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10 Best Food for Koi Carps in 2021

Chris Dinesen Rogers

Koi and Goldfish

The fish we know as the Koi is an East Asian species with introduced populations found worldwide. In the wild, it lives in inland wetlands and streams. While it looks like a Goldfish, it is its own species. However, the two are related and have similar care needs. You’ll see many products that include both on the label. The Koi is strictly ornamental and the larger of the two.

The wild Koi is a drab olive-green color. The ones you see in ponds come in a wide range of colors and patterns. The best food for Koi will enhance their looks while supplying all their nutritional needs. Koi can get quite large with enough room to grow and a high-quality diet. Our guide will discuss what to look for in these products. We’ve also included detailed reviews of some of our favorites.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Tetra Pond Koi Color Enhancing Sticks Tetra Pond Koi Color Enhancing Sticks
  • Wide range of sizes available
  • Easily digestible
  • Long shelf life
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Tetra Pond Food Color Flakes Tetra Pond Food Color Flakes
  • Affordably priced
  • Less waste
  • Excellent color enhancer
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Dainichi All-Season Koi Food Dainichi All-Season Koi Food
  • Nutrient-dense food
  • Highly palatable
  • USA-made
  • Blue Ridge Koi & Goldfish Food Blue Ridge Koi & Goldfish Food
  • Excellent for smaller fish
  • Optimal nutrition
  • Long float time
  • Hikari USA Gold Pellets Hikari USA Gold Pellets
  • Highly palatable
  • Long float time
  • USA-made
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    The 10 Best Food for Koi Carps – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Tetra Pond Koi Vibrance Color Enhancing Sticks – Best Overall

    Tetra Pond Koi Vibrance Color Enhancing

    Food form: Soft sticks
    Season: Spring to fall
    Color enhancer: Yes
    Protein content: 31%
    Fat content: 5%

    Tetra Pond Koi Vibrance Color Enhancing Sticks is the best overall food for Koi Carp. The protein content is excellent for supporting healthy growth in your fish. The form is easy for your pets to digest and quite palatable. You can have the best product in the world, but it fails if the fish don’t like it. It also contains color enhancer ingredients to bring out the red and orange hues.

    While the food is nutritionally complete, the fat content is a bit low, making supplementation a wise plan. However, it has a decent shelf life, making it a value purchase. We also liked that the product comes in six different sizes and one or two-count purchases.

    Pros
    • Wide range of sizes available
    • Easily digestible
    • Long shelf life
    Cons
    • Low fat percentage

    2. Tetra Pond Food Color Flakes – Best Value

    Tetra Pond Food Color Flakes

    Food form: Flakes
    Season: Spring to fall
    Color enhancer: Yes
    Protein content: 28%
    Fat content: 7%

    Tetra PondFood Color Flakes is the best food for Koi Carp for the money. You can’t beat the price. While it comes in a small container, it’s value-priced. The nutritional profile is excellent, with several ingredients to enhance colors. The formula is tasty, with several protein sources to make it complete. The fat content is in line with what Koi would need as slow-moving fish.

    The manufacturer does an excellent job of explaining the proper feeding schedule, which we’ve seen on all their products. It’s a great choice for smaller ponds or aquariums with all the necessary health benefits.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Less waste
    • Excellent color enhancer
    Cons
    • No larger sizes

    3. Dainichi All-Season Koi Fish Food – Premium Choice

    Dainichi All-Season Koi Food

    Food form: Pellet
    Season: All season
    Color enhancer: Yes
    Protein content: 39%
    Fat content: n/a

    Dainichi All-Season Koi Fish Food stands out on several scores. It is a nutritionally complete food, using high-quality protein sources for optimal health and growth. Interestingly, the manufacturer produces the product in the United States and exports it to great choice for smaller ponds or aquariums, where ornament Koi originated. Spirulina provides color-enhancing properties.

    Unlike many products we’ve reviewed, you can feed your fish this food year-round. The pellets float for a decent amount of time. They are also highly palatable for less waste. It’s worth noting that this food contains calcium montmorillonite clay, which improves its digestibility.

    Pros
    • Nutrient-dense food
    • Highly palatable
    • USA-made
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. Blue Ridge Koi & Goldfish Mini Pellets

    Blue Ridge Koi & Goldfish Food

    Food form: Pellet
    Season: Spring to fall
    Color enhancer: No
    Protein content: 36%
    Fat content: 6%

     

    Blue Ridge Koi & Goldfish Mini Pellets is a value choice for providing optimal nutrition for growing fish. The slate of ingredients is impressive, with several protein sources included in the mix. It ticks off all the necessary nutrients. The pellet size is also a wise choice since it’s easier for young Koi to eat. They also stay afloat for a decent amount of time to reduce waste.

