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Live Coral Food

When one looks at most corals, especially small-polyp stony (SPS) corals, it's easy to recognize that the portion of the body devoted to feeding and digestion matters more than hobbyists once thought. Live foods for aquariums, like copepods, rotifers, live phytoplankton and brine shrimp food, can help provide your reef with a natural, balanced diet chock full of vitamins, fatty acids and amino acids. Live reef food can also help coral grow faster and help aquarium fish become more active while eliminating the need for amino acids and color-enhancing supplements.

This article will briefly cover some of the best live food for your aquarium inhabitants and teach you some favored feeding techniques. Keep reading to learn more.

What Do Corals Eat?

There are two ways corals can get nutrition: through basic processes or supplemental live reef foods. Depending on the type of coral you keep in your saltwater aquarium, you may lean more heavily on letting them create food for themselves, or you may want to give them live coral food to help them thrive.

Basic Coral Food

Strictly speaking, many types of coral (like soft coral and zoanthids) don't require many supplemental foods. These corals can get most of their daily nutrition through photosynthesis. This is where corals take in light and transform it into food for themselves.

In addition, many reef corals also have zooxanthellae algae that live in their body. Zooxanthellae algae have a symbiotic relationship with coral, giving them plenty of nutrition. To be more specific, zooxanthellae algae aids in the process of photosynthesis and allows corals to absorb more energy.

Other corals can get their nutrition from bacterioplankton – bacteria found on plankton and free-floating bacteria found in the water. The bacteria can come from decomposing materials like plants and mucus. While it may seem like you don't have to feed your coral anything, these corals need to be provided with supplemental live coral foods in the tank, just less of it than others.

Live Coral Food

In some cases, your corals might not receive enough nutrition from algae, bacteria and photosynthesis alone. If your aquarium contains stony corals (LPS, SPS corals), you'll need to feed additional live coral food on top of their natural feeding processes. Certain species of corals will need to be fed additional food as they don't receive enough nutrition from zooxanthellae algae. So, the owner (you) will need to feed them by hand.

Some larger corals, like bigger polyped corals, like to eat live prey. Live food for aquarium coral generally includes:

  • Live Pods (Copepods): Copepod food are tiny crustaceans that can be found in water sources all over the world. Copepods feed on microalgae, which pack them full of fatty acids that are highly beneficial to corals. Live pods used for food sources are either Tisbe Copepods, T-Cal Copepods, Tisbe & T-Cal mixtures or Tetraselmis Algae enhanced mixtures.
  • Rotifers: Rotifers are multi-celled planktonic organisms packed with healthy nutrients beneficial to corals, fish and other marine organisms. They're incredibly small, making them perfect for inhabitants of any size. Rotifers mixed with Tisbe Copepods & T-Cals are especially beneficial live coral foods for enhancing color vibrancy.
  • Live Phytoplankton: Live Phytoplankton are at the very base of the food chain. They are generally a staple additive and great option in all live food for aquariums, as live phytoplankton are packed with phytonutrients and biologically active ingredients beneficial for coral, fish, clams and other tank inhabitants.
  • Brine Shrimp: Brine Shrimp Nauplii are a staple live food for aquarium inhabitants of all sizes. You can find brine shrimp food in all sizes to satisfy your smaller fish, while bigger adult shrimp act as perfect aquarium fish food for larger fish.

How to Feed Live Reef Food to Your Corals

There are two primary methods for feeding live coral food to your corals: direct and indirect feeding. Generally, it's beneficial to perform each feeding procedure at night when a coral's polyp extension is the greatest. It's also when any fish species in your tank are the least likely to eat the food before the corals can get to it. Remember, live food for corals and live food for fish are generally the same thing, so you have to be careful your fish aren't stealing it all for themselves.

During feeding, it's good to turn off your protein skimmers and reduce the flow from the tank to your sump pump to ensure the food isn't removed from the system before the corals can feed.

The Direct Feeding of Live Coral Food

The direct feeding method for live reef foods requires scheduled feedings. You'll also need to adjust your tank settings to lower the water flow so the coral can properly catch the food. If your coral has large tentacles and a visible mouth (like many LPS corals), it probably loves to catch live prey.

It's essential to offer a variety of foods when direct feeding so you can find the one or more that your coral will accept. My aquarists believe offering live pods, rotifers and brine shrimp food all at once simplifies coral feeding. Unacceptable foods will be sloughed from the disk or simply not captured. Once feeding is complete, ensure you turn the water flow back up to help the coral flush their surfaces of excess food particles.

The Indirect Feeding of Live Coral Food

Indirect feeding happens when corals absorb dissolved organic compounds directly from the water. Live food for fish is given to your other inhabitants, and the corals eat the waste products and uneaten small bits of food. This includes the bacteria contained in live phytoplankton for small coral polyps.

Pacific East Aquaculture is Your No. 1 Source for Live Food for Aquarium Inhabitants

Since 2000, we at Pacific East Aquaculture have grown and sold thousands of coral frags annually. Our success is due to the high-quality live coral foods we give all our corals. We've found that live coral foods don't pollute our systems and can provide the ultimate in nutrition for healthy, bright and fast-growing corals. Now you can bring that same feeding regimen to your corals with our special brand of live food for aquarium inhabitants. We've got everything from copepod food to live phytoplankton in all sorts of health-based mixtures. Browse our entire selection, and bring the ultimate in nutrition to your saltwater aquarium today.

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