In a saltwater aquarium, how do you feed corals?

Reef aquarium in the dark

Keeping corals in a confined saltwater system (aquarium) was formerly thought to be impossible. More corals were successfully preserved in aquariums as water quality science improved and hobbyists discovered how to keep toxins (mainly and phosphates) that corals are sensitive to under control and necessary trace minerals at correct levels. Corals are now effectively preserved as the lighting requirements of corals have become better understood and more powerful lighting systems have been produced. The success rate was boosted even higher by understanding and replicating the many water currents that corals require.

The capacity to fulfill the unique dietary requirements for individual corals has become the ultimate obstacle to keeping any coral in an aquarium. Some corals' needs are so specialized to their natural habitat that they're nearly hard to replicate in an aquarium. Many corals, on the other hand, appear to survive in an aquarium without a strict feeding schedule, relying on tank lighting and accessible food in the tank water for nourishment.

Corals feed in one or more of 3 different ways.

Zooxanthellae Algae

Corals get their vibrant hues from this substance. Through photosynthesis, it gives nourishment to the coral. This is advantageous since the light needs of distinct coral species vary greatly, even within the same genus. However, this may only provide a percentage of your nutritional requirements.

Direct Feeding

Many LPS corals have enormous tentacles and a visible mouth, indicating that they feed macroscopic or bigger animals. Lobophyllia, Open Brain, Elegance, and Plate Corals are examples of larger-eating corals.

It's critical to provide a range of feeds so that your coral can eat one or more. Diced tiny fish, thawed frozen plankton, phytoplankton, krill, shrimp, squid, or clams are examples. Many saltwater aquarists feel this simplifies coral feeding because these are also known as octopus meals. may be made to meet the demands of certain corals.

Foods that aren't appropriate will be sloughed off the disk or won't be recorded at all. To discharge extra food particles from their surfaces, many corals require medium to strong currents. When employing this approach, be careful not to overfeed, since this might lead to nitrate buildup in a tank.

Indirect Feeding

When corals consume dissolved organic compounds directly from the water, this is known as indirect feeding. Coral food comes primarily from waste materials and uneaten food. Corals absorb a lot of the minute particles of food that the fish don't eat. For tiny coral polyps, this includes microorganisms found in plankton.

Research Your Chosen Corals

What a coral can eat is also determined by the particle size of the food. Many Large Polyp Stony corals will eat a piece of food the size of your small fingernail, however a Zoanthid Coral will not. A Button Polyp, like many other LPS and SPS corals, can absorb dissolved organic compounds directly from the water.

Finally, learning about a coral's natural habitat can help you figure out what meals it enjoys. Before buying a coral for your tank, talk to other aquarists (on forums), do some internet research, and study books and articles on individual dietary needs.


"Aquarium Water Quality: Nitrogen Cycle. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services." ;