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FAQs about Stony Coral Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Types 

Related Articles: Coral Feeding, Food/Feeding/Nutrition, LPS Corals, True or Stony Corals, Order Scleractinia, Propagation for Marine Aquarium Use

Related FAQs: Coral Feeding 1, Coral Feeding 2, Coral Feeding 3, & FAQs on Stony Coral Feeding: Rationale, Amounts, Frequency, Techniques, Coral Foods DIY, Commercial Products... & Cnidarian Feeding, Growing Reef CoralsStony Coral IdentificationStony Coral Behavior,

See Also: Marine Foods/Feeding/Nutrition in the lower tray of Marine Maintenance:

Mmm, in addition to photosynthetic-made foods, and direct absorption, all corals (Stony and Soft) have to feed... some more than others, some more chemical, phyto- than zoo-plankton... Some, with large polyps eat considerable "macro" foods... and poop! Study re types, sizes, frequency, techniques... Know your livestock!  RMF

Dear Bob,
I have kept Marines now for several years and over this time I have always tried hard to provide the right balance of nutrients and chemicals in the water, to ensure my fish, inverts and corals grow and prosper in my four-foot reef tank. Running a twin 250w halide I feel I am providing ample light, and my extensive live rock aids for great filtration. As well as this I run a Protein Skimmer which is working great and my parameters have been stable for some time. My question is regarding supplements and additives. I have seen growth in most of my corals, but not so much my fish. I feed mostly frozen food and some flake, morning and night, and also supplement the tank with coral grower containing calcium and strontium once a week. Can you recommend any much-needed additives that I could be missing that would really benefit my fish and corals? Are there any I should avoid that might clash with each other and end up causing a disastrous effect on my water quality? I have always tried not to add too many chemicals and artificial additives as I always felt that I wasn't experienced enough to control the dosing or get the right balance. Your advice on this would be much appreciated!
Thanks in advance,
Stuart Richardson 

R: Yikes Stuart'¦ there really is no such thing as a 'generic' coral or fish food'¦ or list of 'Brand X' nutrients one can avail themselves of to feed all species. I would however, like to thank you for your prompting here to respond in a general way to helping you, others.
      Do realize that amongst what hobbyists deem as 'corals' there is a huge range of nutritional types, leanings'¦ Some species being almost entirely dependent on photosynthesis (and the light, water quality, chemical balance/make-up to support it), with other species, groups being all the way to another end of a spectrum in 'eating' algae, zooplankton as a principal means of nutrification'¦ And there is a broad spectrum of possibilities, potentialities in-between, with most Cnidarians capable of switching between light-using to organism feeding, depending on prevailing circumstances.
      Chemical conditions are much more 'standard' for the reef life we keep'¦ with a well-known range of alkalinity, pH, biomineral (Calcium, Magnesium, and very little Strontium) and documented macro- and micro-nutrients being catalogued. These last two are easily supplied through regular water changes'¦ The others stated should be tested for, and it's not difficult to develop a routine, possibly including stock supplementation, to provide sufficient to ideal conditions. It is difficult for me to elucidate much more re as there are some variations on this theme'¦ depending on folks use/make up of source water and to a degree, brand of salt mix employed (or even natural water). I do endorse periodic iodine/ide supplementation, though also want to issue my usual admonition here to NOT add anything you don't expressly test for.
      As regards 'nutrients' like nitrates and phosphates, I am a big fan of not being too fanatic in fearing or removing such, but instead encourage their limited introduction (through foods, feeding mostly) and use of natural means for their limitation (organism photosynthesis, macro-algal culture, DSBs'¦) rather than chemical filtrant use. You do want, indeed need some NO3, HPO4 if you intend to have a healthy system.
      Fish feeding is a bit simpler. As it turns out, the nutritional input of fishes at the atomic and molecular level is quite similar to all vertebrates, ourselves included. Packaging foods into familiar shapes, colours, sizes of use and delivering them to your livestock is easy to do in a few formats'¦ Flake (for small specimens), pellets, dried, freeze-dried, frozen/defrosted, fresh'¦ foods can all be enlisted to provide sufficient nutrition. There are excellent 'all inclusive' foods available in dry/pelleted formats, that most all aquarium species can be readily trained on to. Look to your stockist, the Net here for input.

            Lastly, I'd offer a comment re the use of 'unknown' products that either don't list their specific component ingredients or seek to confuse consumers by grossly labelling them as 'essential' this and that. These manufacturers and their offerings should be ignored

Degrading Corals  1/3/11
Dear WWM crew,
<... Nick... we ask people to limit image file size... to a few hundred Kbytes... you, 10 megs... 20% of our mail capacity...>
Happy New Year! I have a 90 gallon reef system that has been running for nearly a year now with no problems. Last week my water began to get more cloudy than usual, so I did a 15% water change (RO water, of course), which cleared up my problem. Since completing the water change however, I have a much larger crisis; some of my corals are looking pretty bad!
<I see this>
I have had (what I believe to be) a colt coral (picture attached), a (confirmed) flower pot coral, and two Ricordea for almost eight months with no problems; they all have been healthy and thriving. In fact, the 'colt' coral has more than doubled in size in that time and my two Ocellaris clowns have been hosting the Goniopora since its introduction. Since the water change, the flower pot only partially opens ('blooms') my colt coral - once perky and spread out - is drooped over and clumped together, and the Ricordea is about 1/3 its typical size. When I introduced the new water during the water change, I made sure to pre-mix the salt and PH buffer in a bucket to be sure it matched what is in the tank and ran a pump for a few
minutes to mix everything together.
<Fair to good, but much better to pre-mix, let sit, recirculate for a few days ahead of use>
My SG is 1.024, temp is 79-81, calcium is 490ppm,
<Really too high... and in relation to Mg, alkalinity?>
oxygen is fine (I forget the exact numbers), nitrates are 0,
<... an essential nutrient. Your corals need some>
nitrites are 0, phosphates are 0,
<And this>
ammonia is 0. I know the problem is not salt burn because the water was put into the tank with a hose (stayed in one spot) and the affected corals are spread over different sections of the tank. My lighting is a 6 -- bulb H.O T-5 setup with 3 actinic and 3 white; 354 watts total. My system also contains an open brain coral, a Derasa clam (2.5 -- 3'), two purple flat blade gorgonians, a host of green mushrooms, Zoanthus, an anemone -- unknown species - (brown with pink tips; about 3' in diameter), a green bubble
tip, a flame scallop,
<Hard to keep... Along with the Goniopora; you must be doing much right>
a feather duster, a Strawberry Conch, a Red Sea Star, and a few fish; all thriving and all present during the water change. I'm worried I am going to lose the corals in question and any advice would be much appreciated!
Thank you,
~ Nick
<Likely a combo. of disproportionate Ca conc. w/ Mg, Alk... and def. a starvation issue with a lack of NO3 and HPO4... Could be quite a few "other things"... You would likely do well to read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/CnidDisF3.htm
and the linked files above for background, as well as investigating (the search tool, indices on WWM) the central issues mentioned. Bob Fenner>

