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How can I train my koi fish to hand feed?
Ask Our Pond Experts
Ask Our Pond Experts

How can I train my koi fish to hand feed?

Asked By: Donna of Chesterfield, MO

A: Talk about a cool party trick! Feeding fish by hand is a fun way to show off how well-trained your fish are. Plus, it provides an opportunity to bond with your finned friends.

Teaching your fish how to hand feed starts with understanding their temperament. Do your fish swim up and greet you when you visit the pond? Do they instead scatter when your shadow falls on the water?

Friendly fish are easier to train. They already recognize you as the kind human who brings them tasty food every day. Skittish fish can be more of a challenge. They might be newbies that don't recognize you yet or are spooked by predators frequently visiting the pond.

If you've ruled out the possibility of predators and installed predator-control measures, follow these steps to help teach your koi to eat from the palm of your hand:

  1. Set a Feeding Routine: Fish are creatures of habit. They're more likely to respond to something that happens the same way almost every day. To set a mealtime routine, regularly visit your pond at the same location and time of day. They'll get to know your patterns and learn to recognize you—and feeding time.
  2. Keep Them Interested: Throwing a handful of fish food into the water and walking away teaches your fish the snatch-and-run feeding style. Instead, toss them a few pellets at a time and wait for the fish to eat them before offering more. Even the shy koi will rush to get in on the feeding frenzy! This toss-and-wait style reminds them that exciting things happen when you are hanging out.
  3. Make Them Approach You: Once your fish are used to your feeding routine, they will swim to the pond's edge to greet you. Hold a few pellets loosely in your hand at the water's surface without making any sudden or quick movements. It takes only one brave fish to let the others know it’s safe to approach. Before you know it, even the shy koi will race to your hand to be fed!

Once you train koi fish to hand feed, you might be tempted to keep offering them food. Prevent overfeeding them by measuring a predetermined amount of food, and stop when it's all gone. If you can't help yourself, or you're sharing this cool new party trick with your friends, be sure to have some natural bacteria like Nature's Defense on hand to help clean up any leftovers.

More Koi Fish Feeding Advice

Providing nutritious food at regular mealtimes is essential for the health and well-being of your koi fish. Do you have questions about which fish food is the best choice? Contact our pond experts at 866-766-3435 for friendly advice.

Read more about feeding your pond fish by checking out the following articles:

Choosing Fish Food
Can Koi Eat Goldfish Food?
Fish Feeding Tips
Feeding Pond Fish