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Koi Fish Care: Tank, Water and Food Requirements

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In my opinion, koi fish are one of the most interesting species of fish.

They are a hardy species that can live 25 to 35 years, so koi owners must commit to caring for their fish long term.

With time, koi fish will reveal their friendly personality, making them loyal, long-time pets.

Whether you’re planning to soon own a koi fish or are just interested in them, I’ve put together this ultimate guide on koi fish care to ensure you raise a happy and healthy koi.

Are Koi Fish Easy to Care For?

Koi fish are fairly easy to care for.

These fish do well caring for themselves, but the two most important things needed to care for them are a clean environment and nourishing food.

How Long Do Koi Fish Live?

A koi fish’s lifespan ultimately depends on its environment and genetic makeup.

In general, these fish have a long lifespan, with an average life expectancy of 25 to 35 years.

According to Oldest, the oldest koi ever recorded was Hanako, who lived 226 years.

​​What Size Tank Does a Koi Fish Need?

Since koi are rather large fish, one fish requires a 250 to 500-gallon, 3-foot deep tank to thrive.

Young koi fish can live and grow in a 150-gallon tank, but since they grow so quickly, they’ll require a larger home in no time.

What Do Koi Fish Need in Their Tank?

Koi fish need a filtration device, a heater, and a light.

According to PetSmart, the filtration device should filter the water three to five times an hour.

For temperature, indoor koi fish need their tank water at a consistent 65 to 75 Fahrenheit and eight to 12 hours of light.

Do Koi Fish Need a Filter?

Yes, Koi fish need a filter.

Installing the correct size filter is extremely important since the filter should process the tank’s water multiple times an hour.  

Do Koi Fish Need an Air Pump?

No, koi fish don’t need an air pump, but they do need oxygen to live.

Essentially, koi fish need oxygenated water at all times, but that doesn’t necessarily necessitate an air pump.

For example, a pond with free-falling water will naturally provide the fish with oxygen.

Do Koi Fish Need a Heater?

Koi fish are extremely hardy, as they can survive outdoors in a pond with freezing winter temperatures, so they do not need a heater.

However, to ensure your koi fish remain happy, they need a heater set at a consistent temperature, which will help them live without suffering.

Do Koi Fish Need a Light?

Yes, koi fish need light.

The light can come from a natural source or an artificial light.

Not only do koi need sunlight, but they thrive and benefit from it.

Therefore, an adequate source of light will make your koi fish comfortable and happy.

Do Koi Fish Need Live Plants?

Koi fish do not need live plants, but including a variety of plants in a koi’s habitat will enhance its quality of life.

For smaller ponds, koi fish need foliage to protect them from the sunlight and to keep their water from overheating in the summer.

Can Koi Fish Live in Tap Water?

Koi fish cannot live in tap water because the chemicals, chloramine, and chlorine are harmful to them.

When chlorine exists in koi fish’s environment, it causes inflammation to their gills and increases their chances of disease and death.

Because of this, koi owners must purify the water to avoid any harm to the fish.

How Long Should Water Sit Before Adding Koi Fish?

The appropriate amount of time to let water sit before adding koi fish is about 48 hours.

Allowing tap water to sit for 48 hours will ensure the proper removal of the toxic chemicals in tap water.

What Temperature Should a Koi Fish Tank Be?

The temperature best suited for indoor koi fish is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Koi fish owners should have a tank light and heater to ensure their fish’s water remains consistent.

Adding a thermometer to the tank can also help monitor the tank’s temperature.

How Often Do You Change Koi Fish Water?

Koi fish need a 10% to 20% water change each week, especially for smaller ponds under 5,000 gallons.

In addition, consistent water maintenance helps to remove built-up contaminants that the filter does not.

What Do Koi Fish Eat?

Koi fish eat meat and plants, like algae, insects, and worms.

Specific foods that koi fish love are lettuce and shrimp, especially if they are still alive.

Aside from these foods, pet stores sell koi-specific food pellets.

How Much Do You Feed a Koi Fish?

When it comes to store-bought food pellets, it’s best to follow the recommended serving size and feeding frequency written on the package.

Ultimately, the amount of food a koi needs depends on its size.

You should feed your koi fish around one to four percent of their body weight.

How Often Do You Feed a Koi Fish?

