How to feed Koi from your hands

We have gathered these helpful tips from Koi specialists, we hope they help you create a fun relationship with your fish, one that brings happiness to both your and your fishy friends.

It’s important to note that every koi is different,  some may never want to eat out of your hand. Either way, your consistent attention to their comfort will increase their health and happiness.

The key to training Koi to feed from your hand is consistency in time and location of the feeding.

This serves a dual purpose, first you will earn their trust. By nature, they are suspicious of predators who approach from a different location at a different time. When you’re consistent with feeding time and location the fish will begin to identify that it’s safe because it’s you.

First things first though, you will need to train them to swim up and then train them to feed from your hand next.

But how do I get my Koi fish to swim up to me AND eat from my hands?

You will need patience, consistency, and some great food!

If you want to pet and feed your Koi, but they always hide from you, than you will need to train your Koi to see you as a caretaker instead of a predator. This will allow you to get up close and personal with your pet friends.

To train Koi to swim to you upon sight, cut off feeding for 5 days!

Pick a spot at the pond you are comfortable with and on day 6, throw small amounts of food in one spot nearest to you. You can stand or sit. Wait until the Koi venture to the food. If they don’t come to take the food after 10 minutes of coming out, you are done for the day. They saw you, believe me.

Repeat the process at the same spot daily with only small amounts of food. And not enough food to feed all the Koi. In just a few days, you will have your Koi trained to see your face and go to that particular feeding spot.

To train Koi to eat from your hands, cut off feeding again and in next visit hold the food in hand under the water.

The Koi will be attracted to the smell in your hand and come near.

After a few days, they will begin to fight your hand to knock out the food, at that point, pinch food in your fingers or palm for the Koi to take.

Do this a few times in a row to develop consistency and soon the koi will feel comfortable eating out of your hand.

You should also feed from a deep area as this allows your Koi to approach vertically since they don’t like shallow water.

There is usually a leader – if you train him, the rest will follow. Koi have routines, that when you are consistent, will feel more comfortable approaching you.

What’s the Best Food for Hand Feeding Koi?

Delicious and nutritious food will keep your koi fish happy. A secondary purpose of having delicious food is to entice your Koi with the smell of food. Using koi treats will allow you to better reward them during the training.

So what makes food good and delicious? This is a good question, since “what type of food to buy” is a common question for many koi pond owners. We assure you that the higher end koi food is generally worth every penny since your koi are what they eat. Check out our PondMAX Premium Koi Fish food online and at your local PondMAX Dealer.

What are the safety precautions before interacting with my koi?

This is very important – before putting your hands in the pond, be sure to scrub off like a surgeon. You definitely don’t want any suntan lotion, bug spray, cologne, lotion, or anything other than your natural skin oils to interact with the Koi or pond water as it could make your fish sick.

Can I hurt my Koi by touching their scales?

You may have heard that touching fish removes the important slime coat which is your fish’s defense against bacteria. While it’s important not to remove the slime coat from your fish, which is equivalent to our getting a scrape, you won’t remove the slime coat simply from feeding them from your hand. You should still be careful and learn techniques to pick up your koi before you try it out.

Do Koi have teeth? Can they bite me?

Koi do have teeth, but they are too far back in their mouths to be felt by your hand. If their mouths close over your hand, it will feel like a strong grasp, but don’t worry about losing a finger. They are harmless!

At the end of the day it’s simple. Healthy water = Happy fish and a happy you!


Subscribe for Updates

Stay up to date with how Aquatec is pushing the limits of creativity and aesthetics, designing ponds and water gardens to satisfy your every whim!