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Thread: Feeding Koi of Different Age Together

  1. #1
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Manila, Philippines

    Feeding Koi of Different Age Together

    One thing I remember reading about koi and their care when I was starting out, was that young koi would beat out older koi when it came to feeding. The logic goes that there should be a separate pond for each, because the older koi would end up eating less than their share. Five years on, I have yet to see my young koi beat my older koi to food.

    My oldest koi are going to be on their sixth year, and the youngest are going to be on their third year. Perhaps one day, age will catch up with my older koi and they will become sluggish and be slow getting to their food.

    I wonder if what I read was a myth, or whether my older koi are just gluttons. What is your experience with your koi?

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Orlando, Florida
    In my situation, there is no issue with koi of different sizes getting enough food... even though the koi can range from 8-inch tosai to over 90-cm 12 year-olds. But, this is with feeding sinking food, which greatly reduces the need for competition. When I fed floating food, the issue was the smallest koi being intimidated going to the surface near the big gals, and aggressive feeders (of any size, but generally these are under 75cm) intimidating the leisurely ones. Still, in my relatively large pond, no koi of any size ever failed to grow due to a lack of sufficient food.

    The real issue is feeding whatever is considered the most appropriate food for the age (not size necessarily) of the koi. There is little consensus on much of anything when it comes to feeding koi. There are always dissenting views. But, if any aspect of feeding has consensus support, it is that young koi need higher protein to maximize their potential. It is also generally accepted that it is best for tosai not to be exposed to extreme low water temperatures, and that fasting tosai for a significant time is not optimal. For older fish, there is much less agreement. I think the majority of experienced koikeepers focused on maximizing high-end koi continue to support winter fasting (even if modified to be something less than a 100% fast for 3 months) for older koi, and are reluctant (if not downright opposed) to feeding high protein outside the peak growth season. It is the inconsistency in nutritional goals that causes the difficulty in feeding mixed ages.... just like the inconsistency between trying to maximize beni development of Kohaku while avoiding secondary Hi on Shiro Utsuri sharing the same pond. For those who follow the idea of feeding high protein year-round for all koi, there can still be a conflict if wanting ake-nisai to gorge over winter while the old gals go on a weight loss (egg loss) diet.

    In a commercial setting, maximizing each age group according to the thinking of the breeder can be more readily accomplished. For the hobbyist, there is not much to be done unless you focus solely on one age group to the detriment (supposed detriment) of the rest.

  3. #3
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Southern California
    Like Mike, I have no issue with Koi of different sizes getting enough food... and I feed floating food.

  4. #4
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Manila, Philippines
    Thanks for pointing out floating vs sinking food. The use of sinking food certainly helps give the less voracious eaters a chance to get a better share of the food.

    Ricshaw, your experience with floating food is something I don't share. Do you have a technique with feeding floating food?

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