Zooplankton vs. Phytoplankton, food, coral nutr.   -- 07/18/07 Hi, I've read on you very informative website that it is preferable to feed corals zooplankton as opposed to phytoplankton like DT's brand. <Well, that's because the corals we keep don't eat phytoplankton. However, if you have a deep sand bed and/or refugium feeding phytoplankton like DT's will likely increase your tank's ability to produce it's own zooplankton.> I cannot find any zooplankton products for use in my aquarium. Can you possibly point any out for me? <Coral Frenzy is supposed to be pretty good. Cyclop-Eeze might also be considered zooplankton. Liquid life's "coral plankton" has rotifers. Zooplankton is basically just the portion of plankton that consists of tiny (microscopic or nearly so) animals and larvae rather than eggs and algae. So, urchin eggs would be plankton, but urchin larvae would be zooplankton. Copepods, rotifers, shrimp larvae and small crustacean larvae, etc. these are things that could be considered zooplankton. Newly hatched baby brine probably qualify as zooplankton. Another easy way to get zooplankton in your tank is to have some peppermint or other ornamental shrimp that regularly produce larvae in aquariums. Of course, I do wonder if the fish don't eat up all these larvae before the coral get a chance at them.> Thank you so much! <Hope this helps. Best, Sara M.>

Living Overseas And Searching For Good 'Non-Refrigerated' Coral Foods -- 06/28/07 I have somewhat run into a problem with feeding the coral. <<Oh? What genera/species?>> I am currently living in S. Korea, and quality items are few and far between. <<I see>> This being my first SW set-up outside the US, I've had to order equipment from the States. <<Lucky we have the Internet these days, eh?'¦wish it had been around during 'my' overseas tours>> I have been reading on your site continuously with no avail. <<Okay>> My question for you: Is there any dry coral food that is actually good? <<There is'¦and I will elaborate shortly>> All the reviews from everyone make dry invert/coral food a bad idea. <<Opinions differ>> Since I cannot get shipped "live" items, makes this even more difficult. So my choices are finding a quality dry food, un-refrigerated liquid (which from what I read is a bottle of crap), <<For the most part, yes, I agree>> or trying to find something on the Korean market (fingers crossed). Currently all I have now is a few small feather dusters on the LR, and a medium size piece of Alveopora (Branch) Coral (along with two small clowns). What suggestions for food do you have, and what path should I take? <<Well John, there are a few manufactured products I think can be useful/will fit your criteria and I will go over these in a moment. But what you need here is an in-line plankton-generating refugium. This would be your best and most economic source of 'coral food''¦along with the other benefits such a system provides (lots of info re to be found here and among the links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm). There are several refugium methodologies you could employ, but I think a reverse-daylight vegetable refugium with DSB would work just dandy here. As for dry/non-refrigerated packaged products'¦ I like and use Polyp Lab Reef-Roids. This is a 'fine dry powder' product that seems to illicit good feeding responses in my SPS dominated reef system. You can find this product here (http://www.aquariumspecialty.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=783&osCsid=b5a1cb93cf978ad7d489575f88b0d8f1)'¦the owner of the site (Scott) is a friend of mine, you can tell him I referred you if you like. For corals AND fishes requiring larger food items, the saltwater variety of Sweetwater Zooplankton is a good choice. This is a very good vacuum-packed 'wet' product that does not require refrigeration until opened. A third item that will benefit both fishes and corals is freeze-dried Cyclop-Eeze. The use of these products in unison should give you pretty good 'coverage''¦especially if you employ the refugium as well. And if you should ever find yourself with animals that need/require Phytoplankton, the ESV spray-dried product would suit your circumstance>> Thanks! John <<Ah, one last thought'¦I have found that placing a few 'shrimp pellets' in some tank water and waiting a few minutes to let them crumble/dissolve also provides some nourishment/may fill another niche in the reef food chain. Good luck with your search. Eric Russell>>

Coral feeding 6/14/04 Hi guys hey if my coral is a zooplankton feeder can I just feed it mushed Mysis shrimp or do I still need to get a zooplankton food for it? Is this ok as a staple or should I aim for more variety? <Depends on the coral.  Please write back and let me know exactly what coral you are talking about.  As a general rule, the size of the polyps is a good indicator.  Larger polyps can accept larger food (although this is not universally true).  Best Regards.  Adam>

