So, I know we've done a lot of talking about how to take care of your Koi in the winter and exactly when (and why) to stop feeding your Koi in the colder months (see previous blog posts "Winter Q and A" and "Complete guide to Koi fish eating") but something that we really haven't talked about is what makes a good Koi food and what exactly to look for when you look for a reliable meal for your Koi. Even though it is too cold to feed your Koi right now, it is still a good time to start thinking about this so if you need to replace any food in the spring, you are prepared!
When you are out (or online) looking at regular food for your Koi in the upcoming season, try to keep in mind that the primary ingredient should usually be a protein, ( it might be called something like 'fish meal') Koi fish need about 35% of their nutrients to be protein at all times besides late fall and winter.
Next, just like in our food, it is important to be mindful of the vitamins and minerals that are in the food. Vitamin C can be specifically important but other than that, its important the the food has a variety. This is was typically separates quality food from not-so-great food.
After that is lipids and carbs. Lipids are a type of fat that is essential to the internal functions of koi. A lipid deficiency can lead to lack of growth, fin erosion, depigmentation, acute stress and many other things. Carbs are what typically hold everything together. Koi should get the majority of their energy from lipids, protein and other amino acids and don't have a need for a large amount of carbs in their diet.
Some other things to keep in mind regarding Koi food:
When feeding your fish is that it may be fun to give them treats and see a piece of bread being fought over, but try not to go overboard because Koi typically don't need more carbs than what is already in their pellet food.
Koi basically snack through out the day, so it is best to feed them a little 2-3 times a day rather than a lot at once.
Try to store your food in a cool, dark and dry place to avoid the food going bad faster. Also make sure to check the food before giving it to the Koi. Rancid food can have long term effects on the health of your Koi.
The longer Koi food is exposed to the air, the less nutritional value it has.Think of an apple, the longer it is cut, the browner it becomes.
Pellet size is important only because it depends on the size of your Koi. Small Koi get small pellets and larger Koi get larger pellets. Your larger Koi can eat smaller pellets but they have to work harder to get to the food. If you chose to go with larger pellets but have some smaller Koi, try soaking the pellets in warm water for just a couple of minutes before giving it to them. This makes it easy for the little guys to get just a bite.
Just like with us, finding the right food can be overwhelming at times and if there are no local shops that carry Koi food, it can be hard to even know where to begin. This is just some basic ideas to get you started on the right track!