Are Koi Edible? (Should You Eat Them?)

Last updated on September 25th, 2022 at 02:20 pm

*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Koi fish are put into outdoor ponds as a decorative item to the landscape. They are also seen in fish tanks and aquariums at many Asian-style restaurants. 

You typically see many koi fish swimming together. This isn’t only because the more colors, the more beautiful the fish look, but also because koi like being around other koi fish. 

Featuring vivid colors of orange, red, and silver, koi are prized fish in many parts of Asia. But, did you know that koi were originally brought to Japan as a source of food? 

Does this mean that koi are edible?

While they are most commonly seen as decorative pieces in ponds or aquariums, koi are edible fish. They are a subspecies of an Asian breed of carp and are not poisonous. Eating koi fish would be very much like eating carp.

Are Koi Edible? (Should You Eat Them?)

Koi don’t taste very good plus you probably don’t want to eat your pets. Especially an expensive one. Koi fish are some of the most expensive pet fish in the world. Now, koi are more like a pet than a meal. 

Koi are treated similar to goldfish in the fact that they are purchased merely for an attractive decoration. With their gorgeous colors of red-orange and silver speckles, koi swim gracefully and create a relaxing experience for whomever is admiring them. 

Koi are symbolized with many attributes from love and wealth to luck and prosperity. They can also live for quite some time. Goldfish usually only live for a few years, but koi can live for more than 25 years (in which they can grow to be very large) which is a long time for a fish. 

Koi are freshwater fish so taking care of them is easy. They just need water that is a few feet deep and proper food (they eat algae, other fish, and some types of fruit).

As you can see, koi are great fish to have just for enjoyment. But, koi is a freshwater fish and it is edible. That is, unless they are contaminated. You don’t want to risk getting sick from eating the fish which is possible if it comes from contaminated waters. 

If koi (or any other fish) is caught in dirty water, the chances are it is not going to taste very good. 

So, a more important question is, should koi be eaten? Since koi are like a pet and are often quite expensive then no, they shouldn’t be eaten. Eating koi fish is not something that is typically done despite them being edible. 

So, because they aren’t very flavorful or tasty (and they are quite expensive) you probably don’t want to eat your pets who also happen to be your landscape decor pieces. It isn’t recommended to eat koi, but, as with all other freshwater fish, koi are edible.

Does Koi Taste Good?

Koi was first used as a food source before it was a pet, but over time, they were selectively bred to be more vibrant in color and pattern. So, koi is edible and it is pretty easy to cook, but since it has tougher skin and texture it can take longer than it would to cook other fish. 

Koi can be cooked the same as any other fish, steamed, grilled, fried, etc. Some seasoning or marinade can give the meat flavor. But, since they are bred to be pets and not food, does koi even taste good?

It is said that koi does not taste very good. Being a subspecies of the carp, this fish eats algae and other fish. Fish will taste like what they eat, so these bottom feeders aren’t going to be very appetizing. So, no, koi doesn’t taste good even though you could eat it in a pinch. 

So, even though koi are edible, do you really want to eat them? Koi add color to outdoor ponds and indoor aquariums but they just don’t taste good because of all the algae and other fish they eat. They aren’t going to be tasty like fish that are more commonly eaten such as salmon, trout, or cod. 

But, remember that koi is a specialized subspecies and isn’t bred for food but to look beautiful in fishtanks and garden ponds so it just doesn’t seem right to eat koi. 

Eating koi would be considered insulting to most people. Eating a pond koi fish is like eating a swan, or an eagle, or a beaver, and would be frowned upon. Japanese take koi breeding very seriously and it can be compared to dog breeding. Plus koi are expensive to buy. 

They are one of the most expensive pet fish in the world. Many admire them for their graceful beauty, so it is advised against eating koi.

However, since koi are in the carp family, they can be eaten. They aren’t known to be toxic or poisonous fish and eating a koi is like eating a carp. So, if koi tastes like carp, is it even good to eat? 

Well, carp doesn’t necessarily taste good. It is inexpensive, but it is far from the best tasting fish you can get. It is also not a type of fish served at a nice restaurant. 

Carp are known to be invasive and are found in waters that aren’t the best. This means they eat things that aren’t very nutritious or give them a good flavor. Carp will pretty much taste like what it eats and the same goes for koi. 

We said some of the things that koi eat are algae and other fish which means that this fish most likely doesn’t taste very good. So, even though they are edible, eating koi isn’t advised. 

Just because something “can” be eaten doesn’t mean it “should” be eaten. Although it “could” be done, koi won’t taste good to eat anyways.

Final Thoughts

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t eat koi. It is an expensive fish and used to embellish ponds and aquariums and it wouldn’t be right to eat a pet. This specialized subspecies is meant to be decoration, not eaten. 

Another reason why you shouldn’t eat koi is that it just won’t taste very good. It is a subspecies of carp which doesn’t taste great either and since koi taste like what they eat, they aren’t going to taste very good. 

However, koi fish are not toxic or poisonous (unless found in contaminated waters) and are safe to eat. They are fish after all. But, this fish is different because of what it is used for. 

Since it doesn’t taste good anyways, Koi are normally enjoyed simply for their bright-colors and patterns. Although it shouldn’t be eaten, just like other freshwater fish, koi is edible.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

Recent Posts