Hungry SPS corals 9/20/04 We have a 120g ecosystem reef tank that has numerous soft and stony corals with ample room for all to grow.   <Hmmm... OK. But do resist the temptation of mixing unnatural species in garden reef aquaria. Better to focus on niches, themes or biotopes for The lighting consists of two 250w metal halides with two 96w pc actinics. We supplement with bionic two part calcium solutions with weekly additions of iodine and strontium. We consistently run poly bio pads with PhosBan to keep phosphates to a near undetectable level. All of the corals and clams are growing at a fast rate and look healthy but occasional one of our SPS corals just bleach out and die. What could be some possible causes especially when the corals had been thriving before their demise and what should we do. <lack of adequate nutrition is a common cause here... SPS cannot be fed much/any prepared foods (particle size is too large). And so... if you have zero nitrates, no sand stirring of a DSB and no large mature refugium... then you have little feeding opportunities for them. They typically hang in for some months... even a year or two... then finally starve to death> We haven't introduced any new animals for at least 6 months. The tanks parameters were recently checked with the following results: ph  8.1 phosphates  0.00  ( Salifert test kit) calcium  480 Alkalinity 7.5 nitrates  0.5 Thanks for your help <your CA. ALK dynamic is scary skewed... that Ca should be a lot closer to 400 for safe keeping and the ALK should be in the 2-12 dKH range. Do a large water change to dilute this skew and then resume a balanced dosing of your two-part mix. And get thee to a refugium <G>. Anthony> Feeding Large Polyped Corals 4/2/05 Anthony, Thank you so much for the reply. When you say 'target feed', are you talking one of the commercially available feeds, like Phyto-Feast or Liquid Life BioPlankton, or something different? <None of the above for your Acanthastrea. This Mussid- like Faviid polyps/corals are voracious consumers of ZOOplankton. Seek fine meaty foods instead. Nothing larger than Mysid shrimp. Better yet... DTs Natural Diet (Oyster eggs), flying fish eggs from the Asian grocery section (masago sushi eggs)... and Cyclop-eeze for starters> Sorry for the additional question, I just want to make sure I do this correctly. I love the Acan frag, and since you are having stellar success, I'd like to mimic your feed. <It really is just a hardy coral. And not rare at all. Exports for it out of the South Pacific are pegged at 1000 pc.s. For perspective... so are common Caulastrea candy corals (1000 pc.s). Some very nefarious merchants (mostly basement frag traders) have made a brilliant advertising blitz and are literally price gouging aquarists for extreme amounts of money per polyp when the coral enters the country with numerous other common corals for mere dollars for large colonies> Secondly, I am very proud of my collection of signed reef books. I have one from Mr. Fenner, among others. I have your invert book, and your coral propagation book. Is there a chance I could pay shipping both ways and send it to you for an autograph? You'd join the likes of Rich Pyle, Jack Randall, Jerry Allen, etc. Thanks again, Brandon <Wow! It would be my honor to do so... but to even save you shipping, do look at my active hobby club visit schedule at readingtrees.com Perhaps there is a town near you? Kindly, Anthony> 

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 fave), 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>>

One comment and two questions, Aqua-C, mud in a 'fuge and feeding Scler.    1/27/07 Hello WWM Crew, <Bart/holomew!> Thanks you so much for the wonderful service you provide.  I wanted to comment on the great service I received recently from one of your sponsors.  I love my Aqua-C skimmer!  The O-ring dried out and cracked (as O-rings do). I made one phone call, waited two days and TWO new O-rings arrived in the mail.  No muss, no fuss, and NO CHARGE! <Hee heee, Freeeeeee!> This is a great company and they will be skimming for me till I no longer need to skim.  Now, two quick questions if I may:  I am running a closed-loop return manifold that I constructed using Anthony's informative article on my 72 gallon bow-front reef system.  It was fun to build and works great with the old-style external Quiet-One pump that I have.  My question has to do with the intake.  I used my miter-saw to make cuts half-way through a ¾" piece of PVC to make a strainer.  Over this I have placed a coarse sponge filter to keep the tiny snails I have all over my tank from getting into the pump. <Good design>   I dislike the sponge filter because I have to clean it and because I suspect it is a source of nitrate in my tank.  It is the only mechanical filter I have on the system as I use a refugium and skimming for water treatment.  Do you think I could remove the sponge? <Mmm, no, I'd leave it, or something similar in place... as a screen>   Would the tiny snails be able to stop the pump? <Possibly, yes... and/or cause trouble in being crushed, dissolving...> Secondly, I have an assortment of Caulastrea and Euphyllia corals (widely spaced, of course).  Do you have a recommendation as to a food of the appropriate particle size for feeding these animals? <A mix of live or frozen/defrosted zooplankters... "of small size", 1/16" diameter nominally will do> I suspect the Mysis I feed the fish is a bit large for these corals to utilize. <Yes, likely so> Thanks again for the good work you do. Best Regards, Bart V <Welcome... Oh and please do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/faviidfdgfaqs.htm and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/caryfdgfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Amino Acid Supplements For Coral   1/12/06 Hi Crew, <Hello Mohamed, Mich with you today.> I will like to know what is the benefits of using amino acid for corals and has anyone from the crew done experiments with amino acid? <The benefit is providing nutrients that are not easily synthesized from the environment.  Many extol the use of vitamin supplements such as Selcon, which contains amino acids.   Eric Borneman mentions in his book Aquarium Corals on page 58 that "Some of the products required by corals and zooxanthellae that are not supplied by photosynthesis include vitamins and long chain fatty acids.  These compounds are supplied by diet only.    Glycine is also a compound the many coral do not easily synthesize, and it, along with some carbon, may be obtained in the wild by living in proximity to the released photosynthetic products of certain macro algae."   In a home aquarium this association may not be possible.  Therefore addition of amino acids via a vitamin supplement may be quite advantageous. Thanks Mohamed

Re: Amino Acids Supplements For Coral    1/17/06 Hi Mich, Thanks for a speedy reply. <Welcome, sorry this one isn't quite so speedy.> On the same subject.  What are the types of amino acid that is required by corals? <Hmm, varies with differ organisms, thus the multivitamin recommendation (and also a high quality mixed diet).> Is there a formula for amino acid similar to iodine which can be mixed? <RMF says Aminoplex, a veterinary product, may be of benefit if slowly dripped into the tank during daylight hours only.> Thanks <Welcome, hope that helps! -Mich> Mohamed

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>

The Scoop on Poop- corals feeding directly on nitrogenous matter I was recently researching things over on RC and found this: http://www.reefcentral.com/vbulletin/archive/84/2002/11/1/99557 for the abstract: An aquarist has found that Goniopora greedily devour tang fecal matter as well as goo left on an algae clip from a piece of Nori. he's going to experiment with target feeding it waste from his skimmer (disgusting, but given what he's observed so far...), just a drop or two. Given how notoriously difficult these corals are to keep, I thought someone out there might be able to use this info. PF <Michael, thank you my friend... once again you have demonstrated that you really know your Sh*t. Best regards, Anthony>

