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FAQs about SPS Coral Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: SPS Corals, Acroporid Corals, Dyed Corals,

Related FAQs: SPS 1, SPS 2, SPS Identification, SPS Behavior, SPS Compatibility, SPS Selection, SPS Systems, SPS Lighting, SPS Disease, SPS Reproduction, Acroporid Corals, Agariciid Corals, Astrocoeniid CoralsMerulinid Corals, Pectiniid Corals, Pocilloporid Corals, Siderastreid CoralsStony Coral Behavior, Coral System Set-Up, Coral System Lighting, Stony Coral Identification, Stony Coral Selection, Coral PlacementFoods/Feeding/Nutrition, Disease/Health, Propagation, Growing Reef CoralsStony Coral Behavior,

The presence of other life does affect SPS feeding. Halimeda goreaui, Small Leaf Hanging Vine.  

SPS don't grow... Nutrient deficiency likely    2/17/08 Hello all, I have a 75 gallon sps dominated system that has been up for a year and half. It has about 80-90 pounds of live rock distributed between the display and the 30 gallon sump. There's probably 75 gallons of total water with rock displacement factored. Octopus nw-150 skimmer. 10 gallon fuge section of the sump growing Chaeto. Display is lit with two 175 watt iwasaki 15k halides and two ATI blue +. Photoperiod of 10 hours. Flow is provided by two Koralia 3's and a modded maxi-jet 900. I have about 20 sps frags (a few that could be considered small colonies), xenia, Zoas, some Halimeda macro algae, and some GSP. A purple tang, red tail tamarin wrasse, scooter blenny, pair of Percs, and five chromis (just added) make up the fish load. Current param.s: Ph 8.0-8.3 Ca: 420-440 Alk: 9 Mag: 1300 no3: undetectable po4: undetectable (via Salifert which really isn't good for phosphate, can't afford a Hanna though...) specific gravity: 1.025. I don't feed corals, only fish. Feed a cube of prime reef and formula one pellets daily. I know feeding corals is recommended by you all, but I believe in fish poop as being a great food source. No noticeable algae, except stuff that appears on glass every 2-3 days. Five gallon water changes every week. My problem is with my corals, the sps in particular. They do not appear unhealthy, they have great polyp extension. For the most part, the Acro's and digis have decent color. The problem is, the corals get in my system, grow for a week or two, then stop completely. I have had many frags for almost 7 months that haven't budged. My caps are extremely pale and some Acros are as well. My Zoas are also pale and kinda halfway closed sometimes. What could be some possible reasons for this? <Mmm, the most glaring defect is the absence of food. You state you have zero phosphate? All life needs some HPO4... You don't list chemical filtrant use, but... do you? I would cease this, or at least cut it back... perhaps take up some purposeful feeding... a brand of Phytoplankton likely... DT's or such> I have a few theories that I couldn't find anything about online really. Maybe you could discuss them with me. I know its not the basics (lighting, flow, basic param.s). 1. Phosphate. I rid my tank of phosphate via Chaeto, water changes (ro/di), and Caribsea's Phosbuster. <Oh, here it is> I know phosphate really inhibits calcification so I was thinking maybe there is high phosphate (Salifert would detect it about .5 at least, so couldn't be higher than that.) that I can't detect. Phosbuster supposedly binds to phosphate and turns it into dust (or something along those lines) that can be skimmed out. Perhaps some of this "dust" is affecting growth. <Perhaps . Much more likely it is absent... and essential> 2. Potassium. I don't test for it, not many do, but i hear a lack of it can stunt growth, and make Monti caps, esp. red ones, very pale. This seems like it could fit, but I found mixed feelings about potassium on the web. <Potassium is rarely rate-limiting in captive aquatic systems... hence the paucity of discussion, products sold...> 3. Lack of nutrients. Perhaps my tank is "too clean". This would be a nice thing to hear because, as an sps keeper, clean water is an important goal. Perhaps I should feed more and let my trates climb to 5 or so. This seems like it would fit with the lack of color in some corals, but not sure about growth. <I do agree with this> Those are the possibilities I came up with, but please let me know what you think about them and others you may have. I appreciate it very much. Have a nice day! -Mark <Remove or vastly cut back on the chem. filtrant use, add more foods of use... Perhaps an iodide-ate supplement weekly, along with the small water change. Bob Fenner>

