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The practice of keeping Nishikigoi, or Brocaded carp, dates back two hundred years and began after farmers in the Niigata prefecture in Japan started to breed Amur carp as a means of getting through a harsh winter.

Soon keeping koi became a popular pastime of Japanese nobility, and having a pond full of these beautiful, friendly fish continues to be seen as a status symbol to this day.

One of the simple joys of keeping koi is the spectacle of seeing the stunning display of reds, whites, and golds emerge from the depths of your pond to gently pluck pellets from the surface of the water at feeding time.

However, picking the right food for your fish can be a daunting task; koi can live for upwards of 35 years and require proper care and attention to remain happy and healthy throughout their long lives, and good nutrition is key to help their scales remain bright and colorful and their fins strong.

But fear not, we have gathered the best koi food on the market to make sure your Nishikigoi thrive for years to come.

Also included below is a buyers guide to help you make sure you can choose the best food for your needs.

Quick List Best Koi Food

  1. TetraPond Koi Vibrance
  2. Dainichi All-Season
  3. Hikari Gold
  4. Blue Ridge Platinum Pro
  5. Saki-Hikari Multi-Season

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Top Pick: TetraPond Koi Vibrance

TetraPond Koi Vibrance 5.18 Pounds, Soft Sticks, Floating Pond Food, Model:16486

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TetraPond Koi Vibrance is specifically formulated using natural ingredients to enhance your koi color, bringing out their distinctive orange and gold scales while also satisfying their nutritional needs.

The soft floating sticks are easy for the koi to eat and digest and provide balanced nutrition, promoting their longevity and overall health.

We also did not experience any cloudiness in the water after feeding the fish with the pellets twice a day for over a month, and the fish absolutely loved it.

The hollow sticks are just the right size, the perfect shape for hungry koi, and contain just the right amount of proteins, vitamins, and fiber to keep your koi healthy and improve the fishes’ metabolic efficiency.

In tests, we found the food really did improve the vibrancy of our koi’s scales too. Within a few weeks of feeding, we found oranges, blacks, and reds were significantly brighter, while golds appeared to almost glisten in the sun.

The only downside is the zip lock-style resealable bags the 1.43lb and 2.42lb the food comes in can split so it’s worth finding a sealable container, or opting for the larger 3.08lb tub instead, to ensure the food remains dry and fresh.

With more than 4,000 five star reviews, TetraPond Koi Vibrance is the most popular koi food on Amazon, and it’s easy to see why; it is great value, well-formulated food, which keeps koi healthy, improves color, doesn’t cloud the water, and most importantly, the fish love it.

Pros

  • Improves scale color – oranges, golds, and blacks look vibrant.
  • No water clouding
  • Floats and the fish love it.

Cons

  • Ziplock bag can split.

 

Second Pick: Dainichi All-Season

Dainichi All Season Koi Fish Food - 11 lbs. (Medium Pellet)

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Dainichi All-Season is an excellent year-round food for your koi.

A combination of marine and vegetable proteins promotes rapid growth, quick and easy digestion, and temperatures.

The balanced, all-season formula contains shrimp meal, and spirulina helps maintain coloration and boost the vibrancy of reds, oranges, and golds in all koi varieties.

All-Season can be mixed with other koi food varieties but is especially beneficial during the winter months when the weather is cooler, and the koi’s metabolism is slower.

A wide profile of vitamins, including A, B, C, and E, boost the koi’s immune system and improve the luster and shine of its coat.

The food also includes calcium montmorillonite clay, a common ingredient used by Japanese koi keepers, which stimulates the natural digestion of mineral particles within the fish and neutralizes metabolic toxins is a rare ingredient within commercial foods. Hence, it’s great to see it included. This lowers waste production by the koi, reducing dissolved organic levels in the pond, eliminating algal blooms, helping the water remain crystal clear.

Raw garlic is also included to help fight internal parasites.

The 5.5mm pellets float on the surface and are a little harder than other food, but the koi have no issues swallowing them.

With a bumper helping of vegetable and aquatic protein, a wide range of vitamins, and the addition of clay and garlic, make this a superb food for growing koi.

Pros

  • Clay improves koi digestion
  • A wide array of vitamins boost koi immune system
  • Can be used all year round

Cons

  • Pellets are a little harder than other food.

 

Third Pick: Hikari Gold

Hikari Usa Inc 02370 Gold 4.4 Lb, Medium

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This premium food from Hikari is formulated to bring out the colours of your koi.