Feeding Brain Corals Hey Y'all, I don't know who is going to answer this, but I could sure use a little assistance... <then I'm your man... I measure 5'6"... 5'8" if my hair is poofy> I just picked up a Diploastrea Heliopora from my neighborhood fish store and was given some mis-information from the owner so I was wondering if you could help me with a couple of small matters :) <Hmm... a "little" assistance... "small" matters... I'm starting to form a complex here. Its a good thing that I have a big car> I was told this coral was a filter feeder but I didn't believe him so I tried giving it some defrosted Mysis shrimp which it snapped up eagerly!   <All corals are filter-feeders to some extent... some zooplankton, others phyto... some both. Others still won't feed organismally but will feed by absorption. The bottom line is... there are VERY few corals that don't filter feed in some manner and all essentially need fed in the aquarium. Yes... most all we keep need some feedings (weekly if not daily)> Do I have to feed every opening that is putting out those little tentacles or is a general feeding of as many openings as possible going to be ok?   <the latter> Is there something better than Mysis to feed this guy? <actually... Mysis are high protein and a good primary food. Still... offer a variety (Gammarus, Pacifica plankton, etc)> And how far out do those tentacles reach?   <far enough to capture passing food particles<G>> I don't want the possibility of the polyps and stony corals close to it getting stung.   <no worries here... all corals should be at least 6-10" apart but that will only keep you safe for 1-2 years for most. Move or propagate as necessary> Thanks for the help. Andrea <best regards, Anthony>

Carnivorous coral on a vegetarian diet Hello Crew, I have a 80 gallon reef tank (Fiji LR 100 Lbs) with various leathers and stony corals.   <interesting mix> I did some research on the pretty but dreaded Euphyllia Torch Coral.  Of course, after reading I figure I can handle the little bugger.   <hardy, beautiful, fast-growing but aggressive> So I bought him.  I stuck his "trunk" or base in 3 inches on live sand, with moderate to moderate plus current (constant).  My pc's seem a bit far away for light but was under the impression it wasn't that big of a concern as they are found in various depths? <agreed... and more importantly, they feed so well and easily that many deficiencies in light can be compensated for with almost daily feeding here> (4 wpg 50/50).  Anyway, I have a healthy brain coral that puffs up daily.  He was smack dab in the middle of the sand as you specified in an earlier post.  I moved him on another sand bed surrounded by LR.  He may barely touch it as he puffs but if he does only 10-15%.  He's about 8 inches from the torch, plus the rock barrier, current is still moderate for the brain.  Is this o.k.? <all sounds very fine... will last more than a year if/until growth closes the gap> One more thing, I have had conflicting information on what the torch eats.   <hmmm... not much conflict here. The huge and aggressive polyps coupled with the history, behavior and locale of Euphylliids kames them decided and hardcore zooplankton feeders. The size and aggression of the tentacles is the giveaway. Power packs like that are not wasted on algae catching> I feed Spirulina flake once a day, and Phytoplex 2-3 per week. Occasionally I will throw in finely minced squid/oyster etc blended . Am I doing alright? <only the last meaty food mentioned is providing any direct or significant sustenance. Perhaps the flake food somewhat if it has a meaty component> By the way, the hermit crabs love this torch coral... (Blue and red tiny ones) what gives? <Natural behavior for scarlet red hermits, not surprising for blue> Thanks again (for the hundred and fiftieth time) Steve <always welcome. Anthony>

Recommend any corals as amphipod-eaters? 2/8/03 Greetings to the wise and witty WWM merry folk! <and G'day to you 'yon.. merry... er... dude> I've been studying carefully all the relevant references to AMPHIPODS in your superb website, <danke> but I'm still seeking any specific recommendations (or dissuasion) you might offer regarding corals which  like to catch & eat amphipods (esp. gammarus). <actually... most corals will... especially LPS> I'm not trying to eliminate the amphipods, just to find a small, hardy, presumably LPS or soft coral which needs only moderate light and will benefit from the nutritious, nocturnal little buggers. <LPS would be best... few true soft corals will/can... but corallimorphs and some zoanthids yay> If a small LPS is permissible, my only concern is that its tentacles not injure my fish or sting my existing corals (the latter can be relocated somewhat). <its doable... although there are concerns for allelopathic aggression with all corals> Reconnaissance first.... 20-gallon reef/lagoon saltwater tank, 4" live sand (fine coral), with Marshall Islands live-rock occupying about 20% of tank volume; lots of  multicolor coralline algae growing on LR. Regular use of "B-Ionic" two-part additives for alkalinity and calcium/minerals. Distilled water, never tap water. Lighting is two PC fluorescents (a 55-W 10K blue, and a 55-W daylight full-spectrum). Combination filter/skimmer (brace yourself) is the notoriously awful "Skilter" 400, which I modified by inserting a fine airstone into the bottom of its normally noisy/inefficient bubble chamber (tight budget, baby). <no worries... I have seen many such modified Skilters work well> Water quality and calcium/trace minerals are actually very clean and stable, although I permit nitrates to occasionally linger in the low single digits before performing water changes. <a good idea for coral.. necessary> No Cyanobacteria or green algae, with only occasional mists of diatoms on tank walls (instant snail food). NOT a purist's "reef," hence my use of term "lagoon." <sounds natural and healthy> The instant I can afford it, however, I jump to a larger tank and an Aqua-C protein skimmer. And halides. <no hurry on the halides unless the tank is deep> Residents = one lemon damselfish; two Ocellaris Clown; one Pseudochromis diadema; one Twin-Spot Goby (all reasonably respectful of each other!). Polyps & Corals = Montipora digitata (green and orange frags, both flourishing); purple blue Acropora frag and brown Pocillopora[??] (both up high and growing slowly); frilly green/brown mushrooms & brown disc mushrooms; Millepora with multicolor Xmas-worms (doing great!). <definitely long term issues with the SPS and corallimorphs together. I'll put my money on the 'shrooms winning and I'm pretty sure I'll win the bet> Several small "feather duster worms" in live rock. Approx. 8 various reef-safe tiny hermit crabs. Snails = Trochus, Astraea, <Holy cow!!! You are one of the few people to write in and correctly spell "Astraea". You go brutha!> Nassarius, Cerith, Stomatella varia. Hundreds of amphipods, but only under flashlight at night. Several kinds of small beneficial" "bristleworms""" (those were Toonen Marks, heheh).  No fireworms or (large) predatory worms. One 2" incredibly-hardy mystery bivalve (not Tridacna) snuggled into a live-rock foxhole. Lurker = I'm tracking a possible pistol shrimp or juvenile mantis shrimp (no known casualties yet, but little nocturnal popping noises come in pairs....). <no biggie either way likely> Foods = enriched-brineshimp flake, also Nutrafin pellets, and SMALL amounts twice-weekly of thawed frozen Mysid shrimp. Occasional doses of Kent "Micro-Vert" filter-feeder food seems to keep the feather-dusters growing. The goby, hermits, and snails snatch anything edible the moment it hits bottom. <whew... I'm still with 'ya> So, the idea is to make use of some of the amphipods as live food, while adding to the coralscape. I'd prefer a splash of color but I'm wary of soft corals or anemones due to risks of chemical warfare and my small tank. <actually... your corallimorphs are one of the very worst invertebrates to keep in this regard. You tank would benefit long-term by pulling them out.> Sexy items like Distichopora/Stylaster or red "Chili Coral" seem appealing, but their impact on amphipods ("amphipact"?) is uncertain? <agreed... the Chili coral might take a bit... and is hardier by far... but neither will satisfy you likely> My understanding so far is that SPS corals couldn't hurt a flea, or an amphipod. <agreed> Notes: The Twin-Spot Goby (my kids prefer "Four-Wheel Drive") does considerable sand-sifting but hasn't hurt the LRs amphipod population, <correct... seeking polychaetes more so. Still... bury Mysid on occasion if necessary to maintain his weight> nor does the sandbed ever seem to lack for little new worms and nitrogen-processing capacity. The Pseudochromis instantly nails the rare amphipods that are stupid enough to venture out in "daytime" or at dusk, but that fish mostly relies (pigs out) on the aforementioned frozen Mysid shrimp and sleeps soundly when the Amphipod Parade begins at sunset. <Wow... Pseudo's can usually decimate 'pod populations even in larger aquariums. Sounds like its the nutrient influx that's helping the pods to flourish. No hard at all though... quite helpful.> Thanks for your astoundingly helpful website! <best regards, Anthony>