    The food comes in three sizes, albeit with a large gap between the middle and large ones. While the blend doesn’t include color-enhancing ingredients, it’s still a good choice if your Koi are mainly white. According to the manufacturer, the country’s largest Koi farm uses this product, which says a lot about its quality.

    Pros
    • Excellent for smaller fish
    • Optimal nutrition
    • Long float time
    Cons
    • No color-enhancing ingredients

    5. Hikari USA Gold Pellets

    Hikari USA Gold Pellets

    Food form: Pellets
    Season: Spring to fall
    Color enhancer: Yes
    Protein content: 35%
    Fat content: 3%

    Hikari USA Gold Pellets is an excellent choice if you want your Koi’s colors to pop. This high-quality product contains several color-enhancing ingredients, including Spirulina and carotene for red and orange fish. It uses several protein sources to ramp up the content. The pellets are dense and float for a relatively long time for less waste.

    The pellets come in four sizes in three to four weights, depending on the product. The manufacturer even offers a baby pellet so that your Koi can stick with the same diet throughout their lives.

    Pros
    • Highly palatable
    • Long float time
    • USA-made
    Cons
    • Low fat content

    6. Aqua Master Staple Fish Food

    Aqua Master Staple Fish Food

    Food form: Pellets
    Season: Spring to fall
    Color enhancer: Yes
    Protein content: 36%
    Fat content: 3%

    Aqua Master Staple Fish Food provides excellent nutritional value, thanks to the manufacturer’s use of high-quality ingredients. The mix contains various protein sources with Spirulina for enhancing the color of your Koi. While it has the necessary vitamins and minerals, the fat content is a bit low, especially for summer feeding.

    The manufacturer has an interesting take on Koi food with this product. Research that they have done shows that the addition of Bacillus bacteria helps reduce waste for better water quality. That makes it worth a look, given how messy these fish can be.

    Pros
    • High-quality ingredients
    • Great color-enhancing properties
    • Rich in proteins
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Low fat content

    7. Hikari USA Inc Wheat Germ

    Hikari USA Inc Wheat Germ

    Food form: Pellets
    Season: Fall, winter
    Color enhancer: Yes
    Protein content: 32%
    Fat content: 4%

    Hikari USA Inc Wheat Germ is a seasonal product that you can give your fish during the cooler months of the year. It offers excellent nutrition that fits in well with the special needs of your Koi during this time. Krill provides an excellent protein source that also has color-enhancing properties. It is highly digestible for less waste and better water quality.

    The food comes in three pellet sizes so that you can match it with your Koi’s life stage. It is a bit pricey, which isn’t unexpected given its ingredients. Our only other gripe is the lower fat content.

    Pros
    • Highly digestible
    • Excellent nutritional value
    • Color-enhancing properties
    Cons
    • Cool season use only
    • Expensive

    8. Kaytee Koi’s Choice Premium Fish Food

    Kaytee Koi's Choice Fish Food

    Food form: Pellets
    Season: All season
    Color enhancer: No
    Protein content: 35%
    Fat content: 5%

    Kaytee Koi’s Choice Premium Fish Food is a budget-friendly choice that offers decent nutritional value for the price. It’s an all-season product if the temperatures are above 40℉. Overall, it’s a good choice, although there are some quality control issues, particularly with the larger size. That could reflect the high filler content of grain-based meals.

    While the pellets float, they don’t stay at the surface long. That makes observing your Koi eating this food essential to avoid fouling the water.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Decent nutritional value
    • USA-made
    Cons
    • No color-enhancing ingredients
    • Filler ingredients
    • Quality-control issues

    9. Wardley Pond Pellets Fish Food

    Wardley Pond Pellets Fish Food

    Food form: Floating pellets
    Season: Spring to fall
    Color enhancer: No
    Protein content: 30%
    Fat content: 4%

    Wardley Pond Pellets Fish Food is a nutritionally complete diet for other pond species, such as goldfish. The name is somewhat misleading, given that the food looks more like compressed flakes than pellets in the 17-ounce size. It will float, albeit not for very long. The larger sizes are indeed pellets. The product scores high marks for affordability.

    The food comes in four sizes, including a 2-count 10-pound choice. That makes a lot more sense to us than one 25-pound bag since it’ll stay fresh longer. That’s an excellent point, given its great packaging.