Manufactured in Japan, Hikari Gold contains Spirulina and Krill, which boost the level of carotenoids in your koi’s skin which helps to make the oranges, reds, golds, and blacks in your koi scales vivid, deep and vibrant throughout the active season, and brings out the color in new spawn as well.

Combining vitamins and minerals also boosted our koi’s growth after use for a couple of months.

As this food has a relatively low protein content, it is recommended to use it during the fall and winter before your koi goes into hibernation or where the pond’s temperature remains low.

The food is also very buoyant and remains on the water’s surface, so any excess can be scooped out to avoid overfeeding. However, it rarely has a chance to sink as even fussy koi gobble it up.

It is worth noting, though, that the ash content of the food is quite high, and this can result in a lot of unnecessary phosphorous waste in your pond, which can contribute to the growth of algae, which not only reduces the amount of oxygen in the water but also makes it cloudy.

Pros

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  • Improves the depth and vibrancy of koi’s color
  • Boosts koi growth
  • Even fussy fish love it

Cons

  • Only for use in fall and winter

 

Fourth Pick: Blue Ridge Platinum Pro

Blue Ridge Fish Food Pellets [4.5lb], Koi and Goldfish Platinum Professional Formula, Floating 3/16" Pellet, Balanced Diet

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This professional grade koi food promises to provide your koi with exceptional growth, nutrition, and colouration.

Platinum Pro is a fish meal based food which contains 41 percent protein, a very high level for koi food, and we started to see results in a small amount of time, with our small five-inch koi almost doubling in size within a couple of months.

Spirulina and canthaxanthin are also included to enhance the color of koi, making their reds, oranges, and golds in their coat brighter in as little as a week after using the food.

The pellets also contain primilac, a probiotic stimulant to help protect your koi from disease and keep them healthy.

These floating pellets are suitable for use all year round, soften quickly for easy digestion by koi, and give them the five minutes recommended by koi breeders to eat them, not that they ever lasted that long as the koi gobbled them up long before that.

Their buoyancy allows for easy clean up of any leftover food, so they do not contaminate the pond water. However, due to their small size, the pellets may not be suitable for larger fish.

The pellets also come in a 4.5-pound pest-proof plastic jar or 14-pound resealable plastic bucket, ensuring the food remains fresh.

With a high amount of protein and proven color enhancers, Blue Ridge Platinum Pro is a great value all-purpose food that keeps your koi happy and healthy while improving the luster of their coat and helping them grow big and strong.

Pros

  • A high amount of protein promotes growth
  • Improves color of koi in just a week
  • Included Probiotic helps protect koi from disease.

Cons

  • Small pellets may not be suitable for larger fish.

 

Final Pick: Saki-Hikari Multi Season

Hikari 042215 Multi-Season Diet Floating Pellet, One Size

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Saki-Hikari Multi Season is a well balanced, affordable food, with a high protein food which can be used all year round.

These medium-sized floating pellets soften fairly quickly but still hold their shape and are suitable for juvenile and adult koi.

They also contain high-quality fish meals and wheat germ as its main protein sources, making up 37 percent of each pellet.

With a crude fat percentage of only five percent, it is a good choice as a leaner food for adult koi. However, if you are trying to stimulate growth in younger koi, you may want to use a higher fat content food.

The pellets contain a good range of vitamins including vitamin A, C, D, and E, helping your koi maintain a healthy digestive and immune system, as well as better coloration, thanks in part to the rich vitamin profile and Spirulina, which is a natural color enhancer made from a form of algae.

The only drawback to this food is the high ash and filler content. However, this is mixed with other high-quality ingredients, so it is far from a deal-breaker.

Saki-Hikari is a balanced food suitable for old and young koi alike; However, a food with a higher fat content may be more suitable for smaller fish; it is still a great choice for pond owners on a budget to its quality protein sources and a decent array of vitamins.

Pros

  • Good quality protein
  • Wide vitamin profile
  • Improves coloration

Cons

  • Low fat and high ash content

 

Best Koi Food Buyers Guide

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Providing your koi with the best possible diet is essential to keep them happy and healthy. It is important to select a high-quality koi food with the essential ingredients koi need as a food lacking nutrients can lead to various problems as they mature.

By choosing food with balanced, high-quality ingredients, you can ensure your koi will be stronger and happier.

What are the benefits of using higher quality food?

