Do Koi Fish Have Tongues?

Do Koi fish have tongues is a question that many Koi fish owners often wonder about. The answer to this question is yes, they do have a tongue, but not like the muscular one that we humans have.

In fact, your Koi fish has a bone-like tongue at the bottom of its mouth for holding food or spreading oxygen.

Feeding Koi fish is a rather relaxing act. Once you add the feed to their pond, they will appear on the water surface to eat their food.

It is hardly possible for you to see their tongue when they are eating, as they cannot move it like humans or animals.

However, if you hand-feed your Koi fish, you can quickly feel their tongue in their mouth. To know more about Koi fish’s tongue, keep reading this article.

What Is A Koi Fish’s Tongue Called?

Well, not only Koi but other fish do not have muscular tongues like mammals, birds, amphibians, or reptiles, but they have a bony mass in their mouth, similar to a tongue, which is called basihyal.

Like other living things, this basihyal is at the bottom of their mouth.

Basihyal is not considered an actual tongue as it does not have the taste buds like other normal vertebrate tongues.

However, it acts like one as it is a protective barrier for Koi fish against prey attack and helps them consume food. It also helps them hold the food so they can easily swallow it.

What Does a Koi Fish Tongue Look Like?

Koi fish have a tongue called basihyal, which is nothing like a human tongue. The fish’s tongue is not musculoskeletal but has a bone-based structure.

The tongue of your Koi fish touches the bottom of its mouth, and it is more like an expansion of its mouth until the start of its throat.

Koi’s tongues lack muscles but are still able to hold food efficiently, which helps them to lap and swallow their food.

The placement of your Koi fish’s tongue in its mouth is very similar to humans, but the function and structure of a Koi fish’s tongue are very different.

Koi fish and the human tongue have some differences and similarities, which we have discussed below.

How Is A Koi Fish’s Tongue Different From The Human Tongue?

Koi fish have a tiny tongue at the bottom of their mouth, which is not as flexible as humans. Instead of muscles, their tongue is formed of bones. 

Koi fish’ tongues are triangular and contain an apex, base, and body covered with mucosa and submucosa layer, and the inside of the tongue only contains bone structure.

This unique structure of your Koi fish’s mouth protects their internal organs and helps them in respiration.

Koi fish do not have taste buds on their tongue like humans, but they have taste buds inside and outside their mouths.

Koi fish use their tongue to swallow their food quickly and do not use their tongue like humans who use them to taste their food.

How Are Koi Fish Tongues Similar to Humans?

Koi fish, just like humans, have their tongue basihyal at the bottom of their mouth, from where the digestive system starts.

Like humans, fish tongues help them hold and support their food so they can chew or swallow them by sucking their food.   

Comparable to the human tongue, fish basihyal helps flow nutrients into the belly.

Their tongue supports the swift transfer of food in their digestive systems without causing any harm to their internal organs from the food they are consuming.

What is the Role of A Koi Fish’s Tongue? 

Most vertebrates have a tongue to taste, swallow and hold food to chew and digest it quickly.

However, you will be surprised to know that the significant purpose of basihyal in fishes, including Koi, is to protect their ventral aorta from prey. Other than that, Koi fish also use their tongue for other functions.

They use their tongue to move oxygenated water via their gills to help them in breathing. The backward movement of your Koi fish’s tongue helps to shun water from their gills after absorbing oxygen.

Do Koi Fish have Taste Buds?

Taste buds are basically clusters of taste receptor cells on the tongue of living things responsible for tasting food flavor.

Koi fish, like other fishes, do not have these taste buds on their tongue but have them on many parts of their body, including their mouth, lips, fins, flanks, etc.

Koi fish are intelligent and blessed with all senses to recall what their favorite food looks, tastes, feels, and smells like.

If you want to witness this, feed them their favorite food like salmon, prawns, or watermelon. Before you even add it to their pond, they will appear to eat it.

Koi will emerge from their pond or other environment you have placed them in to eat the food you have added by using natural sensors they have all over their body, including taste buds.

Koi Fish will happily eat their favorite food by sensing it and recognizing their feeders.

How do Koi Fish Taste their Food?

Unlike humans, Koi fish do not taste their food using their tongues. They taste their food using their taste buds inside and outside their mouth. 

Koi fish are mighty food consumers and have a significant appetite for tasty foods. As soon as you add the food to your tank or environment where Koi fish are present, they will emerge to eat food.

Koi fish love tasty food options like worms, shrimp, bloodworms, or most of the leftover food in moderate amounts.

With the help of savoring sensors present all over their body, including sharp eyesight and taste buds, they can sense and taste the food before reaching it.

How Do Koi Fish Taste Food? 

As established above, the Koi fish lack taste buds on their tongue, but they have them outside and inside their mouth. As a result, Koi fish taste their food using their taste buds and not their tongues. 

Like humans, their taste buds are connected with sensory organs and send food signals to the brain. Koi fish have excellent memory and taste skills and can enjoy their food just like humans.

Koi fish can even get bored by the case of excess or repetition of similar food. They enjoy food full of fat and protein and grow beautifully when it’s provided.

Is Koi Fish Tongue Harmful?

Koi fish tongue is not harmful to humans, as even when you hand-feed koi fish, it never bites or hurts humans using its tongue. Koi fish only use its tongue to stuff their food in their mouth and to breathe inside water.

Do Koi Fish have Teeth over Their Tongue?

Koi fish have teeth at the bottom of their throat, just like where their basihyal is present, and together they help the Koi fish to swallow their food easily and not let the small prey damage their ventral aorta. 

The teeth present at the end of the throat prevent the backward movement of prey while the tongue helps to hold it. Koi fish tongues and teeth help them to swallow, chew and masticate their food so they can easily digest it without any issues.

Do Parasites Attack Koi Fish Tongue?

Yes, parasites in the water can damage the Koi fish tongue and consume it. Koi fish health is severely affected by parasites’ attacks on their tongue.

It hinders their growth and creates respiratory and other health issues for them.

In the case of a parasite attack, it is suggested to take professional vet’s help to eliminate or prevent parasites. As a preventive measure, we must clean the Koi fish’s environment for their better growth and long life.

Can Koi Fish Survive Tongue Parasite Attack? 

Koi fish can survive a tongue parasite attack and even live with tongue parasites; however, their survival in the latter scenario will only be temporary unless professional medical help is provided. 

If professional help is not provided to a Koi fish through a tongue parasite attack, its health will be severely affected. They will face respiratory issues, their reproduction will be limited, and they will face severe anemia that can kill them.

Koi fish can even survive without a tongue once its parasite consumes it, but they will be more prone to prey attack when their defense mechanism of the tongue is removed from their mouth.

Thus, it is advisable to treat parasites or maintain cleanness in the Koi fish environment to avoid them.

Final Words

In this guide, we have discussed the Koi fish tongue in detail. We have discussed what it is, what it looks like, its purpose, and its similarities and differences from human tongues.

We have even explained how a koi fish tongue plays a crucial role in their development and day-to-day survival.

If you learned anything new about Koi fish tongue today, remember to let us know in the comments section.

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