In general, indoor koi fish with a tank temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you should feed your koi fish two to four times a day.

On the other hand, for outdoor pond koi, their feeding schedule changes depending on the season.

For example, you can feed your koi two to four times a week in the winter since these fish hibernate by slowing their metabolic rate.

Can a Koi Fish Live Alone?

Yes, koi can live alone.

The number of koi fish one should have ultimately depends on the size of the tank or pond.

In general, however, koi are social and docile fish, able to live peacefully with other aquatic organisms.

Can a Koi Fish Live With Other Koi Fish?

Koi fish are friendly, non-territorial fish, allowing them to live peacefully with other fish.

However, they are omnivores, so be wary and do research when adding other smaller aquatic organisms to your koi’s habitat.  

How Many Koi Fish Can You Keep Together?

The number of koi fish you can keep together depends on the size of the tank or pond housing these fish.

Remember, one koi fish needs around 250 to 500 gallons to thrive.

Can a Koi Fish Live With Other Types of Fish?

Yes, koi fish can live with other types of fish.

Here are aquatic organisms that can peacefully coexist with koi fish.

  • Goldfish: Large goldfish can live with outdoor, pond-living koi fish. Goldfish should be roughly the same size as the koi. It’s important to note that goldfish and koi can and will mate when placed together.
  • Golden Shiners: Golden shiners are smaller cyprinids that can live with koi fish. These fish will multiply quickly and can help reduce timidity and aggression in an aquatic habitat.
  • Sturgeon: Sterlet sturgeons are able to live with koi. Sturgeons feed at the bottom, so koi owners should ensure food makes its way to the bottom, as they cannot eat like koi fish.

How To Feed a Koi Fish

Feeding a koi fish is simple.

All you do is drop food into the water.

Ensure you’re not overfeeding your koi by allowing five minutes to pass during feeding time.

After five minutes, if there is too much food left, reduce the amount of food.

How To Clean a Koi Fish Tank

A koi’s tank needs maintenance every two to four weeks.

To clean a koi fish tank, owners need to siphon out ⅓ of the tank’s water, replace it with treated water, remove floating debris, and lightly rinse the tank filter.

How Can I Play With My Koi Fish?

Through consistent and predictable interaction, koi fish will begin to know their owner and become more responsive and trusting.

Building a relationship with your koi fish will allow you to pet them and get to know their personality.

Can a Koi Fish See Me?

Yes, koi fish can see you.

After building a trusting, safe relationship with your koi, you may see them track you if you are around their tank or pond.

Does a Koi Fish Recognize Me?

Over time, koi fish will recognize their owners.

First, koi start timid but become friendlier and more personable as they grow.

In fact, with time, koi will recognize your voice and footprints.  

How Do You Know if a Koi Fish Is Happy?

Koi fish are sociable creatures, so if they’re happy, it will be evident.

Happy koi fish have glossy scales, colorful bodies, and obvious movements, and they’ll interact with others.

Moreover, a happy koi will acknowledge your presence when you walk up to their habitat.

What Does a Stressed Koi Fish Look Like?

Stressed koi fish appear dull, scared, and may refuse to eat.

If you notice changes in behavior or appearance with your koi, something is disrupting their way of life.

How Do I Know if My Koi Fish Is Healthy?

With proper maintenance, room to roam, and food, you’ll likely have a healthy koi.

However, as mentioned above, swimming patterns or appearance changes may indicate something is wrong.

For example, if a koi does not show engagement during feeding time, it could indicate a bacterial infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

After that thorough explanation of koi fish care, you may still have some questions.

Here are some common questions about koi fish that may answer your questions.

Do koi fish like to be pet?

As you develop a relationship with your koi through consistent and predictable actions, they’ll become less timid and more attentive to your presence.

With time, they’ll begin to show their personality and may even let you pet them.

Can you keep koi fish indoors?

Yes, you can keep your koi fish indoors, but they prefer to be outdoors. When a pond isn’t possible, koi can live a good life in a large aquarium tank.

With proper care of your koi, they can live 25 to 35 years in a tank.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, koi fish care in a nutshell!

While it may seem a little complicated at first, with some patience and practice, you’ll have it down pat in no time.

Koi fish are extremely friendly, non-territorial fish.

And with the proper care and interaction outlined in this guide, they may let you give them a little pet on their head.

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