Better growth: Koi need protein and fat to grow and stay strong. Young koi will not grow to a decent size without a goods source of both. At the same time, adult koi suffer if their diet is lacking in protein. The Protein in the food should come from aquatic sources, such as fish or shrimp meal to help your koi reach its full potential.

Stronger Color and Pattern: Though the strongest factor in koi coloration and pattern is genetics, food can also play a part. A malnourished koi’s skin will appear dull compared to a healthy fish. To help counter this, some koi foods also include color enhancing ingredients. These are not essential to the fishes’ diet but can help to make your koi’s coloration look brighter in a short amount of time.

Stronger Immune System: Ornamental koi have a weaker immune system compared to their wild cousins; therefore, it’s important to choose a food with high-quality ingredients and vitamins to help boost their immune system and digestion.

 Flakes, pellets, or sticks?

Koi food comes as either pellets, flakes, or sticks. Although koi do have teeth, they often swallow their food whole – so you need to make sure it is a size they can eat.

Which type you use is generally down to your own preference; however, flakes are best used if you have young or small koi as they are easier for them to swallow. In contrast, larger koi should be fed either pellets or sticks. It is worth noting that pellets are usually easier for the fish to swallow, stay on the surface longer, and break apart less than sticks.

You want a food that floats easily and is not too dense but must be soft enough for them to swallow. If the food breaks apart too quickly, it can contribute to waste building up in the water.

Ultimately, the most important factor when picking a food is to ensure it is made with high-quality ingredients,

What ingredients does high-quality koi food have?

Below is a list of ingredients found in most koi food. We’ve explained each of the important ones and provided information on what to expect in the best koi food brands, so you don’t accidentally buy a low-quality food.

Protein sources: Koi are omnivores and need a wide variety of protein sources for optimal health. When purchasing food, you ideally want food, which consists mainly of fish, shrimp, anchovy, or herring meal. When looking at the ingredients, the first and second ingredient on the label must come from these sources. Being the first ingredient indicates aquatic protein.

Animal proteins are chock full of amino acids which koi need to grow, while plant matter, such as wheat germ, is rich in healthy fats.

Plant proteins are much cheaper for manufacturers to add than animal-based protein, and as such, it is normal for there to be both fish protein and plant protein present. For example, If a food contains shrimp meal as the first ingredient and wheat germ as the second, this is not necessarily a low-quality food.

It would help if you avoided food with no animal protein as your koi will not be getting the best protein source that replicates their diet in the wild.

The percentage of protein is also important as it can raise the food price or be too low for proper growth. Ideally, you want a food that is 30-40 percent protein for the best possible diet.

Fat: If your koi are small and still growing, you should select food with a higher fat content ideally from 3-12 percent, while for adult koi, a fat content of 3-6 percent will suffice. Using a higher fat content food can help koi pack on extra weight before going into hibernation in the run-up to winter. While during the warmer months, a lower fat content food will keep your carp trim.

Vitamins, Minerals, & Immune Boosters: Having a wide range of vitamins in a koi’s diet will promote digestion, eyesight, healthy skin, and growth. One of the most important vitamins for koi is Vitamin C; this helps koi fight infections and aids in developing cartilage and collagen and is the best way to boost your fish’s immune system. While vitamins A, B, and K contribute to healthy scales, eyesight, metabolism, blood regulation, and tissue development.

If no vitamins are being shown on the product label, do not buy it, this is a sure sign the food is made with extremely low-quality ingredients.

Some koi food includes immune system boosters. Common immune boosters include Bee Propolis, Lactoferrin, and Optimum, Aquagen. Though not as essential as proteins, fats, vitamins, and added immune booster is always welcome.

Color Enhancers: Though not essential to health. Color enhancers are often added to help boost the vibrancy of your koi’s skin. These are either synthetic or natural. Synthetic enhancers are cheaper and more potent, while natural enhancers are often less potent and more expensive.

The most common natural enhancers are spirulina and shrimp or krill oil. Shrimp and krill oils are almost as good as synthetic enhancers but do raise the food price. While Spirulina is included in most high-quality food in conjunction with common synthetic enhancers such as Astaxanthin and Canthaxanthin.

Crude Ash: There is some ash content in all food, but ideally, you want to choose a food with the lowest ash content possible. Though the koi will absorb some of the ash’s mineral content, most of it will pass through the fish and build up in the pond making the water cloudy.