SPS feeding   7/12/07 Hello again Crew So I was at a friends house over the weekend, and he kindly gave me several frags, as well as a dinner plate size Montipora Capricornis. <How do you know it's Montipora capricornis? Not that it matters much, but how do you know it's not Montipora aequituberculata or Montipora foliosa? Granted, chance is in your favor and it is likely to be Montipora capricornis. But please be cautious of assuming you know the specific species of any given coral. Identification down to species is quite difficult and requires close examination of the exposed skeleton.> All in all he gave me 5 corals. They are Montipora Capricornis, Montipora Digitata, Echinophyllia, a green starburst colony, and a type of Sinularia. I normally do my research before introducing new livestock into my tank, but not this time. May because they were free? <Bad excuse, but I'll forgive you.> My tank is a 210 gal, 55 gal Sump/Ref with Chaeto (not growing for some reason), 200# LR, AquaC EV240, Aquamedic 4x39 watt T5, 3x250 watt MH. In addition to the above, Livestock consists of 9" Volitans Lion 1" Yellowtail Damsel 5" Harlequin Tusk 4" Emperor Angel 4" Sohal Tang <The emperor angel might nip at some of your corals once it's an adult.> 1 very large Devils Hand Leather (I think) 3 smaller colt corals 1 large zoanthid colony 1 small open brain I want to add 2 more corals to finish off my tank. Hopefully an Acropora of some kind, and a frogspawn. The tank is 6 months old, and has been doing great! <That's good, but Acropora shouldn't not be added to tanks less than a year old.> I do weekly water changes of 40gal with RODI water. Nitrates are around 2-5ppm, Nitrites/Ammonia are 0, PH is 8.3, Alk is 4.5 (This is a tad high), <Assuming units in meq/L, that Alk is fine.> and Cal is 340 (a bit low). The high Alk seems to be the result of Kalk dosing which I just started 2 weeks ago. My Alk has risen (used to be 3), PH has risen 0.1, but Cal has remained unchanged. I'll be adding Reef Calcium from Seachem to bring the Cal number up. Hopefully this will balance the alk/cal figures a bit. <Generally I'm a fan of SeaChem, but I don't know about their "Reef Calcium." It says it's "bioavailable polygluconate complexed calcium." Which to me means that it's some kind of organic calcium. You want inorganic calcium. So please find some calcium chloride. This should lower your alk and raise your Ca levels. But add this carefully. You don't want your alk to plummet either. ;) > I also just started dosing Magnesium about 1 week ago. Readings were at 900 before, now at 1125. I've just bought some Selcon to replace my Kent Zoe as a food additive. My question is regarding the feeding of the SPS corals. If I am able to complete my setup, this would consist of 3 SPS corals. M. Capricornis, M. Digitata and the Acropora ( I don't think the Echinophyllia is an SPS). <The term "sps" is probably meaningless anyway.> I understand that these SPS corals will consume zooplankton as supplemental feeding. I have no room for a gravity fed refugium, and fear that feeding the Eric Borneman recipe may pollute my tank over time. <Why? I'd stick with this recipe. It's a good one. Just take care in its preparation. Soak what he says to soak and make sure you chop, mince and blend well. You can pollute your tank with too much of any kind of food. Oyster eggs are also great for "sps" corals.> I've had nuisance algae issues before that I'd want to avoid like the plague. Even if it didn't pollute my tank, aren't the particle sizes much too large for SPS corals? <Not if you add oyster eggs and blend well. Yes, you'll have some chunks that are way too big for sps. But you'll also get a lot of very fine food particles too.> I've read on your site that feeding bottled zooplankton like Sweetwater, or Liquid Life Marine/Bio Plankton is not enough, and that Cyclopez (sp?) is too large. <Cyclop-Eeze is great and I recommend using it for your other corals and your fish. But it will likely be too big for your sps corals.> Is it worth using my pump driven refugium to try growing zooplankton? Or will the pump just demolish everything? <This is probably more a matter of opinion. I think a pump driven refugium is an excellent thing to have, but it's not necessary for the most common types of sps sold for aquariums.> Will a combination of Selcon, Sweetwater Zooplankton and Liquid Life do the trick? <Hmm... I'd stick with the Selcon. Liquid life BioPlankton is pretty useless for feeding corals. Sps corals don't eat algae. Liquid life coral plankton has rotifers and algae. Corals do eat rotifers. I'm not sure if they eat dead rotifers as much as live rotifers, but it probably wouldn't hurt to add them to the mix. The same goes for Sweetwater Zooplankton. The listed ingredients look like things that corals would certainly eat if they were alive. How much corals will feed on these things after they've been collected and packaged, I'm not sure anyone knows for certain. Lee Goldman recently conducted a study that supports the notion that at least some corals have a strong preference for live food. If you really want to do right by your corals, culture Artemia nauplii and feed them live to your tank. I'm a huge fan of the hatching disk sold by Brine Shrimp Direct. It just makes it so easy.