Why Are Koi So Docile?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish and Invertebrates' started by ystrout, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. ystroutWell Known MemberMember

    People will debate on whether it's okay to gently touch your fish or not because some believe it removes their slime coat, leaving them prone to infection. But let's not debate that here.

    I'm wondering why koi seem to be the only species of fish that don't mind you sticking your hands in their water, even petting them. I know they want to suck your fingers for food, or just have you feed them, but they seem to really not mind/enjoy the attention. Some family friends have a koi pond, and they're completely pet-able. They have no problem when you pet them, even seem to enjoy the interaction. I just don't know any other fish species that have this personality. My fish enjoy looking at people through the glass, and know that opening the lid means it's feeding time. They'll even eat off your fingers (bloodworm juice), but there's no way you could pet them. Don't worry, I've never chased my fish around the tank trying to pet them. I just know from doing water changes.... Just a curious question is all.

    This video is a perfect example.
  2. FishFish221Well Known MemberMember

    They aren't the only fish, many fish will let you touch them and put your hand into the water too. Another example of a fish that lets you pet them is an Oscar. My platies will also nip at my finger during feedings and water changes.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  3. Lynn78tooWell Known MemberMember

    I would have to disagree with you that they are the only fish. I think it's simply that they are bigger and are less likely to be prey. I will say that my guppies will swim up to me while I do water changes and if I wanted to I could touch them. I had a betta that actively seeked attention too though I think he was unusual. Of course a fish that big should start to worry about being fattened up. :nailbiting:
  4. tunafaxWell Known MemberMember

    Not the only fish!

    I think it's the way they've been socialized. They were born to a hand feeding them and never hurting them. It's not that they are docile, it's that they remember that patting them will cause food to fall out of the sky eventually.

    My Moor did this and it was so cute, but he gulped air in the process. So I'd gently boop him on the head and put the food 1 inch under water and not at the surface. He never goes to eat at the surface anymore, and now that my hand =/= food, he's suddenly too good to get patted by a lowly peasant like me.
  5. KinsKicksFishlore VIPMember

    I think you can do it with any fish that you wanted if they've been trained to trust humans from the beginning.

    Koi are really nice because they're often been trained that way and are very curious (it helps to have a nice big size lol) enough to check you out until it figures you out. At a JC near me, they have a small koi pond where the fish are literally terrified of everyone. After summer classes, my friend and I would interact with them, (secretly) feed them, and in about 2 weeks, they began recognizing us and swam right over and pet them; it baffled everyone who walked by :p

    My grandfather's koi pond, you can sit on the edge and they come up, splash you, feed, etc; he works with them a lot, so they are quite docile. And they are smart; the younger ones learn from the older ones and take cues, making training easier

    And here's something cute lol:
  6. DanjamesdixonWell Known MemberMember

    I kept 20 Discus in a 300gal when I worked at my LFS. The amount of petting and cuddling we did, they almost fired me haha!

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