those lipids that are liquid at coldwater temperatures, while
meat contains fat, those lipids that are solid at room temperature. A
koi that eats meat proteins will also be eating some fat. This can get
laid down as fatty deposits, which the fish will not be able to digest,
and this can result in the degeneration of certain organs. Never forget
that carp are dustbin fish. They will eat anything and everything, a
fact recognized by carp fishermen who achieve success with baits made up
of everything from custard to cat food. The great Isaac Walton even gave
a recipe for carp bait that ignored cat food, but was rather made from
meat of the cats themselves. No carp is going to turn down any food on
the basis that it isn't healthy.
Prawns are a great treat, but pull off the heads. 3 reasons; they have a
sharp spike, (the rostrum), they make mess in the water and the
carapaces get spat out and lie on the bottom. Save the heads for the
recipe. Cut the prawn tails up and feed all year round, especially in
the winter AS LONG AS THEY WILL TAKE THEM. Don't give them the washed
out shell less prawns from the freezer cabinet. They really need prime
protein and oil, and shell on prawns provide this. (Note. Do not thaw
them aggressively with hot water, as this will drive the oils out of the
prawn tissues, which is a waste). Plus, you help to keep the filter fed,
so you won't have so many problems in the spring. NOTE. If the
temperature drops too low, your biofilter may not process ammonia etc so
quickly, so monitor water quality carefully if you feed at low temps,
both in autumn and spring. Other primo snacks are mussels, cockles, and
any other seafood (not freshwater - parasites) they enjoy.
The main ingredients here only cost a few pounds a kilo, and the protein
content is very high. Prawns are £5 a kilo, and seem expensive, but if
you work out what you are actually paying per kilo for the small
percentage of fish protein and oil in the pelleted food, then by
comparison, prawns are pretty cheap. Especially if you eat the tails and
use the shell waste and heads! It should be noted that what is
conventionally treated as waste, is actually the most valuable. The
heads and shells of prawns, and the guts and internal organs of fish,
squid etc are very valuable food sources, and should never be discarded.
To prepare the paste food, always use a reasonably large food processor
( A blender doesn't really have the required oomph, though having one to
hand is useful for some of the later stages.) Fill it with the prawn
waste and process till smooth, adding the cod-liver oil at this stage .
Obviously you can use whole prawns, shrimp, or lobster or crab waste.
Lobster waste is very high in coloring agents, and crab is especially
popular, while its shell waste is high in minerals.
I have a square stainless steel pestle and mortar which I smash up the
crab legs, waste and shells to splinters. When using crab, I then put
the mush into a blender and then sieve it to remove any larger shell
fragments which get another pounding and blending.
When you are processing crab shell especially, it can be hard to puree.
If necessary add the juice from cooking the squid or fish to help turn
it into a smooth paste, as that's better than adding plain water. If you
are using a whole crab in the recipe, choose a female crab, as they have
more brown meat, which I feel (no scientific basis here) contains more
useful oils, amino acids etc. than does white meat.
The herrings, sprats etc can also be cooked and the whole fish processed
to a puree. (It does mean that some of the larger bones will get through
the processing intact, but usually these can be felt and removed as you
roll out the food into small balls with your fingers as you feed the
fish.) Mix this with all the other processed prawn heads etc, to make a
basic protein paste.
There are a number of additives suggested, eg clay, Spirullina, laver
(algae again), propolis,/royal jelly and yeast. Any clay used should be
good quality bentonite clay suitable for fish. Amounts that are small,
or delicate materials like royal jelly can be added to the finished
paste just before feeding. Yeast is an interesting ingredient. Some
pelleted foods use derivatives of yeast which have a good reputation for
improving health, and including yeast in the mix could reduce the need
to add vitamin B. Vitamins should be added to the food on the day of
If you wish, you can buy herring roes by the kilo to add to the mix.