Feeding a Bleached SPS  - 2/13/03 Hi, I was only suspicious after I received it and after I didn't see any polyps on the branches but it still had the amazing blue color over the whole coral.  <hmmm... perhaps I'm mistaken. I thought the picture of the unreal blue Acropora you sent was the very same one posted on e-bay> I know there are hundreds of different color combinations of Acroporas but have never seen a completely blue one as the one in the link that I sent to you.  That's why I asked your advice.  <Okey-dokey> I have it in quarantine in a 20 gallon long with a Fluval 404 and a Remora Pro skimmer and it will be in there until 4 weeks have gone by or it is healthy again.  <good to hear... it will surely help its chances> Water changes are at the turn of a valve so no problem there at all.  pH is at 8.3 and alkalinity is at 8.  calcium 380ppm.  <a whisker on the low end for Ca and ALK but no worries at all if they are very stable. Better than occasional spikes to high "ideals"> I have a PC light over it that puts out 110 watts total (two 55 watt bulbs)  <very fine> Should I have it in moderate current?  <yes, my friend... and do fashion it to avoid laminar/linear flow. Two converging jets to produce random turbulence is likely fine> Right now it is on the bottom of the tank for the fear that it would have been a lower light requiring Acropora.  <agreed... wise for its state of duress> Higher in the tank after a few weeks?  <yep> Where do I find the solutions you mentioned so I can nurse this back to health?  <Knop cites a dosage of 1 gram of sodium nitrate per 1000 ml of distilled water to make a stock solution. From this stock solution, 10 ml per 100 l of aquarium water is added to maintain a nitrate level under 2 mg/l.> I will do whatever it takes to make sure it lives a happy healthy life in my possession.  Thanks for your time, Jeff <best of luck, Jeff. Anthony>

Re: Bleached coral food - 2/13/03 Hi, thanks for the reply but you don't say where I can get the sodium nitrate.  Thanks for the help, Jeff <try laboratory supply houses like Fisher Scientific. Many only sell to universities/labs though... you'll have to be resourceful and scrounge a bit. I'm sure with enough keyword searches on a 'Net search engine, you'll find a locale close to you. Else, archive old references from Moe on common household Ammonium Chloride for charging trickle filters and dilute to register on a basic ammonia test kit (maintaining residual levels). Anthony>

Coral Color - low Nitrates? 7/1/03 Anthony, one last question on my 75Gallon SPS, LPS and Softy Reef.  After what you have told me about my VHO lighting and from the tanks I have seen, It should be adequate for my tank.   <agreed... although it pains me to see such an unnatural mix of corals. Sure to be challenged and have some failures in the 1-3 year plan if not sooner for mixing LPS SPS and octocorals in one small tank> I have now seen some great looking SPS tanks under VHO and saw a coral breeder's tanks in person.  They were outstanding. <indeed... MH not needed for SPS> However, I would like to get the color of my SPS to stay as dark and vibrant as when I get them.   They have darkened up some since my low Alk episode but even some of my new frags seem to lighten up or at least changed color over time in my tank.  Is this normal?    <perhaps a lack of nitrogen for the zooxanthellae... are your nitrates near zero... too low if so. Need a few ppm for coral vigor/color> I am feeding the tank much more and doing larger water changes.  My Alk seems to stay at a steady 9.5DKH and my calcium is around 350-360 since the 2 big water changes you had me do.    <excellent> I am dripping about a gallon of Kalk daily.  You have said not to push either Calcium or Alk to much so I have been keeping it at this. <and will be very fine for growth of corals... steady and stable> Can you think of anything else that would help with the color of my SPS? Thanks so much. <Daniel Knop reported on European aquarists making a sodium nitrate solution to improve coral color ion zero nitrate systems... I cited and repeated it in my Book of Coral Propagation. Do test for nitrates. Best regards, Anthony>

