Many of us will have seen koi owners and enthusiasts feeding their fish directly from their hands, and for many koi owners, having tame koi like this is one of the biggest rewards of fish keeping!
However, when you consider how large koi carp can potentially grow and the size of their mouths, it is only natural to be wary of putting your fingers too close to them in case you get nipped or bitten!
But should this really be a concern? Can koi carp bite you? Read on to find out!
The mouth and teeth of koi carp
Koi carp certainly have a very gummy appearance, and you could be forgiven for thinking that koi carp do not actually have teeth at all.
However, when you think about the type of food that is commonly fed to koi – large solid pellets- surely it makes sense that they must be able to chew their food?
Koi carp do have teeth to chew their food, but the catch is, their teeth are not in their mouths! The teeth of the koi carp are far back in their throats, not in the mouth itself, and so once they take food into their mouth, it is chewed and digested via the throat before entering the stomach.
Can koi carp bite you?
The teeth of koi carp are too far down the throat to be able to bite your finger (unless you’re planning to stick your entire finger right into your fish’s mouth!).
In the largest of koi carp, the teeth are so far back in the throat of the fish that you would not be able to reach them with a fully extended finger, even if you tried.
So, your koi carp cannot bite you, and you are perfectly safe to hand-feed your fish without the risk of losing a finger!
That said, the mouth and gums of the koi are actually fairly strong and muscular, and they might grasp onto your finger with their mouths, mistaking it for food. They have a relatively firm grip on their gums, but this should never prove painful and will not draw blood. Your koi will let go of your finger as soon as they realize that it is not edible!