Friday, August 04, 2006

Koi Health Food

Koi food comes in such a range of choice nowadays, especially in the UK. It seems like every month a new koi food is launched onto what seems an already crowded market. Years ago it was relatively straight forward with the decision being between floating protein food in the summer and a sinking food for the winter. Now there are whole ranges of koi foods by lots of different manufacturers that can be especially bewildering for a beginner. Even experienced koi keepers can be confused with some brands having very similar names. A good thing about all this competition has meant the standard of koi food across the price ranges has improved a lot and even the cheapest should provide a good basic diet for your koi.

Most serious koi keepers are not interested in just feeding a basic diet though but would rather provide the best food they can, to give the optimum diet for growth and health at an affordable price. They are looking for any advantage or edge they can get especially for show koi and those trying to grow them to jumbo proportions. There seems to be two extremes of koi food brands on the market appealing to different buyers. One is the big manufacturer like Hikari and Tetra who spend thousands on research and development and are very well recognized from their promotion campaigns. They sell their food by slick packaging and very convincing scientific explanations. The other type of koi food looks almost homemade and usually comes in silver foil packages with small labels often in Japanese. These give the buyer in the West a feeling that they are getting the same food that the best in Japan are feeding their koi on. Years ago I remember getting my first delivery of Sakura and it felt like receiving a magical recipe that only the breeders knew about. These foods sell on trust and reputation but now in truth all koi foods have similar ingredients as proven to give a balanced diet. Now and again advances are made that stand out for a while only for all the other brands to catch up.

My koi in quarantine with the bulging eyes has improved lately and has been feeding well for the past few days. I'm tempted to use some medication to speed the koi onto a full recovery but wonder if there's anything else I could try. I have continued to feed her on the usual food Kusuri FPF1 which I've had great success with over the years without thinking too much about individual ingredients or other foods available until now. Koi foods are now being made for specific reasons such as growth increases, colour enhancement and health improvements and protection. These health foods and supplements are what I want to concentrate on here.

All good koi foods should provide all the necessary nutrients to keep your koi healthy but there are some foods that add extra ingredients to help prevent disease. Some of these are advertised as purely health foods that are used for a short period to help sick koi recover while others are fed regularly giving long term health benefits. Here are most of the ingredients added to koi food to maintain or even increase your kois' immune system and fight infection :-

  • Vitamin C - A well known antioxidant and added to many koi foods but can be reduced by the heat of the manufacturing process of pellets in some brands. Always store koi food in a cool, dark place to preserve vitamins. You can add vitamins to pellets by soaking them in a solution or there are sprays available. Koi actually like small pieces of orange which you can give to them as a more natural alternative.
  • Garlic - In small quantities this is added for its antibacterial qualities.
  • Montmorillite Clay - This is often added in the best foods to improve digestion and has been proven to reduce stress protein production.
  • Propolis - This extract from bees has been described as natures antibiotic. It is a high potency bioflav anoid with antiseptic qualities for bacterial infections. It can be used directly on wounds and ulcers.
  • Chitonsan - A polysaccharide extracted from shrimp shells that has anti-fungal, anti-viral, wound healing and bone healing properties. It's an interesting substance which again has human uses and is available from health food shops. The carotein in the shrimp shells can also improve your kois' colour. It also has uses as a flocculant to improve water clarity and is used in industrial sand filters to help particles stick together.
  • Brewers Yeast - Natures wonder food. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a strain used for brewing ale but there are other strains as well. It's full of B vitamins, minerals and amino acids which help koi regulate energy and healthy fin, gill and tissue development. Maybe they would like to try some of my Marmite!
  • Bakers Yeast - This is one of the latest break throughs and in a few quality koi foods. Extracted from Saccharomyes cerevisiae the only strain in Bakers yeast is a fibre type complex sugar (polysaccharide) called Beta-glucan. Also found in oats and barley, beta-glucan boosts the immune system of koi by stimulating macrophages (white blood cells) that attack infections.
  • Lactoferrin - This is a globular, multifunctional protein with anti-microbial activity (bacteriocide and fungicide) and is part the mucus defense layer. It's found in milk, tears and saliva and helps to increase phagocyte (another type of white blood cell that engulfs invading micro-organisms) activity. This also has implications for human health with HIV and cancer quoted as possibly helping. Tests in fish farming have proved a great success but so far it's only available to koi keepers in Medicarp. However lactoferrin can be bought from some health food shops and in theory it could be added to paste foods yourself. (Don't quote me on this as I haven't any experience with this, it's just an idea!).
  • Limonene - Oil in lemon skins - an excellent antiseptic and source of vitamin C.
  • Olive leaves - Proven anti viral properties.
  • Artemisia - A group of herbs including taragon that repells insects and has anti-parasitic properties.
  • Valerian root - An excellent sedative that reduces stress.

