If you have Koi or Gold fish, most likely you work pretty hard at keeping your pond in a good, healthy state. Of course some of this effort is designed to help the pond’s appearance, but the health of your fish is likely a big part of it too.
It’s easy to feel a connection to our fish, and of course, in some cases, we’ve had them for years…possibly even decades. So in this article I’m not going to suggest you’re doing anything wrong or poorly when it comes to your fish…I just wanted to remind everyone that along with a clean, healthy environment, what you feed them will matter a lot too.
Although we could talk about good fish food in depth…and the discussion could take the better part of a book…I’ll try to keep this simple and to the point…while covering the essentials of a good quality Koi food. Ideally the formula should provide support for growth, good color, and a strong immune system.
The key ingredients that are normally touted as important include several types of proteins, good fats, and vitamins and minerals.
If you’ve had Koi around for very long you know they can be robust and versatile diners. In the wild they are actually omnivores, which means they eat all kinds of things. They’ll eat other critters and plants to get by. The protein sources in the food should match this variety, using both animal and plant based sources.
The animal proteins should ideally come from aquaculture sources, because they will closely match what the fish would eat in the wild. Fish meal, krill, and shrimp would all be good to look for, and in fact this animal protein should be first on the list of ingredients. Proteins like this are loaded with good growth factors and other natural elements like amino acids. They’ll help to maintain a healthy, colorful, and vibrant fish.
Plant based proteins are also used and while it wouldn’t be fair to call such ingredients fillers, as they do provide energy for the fish, they should not take precedence over animal proteins. On the whole, look for a fish food that is about 30-40% protein for the best quality food.
Fats are another component in fish food, that while not as important as the protein or protein sources, the percentage of crude fat in a formula is worth noting. Young Koi and fish that are going into the fall will benefit from a higher fat content in their food. Adult fish during the spring and summer months would do fine on a lower fat food. Look for fat content anywhere from 3 to 12 percent for younger fish, and 3 to 6 percent for adults.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Immune Enhancers
If you take a daily vitamin or supplement to help you stay healthier, you know where we’re going here. Supplemented food, no matter how good, will never match the wild dining quality, without a little bit of help, so adding a few essential vitamins and minerals will help insure your fish remain healthy.
Amazingly one of the most common ingredients for this is Vitamin C. Vitamins A, B, and K are also really important for overall health. If you don’t see these things listed in the ingredients, it might be a good idea to conclude it’s a low quality food and should be avoided. Most high quality suppliers will show these on the label.
Since color can be so very important for Koi owners you will commonly find several types of enhancers in the food formulas. One of the best, natural sources to look for in the blends, is krill, which is naturally high in Astaxanthin. Spirulina, a blue green algae, is also useful for color enhancement.
Crude ash should be mentioned, only because you will commonly see this on the ingredients list. Although the fish may derive some minerals for this substance, it’s actually a byproduct of the manufacturing process, and ideally you want to look for the lowest level possible when selecting a good quality food for your fish.
So What Do We Recommend?
Listed below are some of the best Koi food formulas we’ve found online. All of them will supply your fish with a balanced, healthy diet, while being kind to your wallet.
Our favorite is the Dainichi All-Season blend, as it provides an excellent nutritional base, followed by the Hikari Gold. Both of these companies historically have produced premium products for fish health.
All in all, no matter what food you choose on this list, the chances are very good that you’ll be happy with the results.