Can You Eat Koi Fish? Why You Should or Shouldn’t?

Koi fish can certainly be eaten. Many cultures have Koi fish as part of their daily diet.

And in some cultures (such as Japan), Koi fish is considered a symbol of strength and spirituality. So in these places, it would be considered culturally insensitive to eat Koi fish.

Does Koi Fish Taste Good?

Since Koi fish are freshwater fish, their meat is slightly tougher to chew as compared to other carp fish. Many people often have doubts about their taste.

Whether it is a colorful Koi fish or a wild gray one, both of them taste the same.

Some people specifically breed Koi fish for eating. These Koi fish are often found to have a strong mud-like smell and may not seem fit for eating. The taste largely depends on your cooking style.

To make a delicious meal out of Koi fish, you need to make sure they are cooked properly and the optimum level of spices has been used. Not everyone may prefer the taste of Koi fish.

Eating Koi Fish is Common in Some Countries

There are several reasons why you may want to eat Koi fish. Throughout history, Koi fish have been bred and raised to be eaten as food later on.

Koi fish are a popular delicacy in Asian countries like Bangladesh and Thailand. It is even found in many parts of Europe.

It’s also common to use Koi fish in Bengali cuisine, where it is cooked in a thick tomato gravy with chilies. Another common dish is called Tel Koi which is prepared in mustard oil and nigella seeds.

In the United States, Koi fish are avoided as food as they are classified as bottom-feeders. This gives a bias as bottom-feeding fish are considered to be low quality.

If you want to be convinced of why you should eat Koi fish, think of it as a travel experience. As mentioned before, Koi fish are a part of the local diet in many foreign cultures.

By immersing yourself in the local cuisine, you will be able to learn more about the culture and how their palate has been developed.

Additionally, the nutritional benefits of eating Koi fish are the same as any other fish. Since the common carp is their closest ancestor, eating Koi fish would be just like eating carp.

Cooking Koi fish is not really difficult. However, the slightly tougher skin and the texture may take you more time to cook as compared to other fish.

Depending on how you are cooking it, the process is quite simple after you have removed all the internal organs. You can fry Koi fish or steam it easily. 15 minutes of cooking is enough for them.

Also read: Are Koi Fish Dangerous to Humans?

Is Eating Koi Fish Harmful to Your Health?

Koi fish themselves are extremely friendly and social creatures. They will show no aversion if you want to pet them.

However, it is possible that eating Koi fish may prove harmful to your health.

Koi fish are popular fish pets because of their colorful appearance. Hence, they are given specific food that will further enhance their colors. These foods may be dangerous for human consumption.

It is important to note that despite all of this, people still eat Koi fish. In fact, in South East Asia, Koi fish are often a part of the daily diet.

Koi fish are not poisonous in themselves. Moreover, when cooked properly, they make for a delicious meal.

Some Reasons You May Not Want to Eat Koi Fish

Above, we have mentioned some reasons why people may want to try Koi fish. Conversely, many people are against the very idea of viewing Koi fish as anything other than a pet.

Just like you wouldn’t want to think of your pet rabbit or guinea pig as food (although they are eaten in some countries)

Koi fish are actually quite intelligent among fish species. When properly taken care of and fed, Koi fish develop a bond with their owners and will recognize them.

Many Koi fish like to be petted and will often swim near the owner’s hand. This behavior isn’t different from a dog or a cat.

Many people have also reported that Koi fish may also be able to respond to names. If the fish owner spends enough time at the water’s edge and regularly uses their name, they will learn it.

Interestingly, Koi fish can develop long-term memories, which works surprisingly well. Koi fish are able to recognize patterns and changes in environments and adapt to them accordingly.

Perhaps the most astonishing part of Koi fish is that they have been observed to be involved in their own political systems and establish hierarchies.

This level of intelligence was once believed to be found only in humans, canines, apes, and felines. However, all this shows that your Koi fish has strong and unique personalities and are quite intelligent.

