Koi carp have relatively large mouths compared to the size of their head and body, and can often be seen opening and closing their mouths near to the surface of the water. But do koi carp have teeth?
Koi will sometimes feed from your hand when they are very tame, and will sometimes mouth around your fingers too, in the hope of finding some food. When they do this, you will see that their mouths appear to be “gummy,” with no visible teeth, which often leads fish keepers to wonder whether their koi have teeth at all.
So, do koi carp have teeth? Read on to find out…
Do koi carp have teeth?
If you look closely inside the mouth of your koi carp then you will not be able to spot any teeth. This leads people to assume that koi carp do not have teeth at all, but actually they do; they’re just not in their mouths!
Koi carp have teeth right at the back of their throats, not at the entrance to the mouth as you might expect. You will not be able to see your koi’s teeth simply by looking into their mouths, they’re too far back in their throats.
So how do koi carp eat?
Because koi usually feed from the bottom of their pond, their mouths are ideally shaped to allow them to pick up food from the pond floor. This positioning of the mouth on the underside of the head means that koi are referred to as “bethnic feeders” – though they are also capable of eating from the surface of the pond and the middle of the water too.
The teeth of the koi carp are next to the last arch of the gill. The teeth on the bottom plate point upwards towards a hard bony plate in the roof of the throat. This allows koi to crush their food and chew hard particles that they would not otherwise be able to digest.
How large are koi carp teeth?
The size of a koi’s teeth depends upon the size of the koi. In the largest koi, their largest teeth are around the same size as human molars, and resemble them too!
Koi shed old teeth and grow new ones, so you may sometimes be able to find shed koi teeth on the floor of your pond!