While photosynthetic corals get the majority of their energy from the symbiotic relationship with zooxanthelle algae, they can also consume food to help grow and build their skeletons. Feeding corals in your home aquarium is a great way to increase the growth inside your tank and help build your reef.
Of course, we need to choose the correct food. With such a wide variety of freeze dried, liquid, refrigerated and even frozen foods available, this can be difficult. The most important factor here is going to be the size of the food. Different corals have different preferences for the size of food they can consume. SPS corals will feed on small foods such as phytoplankton while most LPS corals can consume large particles of food such as zooplankton or even small crustaceans (shrimp, copepods, etc). If you have a mixed reef system, it is a good idea to offer a variety.
Feeding your corals is best done at nighttime or just after your daylights have turned off. We generally recommend feeding 1 or 2 times per week to keep waste levels in check. Try adding a small dose of coral food into the tank water 5 minutes before you feed to trigger feeding responses from your corals.
We recommend turning off your protein skimmer and water circulation equipment (pumps, powerheads and/or wavemakers) because they may remove food from your water. Next, mix some of your aquarium water with the coral food in a separate container. This makes it much easier to feed and helps spread the food around between different corals.
You can now use one of the many coral feeding devices available to target feed the corals. Squirt small amounts of food onto/into each of the corals in your aquarium. Because you've turned off your skimmer and pumps, leftovers will stay suspended in the water column which can then be gathered up by your corals and fish.
After about 30 minutes, it is safe to turn your protein skimmer and pumps back on. You will notice an increase in skim collection as the skimmer removes leftover food from your aquarium water. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about.
If you have any questions about coral feeding or are curious which types of food you should be feeding your fish or corals, please leave us a comment below or give us a call at 1-800-566-FISH (3474). Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on the latest innovations in reefkeeping.
To shop for coral food, coral feeding tools and to read product reviews from hobbyists just like you, click here:
To learn more about feeding your corals, check out our "Aquatic Feast" article when you've got some free time:
For tips on feeding your fish, read our article "How to Feed Your Favorite Reef Fish":