Can you eat koi fish?

In this brief guide, we will address the query ‘can you eat koi fish?’. We will also talk about what koi fish is and where to buy it. Lastly, we will discuss if koi fish have teeth and then how to cook koi fish.

Can you eat koi fish?

Yes, you can eat koi fish, but you might not want to. It is not a type of fish you can find at any restaurant, and they’re not commonly bred to feed humans. That being said, most people – including chefs – say that koi fish doesn’t taste good.

Let’s remember that koi fish is also an animal that is part of Japanese culture. Although it was originally taken to Japan as fish food, it became a symbol of good luck and prosperity, so you will often find them in ponds and aquariums, not in dishes.

This raises another question: would you eat your pet? Since koi fish are commonly bred in aquariums for their majesty and beautiful colors, many people don’t see it with good eyes eating them.

With that in mind, if you still want to taste koi fish, you will need to find a fine restaurant and pay a good deal of money. If it’s not expensive, then it probably won’t taste good. In this case, it’s because koi fish need to be bred in clean waters and eat high quality food if they’re going to be served.

Koi fish is an invasive species throughout Europe, Asia and America. That’s why you can probably find them in various areas, where they will literally eat anything. This diverse diet – algae, debris, scraps – will modify the taste of the fish (for bad).

However, considering all of that, for tasting good koi fish meat, you must look for reliable restaurants or breed one yourself, so you can guarantee you won’t be tasting something exactly like bad algae.

What is koi fish?

Koi fish is a specialized type of carp that is commonly kept as a pet. They are known for their majestic colors and beauty, and they are also considered a symbol of prosperity, luck, peace, friendship and wealth in many cultures.

When kept in captivity, koi fish can live for about 70 years, but its wild type lives around 30-40 years only. They arrived in Japan in the early 19th century, when they were captured and kept in rice paddies (they have a symbiotic relation with rice!).

Since then, genetic enhancement, cross-breeding and mutations led to a species with bright and beautiful colors that soon gained the love and admiration from people. But, in fact, there are several variants of the koi fish, each one with its historical and cultural significance.

Where can you buy koi fish?

You can buy koi fish from breeders or, depending on where you live, pet shops and even websites. It’s not illegal to buy them, so they will be easy to find if you know where to look. Good places are aquaculture shops and fish/carp farms.

How to take care of koi fish once you buy it?

You’ll need a nice aquarium that will suit the future size of the koi fish, because they can reach 26 inches (or 66 cm). Keep their water always clean (18 to 24ºC of temperature) and filtered. Give them koi fish food (from pet shops), but they can also eat algae, insects and worms.

You can find other tips for taking care of a koi fish here!

Do koi fish have teeth?

Yes, koi fish have teeth. They’re called pharyngeal teeth and are located at the back of their throat. It’s hard to see them, especially in adult koi, but in smaller carps and golden fish you’ll be able to spot the teeth quite easily if you open their mouths.

Although having teeth, koi fish won’t bite you. When feeding them, they might want to grasp your fingers, but this will feel more like a pull than a bite. They are harmless, so you don’t have to worry!

How to cook koi fish?

You can cook koi fish by frying, grilling or steaming them. Dishes with koi fish are relatively common in East India, like in Bengali, where you can find a fish curry made with koi that’s called Tel Koi.

There are many cuts that can be done with the koi fish for a nice and tasty dinner, like the whole fish, tail, stakes, loin, butterfly filet, simple filet, etc. That will be totally up to you!


In this brief guide, we addressed the query ‘can you eat koi fish?’. We also talked about what koi fish is and where to buy it. Lastly, we discussed if koi fish have teeth and then how to cook koi fish.


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