How Long Can Koi Fish Go Without Food

How Long Can Koi Fish Go Without Food

Koi fish are surprisingly well adapted to survival, considering they were bred as decorative fish. More importantly, these hardy and brilliantly colored fish can thrive even when food is temporarily in short supply.

In nature, they feed themselves, but if your koi at home miss a meal, they’ll be just fine. How long can koi fish go without food?

In the summer, a koi fish can go without food for two weeks before it significantly impacts their health. They will get small amounts of nutrition from bugs and algae in the water. During the winter, when the water is below 52 degrees, they can go much longer eating nothing at all as they go into torpor or hibernation.

How Long Can Koi Fish Live Without Food

Like all living things, koi fish need food to survive, but they can also go longer than you might expect without a meal. In general, your koi can last up to two weeks without eating anything.

However, their maturity, fat stores, and environment will all impact the exact amount of time they have before their health is significantly affected by starvation.

If your koi stops eating normally, you should be concerned. Loss of appetite, along with weakness, listlessness, erratic swimming, and loss of buoyancy control, are all symptoms of a sick fish.

Just like other pets, koi fish may need to see a vet.

How Many Days Can Koi Fish Go Without Food

Your koi fish may survive up to fourteen days without food. However, as a responsible (not abusive) pet owner, you should be feeding it at least once daily.

The exact quantity of food depends on the maturity and species, but it’s important to give them enough without going too far overboard. Overfeeding will not help your fish.

According to Hartz, “Sometimes a fish may become fat or swollen as a result of his diet. Often, overfeeding or the wrong types of food can cause constipation and other digestive issues. You can try to feed your fish less or healthier types of food… Overfeeding can also have more serious consequences than digestive ones, though. More food means more waste, and overfeeding increases levels of ammonia and decreases levels of oxygen in the water.”

How Many Hours Can Koi Fish Go Without Food

An average, healthy koi shouldn’t go without food for more than a day. Many professionals recommend feeding koi multiple times throughout the day.

Aim to give your fish roughly one to four percent of its body weight in food per day, spread out over one to four different feeding sessions.

Fortunately, koi are not picky eaters. These beautiful fish will eat store bought fish food, algae from their pond, bugs, and other things, including some human foods.

It is also vital to understand that younger, less mature fish will eat more than their elders in general.

How Long Can Koi Fish Go Without Food In Winter

Koi fish go into a state of torpor when the water gets cold. Your pet’s metabolism will slow, and other physiological changes will take place to help it survive the winter season.

Since they don’t eat in this hibernation state, it would be best not to feed koi when the water drops below 52°F (about 11°C).

Koi in torpor do not move. They are conserving energy and won’t ‘wake up’ even if it is a sunny day, nor will they eat until the weather changes.

Koi can go months without a meal if they’re hibernating. Because of this, you must keep koi in a pond that’s deep enough for them to spend their torpor in deeper water that won’t freeze solid.

It’s A Fish Thing says, “… it is a good idea to add a float or use some other method to ensure an air hole remains in the pond surface (when it freezes) because this can prevent the build-up of noxious fumes while allowing you to access and test the water.”

How Long Can Koi Go Without Food In Summer

In summer, koi need to eat daily, though they can survive a couple of weeks without food.

Since they will munch on any algae that form and snatch up bugs that land on the surface of their home to supplement, your fish may not be completely starving, but you should still feed them healthy amounts of food every day.

Additionally, in summer Koi have another pressing need. Warm water and sunshine are great, but they can also focus like lenses.

Koi need a deep pond to avoid freezing in winter, but in summer, they need that depth for shade to avoid burning in the sun.

How Long Can Koi Carp Go Without Food

All koi are carp, but that doesn’t mean all carp are koi. That means a ‘koi carp’ is just a longer way of saying koi, and they have the same dietary needs.

So-called koi carp can go about two weeks without a meal, but you should feed them one to four times daily regardless of what you call them.

Just as humans bred over two hundred species of dogs by selecting for traits they liked in wolves, we’ve created around a hundred and twenty species of colorful koi from the rather drab, but tasty carp.

The selection process has lengthened and streamlined the koi body. It has also changed their fins, scale size, and, most obviously, the colors. Still, at heart, they are beautiful, genetically curated carp relatives.

Helpful Tips To Know About How Long Koi Fish Can Go Without Food

Your pet koi can make it about half a month without food, but it’s critical to plan for their care better. Happy koi eat one to four meals a day and can scarf down various foods, including insects and algae.

Here are some helpful tips to know about how long koi fish can go without food.

  • In nature, the carp that koi are bred from are always dull colors to blend in. This helps them avoid predators and find food. However, for their decorative cousins, being pretty and very brightly colored often means a more posh life.
  • It’s vital to understand what to feed your koi and how often because you will probably be feeding it for the rest of your life. These often misunderstood fish can live for decades and reach surprising sizes. In fact, some koi are passed down as part of family inheritances.
  • If the pond develops a sudden overgrowth of algae, your fish probably isn’t eating their food. Scale it back a little, and make sure you clean out the pond. Unfortunately, if this doesn’t work or your fish has any other unusual behavior, you should talk to a vet and ensure your fish is healthy.

Final Thoughts

Koi are beautiful, colorful, and highly sought-after pets. However, they share the rugged survival skills of their carp ancestors.

Not only can koi eat many different foods, but they can also go for weeks without if times are hard and hibernate for months without a bite to eat.

At the same time, an overfed carp may eat itself sick, so a balanced diet is vital for raising healthy carp.

Ted Smith

My name is Ted Smith and I’m the creator of I have a passion for educating people about animals and wildlife. I have been working with the National Wildlife Federation for the past 10 years and I became a wildlife blogger to help people become excited about animals and encouraged to care for these wonderful creatures.

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