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Do I need to Target Feed my Corals?

Date Published - 20th November 2013 - Published by - iQuatics Ltd

Corals are without a doubt a wonderful addition to any aquarium. Adding colour and life to your tank, they improve the look as well as the health of the environment and a healthy aquarium with a few corals will be a thing of beauty and much admired by visitors! To care for corals is not as simple as some people may think; it was once widely believed that corals, being simple animals could survive well enough by taking nutrients from the water as and when they were available and that target feeding or direct feeding corals was not necessary and only added to pollution in the water.
We now know this to be untrue; corals which are fed regularly will thrive and not only thrive but grow and multiply just like they do in the ocean. It is extremely satisfying for the keen coral keeper than to notice for the first time, the tiny new growths which appear in different areas of a tank when the corals are doing exceptionally well. This is only possible when corals are well fed though. Some people labour under the false belief that corals only need what they get from passing debris in the water and from light…in fact, if you want large, healthy corals which reproduce then you need to feed them!
Depending on which kind of corals you have in your aquarium, you will need to take one of two actions. Some corals require direct feeding with a pipette and perhaps the assistance of a bottle cut in half whilst others need to be fed with coral food designed to be added to the water column.
Feeding coral directly with a pipette isn’t difficult but there are a few things to ensure you have taken care of before beginning! If you have cleaner shrimp in your tank…make sure they are fed before you begin feeding your corals or the shrimp will simply steal whatever the corals are trying to eat. A happily munching shrimp which has been provided with its own snack won’t bother with the food meant for your corals and the slower feeding coral can enjoy its meal without interruption!
Another tip for target feeding with a pipette is to turn off your tank’s pumps, skimmers and filtration systems and then introduce the food via the pipette; the calm water ensures that the food does not get washed away. If you find that other predators are still stealing the food, or the coral is taking too long to eat it, you can try the bottle method which is a good way to ensure the coral gets a chance to ingest the food.
Cut the end off a clean bottle, and place it over the coral so that the neck of the bottle (with no lid on it) is facing upwards and you can then introduce the food through the opening. The protective walls of the bottle will ensure that the food stays within the vicinity of your coral giving it time to eat.
For other corals, which require food to be added to the water column, there are a variety of high quality foods available including freeze dried, liquid and frozen foods; adding the food to the water is a good way to feed corals such as SPS, clams and non photosynthetic corals as these types like smaller particles of food. You can do this with a pipette too.
Feed your corals after dark because this is the time when corals like to feed in the wild and you will find that your efforts are met with much more success. Once you have fed your corals, leave the pumps and filtration systems off for around 20 minutes to give the corals enough time to feed. Most corals require feeding around twice a week; avoid feeding too often in order to preserve your water quality.
Keeping corals is very satisfying and not complicated; if we remember that they are animals which do require care and feeding, then most keepers will find that they succeed in their efforts!
You have just read another great aquarium blog post by iQuatics. If you would like us to blog about a specific subject or have your own aquarium blog content you would like published on our website, please get in touch.   Together we can help grow the iQuatics aquarium blog into a vast resource full of combined industry knowledge.

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