Feeding Your Koi Carp By Hand

Koi carp are not just beautiful and graceful fish, but they are also sociable creatures! If you have ever got close to a koi pond than you will probably have noticed that koi fish appear to be curious about humans - they only swim away when you touch the pond surface, as that is a natural survival instinct. However, their inquisitive and friendly nature has led to many koi being trained to feed right out of their owners’ hands. This is great news for pondkeepers because now a pond is not only a tranquil and relaxing garden feature to simply observe, but an interactive experience with a pet.

The key principles to remember when attempting to train a koi carp to hand-feed are understanding and patience. Please note that with some koi fish, no matter how much you try, they will never take food from a person’s hand. Don’t let this discourage you from trying though! Keep reading for basic steps that will help you train your koi to eat from your hand.

First, take some time to observe your fish during feeding time. Not only will this help you to understand which fish are feeding at the surface and which ones are easily spooked, but it will get your koi accustomed to seeing you whilst they are eating. After a while, they will make an association between you and food. This association is exactly what needs to happen if you want to hand-feed your pond fish. By throwing food into the pond and leaving, the fish will become shy if anything comes near the pond at meal time.

Feeding Your Koi

Next time you feed your koi their favourite food, hang around the pond surface and build confidence and connection between you and your fish. Feed your pond fish from the same place each time, and get closer to the water with each feeding, until you begin to put your hand directly in the water. This will show your koi that you are not a threat to them and that your hand and food go together. This is where many people’s patience is tested. It can take quite a few meal times before the positive link is built.

Start off using small amounts of food; koi will not learn to hand feed if they are full-up or have already eaten! It is important to keep the fish hungry for more food at the start; this will give them a push to feed from your hand.  Use pellets or koi sticks held in your hand under the water until the fish are eating them with confidence. From this point on, you can start to slowly move your hand closer and closer to the surface of the pond. More confident varieties such as Chagoi and Sorigoi koi, which are known for being easy to teach to hand-feed, can be used to your advantage because they will lead the rest of the pond fish to do the same.

You will find that after practicing these techniques, it will be rewarding to get all of your koi eating out of your hand.  Also, hand-feeding is not restricted to koi fish – other pond fish, like goldfish, can be trained as well!

No matter how quickly you want to teach your coldwater fish to eat from your hand, remember that koi should only be fed when their water temperature is above 10 degrees. As the pond water warms up, koi will start to require more food little by little - see the feeding frequency chart below.

 Water Temp. (°C.) 

Feeding Frequency

Less than 10ºc

Do not feed


2-3 times a week


4-5 times per week


Once per day 5-6 days per week


Once per day every day


Once or twice every day


Up to 3 times per day

At AllPondSolutions we are proud to provide our customers with one of the largest selections of Koi carp for sale, including our bundle packs which are an ideal fast stocking option.  We understand that our customers value quality and health, and our large range of fish are sourced from the best and most reliable breeders in the world.  Our koi are housed and kept under the best environments to promote the best health and quality when they arrive.