> What are the chances that my tank has enough "stuff" in it to self support the food needs of these SPS? <Hard to say. But even if they could get enough to just survive, they'd probably do better if you fed them.> If there is a chance, do I wait until the corals to display unhealthy symptoms as a sign to start supplemental feeding? <Look, you don't need to specifically feed them a separate set of foods. Just keep them in mind when you mix up the food you make for the whole tank. Add some oyster eggs and blend the food well.> If I need to feed, what should I feed these 3 corals? and how often? I've read your site extensively on this topic, and have not come up with a clear answer to this question. <This is a hotly debated topic in our hobby and everyone will likely give you a different answer. However, given what's known about how much food is available to corals in the wild, I can't imagine that they don't need to be fed in our tanks. My suggestion to you is to use Borneman's recipe (with the oyster eggs he also suggests). All this should feed your fish and everything else too. And if you can, culture some Artemia nauplii too.> Thanks a ton! My tank is so satisfying to my family and friends. I owe many thanks to the great service you provide. <De nada. Thanks for writing. Best, Sara M.> Wayne

SPS Feeding'¦How, What, When? -- 06/08/07 Hello WWM Crew, <<Howdy Scott>> Thanks again for your awesome website. <<Welcome'¦and glad you think so>> Through reliable and conscientious sources such as yours I have managed to put together a reef system that I could have only dreamed of a year and a half ago, when I undertook to build a system designed for keeping SPS, fish and some assorted invertebrates. <<Cool!>> The system is described below for your reference. Display: 135 Gallon Tenecor Acrylic Aquarium (72" W x 18" D x 24" H) with 1" fine aragonite sand bed (vacuumed weekly) and approximately 120 lbs of Live Rock. Recirculation rate is about 1300 GPH. Refugium: Ecosystem 3616 Mud Sump with active Chaetomorpha and roughly 15-20 lbs Live Rock. Two large overflows with Durso standpipes add roughly 30 gallons of "fishless" volume to the system. <<Excellent>> Lighting: Three 150 W HQI pendants (12K) and Four 160 W VHO (1 Aquasun, 2 Actinic White and one Actinic). Lights are on timer sequence for twelve hours with MH's running about 6 hours/day. <<Why such a short duration for the halides? Daylight in the tropics will average more than 12-hours'¦with very little variation from season to season. I recommend you extend this schedule to at least 10-hours per day>> Maximum wattage does not exceed 610 W due to concerns about overheating the acrylic top of the aquarium. <<Not a concern as long as the lights are at least 6-inches off the acrylic/you provide some air flow. My SPS dominated 96' acrylic tank has 1300W of metal halide lighting alone>> Filtration: Euro-Reef CS 135 which runs continuously and produces about one cup (very dark and smelly) skimmate every 2-3 days. <<I too have a Euro-Reef skimmer (CS12-3)'¦my current fave skimmer manufacturer>> Also employ four (1 cup each ) bags of activated carbon in the in the sump which are rotated/replaced one bag per week. <<Very good>> Chiller: 1/4 HP Aqua Logic "drop in coil" type. Water Parameters: Temperature: 81 (+/- 1) F Salinity: 35.5 (+/- 0.5) ppt Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate: not detectable per Salifert test kits pH - 8.4 Calcium - 425 ppm, Alkalinity - 10 dKH I change about 14-18 gallons of water weekly, normally about 2 gallons per day and a larger change during weekend cleaning. Inhabitants: Fish: Flame Angel, Bicolor Blenny, Purple Firefish, Sunrise Pseudochromis, Neon Goby. Inverts: Two Cleaner Shrimp, Blue Legged Hermit Crab, Blue Mushrooms (Discosoma) and a Tuxedo Urchin. LR Hitch Hikers: Zoanthids, Star Polyps, Unknown Soft Blue Polyps, Unknown Encrusting Stony Coral, assorted sponges and small clams. Macro Algae: Assorted small Halimeda and Caulerpa (removed manually). I also have just introduced two small aqua-cultured SPS into quarantine; a Plate Montipora and a Stylophora, which I hope to introduce into the display at the end of the month. <<Okay>> Now finally for my question - I understand that proper feeding is crucial for the long term health of these SPS and I was hoping you could better help me to understand what level of supplemental feeding is recommended for the system as currently set up. I understand that the plankton generated from the refugium is a good food source, but that some supplemental feeding is probably still needed. <<Is'¦in my opinion>> Based on the above assumptions (and some very good input from Scott F) <<A great guy>> I purchased some Liquid Life Coral Plankton. <<Ah yes, good stuff'¦and other options available as well. Both frozen and freeze-dried Cyclop-eeze are good foods (do realize not all species feed