Always use the widest variety of seafood to mimic the diet of a wild
carp, which includes annelids, mollusks, fish and arthropods and
everything else that moves. Crabs prawns and anything else with legs and
a hard outer covering will do as arthropods, shellfish and squid are
mollusks, and the annelids (worms) you can dig up in the garden and feed
to the fish direct. If you buy shellfish in the shell, (e.g. mussels)
there is no reason why the shells should not be crushed up very fine and
added to the mix. Squid is an excellent addition, and I would use a
decent amount in the recipe. Oily fish are a valuable source of protein
and oil. Fish oils are the single best source of energy for your fish,
so be sure that you add enough cod liver oil to the mix. Conventional
pellet food often contains less than 5%, and pellets for fish raised for
the table are sometimes as high as 12 %. You will have to work out what
amount of oil works best.
Now you need to thicken it. Conventionally, wheat, corn and/or soy flour
is used to thicken and bind foods, both paste and pellet. One of the
aims of this recipe is to remove all unnecessary wheat, corn and soy
carbo from the diet, and boost the algal content. It has been found that
seaweed, ground to a fine flour is an excellent substitute for wheat
flour. You can buy seaweed from animal feed stores, it's used as a
supplement to horse feed, and I feel that this could in addition be a
useful source of trace elements. There is another reason for being
generous with algae. A fish protein only diet can be deficient in
certain amino acids, especially methionine and cytosine. When this is
so, a large percentage of the protein is unusable, which means the waste
amino acids are burned for energy, and higher levels of ammonia are
excreted into the pond. A generous proportion of algae in the diet means
the fish will use more of the food, get better growth and produce less
The seaweed does need to be as fine as flour. Too coarse, and the food
will be friable, and break up in the water, which is both messy and
wasteful. Really fine seaweed flour gives the paste an excellent
texture, rather like plasticine. It's easy to shape into balls for
feeding, and holds together well in the water.
Fit the pastry blade in the food processor and put about a cupful of the
basic protein paste mix in. (Too much and it won't mix easily.) Add the
required additives and blend to an even paste before adding the seaweed
flour, a spoonful at a time and blending till it is thick enough. It
only needs to be thick enough so it doesn't stick to your fingers. Take
it out, roll it into a ball and freeze in a plastic bag. Make the balls
sensible sizes, enough for one day's feeding at a time. You need to
reach a compromise with the amount of flour Too much makes it a bit
dense and crumbly, and too little will leave half of it stuck to your
fingers. In the freezer, the mix may become more dense, so try and allow
for this. It is easy enough to add more flour if it is too sticky, and a
little basic paste mix if too dry.
When I wish to add vitamins, I take a thawed ball of paste, crush a
vitamin B tablet, mix it with some vitamin C powder and knead this into
the paste food. Obviously you can add other vitamins as required, or
delicate additives such as royal jelly. Most of the vitamins are covered
by the cod liver oil. I add vitamin B about once a week, and vitamin C
most days. It may not be necessary to add vitamin B so much if there is
a generous portion of yeast in the mix. Being water soluble, vitamin C
is not stored in the body, and needs to be topped up continually. Keep
the thawed paste food in the fridge, and only take off what you need for
You should ideally store the food in a cool, dark place when it is not
being used, as light and warmth can degrade some of the ingredients.
This is especially important when adding vitamins. Do bear in mind that
this is an extremely rich food. If your koi are couch potatoes, and you
shovel this down their throats, you may end up with fat fish. If you can
return the water to the pond to give them a good current to swim
against, the exercise will help to keep them in good shape.
Bon appetite, Bill.
Imagine that the proteins you feed your koi are strings of beads (amino
acids). Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black and white. The koi have
to take these strings of beads, break them into individual beads and
then make bracelets (koi proteins). These koi bracelets have to have
five beads each of red, orange, yellow, and green, but only one blue
bead, and no black or white beads. You cannot make a bracelet until you
have all the necessary beads, and you cannot start a bracelet until the
last one is finished. At the end of each day, when you have made all the
bracelets you can with the beads you have, you have to burn all the
unused beads (to generate energy) and pile up the ash (fat).
