how to care for koi fish you need to know

how to care for koi fish

Koi Care Guide

Tips from home to health to food and fun

 

Overview

  • 10 things to know about your koi
  • How do I set up my koi’s aquarium?
  • What do koi fish eat?
  • How do I keep my koi healthy?

10 things to know about your koi

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Size: Koi grow up to 36 inches (91 cm) long
  • Lifespan: They can live for more than 50 years and thrive in a wide range of water temperatures
  • Temperament: They are generally peaceful but may pick on slower fish
  • Origin: They’re a type of carp native to Japan
  • Did You Know: Koi can learn to recognize and take food from their pet parents
  • Koi fish originate from Japan and represent love and friendship in Japanese culture.
  • Most koi fish outlive their owners, having a lifespan of 200+ years.
  • They come in a variety of colors, not just orange. They may appear orange, yellow, white, red and black.
  • Owners who received their koi fish as a gift are believed to have good luck.
  • In Japan, koi fish are often passed down from generation to generation, as a family heirloom.

How do I set up my koi’s aquarium?

  • Koi grow quickly and get very large. Keep mature koi in an outdoor pond of at least 3 feet deep, with at least 50 gallons of water per fish.
  • Young koi can be kept indoors in an aquarium of at least 29 gallons.
  • Put the aquarium in a quiet area out of direct sunlight and drafts.
  • Cover the aquarium with a hood to reduce evaporation and splashing and to keep fish from leaping out.
  • To transfer new koi to the aquarium, float them in the water inside their bag for about 10 minutes so they can acclimate to the new water temperature.
  • If you’re introducing koi to an existing school in an aquarium or pond, quarantine the new fish in a separate body of water for 2 to 4 weeks to be sure they are healthy.
  • On moving day, use a net to transfer the koi so old water doesn’t mingle with new water.
  • Whether they live indoors or outdoors, add no more than 3 new koi at a time.

 

Filtration

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for choosing and setting up the right size filter for your koi habitat.
  • An aquarium filter should be able to process all of the water in the tank 3 to 5 times an hour. For example, the filter in a 20-gallon tank would need to push through at least 60 gallons of water each hour.
  • Add beneficial bacteria supplements to help break down waste in the habitat.
  • PetSmart offers free aquarium and pond water testing. Just bring in a sample of your water, and we can test the quality within minutes.

Shop aquarium filters Shop pond filters

Heat & light

  • Outdoor koi are hardy and will hibernate under ice in winter as long as their pond is deep enough to not freeze completely. (They won’t survive in solid ice.)
  • Your koi’s pond should be partially shaded.
  • Indoor koi prefer water between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Install a light inside an indoor aquarium to illuminate it for 8 to 12 hours a day.

Water temperature

Koi are pretty temperature-resistant— they can even hibernate under ice in winter. Just be sure your pond is at least three feet deep— otherwise, it could freeze solid, and koi aren’t that tough. When they live indoors, koi prefer cool water—between 65 and 75 degrees F (18 to 24 C).

Shop thermometers

How do I keep my koi healthy?

If your outdoor koi don’t seem to be eating in the winter, don’t worry; it’s normal for them to stop eating at temperatures below 40 F.

Be sure to contact a veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Unusual swimming pattern
  • Thinness or decreased appetite
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Inflamed or discolored skin or fins
  • Fins clamped to sides of body
  • Scraping body on rocks (flashing)

PET SAFETY TIPS

  • Fish and aquatic animals can transmit disease to humans. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after interacting with your aquarium. Children, pregnant women, elderly people and people with immune-system problems should take extra care.
  • Keep fish away from food and areas where food is prepared.
  • Never release fish into the wild. They won’t adapt well and can damage natural habitats.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
  • Adults should assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet, its habitat or aquarium water.
  • Do not use soaps or detergents to clean aquarium or décor, since they are toxic to fish.

 

how big do koi fish get

When the water is below 52 degrees, stop feeding your Koi. Most domestic Koi usually grow about 12 to 15 inches long. Japanese Koi usually grow 22 to 26 inches in long. Jumbo sized Koi grow up to 34 to 36 inches long.