upon/require the same particulate/prey sizes)'¦I also like Polyplabs' Reef-Roids, Sweetwater Zooplankton, and DT's Oyster eggs, as well as just 'dissolving' a few common 'shrimp pellets' in a bit of water or better yet, some Selcon or Vita-Chem'¦in fact 'all' these foods; as well as the system in general, benefit from a soaking in these last two>> I am dubious about the "one size fits all" instructions on the label of these products and wonder if you could help me to determine what frequency of supplemental feeding is advisable. <<Ah yes'¦as alluded, one-size does 'not' fit all>> Is there any way to gauge or know when a SPS is "hungry", or do you just monitor the appearance, color, growth of the specimen for clues? <<Mmm'¦is much as you just stated'¦but keeping an eye out/feeding when polyps are 'extended' is helpful. Though many species will extend polyps when they 'sense' the presence of food. I recommend you feed a varied diet three to four times a week (assuming your filtration/system can handle the load), and vary the feeding time as well being sure to feed the corals 'at least' once a weeks when the lights are off (just before bed or first thing in the morning). This regimen has worked well for me'¦>> Also, I was wondering if you would share your thoughts about maximizing the amount of "natural" plankton generated from the refugium, either by addition of phytoplankton or some other means. <<Indeed'¦again, the ubiquitous 'shrimp pellets.' Can be purchased cheaply at Wal-Mart or the like and if fed sparingly but often to the refugium, does 'wonders' for boosting small/micro crustacean/plankton populations'¦in my opinion>> Do you have an opinion about supplementing phytoplankton with the goal of providing additional food for zooplankton, or is there sufficient food available through fish feedings, fish elimination, stirring of the sand bed and cleaning the aquarium walls of algae? <<Mmm, the addition of 'live' Phytoplankton can be beneficial to many of the planktonic and micro-organisms, but I choose to forego this due to its cost and the likelihood of abuse/overuse'¦allowing a few tufts of micro-algae to remain in the system is preferable to me and will harbor many food/prey animals>> Can the amount/quality of zooplankton be improved by selectively adding invertebrates that are known to reproduce, or at least spawn or lay eggs in captivity? <<Sure>> If so, can you provide any recommendations? <<Honestly'¦the Bristleworms/Mysis Shrimp/Amphipods/Copepods that will live and proliferate (if fed) in your refugium; and to a lesser extent in your display, are your best/most viable option in my opinion>> As always, I appreciate any input from you folks. Scott <<Is truly my pleasure to share. Eric Russell>>

Feeding SPS with refugium  9/26/06 Good evening to all, I'll start with the vitals, a 150 gal display with 225 lbs. of LR, two 250 watt halides, large Euro-reef skimmer with ozone, and roughly 4,000 gph circulation (most with a closed loop).  I am currently running a 35 gallon DSB refugium with Chaetomorpha and a 45 gallon sump.  I'm in the process of combining the fuge and sump into one 90 gal tank while still keeping the DSB separate from the high flow of the sump.  I'm mostly growing SPS with a yellow tang, Naso tang, flame angel, dragon goby, fridmani, and six line.  I have all the books published by your staff, but am still a little confused as to how to feed my corals by way of refugium.  Is it simply a matter of adding more pod, or more of a certain type pod to the fuge, or is it more involved than that? <Mmm, and/or perhaps less... a "healthy" refugium will generate a mix of larval to adult plankter life... which can/may serve as food if/when transported to the main system> I've read so much lately that all of the "phytos" are starting to sound very similar.  I'm anxious to get the new refugium on line and I would like to take full advantage of its potential as a food source.  As always, Thanks for sharing your collective advise and expertise. Mike <Spend a while reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Feeding the Reef Tank   7/4/06 Hi there....sorry for asking 2 questions in one day. <No worries.>   I'll make this short.   <Awesome.> What product do you recommend as food for SPS corals? <Large refugia is great, other than that variety...specifically?; Read this: http://forum.marinedepot.com/Topic20086-9-1.aspx .> Or personally, what product have you used for SPS food and have had great results?   <Google: Eric "Hugo" Borneman Recipe.> Thank you <Adam J.>

