Understanding Koi Food Ingredients

Read so far

Understanding Koi Food Ingredients

September 19, 2016 - 15:19

We have posted many article in this blog about Koi Food, but this one helps you understand the ingredients...  Read more by clicking on the title or picture.

We die if we do not eat. We need to eat to maintain our lives. Then, can we eat anything to stay alive? As "we are what we eat" says, what we eat have a huge impact on our health and lives. We eat healthy, we live healthy. We eat junk, we live sick. So eating itself is not enough. What to eat is the key. The same apply to your Koi.

Do you know what your Koi eat? Of course you do. You are the one who are feeding your Koi. But do you really know what you ARE feeding your Koi?  You pick a bag of Koi food at your local Koi shop and feed your Koi. You know how fancy the package look, but you may have little idea on exactly what's in it.

Feeding does not only give us a pleasure but also keep your Koi alive. If they eat healthy, they live healthy. In Koi hobby, staying healthy directly means staying beautiful. The food is what make your Koi healthier (skin is lustrous), bigger (body is more pronouncing) and more beautiful (body is more colorful). Koi food is something more important than you think.

How do you pick the right Koi food?

How do you usually decide which Koi food to buy? Do you pick the one with fancy package? Do you look at the Guaranteed Analysis like Protein level? Do you check the list of ingredients?

Honestly, you can tell little from the fancy package and the label. You can not rely on the figures in the analysis. For example, high protein does not simply mean fast and good growth. When you analyze bones, you can get about 50% of protein. So if we add bones to Koi foods, we can easily increase protein levels. But can Koi grow big and strong by consuming bone powders? Koi do not. The protein level is important, but the source of protein is more important. Some of the cheap foods contains feathers as an ingredient for the same reason. It bumps up the protein levels.

List of ingredients is helpful, but what is more important is the quality of ingredients. After all, quality of ingredients determine quality of food. Let's examine some major ingredients of Koi foods.

"It is not the list of ingredients but the quality of each ingredients that determine the quality of Koi food."

Example of "List of Ingredients" and " Guaranteed Analysis"

Let's understand the major Ingredients of Koi foods.

Fish meal
Fish meal is the major ingredients of Koi food. You see them as "Fish meal" "white fish meal" or "brown fish meal." White fish meal is from the fish with white flesh. Because Koi are fish with white flesh, white fish meal is considered more ideal for Koi as well. The quality of fish meals is determined by the protein level and the histamine level. The higher protein level and the lower histamine level is the key factors for the best growth of your Koi.

Providing high quality and right protein is very critical to build a good body and growth. Protein builds the muscle. When right protein lacks, muscles gets weak. Base metabolism decreases.

Consuming high level of histamine causes histamine poisoning, a kind of food poisoning. This is basically caused by the freshness of the ingredients. Low histamine proves fresh ingredients and high histamine means old and poisonous ingredients. So, ethoxyquin, an antioxidant agent, is added to food in order to control histamine. When fish meal is not fresh and has high histamine level, more ethoxyquin need to be added. According to the report of Japan's Food Safety Commission 2013, Ethoxyquin negatively affects the growth of carp. So when fish meal is fresh, there is low histamine level and less ethoxyquin is needed. The fresh fish meal is critical for Koi growth.

Wheat flour
Weat flour is necessary to form pellets. It is also used as energy source.

Defatted Soybean Meal
It is a rich Plant Protein source

Wheat germ meal
Although it is a plant, wheat germ protein (25%) is efficiently consumed by Koi. Dr. Uematsu discovered the fact over 40 years ago. Since then, wheat germ is an indispensable and important ingredient for high quality Koi food. Dr. Uematsu is a long-time friend of my father and designed the recipe of my father's food, Kodama Koi Food.

Wheat consists of bran (used for cereals), endosperm (wheat flour) and germ. Germ is only 2% of the entire wheat. Wheat germ is a great source of vitamin E and B. That is why its extract oil has been used for human's consumption such as cosmetics and health supplements. So wheat germ oil is extracted for human, then the leftover defatted wheat germ is used for Koi food. If the raw wheat germ is used for Koi food, it will be an amazing source of fat, vitamin, minerals, fibers and protein. Rich Vitamin E and B are especially beneficial. They keep Koi's blood youthful and have anti-aging effect. This results in white skin in Koi. I remember Dr. Uematsu emphasized to use this rare ingredient, raw/fresh wheat germ for Kodama Koi Food.


Spirulina is a floating micro algae. It is widely known and used as a nutritional supplement of a
source of protein, vitamins, minerals and more. In aquaculture, spirulina is recognized to improve immunity and flesh quality. In Koi, due to high carotenoids in it, it is considered as the color enhancing ingredient for Koi food. The carotenoids quality depends on concentrations. A Koi food package may show % of spirulina, but it does not really mean anything unless you know concentration level of spirulina.

Dry Brewers Yeast
Brewers Yeast is very nutritious. It contains amino acids and vitamins in good balance.

Now What? We still do not know how to tell the quality of my Koi food.

We went through some major ingredients of Koi food. Now you understand the label does not really tell you if the food is good or not for your Koi. After all, what is important is the quality of ingredients and if the manufacturer is using the right quality ingredients or not. While we can do little, there are 4 things you can check.

1) Let's smell
Good food usually smells good.

2) Let's Tastes
Good food tastes good. We at Kodama Koi Farm actually eat the food every time we get a new butch of Koi food from Japan to check the freshness and the quality. Bad food usually leaves bitter and rough tastes on your tongue.

3) Let's see results at famous Koi farms
Since it is very hard even for experienced hobbyists to tell the quality of Koi food, one of the best ways is to use the food that famous farms use. If the farms are producing and growing beautiful Koi, the food must be good. If the farms are not, you need to think about it.

4) Let's think of $$
Please avoid cheap food. Cheap food means cheap and/or old ingredients. Cheap ingredients causes more wastes because they are not digested and absorbed. More wastes means harder burden on your filter and more work on your part. So in reality, cheap food is not really cheap. If you want to keep your Koi just alive regardless of the health and if you want to work hard to maintain your pond, cheap food is the best choice for you.

Easiest Way?   Find a real Koi dealer you can trust.

We understand which Koi food to feed is critical. The more experienced you are, the more you understand the impact that the Koi food can give to your Koi. I have personally experienced many times how much difference the Koi food can make. It could turn a very expensive and high quality Koi to a junk. It could turn a so-so Koi to a surprisingly beautiful Koi. So the choice of Koi food is very important for you as a hobbyist. Because we have no way to find what kind of ingredients they are using, you can only trust manufacturers uses the right ingredients. Finding a trustworthy manufacturer may be a shortest way to find a right Koi food for your Koi.

This article kindly provided by Kodama Koi Farm.  https://www.kodamakoifarm.com/

From their site, you might also want to read:

Koi Food - https://www.kodamakoigarden.com/koi-food-guide/
Feed Koi - https://www.kodamakoigarden.com/feed-koi-fish-like-japanese/


Blog Catagories: 

!If you're not havin' FUN, you're not doin' it right