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Can You Eat Koi Fish? (Get Answers)

Written by James Schulz

Are you staring at your koi pond and wondering if this fish is edible or why anyone might want to eat it?

After all, someone made this fish into a flavorful fish curry dish and posted it on her Facebook timeline.

Well, that post resulted in contradicting views regarding why such a cute-looking fish has been eaten and looking at the ascetic appeal of the koi fish, it seems like they outgrew their nutritional value.

Their status as food fish became a mark of the status quo. And so, questions about whether the Koi were edible or too cute to eat ensued.

So, in this article, we’re going to dive into the world of Koi and help you decide whether eating it is good or bad for you.

Should you Eat Koi Fish?

Koi Fish Explained 

koi Fish 

The koi fish is also a type of carp fish; although this fish can be seen worldwide, the Koi is seen as an exceptional fish because of its coloring and lineage. It is also a freshwater fish.

The Japanese take koi breeding very seriously. The Koi fish represents “affection” or “love” in Japanese; it symbolizes love and friendship in Japan, among many other symbols.

Koi and goldfish may look similar, but they are two different fish species, although both are from the carp.

The Koi has this row of throat teeth in the upper and lower jaws; they are not directly seen in the mouth but rather in their throat.

So many people have very little knowledge of what a koi fish truly is, so they do not know just how incredibly magnificent they are or the extent of their cultural importance!

Because of the way the Japanese took koi breeding seriously has resulted in hundreds of sub-varieties with countless color, shape combinations, and scales over the centuries.

Before now, they selectively bred the koi fish to live with humans, unlike the common carp.

Since then, they have grown more in popularity, having hundreds of sub-varieties with countless color, shape combinations, and scales over the centuries.

Each breed has its unique and beautiful patterning, scales, and color.

Do the Japanese eat Koi fish?

Although some Japanese are said to eat Koi fish, it is not common to eat it in Japan.

In fact, they are kept for their ornamental qualities.

This reason is that the Koi fish is an animal native to Japan.

When Japan introduced it to China in ancient times, the Chinese made a habit of eating it – until today.

So while the Chinese ate it, the Japanese associated high value (sacred fish) with it and kept using it as decoration for gardens, lakes, and more.

As we already pointed out in this article, Koi fish means more than just a fish for the Japanese.

They associate them with perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose.

In addition, the Koi fish symbolize good luck, abundance, and determination.

Based on this, it became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement.

What do the koi fish colors symbolize?

The red color Koi often has the connotation of love, not just any love but a very intense kind of love.

The orange koi symbolizes the mother of one’s family, and pink colored Koi is a symbol for a daughter.

The black-colored Koi is the symbol of the father. The black Koi is associated with successfully overcoming an obstacle.

What do the koi fish eat?

When koi fish are in the wild, they eat plants, worms, insects, seeds, algae, etc.

They regularly hunt along the pond floor and the surface.

When in indoor and outdoor ponds, you can feed koi fish almost anything humans can eat.

They include shrimp, fruits, vegetables, and foods that aren’t high in carbohydrates but high in protein.

Bread and its kind are known to be hard on fish’s stomachs. You can also feed them fish food pellets.

Do Koi fish Eat Other Fish?

Despite how unique and beautiful the koi fish may look because of its patterning, scales, or color, you may not think of koi fish as a predatory fish.

Still, these beautiful-looking fish are opportunistic eaters that will eat any suitable plants or animals available to them.

Unfortunately, they will sometimes eat other fish, including their babies.

Are koi fish expensive? 

koi fish

Koi fish is attributed with so much value and can be worth millions of dollars; at the All Japan Koi Show in 2017, the most expensive koi fish sold was worth 1.8 million dollars.

We already know how particular the koi fish is because of their unique coloring and lineage.

Many said Japanese koi fish is more expensive than Koi sold in the US.

The Japanese overseas demand is on a rapid increase because it does not only attract attention from within Japan but also from foreigners abroad.

In places like Europe and America, the number of people who build majestic backyard ponds in their gardens and those who raise them as pets like they do dogs and cats has increased.

Koi fish Size – How big does it grow

The koi fish’s growth depends on what it feeds on and how well the water in the koi backyard pond has been filtered and cleaned.

If water has been changed regularly or at least once a week, a two-inch Koi can grow up to twenty-four inches in two years.

Although some koi fishes are slow growers, and some are bred to get huge, only certain breeds of Koi get that long.

Feeding them high protein growth food in Springs, Summer, and fall can increase their size, but during the winter months, it is not good to give them such feeds since they cannot digest food because their metabolism slows down so much that they do not need to be fed for months and will still grow fine, as long as the water remains clean.