SPS Coral FOOD? Hello Crew, <cheers> I would like to keep SPS corals specifically Acro. Sp. and Monti. Sp..  Unfortunately I do not have any room for a refugium to culture any fine zooplankton/nanoplankton.  <Too bad... have you looked at the CPR BakPak models? Better than nothing and a very slim profile> The area under the stand is full and there is nowhere upstream of the main tank to put one.  What else can be done to feed these corals? <They feed on micro- and nanoplankton... by absorption too. Nothing you provide from a bottle (meaty slurries or greenwater) is likely to be of much use (too big or simply not eaten/accepted). The refugium is really a bit help... but dissolved nutrients can work very well. Daniel Knop mentioned than some German reef aquarists were finessing nitrate solutions (form 1% stock) to maintain a slight but steady level of nitrogen in their tanks to improve coral coloration. Ammonium chloride solutions are used similarly (all must be tested though). See reference in Knops clam book or my coral propagation book... or try a keyword search on google of our WWM archive (a few mentions as I recall).> Thank you. Paul   <Best regards, Anthony Yellow polyp feeding/Brain Light Hey Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> So, I'm progressing with my 25 gal mini reef (with PC light) now, my Yellow polyps have been doing great and have almost all reproduced already in the month that I've had them, even my button polyps are sending up babies from their base. I've been feeding the tank,  <the incidental particulate food has helped the polyps...feed them well to grow the them under bright light> which has at this present time a bicolor blenny and a Firefish (the purple back Pseudochromis has a new home in the display tank at my LFS since it never learned how to play nice with friends)  <agreed!> every other day with frozen Mysis shrimp, <excellent marine food!> (flake food the other days) which I try to mash up as much as I can between my fingers. The yellow polyps, on account of their growth seem to be loving it.  <yes> Now as of today, I've added a very nice pineapple brain specimen, and I noticed after reading the FAQ that it eats too! Is my current feeding sufficient for it too? or should I supplement with a commercial plankton?  <other Zooplankton would be nice, but the popular Phytoplankton substitutes are doubtfully useful for this Faviid brain. If form follows function, then the long aggressive feeding tentacles (large) are designed indeed for zooplankton. Feed nothing larger than crushed mysids> Any suggestions on what would be a good product if I you think I need to get some plankton? Oh and last question, What's the best placement of the brain coral? <really depends on the species and color. Some pineapples corals shipped are actually Blastomussa species and not Faviid brains. Do use a good photo reference to see if you have Blastomussa wellsi. If not B. wellsi (very low light), then as a rule, most true brains like very bright light. If the specimen did not come in stressed or pale/bleached...then top third of the tank under good reef lights will be fine> Thanks!!! David<quite welcome. Anthony>

Re: Overheated my reef tank!! Hi Anthony.. <cheers, Doc> Thanks for covering for Bob... Is he off playing at a conference or taking pictures under the sea somewhere exciting :) What would you suggest in the way of feeding the Euphyllia ??  <very finely shredded meats of marine origin. Never larger than 1/4 inch. Mysids, Pacifica plankton and Gammarus are great frozen foods... so is Sweetwater plankton> I have occasionally given small pieces of shrimp, etc that I give to my Carpet Anemone... the Euphyllia is very tiny now, with no mouth showing, and the tentacles are very short and flaccid..  <even small "chunks" of shrimp are inappropriate for the anemone and impossible for the coral. They will sting and seem to ingest only to regurgitate at night... this letting the animal starve over months when you think it is getting fed well> I have some "Invertebrate Gourmet Gumbo" I can squirt around it, if you think that might be adsorbed..  <absolute pollution in a bottle... I wouldn't take any such product for free> I also have some of Dave's phytoplankton to add around the Sinularia -- yes/no ? <marginally helpful... read FAQs about dosing bottled phyto: must be bought and kept refrigerated, less than 6 months old and whisked in an electric blender with every feeding to reduce particle size to be even remotely useful to such coral> --thanks again, --chane <kindly, Anthony>

Feeding Corals......again. Anthony???? Is that you? Or Bob? Could it be you have time between your insane dive travel? No........Steven? What up SP? <its me... Anthony! Couldn't you smell the garlic when you loaded the WWM home page that lets you know I'm online? <VBG>> Sorry to have to have you guys broach this question again, I have a chili coral (hate that common reference)  <no worries... I understand, my friend. And this is one of the only common names for it... quite familiar and accepted. It is actually one of the hardiest non-photosynthetic corals available. Be sure to mount it upside down in the tank so that it can feed and survive well> and I have found a local supplier of live everything (Isochrysis and other phytoplankton to live Mysis)  <excellent!.> He is willing to sell me whatever I need and in just the right amounts for the shelf life of the various products.  <all to be used in 4 to 6 months... and best if you rotate every 2 months> My question is phyto or zooplankton for the chili.  <no definitive studies but both likely to some degree. Also likely more dependant on zooplankton (and absorption... do avoid a zero-nitrate condition)> I read Anthony's coral feeding article and the FAQs. I realize all corals will benefit from various types and sizes of foods. The tank is a soft coral tank. Sarcophytons, Palythoa, zoanthids, various cnidaria, Clavularia,  <everything you have just named up to this point needs little or no target feeding at all. Sarcos, Zoanthus species (not so much Palythoa species) and Clavularia all can live in "typical" reef aquariums with absolutely no target feeding if the lights are adequately bright and there is available nitrogen for absorption (fish feces, etc)> Nephtheids, and gorgonians,  <likely some phyto> Lobophytum??  <very little or no feeding... very successful with symbionts> and last but not least, Blastomussa wellsi.  <little or no target feeding... probably a heavy feeder by absorption> Anyway, I already use chopped mysids for my Trachyphyllia geoffroyi  <excellent and appropriate> (the only LPS I have and the oldest coral I have at almost 2 years and HUGE!!!!!) I get the most compliments for his coloration and size. Anyway, is it advantageous to feed live foods?  <very much so> Mysis too?  <yes> Just chop and place in the tentacle path for the Mysids? So is the aforementioned phyto good for the chili and gorgonians (Plexaurella grandiflora, Eunicea succinea, and Pterogorgia)  <yes... and rotifers or tiny brine for the chili too> and Mysis for the only LPS dude I have?  <agreed> By the by, only the LPS is from the wild but every coral I own is propagated from a coral farm.  <WOW! That is outstanding to hear. Kudos to you my friend> Most if not all from mother colonies of a minimum of 3 to 5 years. I am ordering Anthony's book tomorrow 8/23. It's the least I can do. <I hope that you find great merit in it, my friend. Thank you> Peace and may the ocean be with you! Pablo <And may you the sands of the beach also be with you (hopefully not finding their way to every (!) body crevice :) Anthony>

Feeding Corals I have a leather toadstool umbrella and a candy coral. I would like to know what I need to feed these? <The Leather is one of the few corals that can feed upon phytoplankton (do a search of www.WetWebMedia.com concerning phytoplankton feeding and storage protocols) and the Candy Cane coral (Caulastrea?) could use weekly feeding of Mysis shrimp, plankton or Sweetwater Zooplankton (daphnia).> I thought that they got their food from the lights, <Some corals get almost all their needed energy from their symbiotic algae (Zooxanthellae) but all feed somewhat. Some absorb organics from the water column, a few eat phytoplankton, other zooplankton, bacteria, etc.> but was told that I might need to supplement their diet with food. I have no idea as to what to feed them or how often. Any help would be appreciated, thank you. <Let me also suggest Eric Borneman's excellent work "Aquarium Corals." -Steven Pro>