Apart from their personalities, Koi fish are extremely valuable as spiritual and ornamental possessions. They are quite expensive in the market, and simply eating may seem like a waste of money.

Many people have found owning a Koi fish pond to be a relaxing, soothing experience that gives plenty of calming vibes. This helps in improving their spirituality and having a break from the fast hustle of life.

Koi fish eat all sorts of food because of which they have a muddy or oily taste when cooked. This is because they can eat fruits, algae, other fish, practically anything.

Although you can certainly cook them, there are much healthier and, frankly speaking, easier options to cook.

Koi fish also have a huge cultural significance in various belief systems. You should be careful about eating Koi fish in front of someone who might get offended.

Cultural Importance of Koi Fish

Koi fish have a strong cultural association in various eastern countries, especially China and Japan. Koi fish are known to be quite strong and resilient when swimming upstream.

In Japanese culture, this strength and dedication are analogous to the Samurai. Moreover, Koi fish represents wealth and abundance, both material and spiritual.

Koi fish are also said to bring good luck in your life, and owning them, specifically for this belief, is quite common.

The multi-colored appearance of Koi fish is always appreciated. The more colors a Koi fish has, the more valuable it becomes. Each unique color has a special significance.

The Kohaku species of Koi fish has a beautiful white body marked with red spots. This is quite similar to the Japanese flag, making Kohaku fish one of the most sought-after Koi species.

The white color is a symbol of purity, and the striking red color represents the sun.

The Kin-Rin Koi fish is characterized by its beautiful golden color, which represents wealth, prosperity and growth.

The Ogon Koi fish has a platinum-colored appearance. People associate that with success in career paths and financial strength.

The Butterfly Koi fish has an extremely beautiful appearance with its long, flowy fins. This Koi fish represents harmony, beauty and elegance.

Japanese folklore is full of stories having Koi fish featured in them. In Buddhism, too, like in Japanese culture, Koi fish are symbols of bravery and dedication.

Do Koi Fish Eat Other Fish?

Koi fish are, by nature, quite gentle. They prefer living in pairs of groups of other fish and are notably peaceful with each other.

However, since Koi fish are omnivores and can eat both plant and animal matter, they may swallow other, smaller fish.

This usually happens when the Koi pond or aquarium doesn’t have enough food for all the fish in it. If there are too many fish, it gives rise to competition for food.

Koi fish, when not given enough food, will resort to eating other fish to survive. Hence, Koi fish owners should be extremely careful in making sure their fish are fed properly.

Koi Fish Biology

Koi fish are bottom-dwellers that can eat anything given to them. They like to scavenge for food like insects, worms and crawfish, among others.

If you have grasses in your Koi pond or fish tank, they will also eat those. The Koi fish diet is quite varied, which makes keeping them as pets a preferred option.

Koi fish can even survive on relatively low oxygen levels. In places where oxygen is an issue, Koi fish will easily climb the food chain.

Unlike many other fish species, Koi fish can even gulp oxygen from the surface of the water. This increases their survivability rate exponentially.

Koi fish prefer living in temperatures between 59 degrees Fahrenheit to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Going below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will affect their immune system.

Cold temperatures will make them more vulnerable to diseases and parasites. Koi fish will also move towards deeper parts to find safety and protection from the winter.

However, Koi fish can perfectly survive in the winter season as long as there are still some parts of the Koi pond or fish tank that are liquid. The entire area should not be frozen completely.


Koi fish can be eaten if you are so inclined.

Different cultures have their own beliefs and perspectives. While they may be avoided in the United States, many eastern countries prefer eating them.

Koi fish have a muddy and oily taste, thanks to their varied diet. Since what they eat becomes part of them, it affects how they taste when they are cooked.

Eating Koi fish has the same nutritional value as most other fish. It is up to you if you want to have them as pets or enjoy them as delicacies.

Other articles you may also like: