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Feeding % of koi body weight

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  • Feeding % of koi body weight

    Hi eveyone,

    How many % of koi body weight do you feed for 1 to 3 years old koi during the summer months? Just want to get the opinions for you koi keepers. Thanks

  • #2

    John, I could not begin to tell you. I fill a small plastic cup with the pellets being fed for that meal and toss a few at a time to the koi. When those are gone, I'll toss a few more. I continue until they are being a bit too lazy about eating. If they are eating heavily, I'll re-fill the cup and continue tossing a few at a time until their behavior tells me they have had enough.

    If I am unable to stay by the pond to watch them eat, as often is true on workday mornings, I'll use sinking pellets (so the skimmer does not get most of the food) and toss in an amount somewhat less than they consumed the evening before.

    I never want to feed so much that food goes uneaten for more than a minute or so; and, I do not want to feed so little that they are ravenous, creating a feeding frenzy of splashing whenever food is provided. That type of behavior makes me think they need more frequent feedings (not necessarily more at a time).

    Often it is said that tosai should not be kept with much older fish because their feeding habits differ so much. This has not been a problem for me. Those that are eagerly getting the first pellets calm down after a while, and the more timid eaters then get their share. It seems to work.

    Not very scientific, but I hope it helps.


    • #3

      I fed mine 7 times a day w/ 2 hours interval between each feed. I hv a cup that i use to measure each feeding session which i think equals to 3% of the body weight. My kois are mixed nissai dan tosai size ranges from 30 to 50cm. During working hours my housemaid does the feeding, while i'm doing the morning and late evening feeding session only.

      So far w/ this feeding regimes my kois always seem hungry all time. No matter how much feed i throw they always hv a feeding frenzy hence one timid koi (35cm new entrant since 1 month ago) in the pond usually hv no chance to grab the pellets since the aggressive always on the look out to find floating pellets around. Hence now i m thinking to separate the timid into an empty quarantine tank (2ton) to let it hv a chance to bulk its current shape which is less bulkier than the other in the pond.

      I wonder why some hobbyist experience floating pellets more than 30 sec coz my kois will finish everytime within 15 sec or less !! Are they not being fed properly or am i feeding corectly already. fyi, current best growing in the pond is 4,5cm per month from 20 to 38 in 4 months. pls give comment. thanks.


      • #4

        What MikeMc said is the best way, and I do just that except I can't feed them an amount in the morning based on last night's amount. I have Koi that eat large quantities of Cuban treefrog eggs. And the frogs decide to Mate in the pond at night based on the weather. If it hasn't rained for a week and then we have a TS late in the day the koi will not be interested in my offering the next morning. If I go out early enough I see the frogs still feeding the koi.
        And lately I have been finding some tattered frogskin in the filter, what's that tell ya?


        • #5

          depending on water temp it's 2-3% of the body weight. As long as your over 72 F go for the 3%....

          the sage advice through out the thread is frequent small amounts
          Dick Benbow


          • #6

            There is quite some controversy and diverging opinions about feeding koi. However there are a few experiements that have been done, the one I think most revealing is the one that Thom Blishop did. The important finding, as I recall (need to find the original post :-( is that excessive feeding brings the blood sugar level up, which in turn can drive to more feeding frenzy, resulting in fat deposits, and fatty liver and kineys (not good).

            Common measures among breeders and experienced koikeepers nowadays is that mature koi should get around 1-2% of weight, young koi 2% of weight, and yearlings up to 4% of weight daily of dry food (more if live or frozen, like shrimps, much higher protein contents for yearlings). This is for water temperatures at least 65°F, lower temps, less food. The koi do better if this amount is spread over 3-4 feedings a day. The optimal koi metabolic temperature is 78°F.

            Some have said that koi who have a "on-demand" feeder will naturally settle to these amounts (after a "training" period of overfeeding).

            I have seen yearlings eating more than 4% of weight during summer without apparent ill effect. I also have seen older koi fed too much getting way out of shape, especially in a small pond.

            Right now in Oregon, the pond temperature is around 65°F in early morning and feed my koi twice a day. As the temperature rises (in the morning) I will increase food. The fact to keep in mind here is that koi take much longer to digest food at lower temperature and therefore feeding intervals should be longer (lest undigested food comes out of the fish to mess up filters and pond).

            For what it's worth.


            • #7

              Maintenance ration: feed 3% koi’s body weight as guide

              Feed less. Feed frequent. Feed on sun rise, and before sunset.
              External Factors: seasonal temperature, water quality and parameters...
              Internal Factors: koi size(jumbo?), koi weight(heavy?), koi health condition ...
              Estimate each of your fish’s length in inches.
              Calculate each koi weight then add up weight of all koi.
              Weight of koi increases logarithmically as length increases.
              Koi can choose to use food consumed in different ways.
              Koi growth are governed by temperature and food quality.
              Maintenance ration: feed about 3% koi’s body weight daily.
              Koi utilize food more efficiently when offered in small amounts in regular intervals (3-10 rounds) rather than in a single large feed.
              Koi’s digestive physiology (without a stomach) handles smaller feeds more effectively.
              Koi growth potential is locked up in its genes.
              We can unlock that potential through feeding a suitable diet.
              For growth focus on quality-quantity feed and their digestibility. For further growth improvements, feed correct quantity for koi to efficiently utilize feed.


              • #8

                Luke brings up a topic that is going to vary among koikeepers, climates, etc., and often is ignored: The extent to which the koi have food other than what the koikeeper gives them. In the northern U.S. I expect there is not as much as in warmer climates. In my old pond algae growth provided all-day grazing between meals. I had not thought it added all that much to the diet, but HenryC had the experience of a tosai being added to his pond at the time he imposed a January fast. It grew considerably in one month just on algae grazing. Within the algae filaments less than an inch long, I have found insect larvae of several types with bloodworms very notable during most of the year. Then, as Luke mentions, there are the frog eggs, tadpoles and the like that happen along from time to time. I've found the shells of garden snails from time to time, sometimes with crushed ends.

                I am not suggesting that such natural foods are sufficient.... just that we may not always recognize what is occuring before our eyes. What works for one koikeeper may not work for another, and the reason may be ignored because it is too common to be noticed.


                • #9

                  Thanks everyone for their opinions/experiences.

                  In northern California and with a big tree covering my small pond, the pond water temp got to 68 only. I feed them twice a day during workdays and more on weekends. It is about 1-2% of their body weight and I did not want to add too much burden on the filter either.



                  • #10

                    Nutrition is important for growth

                    For John:
                    All developing koi need good nutrition. Period.
                    Conformation & body shape are the most important factors.
                    Especially for koi's skeletal structure and bone development.
                    First priority for nutrition for all koi.
                    Second priority for growth of maturing koi.
                    Third, color development for koi of potential.
                    Whatever amount less is good. Amen.
                    Koi can be deprived of food for almost 2weeks. Gee.
                    Balance is the equation. Madison, BK.


                    • #11

                      as to what MikeMc said about climate variations. Not having studied koi ponds per se but ecosystems in general, Northern Koi Keepers should try and become even more intune with food from Nature.
                      As here in our semi-tropical climate we get a more constant flow of "natural food" , while in the North the cycles of food will be more feast or famine....While mayflys may not be a standing population it is an easy example. Southern hatches are less dramatic and appear over a longer period of time. Many land insects will do the same.


                      • #12

                        You guys make me feel like I am mistreating my koi. My only pond with anything resembling a constant feeding regiment is about 20,000 gallons with about 25 fish. My best guess is that there are:
                        3 @ 6 kg
                        5 @ 4 kg
                        8 @ 2 kg
                        9 @ 0.3 kg
                        That's a total biomass of about 57 kg (125 lbs.)

                        They are fed 6 handfuls of feed twice each day. A handful is about 33 grams so they get about 400 grams (<1 lb) of feed per day. That's only 0.7% body weight per day. They also get about 4 liters of fresh seaweed 3-4 times per week. The amount was derived empirically based on the amount the fish seemed to want to eat. I have no idea what the dry weight of the seaweed is but doubt that it accounts for more than 25 grams per day - so I am up to 0.75% per day.

                        They get the first ration in the morning between 7:30 and 9:00. However, they seldom start eating before 9:30. They get the second ration in the afternoon between 3:00 and 5:00 but do not eat a bite until 5:30 - you can almost set your watch by it. I have to use a feeding ring to keep the feed from going down the skimmer while the fish think about it. There is nothing resembling a feeding frenzy. Some will do the grab-and-splash routine, but overall it is always very leisurely. It is usually about 45 minutes from the time the first fish takes the first bite until all the feed is consumed.

                        I feed Nelson's Silver Cup salmon feed - 48% protein and 11-15% fat. Yeah, I know you guys are really gagging now. Every once in a while, I will splurge and buy a bag of cheap koi feed (Nelson's, labeled for the local distributor) - 35% protein and 7% fat.

                        The pond is poorly filtered. The water turnover rate is once every 5-6 hours. There is one drain. It used to be a retrofit bottom drain which never worked and was finally changed to a crude skimmer to catch the leaves. It’s under a large tree and there is a LOT of leaves. Every month or so, I will net out the accumulation of sticks and decaying leaves. This stuff can get pretty thick, but is not generally anaerobic because the fish pick through it on a regular basis and keep it stirred. There is a lot of suspended fines. The ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are below detection on my Hach kits. Oxygen is not saturated, but is high enough to make me comfortable. Water exchange is about 150% per week.

                        There are also thousands of christmas red guppies in the pond and a red-ear slider (turtle) female crawls over from the adjacent mud pond every afternoon at feeding time. The turtle eats a little of the feed. The guppies pick at it until the koi are ready to eat, but they do not make a dent. I am pretty sure the tosai eat a few guppy fry. There is some water hyacinth in the pond, but it’s too shady to grow well and the koi keep the roots pruned back to little nubs. When I scoop the debris off of the bottom, many amphipods, midge larvae, leeches (a small non-parasitic species) and other creepy-crawly things can be found.

                        As horrible as the system sounds, I am very pleased with the condition of the fish. There has not been any sign of disease since the fish were placed in this pond over a year ago. The growth is really good. I put my best tosai here because they grow much faster in this pond than they do in the tosai pond. A couple of the koi have an "imposing" physique. All have a torpedo shape and none have a pot belly. The backs (where fish lose weight first) are full and rounded.

                        My only explanation for being able to get away with such a low feed rate (when expressed as percent body weight) is that (1) the fish density is reasonable, and (2) the wastes are recycled several times and the nutrients keep coming around again as natural koi forage.

                        I will mention that, for food fish, 1-2% body weight per day is considered a high feed rate used only for young, rapidly growing fish. Very small fingerlings may be given up to 15% per day. A maintenance ration for mature fish is generally about 0.5% per day.

                        -steve hopkins


                        • #13

                          Guppies taste like chicken. You don't believe me? ask your least they can tell you guppy fry taste like chicken.


                          • #14

                            I asked, but they are trying to deny everything.


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