Some choose to change the water on warm enough days during the winter, at least every two weeks.

So, the growth and size of a koi fish can be determined by what it has been fed.

In many fish species, stunting happens when they are kept in spaces too small for average growth.

The stunting phenomenon is not fully understood, and some fish still grow large for whatever space they are kept.

But, on the other hand, some fish grow big enough that its body is jammed into the glass no matter what position it tries to assume. (That is a cruel thing to do to any animal.).

So, a fish might try hard to grow as nature intended, but the consequences of restricting their space can be severe for the fish. Since a Koi can grow more than three feet in length, keeping one in the usual small-sized indoor tanks is not right.

Koi fish life span

Koi fish usually live 20, 30, or 50 years in length. Japanese Koi typically grow up to 22 to 26 inches, while Jumbo Koi usually grow between 34 to 36 inches.

But all Koi has indeterminant growth, which means they grow throughout their lives, so the longer they live, the bigger they get.

Like many fish and reptiles, a big koi is an old koi. As for how long it takes them to grow to adulthood, it can take them ten years to grow from fry to a 40-pound adult.

While, on an average, the Koi Carp have a good lifespan of roughly 40 years, the Koi carp with the most extended lifespan in the world is the one kept in the house of Mr. Koshihara in Shirakawa Village, Kamo County, Gifu Prefecture, who was born and raised in Japan.

The carp was renamed “Hanako,” and it is said that this carp lived up to 226 years.

Hanako has lived since the Edo period, and the Koshihara family has taken care of her for seven families.

Because this carp averaged a lifespan more than ten times a carp’s average lifetime, in 1983, the Guinness Book of World Records gave it recognition.

 Koi fish- safe to eat?

Apart from the cultural value, the koi fish connotes there might be a chance that Koi fish meat could harm the human body.

The koi fish are very colorful, so to feed, they are sometimes given that might cause harm to human health.

Koi” farmers and collectors often use chemicals that render the fish unsafe for our consumption.

Aside from the fact that many warned against eating koi fish because of the use of chemicals for its treatment, others believe that we shouldn’t eat koi fish even without the chemical treatment implications.

As someone said, they are just a colored carp that is gelatinous when cooked and of low quality.

Also, Flavor-wise, it is pretty ordinary, but it becomes gelatinous upon cooking. Finally, Carp bile is known not to be only bitter but also poisonous, which can damage the liver and kidneys and, in some cases, can cause unconsciousness if wrongly eaten.

Conclusion

What are your thoughts after going through this article?

Knowing that koi fish are raised to be colorful and look attractive, they may be given feeds with ingredients not fit for human consumption.

Some koi are raised to be eaten, and some koi are ornamental. Others prefer to pet koi fish than make some fish taco recipes.

Koi are fancy carp; they are not known for being good food fish.

Knowing the cultural value and what the koi fish symbolizes, do you still think you should eat Koi fish? Do you still want to eat koi fish?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do the koi fish eat?

When koi fish are in the wild, they eat plants, worms, insects, seeds, algae, etc. They regularly hunt along the pond floor and the surface. When in a home pond, you can feed koi fish almost anything humans can eat. They include shrimp, fruits, vegetables, and foods that aren't high in carbohydrates but high in protein. Bread and its kind are known to be hard on fish's stomachs. You can also feed them fish food pellets.

Are Koi fish dangerous?

Apart from the cultural value, the koi fish connotes there might be a chance that koi meat could harm the human body. The koi fish are very colorful, so to feed, they are sometimes given that might cause harm to human health. In addition, Koi" farmers and collectors often use chemicals that render the fish unsafe for our consumption. Aside from the fact that many warned against eating koi fish because of the use of chemicals for its treatment, others believe that we shouldn't eat koi fish even without the chemical treatment implications and doubt if koi fish taste good.

Are koi fish expensive? 

Koi fish is attributed with so much value and can be worth millions of dollars; at the All Japan Koi Show in 2017, the most expensive koi fish sold was worth 1.8 million dollars. We already know how particular the koi fish is because of their unique coloring and lineage. Many said Koi Japanese fish is more expensive than Koi sold in the US. The Japanese overseas demand is on a rapid increase because it does not only attract attention from within Japan but also from foreigners abroad.

How big do koi fish grow?

The koi fish's growth depends on what it feeds on and how well the water in the koi pond has been filtered and cleaned. If water has been changed regularly or at least once a week, a two-inch Koi can grow up to twenty-four inches in two years. Japan Koi typically grow up to 22 to 26 inches, while Jumbo Koi usually grow between 34 to 36 inches.

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