Plant proteins have a lot of red, some orange and a few yellows, and
lots and lots of black and white beads. Fish proteins have lots and lots
of red, orange and yellows, a lot of greens and a few blues. As you can
imagine, plant proteins give a lot of ash, but so will fish proteins if
there are not many blues, as blue is the controlling color. It is
therefore doubly useful, if you can add blue in any number. Not only do
you use much more of the other colors, but at the end of the day, there
are less to burn to give ash (fat) In fact, if you cut out the plant
proteins, and gave the right number of blues, you could seriously reduce
the wasteful process of "burning" amino acids to lay down as
Feeding koi live foods such as invertebrates, etc, has been observed to
cause growth out of all proportion to the amount fed. You may think that
a handful of bugs every now and again is not all that valuable, and not
worth the trouble. However, it is analogous to throwing the bracelet
maker a handful of bluebeads.
Home made Med food
I bought the Oxolium/Oxolinic Acid from a local Koi Dealer in NJ for
$14.99 - good price. The brand I have - dosage on back is 1 tsp per 25
gallons. I called them and they have in stock and ship next day. B&M
Aquatic Gardens & Koi Center in Hamburg, NJ (973) 209-1185.
Also from Argent Lbs on links page
I have been posting the info on
making the medicated food. I used 1/2 lb of food.
Mix 1 pk gelatin with 1/2 cup cold water, let sit for 10
minutes, bring to boiling point, cool, add 1/2 tsp OA to
gelatin, roll food in it, then let dry. Feed this for 14 days.
THINGS KOI AND H2O
Chris On Koi
Fishy stories, facts and myths as told at the
edge of the koi pond
by Chris Neaves.
About 8 - 10 years ago I really battled to get good growth out of my
koi collection. The reason? - The high cost
of koi food. This statement is not pointing finger or sarcasm, but it is
an inescapable fact. If you have a large number of koi and you feed them
well, it will cost a lot of money. But you will get growth.
I have never considered depth to be critical in achieving growth. The
"deep" end of my previous main pond is
a mere 80 cm, which I admit is a little shallow when you see some of the
koi from under water with goggles.
From a personal perspective, I certainly would not go deeper than about
1.2 meters at the bottom drains in
any pond where koi are to be viewed. The size, 30 koi in my collection
grew too, in a relatively short time
span, is proof enough to me that depth is not a critical factor in
I am absolutely convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that to achieve good
growth in a koi collection five
critical factors are needed. Good quality water (filtration etc.), high
oxygen levels (high turnover rates etc.),
regular water changes (at least 10 - 20% per week), warm water
temperatures, and most importantly, large quantities of good quality
food. Throw in some good genetics and a little luck and you will get
without very deep and very large ponds.
Source references state, that to get high growth out of koi (carp
references) they should be fed about 2% of
their body weight per day. Some years ago the 30 koi in my main pond of
18,000 litres were measured in an attempt to calculate body mass. My
calculations arrived at a figure of a total mass of about 80 - 85 kg for
At a feeding rate of 2% body weight per day, this group of koi would
need to be fed 1.5 – 1.7 kg of food during
the course of each and every day. It does not take a rocket scientist to
calculate the high cost of the total
volume needed to be fed to the collection. I then realised that because
good quality foods are expensive, koi keepers tend to under feed their
collections on quality nutrition and therefore do not get the growth
they could possibly achieve.
In my old pond I achieved growth rates, of up to 75cm in four years.
Annual water temperature varied from
about 25°C for a number of months in summer to a few weeks at 9°C in
the middle of winter. Water changes
were at least 20% per week. The turnover rate was the total volume of
the pond through a single chambered
filter in under an hour.
When I made a conscious decision to manufacture my own koi food for the
retail koi market, I took a long hard look at the Japanese koi foods.
Also an animal nutritionist was consulted, a really good lady, down to
earth, brilliant and very well connected in the animal nutrition world.
Computer technology was also employed.
The koi food I manufacture gets koi to 25cm in a year from hatching and
closer to 30cm at coastal regions,
where temperatures are warmer through out the year. So I would like to
share with koi keepers my experiences and some of my intimate knowledge
on koi nutrition.
What Koi Need in the Diet:
Endless articles have been written on “what koi need in their
diets”, what should be present and what should
not. Hundreds of articles simply repeat and rehash what has already been
written so many times
It is a fact that Koi need a high protein diet. High protein can mean
anything so we must define it. 35 -38%
protein, is the minimum requirement for the koi diet.
