How to Feed Koi from your Hands like an Expert
We have gathered these helpful tips from Koi pond owners in our networks, we hope they help you create a fun relationship with your fish, one that brings happiness to both your and your swimmers.
It’s important to note that every koi is different, some may never want to eat out of your hand. Either way, your consistent attention to their comfort will increase their health and happiness.
The key to training Koi to feed from your hand is consistency in time and location of the feeding.
This serves a dual purpose, first you will earn their trust. By nature, they are suspicious of predators who approach from a different location at a different time. When you’re consistent with feeding time and location the fish will begin to identify that it’s safe because it’s you.
First things first though, you will need to train them to swim up and then train them to feed from your hand next.
But how do I get my Koi fish to swim up to me AND eat from my hands?
You will need patience, consistency, and some great food!
If you want to pet and feed your Koi, but they always hide from you, than you will need to train your Koi to see you as a caretaker instead of a predator. This will allow you to get up close and personal with your pet friends.
To train Koi to swim to you upon sight, cut off feeding for 5 days!
Pick a spot at the pond you are comfortable with and on day 6, throw small amounts of food in one spot nearest to you. You can stand or sit. Wait until the Koi venture to the food. If they don’t come to take the food after 10 minutes of coming out, you are done for the day. They saw you, believe me.
Repeat the process at the same spot daily with only small amounts of food. And not enough food to feed all the Koi. In just a few days, you will have your Koi trained to see your face and go to that particular feeding spot.
To train Koi to eat from your hands, cut off feeding again and in next visit hold the food in hand under the water.
The Koi will be attracted to the smell in your hand and come near.
After a few days, they will begin to fight your hand to knock out the food, at that point, pinch food in your fingers or palm for the Koi to take.
Do this a few times in a row to develop consistency and soon the koi will feel comfortable eating out of your hand.
You should also feed from a deep area as this allows your Koi to approach vertically since they don’t like shallow water.
What’s the Best Food for Hand Feeding Koi?
Delicious and nutritious food will keep your koi fish happy. A secondary purpose of having delicious food is to entice your Koi with the smell of food. Using koi treats will allow you to better reward them during the training.
So what makes food good and delicious? This is a good question, since “what type of food to buy” is a common question for many koi pond owners. We assure you that the higher end koi food is generally worth every penny since your koi are what they eat.
We recommend floating food for hand feeding.
It looks like a big pellet that can be broken into smaller pieces for different sized koi and is very absorbent, once it touches water; it becomes soft like a sponge. The koi LOVE IT, some pond owners even call it “koi crack”!
Read Kodama’s indepth guide on selecting the best koi food for color and growth or visit their site for beautiful Japanese koi fish for sale.
With the right conditions in your pond, quality food, and a well trained Koi, we know that you will build a lasting friendship with your living jewels.
Common Questions about Feeding Koi
Keep these helpful tips in mind when you are feeding your Koi.
Their happiness depends on how you feed them along with the quality of your water.
What are the safety precautions before interacting with my koi?
This is very important – before putting your hands in the pond, be sure to scrub off like a surgeon. You definitely don’t want any suntan lotion, bug spray, cologne, lotion, or anything other than your natural skin oils to interact with the Koi or pond water as it could make your fish sick.
Can I hurt my Koi by touching their scales?
You may have heard that touching fish removes the important slime coat which is your fish’s defense against bacteria. While it’s important not to remove the slime coat from your fish, which is equivalent to our getting a scrape, you won’t remove the slime coat simply from feeding them from your hand. You should still be careful and learn techniques to pick up your koi before you try it out.
Do Koi have teeth? Can they bite me?
Koi do have teeth, but they are too far back in their mouths to be felt by your hand. If their mouths close over your hand, it will feel like a strong grasp, but don’t worry about losing a finger. They are harmless!
Your Koi are what they eat
Fish are friends, so it’s important to take the time ensure the quality of their food as well as their habitat.
In many ways, Koi are just like people, so you know that they truly will become what they eat. Similar to kids or animals, Koi fish will happily eat junk food even though it’s not good for them. To encourage the happiness of your fish, choose foods that will nourish a healthy lifestyle so they can be happier for longer.
Your Koi are the water they swim in
Maintaining a strong and natural biological filter is the healthiest way to keep your koi oxygenated and happy.
Nualgi will add extra oxygen to the water and help maintain the healthy water you demand for your Koi Fish – without using chemicals that will make your Koi unhappy. It has even shown to increase the vibrance of a koi’s scales as well as increase it’s energy levels.
At the end of the day it’s simple. Healthy water = Happy fish and a happy you!
“Nualgi is excellent on many levels in my professional opinion. It replaces many chemical products that pond/koi owners can easily and unwittingly overdose resulting in gill damage and even death of their prized koi fish in the war against green water. It creates a natural micro food chain that is beneficial to both Koi fish and aquatic plants and even contributes to reducing detritus levels in the pond.” – Christian Shostle of CaliKoi