    Pros
    • USA-made
    • Excellent packaging
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Low fat content
    • Different formulations, based on size

    10. Omega One Pond Sticks Goldfish & Koi Fish Food

    Omega One Pond Sticks Goldfish & Koi Fish Food

    Food form: Sticks
    Season: Spring to fall
    Color enhancer: No
    Protein content: 31%
    Fat content: 9%

    Omega One Pond Sticks Goldfish & Koi Fish Food stands out with the highest fat content of the products we reviewed. The sources are excellent and include things like whole shrimp, salmon, and herring. That explains the nutritional profile of the food. It also means that you must be careful when feeding it. Cleaning up uneaten food is imperative to maintain healthy water quality.

    The product comes in two sizes, with the largest a 1.1-pound jar. That makes it a viable choice only for small ponds or aquariums. It is spendy, too. We’d consider this food a better choice as a treat than a staple diet, particularly since it doesn’t contain any color-enhancing ingredients.

    Pros
    • Excellent nutritional profile
    • High-quality ingredients
    • Best for small ponds or aquariums
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • No color-enhancing properties
    • Water quality issues

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    Buyer’s Guide

    Koi are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of foodstuffs. Commercial diets will cover their basic needs along with other foods as treats. They are hardy animals that aren’t fussy eaters. You’ll likely find that your Koi will eat just about anything you offer them. Koi will swim anywhere in your tank, with no preferences for some levels.

    Koi Fish Pond
    Image Credit: linda chen, Pixabay

    The Nutritional Needs of Koi

    Koi need an optimal percentage of the macronutrients like protein and fats to reach their ideal weight. Research has shown that 29% of the former and 7% of the latter are the minimum requirements for these fish for maximum growth. Not only are the percentages vital, but the ratio between the two also matters. The balance ensures that the animal can meet its energy needs without tapping into its protein resources.

    Supplementing Your Koi’s Diet

    A varied diet is the best approach when caring for Koi. You can feed your fish a prepared diet and offer other food items, such as:

    • Leafy vegetables
    • Bloodworms
    • Crickets
    • Brine shrimp

    Like Goldfish, Koi are destructive when it comes to adding live plants to your tank. They’ll likely uproot and devour them.

    Color-Enhancing Formulas

    Koi and Goldfish
    Image credit: Koifish, Freedomnaruk, Shutterstock

    Koi are striking fish that will make an excellent addition to your outdoor pond. Feeding them color-enhancing foods will make their colors pop and add to the beauty of your garden feature. Two ingredients that can help are carotene and Spirulina. The former is the chemical that gives carrots their brilliant orange color. The latter is a blue-green algae with similar effects.

    Feeding Schedule

    Temperature plays a crucial role in how and when to feed your Koi. When temps rise, your fish become more active with the corresponding higher need for food and energy as their metabolism increases. The optimal temperature range for Koi is 59℉–77℉. You can feed them one to four times a day in this temperature range, depending on the size of the fish. Give them only enough that they can eat in less than 10 minutes.

    Don’t be alarmed if your Koi don’t eat at every meal. However, these fish can become overweight like an organism—including people—if the energy balance isn’t correct. You should remove any uneaten leftovers to avoid fouling the water.

    Tips for Feeding Your Koi

    You can speed up your Koi’s growth by keeping the water warmer and supplying enough food. Bear in mind that the size of the pond isn’t going to affect how big your fish get. Most varieties you see will get up to 12” L. However, some can get a lot larger. Fortunately, these fish are hardy and tolerant of less-than-ideal conditions.

    Koi are surprisingly intelligent and can learn to follow a feeding schedule. You may even find that they recognize you coming up to the pond. It’s worth noting that owning Koi is a commitment. They are long-lived with the right conditions, living over 40 years in captivity.

    Related Read: Reasons Why Koi Fish Jump Out of Water & How to Stop It

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    Conclusion

    Based on our reviews, Tetra Pond Koi Vibrance Color Enhancing Sticks came out on top of our list of the best food for Koi. The color-enhancing formula delivered noticeable results that the fish seemed to enjoy. Tetra PondFood Color Flakes came in as our best value, offering the same benefits in a different form. It’s an excellent choice for aquarium fish at an affordable price.


    Featured Image Credit: Aleron Val, Shutterstock

    Chris Dinesen Rogers

    Chris has written on a variety of topics since 2009. Her motto with all of her writing is “science-based writing nurtured by education and critical thinking.” She specializes in science topics, with a special love for health and environmental topics, and of course, pets of all shapes and sizes. Chris lives happily with her hubby and three cats in the land of 10,000 lakes, writing, wining, and boating as much as she can. She and her husband, Norm, were awarded the State of Kentucky Colonel Honor for their restoration work at Mammoth Cave National Park. Chris’s current passion is wine. She has her WSET 1 and 2 certifications and is currently pursuing her Certified Wine Specialist Award (CSW).