Some koi keepers advocate reducing the protein level to around 30% when
the koi is about 5 or so years old.
As koi keep on growing past the age of 10 years old, it makes sense to
continue with the 35-38% protein level. Skin quality benefits, as does
More important than protein levels are the balance and level of the
amino acids. Incredibly a food can have a
high protein level but be low on specific essential amino acids. The
result, the whole formulation does not work well. Amino acids are the
building blocks of protein. The body cannot absorb protein as such. So
protein has to be broken down, through enzyme, action into individual
amino acids. These are then absorbed, transported to
the cells where in conjunction with other nutrients are reconstructed
into body protein. Irrespective of the source
of protein the body breaks the eaten protein down into amino acids.
Some koi keepers advocate changing to a wheat germ food in winter. Some
koi keepers continue to feed the same food through out the year, reduce
the quantity as temperatures drop and stop when water temperatures
fall below about 10 - 11°C.
Analysis, of pure wheat germ meal indicates that wheat germ contains
many of the same amino acids found animal protein sources, albeit at a
lower levels, than say raw fishmeal. So although the one food has wheat
germ as a protein source and another may have fish meal as a protein
source, when enzymes process the
protein source, the net result is - the same basic amino acids in the
Many high quality koi foods use a fishmeal as the major protein source
simply because many of the nutrients needed by koi (amino acids, lipids,
vitamins, minerals) are found in this food source. Fishmeal is often is
short supply around the world, resulting in rocketing prices in the last
few years. Fishmeal has around 60-65% protein
in its raw state.
Lipids are essential in the koi diet. They are a very good source of
energy and certain oils are essential for the cells. As protein can be
utilised by the body for energy the addition of lipids are very
important as they act as a protein saving ingredient. Protein is then
used for growth and tissue repair while the lipids are used as energy
sources. Koi can utilise up to a 12-13% lipid content. However, the
oil/lipid percentage in koi food is generally
at a much lower level. The reason for this is quite simple, shelf life.
Oils can and do go rancid and cause the
food to go bad. Rancid food is not good for any animal not least the
koi. Free radical activity in rancid food
can be retarded and checked by ingredients such as Vitamin C and Vitamin
Freshness is important for koi food. However, it is a fact that most
imported koi foods are at least 4 months old before they get to the koi
outlet shelves. There is no way around this. From the date of
manufacture the food is
not immediately bagged and transported to the dealer and end user in
another country. Factories need to have very large production runs to
make koi food cost effective. Not every kilo of food is sold
immediately. There will always by some storage time. Add to this a few
weeks to pack and containerise the food, followed by transport
to the coast and time spent at the docks. The container is a few weeks
at sea. The food then takes time to clear the destination docks at the
respective country of import, (if there are no strikes) to further delay
transport of the goods. The food now has to get to the distributor where
further storage time is needed. Then eventually to the retail shelves.
In formulating the food these factors are usually taken into account by
the manufacturers of the better quality koi foods. Preservatives, both
natural and artificial are used. Quality vitamin premixes are added to
the food before manufacture to accommodate the heat loss during the
extrusion process and to compensate for shelf life degradation of
ingredients. As an example, an analysis of high quality food of at least
6 months old should still indicate a high level of Vitamin C. Some years
ago Vitamin C used to degrade rapidly after manufacture.
Within 90 days of manufacture about 50% of the Vitamin C was degraded.
Through scientific research a stabilised form of Vitamin C is now used
which lasts just as long as most other vitamins.
A formulation of around 35 – 36% protein would need only around 28 –
30% fishmeal (remember raw fish meal
is 65% protein). Many formulations use a combination of ingredients to
get different levels of nutrients in balance and the right quantities.
So once we have the important protein level plus some lipid, vitamins,
minerals, preservatives we are left with around 30% of the total volume
of something – this something is carbohydrate.
We are now faced with a unique situation in the animal kingdom – to
deliver the food to the gut of the koi in a water medium.
