All About Koi Food & Koi Digestion

Page Summary:  Koi is a species of fish that has its own way of digesting food. Koi digestion is characterized by the way it efficiently absorbs nutrients that its body needs and discards those that are of no use.
Koi Digestion has evolved through time to process and digest a multitude of food materials and is very effective in breaking down substances that are highly resistant to being reduced chemically into smaller particles.

Koi Food and Koi Digestion

 Koi is a species of fish that has its own way of digesting food. Koi digestion is characterized by the way it efficiently absorbs nutrients that its body needs and discards those that are of no use.
Koi Digestion has evolved through time to process and digest a multitude of food materials and is very effective in breaking down substances that are highly resistant to being reduced chemically into smaller particles.
The artificially manufactured commercial koi food that pond grown kois are typically fed are a far cry from what they would normally consume in their natural environment.
The koi digestion system is naturally built to assimilate far more stubborn substances than lab formulated feeds.
Koi food digestion
In Koi, food is efficiently digested in that what is needed is absorbed while that which is not needed or offers no nutritive value is expelled.
Like many living organisms, digestion in Koi involves both mechanical and physical processes. Koi fish have very sensitive food receptors and as a result they are able to quickly and easily sense the presence of food.
Using their highly developed sense of sight, smell, and sound Koi can accurately discern if they are about to be fed, which is why you sometimes notice them appear excited when you are about to feed them.
The first organs of the Koi that come into contact with food are of course its mouth and then its buccal cavity.

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A koi's mouth is equipped with pharyngeal teeth that are designed to thoroughly grind food material for easy passage into the koi’s digestive tract. While in the process of chewing food, Koi will also spit out substances that it deems indigestible.

The oesophagus is the duct that carries koi food from the Koi’s buccal activity to its intestines. It is lined with cilia and goblet cells that aid the smooth passage of grinded food material to the anterior intestines. Its intestines are twice as long as its body and are where the food is further broken down for absorption into the bloodstream.

The Koi’s intestinal system is very simple and unlike other organisms, does not possess glands or sacs that secrete a variety of digestive enzymes. Kois don’t have a stomach. This maybe because their pharyngeal teeth are so efficient in crushing food that it no longer needs an organ that secretes acid such as pepsin (enzyme that breaks down protein) to liquefy food. It has also been suggested that because Kois are omnivorous, there is little value in them generating pepsin to process food unlike other carnivorous fish species.

Feeding Koi

When feeding koi, note that feeds given to pond grown kois are designed for higher food efficiency and less wastage. Their formulation is patterned after those that are given to commercially breeding koi and goldfish that need to be grown and harvested rapidly. The digestive system of Koi is clearly meant for “hardier” materials that would need more action for them to be broken down. By giving Koi commercial feeds this bodily system of theirs is not being used to its full potential.

The question then is are we doing more harm than good when we are feeding Koi food materials that their digestive system is not really designed for?

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