Coral Care I currently have a 75-gallon tank, and 29-gallon sump/refugium combination with several different kinds of Caulerpa along with lots of Sargassum,  <hopefully the refugium is fishless to maximize plankton culture. Also... please be very-very strict with regular harvesting of plant matter from Caulerpa and Sargassum. They are potentially harmful if allowed to grow wild (noxious exudation of Caulerpenes that inhibit coral growth). Caulerpa is definitely a case of some is good, but more is not better> a second 20-gallon refugium, 85-90 lbs. live rock, plenum, 4 x 96 watt PC lights. I have a large cup coral, mushrooms (purple, red and green), yellow star polyps, green star polyps, Xenia, and several very nice zoanthids, eight scarlet hermits, various snails, yellow tang, clown, blue damsel, two cleaner shrimp, serpent star, and lots of live rock critters. According to my test kits the following are within the correct parameters. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, PH 8.6 early evening, Alk (can't remember but it was good according to my Salifert test kit), SG 1.024. I do a 10 -20% water change every two weeks with RO water  <aerating and buffering water before using for evap or salting, right?> and just switched from Coral Life to Kent sea salt.  <Hmmm.... neither would be my preference for reef tanks. Tropic Marin and Instant Ocean top the list for QC> I read your site almost every day and reference the vast storage of information regularly. However, I am still a little confused about additives, coral feeding and lighting. I <Fresh articles on the latter two here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm> have tried to offer the above corals various ground foods to no avail, at least I couldn't see where they grabbed hold of it and utilized it. How do I get the coral to "catch it?"  <depends on the species. Particle and prey size are quite important. A slurry with saltwater is usually a staple but basted in a general direction and rarely blasted onto the coral> I try to feed at the same time but this has not worked either. Am I doing something wrong? I read that mashed Formula 1 lightly sprayed over the corals would be good, what do you think of this?  <it is a good food but too large for most coral. Corals generally need ultra fine particles> My LFS said I need to use DT's, which from reading your site, most of these corals will not benefit from its use, so I only used it once, about two weeks ago.  <correct... it is only utilized significantly by Nephtheids and Gorgonians so far as we know at present. We are fairly certain that very few SPS feed upon it. Really a limited food product but useful for some corals> My LFS has since told me not to feed any of these corals that all they need is good light.  <wow... what terrible advice. That statement assumes that all such corals are autotrophic yet science has really yet to definitively identify even ONE fully autotrophic coral. Almost every coral in captivity needs to feed on something. Some can be target fed by us, others need natural plankton from a fishless refugium. But rest assured that most all need to feed weekly if not daily to grow and live beyond 2 years> Obviously, if this was true, I would be seeing more growth than I am currently seeing.  <excellent point and observation> Most of the corals look very good and all seem healthy, but again, I am not experiencing much growth.  <in fact... without food... they will starve ever so slowly and linger for perhaps a year or more before dying of attrition> My cup coral, yellow polyps, and purple mushrooms are doing the best and my red and green mushrooms are doing the worst. Anything stand out? <all are actually moderate to heavy feeders> Too much light, to little light?  <fine light> The mushrooms are not shaded and are near the bottom of a 20" tall tank. They were bigger when I purchased them from under MH lighting.  <food will compensate for most deficiencies in light over these hardy species> I have Kent Iodine and two parts Bionic but I am a little nervous about using them.  <good heavens... both are fine if not necessary. The Bionic especially unless you are already using Kalkwasser and buffer> Should I use these products? If so, how often?  Iodine in small amounts daily and Ca and ALK supplements as necessary to keep levels up (350-400ppm Ca, and 8-12 dKH ALK)> Do I need to use Kalkwasser in my top off water for these corals?  <I favor it... it has tremendous benefits> I do not have a calcium test kit yet and don't want to add anything until I can test for it.  <agreed> But, in the case of the Bionic should I be using it?  <its a fine product> Sorry about so many questions. I feel like I'm one tiny step away from success.  <do consider my reef book, Book of Coral Propagation... at least half of the 450 pages of text cover basic reefkeeping husbandry in detail. I really think it would help you my friend. Perhaps a local aquarium society has a copy in their library that you can borrow just the same> Since I'm writing this I have to ask a couple more questions, can wet bioballs be a contributor to higher nitrates?  <very much so!> Would the Bak Pak II be one of the better setups for a 29-gallon fish, LR, and some corals tank?  <actually... just live rock and one of the new Tunze skimmers for small tanks (rated for 45 gallons) would be excellent> Thanks in advance for your help. <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