No matter what we think or want or have been told, at this point in time
virtually all koi foods have around 30-35% carbohydrates. Why? Firstly
carbohydrate is not a bad ingredient. Carbohydrates are an energy source
and do contain some nutrient needed by the body. Carbohydrates are
digestible after cooking via the extrusion process, and koi can digest
carbohydrate quite well.
Protein can never be 100% of the formula. Nor can the other ingredients.
In order to arrive at a nutritionally balanced koi food formula we have
to have certain ingredients in appropriate proportions. So in order to
up the remaining percentage to 100%, carbohydrate is added. But there is
a more important reason for carbohydrate in koi food.
Carbohydrate is the medium in which the nutrients are delivered to the
gut of the koi. The proteins, oils etc,
need to be delivered to the stomach of a koi. We cannot just put down a
bowl of food in the pond and wait for
the koi to eat it when they want to, for obvious reasons. The aquatic
environment presents unique difficulties.
So we have to literally trap or glue the nutrients together so that they
can get into the stomach of the fish with out dissolving in the water.
Now that we have a nutritionally balanced pellet for our koi – how do
we achieve growth? Referring to my
opening: – the factors producing growth in koi are - good quality
water (filtration etc.), high oxygen levels (high turnover rates), water
changes (at least 10/20% per week), warm water temperatures, and most
importantly, large quantities of good quality food. Throw in some good
genetics and a little luck and you will get good growth
without deep and very large ponds.
With the above factors in place, we must feed koi regularly several
times a day. In tests at carp farms it was demonstrate that up to 60%
more growth was achieved when the fish were fed three times a day as
to once a day.
But there is another factor I discovered a number of years ago. Dampen
the food you are going to feed the fish. I do not have
scientific proof, only my own observations, butI remain absolutely
convinced that by making
the pellets damp that you are going to feed the collection that day, you
will achieve better growth. Do not float
the pellets for long periods; you will loose essential water-soluble
vitamins. Merely dampen the feed for that day. You will notice that the
koi can literally suck in numerous pellets at a time. Normally with dry
pellets they take in
one or two then head off to chew them. But with dampened food they
consume more and young fish can be fed
on the same size pellets as the large koi.
Just like our children, koi need the correct nutrition over a sustained
period of time, but more so in the early
stages of its development. If nutrition is poor in the development
stages of a creature’s life, there is simply no
way to catch up or repair the damage. The creature will remain stunted
An American Experiment:
Some years ago Andy Moo wrote in Koi USA that he achieved 23cm of growth
in his koi in 6 months. What was fascinating in his article is that he
stumbled upon the growth by accident. Initially, Andy kept seventeen
10-13cm koi in a 1500 litre show tank. He noticed that the fish always
appeared hungry so he gave them a light feed every time he walked past.
Much to his surprise these fish grew from their original size to 25-33cm
in less than five months.
Excited about his "discovery" he followed the initial results
with several other tests. He chose 45 x 10 - 13cm "leftover"
koi from his opening sale. These koi were placed in to his lily pond
that is only 30cm - 60cm deep and has 5000 litres of water. Central to
his experiments was the fact that he fed about 2% body weight per day.
This was increased up to 4% body weight per day as the temperature
increased in summer. He increased the frequency of the feedings from
four times a day up to twelve feeds per day. Also central to the
a high water turnover rate plus a large and efficient filter. At the end
of just 166 days the average length of the
45 koi was 36cm. These tests were done in what we would consider a
limited pond size and shallow depth.
Andy observed that overall body conformation was excellent with none
having potbellies, and with a few exceptions their colours did not fade
but had actually improved.
If Andy can achieve growth like this in a relatively small pond, so can
the rest of us.
In their natural environment a koi's intake of nutritional substances is
extremely wide and varied. In some unsympathetic quarters, carp are
often referred to as the 'pigs' of the fish world. Their ability to
and assimilate virtually anything has accorded them this indignity. We
can use this fact for our own advantage.
In nature koi consume small amounts of food continually throughout the
day. Nutrition plays a vital role in the
health of koi. Koi are generally kept under artificial conditions i.e.
closed circuit limited volume ponds, most of their natural food supply
is also cut off. Therefore, whatever we feed our collections the basic
rule must be -
A varied diet together with as much live food as possible should be