The best brands of koi foods have some of the above ingredients in their recipes for prevention and can be fed on a regular basis but there are some foods purely to help sick fish. One such food is Aqua Meds Medi-Koirx. This is a medicated food for treating tough bacterial and fungal diseases. It's a sinking food to get down to sick koi that may not want to rise for food. The medicated components are made up of 4 antibiotics which includes Ormetoprim, Sulfadimethoxine, Kanamycin and Oxolinic acid. Antibiotics should only be given over a set period and in high doses, often with repeat courses until cured otherwise the bacterial can built resistance. Because of this different countries have their own regulations about antibiotics and this food may not be easily available outside the US. Here in the UK antibiotics have to be given with permission from a vet to stop their overuse but this shouldn't be a problem. Personally I have used the antibiotic Oxytetracycline mixed in food and in baths with little success. It's very difficult to get the quantities needed into the kois' body with injections probably more effective but harder to administer. If you can get it Medi-Koirx is worth a try.

Here is a list of some of the best koi foods that promote their health giving properties in no particular order:-

  • Medi-Koi rx from Aqua Meds - As mentioned above for very sick fish with 4 antibiotics.
  • Medicarp - Japanese food, the only one with Lactoferrin.
  • Medikoi Health -NT Labs health food has "Stimmune" a beta-glucan and propolis plus a whole range of health promoting ingredients. Feed for a short period and then mix with a regular food to provide a balanced diet.
  • Tetra Koi Excellence - Active formula is patented combination of vitamins and immunostimulants including Beta-glucan 1,3/1,6.
  • Saki-Hikari - The flagship range has probiotics to improve digestion and out compete bad bacteria.
  • Kusuri FPF1 -A daily food with added immune support from propolis, garlic and brewers yeast.
  • Nishikoi Niigata Proffessional - Nishi-Clay, propolis and Nishi-guard - immuno stimulants.
  • Takazumi Vital - Developed to stimulated the immune system of koi in the winter. Can be fed down to 4C as it's low in protein with wheatgerm.
  • Misimar Supplement food - Uncooked herbs and essential health ingredients. Boosts the immune system, promotes growth and produces a good mucus layer.
  • Misimar Silver - The same as above but with higher concentration of herbs - helps to eradicate parasites and recovery from illness.
  • Izeki Paste Food -This enables quick digestion and can be conbined with any additives you want. Also contains Chitonarl to activate the liver.
  • Intelligence Solutions Food Additives - Designed to make any pellet a super fresh health promoting palatable food. Mix into your food in a set order and then it can be kept in the fridge up to a week.
  • Azayaka Food - A daily food with Chitosan.
  • Dainichi - Has a special vitamin & mineral coating applied after the extrusion process which can denature the ingredients due to the heat.
  • Dai Suki Gold IR - Like the regular food but with added beta-glucans and vitamins for times of stress like moving fish, spawning and illness.
  • Koi Fu-Do - Quarantine plus 18C/64F. The semi-soft pellet helps for quicker digestion.
  • House of Kata - A new range of foods with propolis, garlic and zeolite.
  • Koi Sho - Optimun range is a rich source of nucleotides to stimulate the immune system.


At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Koi Adventures said...

Wow, what an article...and no comments!!! how is this possible?

In South Africa we have mainly 4 brand names, there are others minor brands but they are more for plain pond fish and can't be compared in quality.

1. Hikari
2. Aqua Master
3. Shogun
4. Aqua Nutro

Tetra is also availble in SA but they try and sell most of their products in bulk at big retail stores and unfortunatly Koi keeping is a very specialised hobby and most koi keepers buy all their equipemnt and foods from koi dealers and not from big retail stores.

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can Koi eat regular floating fish food (as you would feed catfish)?


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