Feeding SPS Hello WWM Crew, <cheers!> I am wondering if you can share your opinion on feeding SPS corals specifically Acro. Sp. and Monti. Sp. <not much "opinion" on the matter regarding to feed or not: they must feed! They are not even remotely autotrophic. Highly successful, albeit, symbiotically (zooxanthellate) but not fully autotrophic. Unfed animals starve to death in 10-18 months in most systems> Read several articles that champion either that its a must or nothing at all sans proper lighting and calcium. <no discussion here... the studies are redundant and reliable. They need fed, are observed feeding and have feeding structures. Form follows function. Our problem as aquarists is that they cannot be fed much or at all by target feeding for how small their polyps are. Cultured rotifers and very fresh live baby brine can feed some... most however need very fine zooplankton/nanoplankton. An upstream fishless refugium is recommended here> My attitude falls on the "must" side understanding that these are living creatures with the organs to "eat" like all of us. <yep!> Thus, I currently feed my SPS' with Marine Snow mixed with a liquefied blend of oysters, mussels, fish, and Selco twice a week. <hmmm... don't get me started about Marine Snow... just go read the product tests. And for the rest of the diet... a seriously nice thought... but more harm than good. Particle size is everything...and you can't produce nanoplankton with an electric blender. You are on the right track with the Selcon and the meaty fare though (no phyto for SPS)> But to be honest with you i feel this does nothing but pollute the water and cause hyper activity among the fish. <agreed> I don't see a feeding response from the said corals. I have read that SPS' don't really eat phytoplankton but prefer live zooplankton that is next to impossible to duplicate in the home environment; <yes... short of a large fishless refugium ( very helpful)> however I do have peppermint shrimp mating away with some crazy creatures growing in my refugium. Should i stop this ration to replace with a recommendation of your own;  stop feeding entirely; or continue? Greatly appreciated. Regards, D.M. <you are well read, intuitive and on the right track! Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Kalkwasser Automation...Coral Feeding - 12/28/05 Hey Crew, <<Hey Jennifer!>> Happy Holidays! <<And to you...>> My 50 Gallon SPS reef tank is doing well.  I dose B-Ionic 2 part   DAILY!!  I drip ESV Kalk nightly for evaporated water...  This has been becoming difficult, as I am a touring musician. <<Mmm, you could possibly get by on the drip only...and even do this "'round the clock"...thus eliminating the need to have to start the drip nightly.>> Should I get a reactor or Kalk reactor on such a small reef tank,   or can you suggest other options so as to minimize the daily   maintenance to the system??? <<Maintenance is part of the hobby.  Automation can be helpful to a point, but is no substitute for your own daily observation of the system to ensure all is well.  But saying that, if you have an automated top-off system you could easily add a Kalk-reactor to facilitate leaving the tank for a couple days at a time.  Anything more than a couple days and I suggest you find/orient someone to come check on the tank to perform necessary maintenance/feedings...or resetting that tripped breaker <grin>. >> Thanks for your time.  Also, SPS doing ok, but growing slowly.  I understand many factors are involved.  Besides water motion/quality, lighting, what else helps??  Feeding? <<Feeding is very important in my opinion.>> If I feed I get phosphates and brown stuff on the sand.  My Phosphates are generally around .03-.04... <<Don't be so afraid of a bit of algae that you are depriving your tank by not feeding.  There are measure you can take to limit this (all found on WWM) while still providing the nutritional requirements of your charges.  Very few, if any, corals are truly and completely autotrophic...SPS corals need to feed...>> Thanks! Jennifer  NYC <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Kalkwasser Automation...Coral Feeding - 12/29/05 Hey Eric. <<Hey Jenna>> Will my ALK go to high if I drip Kalk all day? <<Mmm, not so much a concern for Alkalinity as for pH...you will need to experiment/start out slow until you can determine the maximum you can drip without boosting your pH too high.>> If I do, do I still need to dose B Ionic? <<If you are performing frequent partial water changes (20% bi-weekly) I think you can do away with the supplements.>> What should I feed the SPS and clams? <<Do you have any fish?  One of the best foods for SPS corals in my opinion is the food you feed your fish...after it is processed by the fish.  I also like Cyclop-Eeze (the frozen offering), Selcon, and vitamin supplements (Boyd's is my fav), as well as the pack juices from the frozen cubed fish foods...though the latter is feared by some aquarists as rocket fuel for algae growth.  Another food which I have yet to try but hear very good things about are the oyster eggs offered by DT's.>> I have gotten so many answers to this question, but I trust you guys! <<We appreciate the vote of confidence!>> Thanks, Jenna <<Regards, EricR>>


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