The right food for the right coral I have just recently purchased a hammer coral and a leather toadstool umbrella coral from local LFS. <both hardy choices with regards for water quality although the hammer and all large polyped stony corals are extremely sensitive to handling and the slightest damage. Most aquarists are advised to avoid all stony corals for at least a year until you get the hang of testing and maintaining calcium, alkalinity and magnesium levels. Do consider if you are a newer reef aquarist... and welcome, at any rate!> The salesman also said that I should buy a Kent marine product called ChromaPlex, which he said (and the bottle) was for filter feeding inverts. <he was quite mistaken. The product may be entirely useless for these two corals even if the product testing is not true about this brand specifically (has performed quite poorly in studies). The hammer coral is a zooplankton feeder by most any definition and the Sarcophyton (leather coral) is nearly autotrophic (served by zooxanthellae/light/photosynthesis). What the leather doesn't get from symbiotic activity it derives from absorption. At any rate, its polyps are too small to even capture this brand of phyto substitute. Were you also told that the product needs to have bought refrigerated, kept refrigerated, used within 4 months of the date stamped (if any) and whisked in an electric blender before every single feeding to have any hope that the particle size will be anywhere near small enough to be captured by phyto feeders. I'm gonna guess not. Bummer, bud. You likely got suckered like most folks regarding the mis-information and mis-marketing of phytoplankton substitutes> I have never heard of it , but bottle said that it is aquacultured phytoplankton. <heehee... sort of. Regardless... very few corals even eat phytoplankton (some Nephtheids and gorgonians do... not much else). Most all corals eat meaty foods (zooplankton) and/or feed by absorption> I would like to know if this is what I should be feeding these corals, <nope> and if not what do you recommend for feeding? <read our article here on feeding: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm And how about these others as well for good reef husbandry: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm  > Also I have the small white bugs on glass in my tank, and by what I have read on here they are probably copepods. <yep... now there's some good coral food! Many folks set up fishless refugiums to culture these deliberately for coral food> If they are will my corals eat on these as they float by? <Oh, ya!> I am new to corals an any help would be appreciated. <welcome to the fold my friend. Its a great field in the hobby. Do continue to read and research before you buy corals or fishes. PLEASE make sure that you never add a new animal directly to your tank (always quarantine 4 weeks at home and never trust a LFS period in the store as a substitute for risk/ease of disease transmission from so many other tanks. Read about QT protocol here on wetwebmedia.com). Also... get some good books and read them. Eric Borneman's Aquarium Corals is quite good about science and identification/husbandry. Consider my Book of Coral propagation as well... 200 pages (of 450) covering all aspects of reefkeeping basics in easy language. We also have a new book on Reef Invertebrates coming out in the spring: http://wetwebfotos.com/store/nma-ri.html    And of course, you can spend a lot of time in our wetwebmedia.com archives and FAQs educating yourself for free! Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Re: Coral feeding This e-mail is for Anthony. I asked you a few questions regarding feeding of my leather toadstool and my hammer corals about 2 days ago.. I just have a few follow up questions. I did read the articles you included with your answer also, thanks. First question is you said the hammer fed on zoo-plankton, which from the articles you sent means that is comes from animals, (where as phytoplankton comes from plants), <yes, my friend> I was wanting to know is zoo-plankton what I ask for when I go to my LFS or is there a particular brand or brands that you would recommend? <zooplankton can mean a lot of different things but in our hobby marketed foods, it generally refers to tiny marine crustaceans. You should ask for frozen Mysis shrimp first and foremost... they are the best. Pacifica plankton is also quite good. You may also take krill or cocktail shrimp and mice it extremely fine. There are many other choices. Just stick with shelled foods of marine origin and nothing larger or must larger than 1/4 inch. Just please do not feed brine shrimp (a useless and barren food. PE Mysis has 69% protein... brine shrimp has 4%. Complete trash> Also in one of the articles you had a LPS recipe which you said (Nutritious staples include thawed fresh-frozen gammarus, mysids, Pacifica plankton, minced shell-on shrimp, and minced krill. I was wanting to know where I would get these at, since I have never heard of them, and how do I prepare them? <local pet store freezer for the source, and the recipes abound on the internet (do a keyword search), and you can find them here on wetwebmedia.com (do a WWM google search from the home page (at the bottom)). There are also food recipes in Bob Fenner's excellent book " The Conscientious Marine Aquarist"> Last question. You said that my leather gets most of its food from symbiotic activity and absorption and doesn't need much food at all, but that implies that it does need some type of feeding, just not very often. What do I feed it and where do get it from? <with bright light, it never needs food from you (target feeding)... fish and snail waste, water changes, and many other things provide nutritive sustenance.> Sorry for long e-mail, just need some clarifying from last e-mail. Thanks. <my pleasure, Anthony>

Pearl bubble Hello to you all, <Hellooooooo Helene!> I have read all over the WWM site and still can't seem to figure out what to do for my Pearl Bubble. <flowers, soft music and candlelight always make me feel better. That and a fifth of brandy. Do consider... for the coral, that is... not for me. I can take care of myself> All seems well in the kingdom for the all other life but the pearl just keeps on shrinking... <do you play Mariah Carey a lot?> I have been trying to tempt him to eat with a little direct feeding of zooplankton and phytoplankton mixture.   <good with the zoo... but don't waste your time on the phyto with this species. Form follows function, and this coral has huge feeding tentacles designed to catch large zooplankton. No plant matter here> Even tried a little of my home recipe clam, shrimp, fish etc frozen stuff. All to no avail...he is in the middle of the 75 gal, decent water activity and not too near to anybody else.   <all good> Water quality is good although we did have a nitrate spike a while ago when we lost a few little fishes and couldn't find them.... <no biggie> these were new fishes and had been quarantined but alas who knows.... <understood my friend> Any ideas?   <yep... I think we should send Weird Al Yankovic to Iraq to counter the threat of chemical weapons by the tyrannical regime in power (the oil companies that is)> Or once again not enough info.... <regarding the bubble, it sounds as if you have done all you can. You may need to pull the coral to a bare bottomed QT tank to determine if the irritant is in the tank itself. 4 weeks as usual in QT> I will continue to try to feed him.  Hard to catch him when his feeders are out.... <good, but don't wait...put a tablespoon of meaty juice in the tank 15 minutes prior to feeding and the tentacles should come out> I think that he may be getting too weak to extend them.   <I assure you that is not so> The addition of zooplankton is new.....think that might help? <Oh ya! it is the only food this coral eats. If you have been using phyto only up to know, your coral has been starving. Bubbles are meat eaters> Anyway, thank you for all your help......Helene <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Feeding Reef Tank Ideas Hi Guys. I am a regular (constant and continuous) reader of your website, but until now I haven't had a question that I felt was worthy. <all questions are worthy, my friend> I have been reading some recent postings on this site regarding the feeding of LPS corals, in particular Anthony Calfo's recent postings suggesting a very frequent, perhaps daily, feeding of a carnivorous diet (i.e. minced shrimp, etc.) <indeed... most of the LPS have conspicuous large feeding tentacles that come out at night: evidence of dominant zooplankton feeding strategy (form follows function)> directly to the corals using a syringe or turkey baster.   <yes... but I have no preference on the delivery (baster, etc).. whatever method is convenient for you and gets the job done. I personally feed slurries in small tanks that get regular and large water changes (for growth of coral and water quality control) or I use a long thin pipette for bigger tanks. Whatever floats you boat> I have been feeding my LPS corals occasionally over the last year and don't dispute the obvious merit of more frequent feedings, <indeed... we have learned as reef aquarists that some of the hardiest coral that are say 90% sustained daily by zooxanthellate symbiosis are taking as much as a year or two to die from the daily 10% deficit if unfed but still given bright/adequate light.> but I am concerned as to how to go about this without causing a nitrate, and corresponding algae growth, explosion.   <I can understand and empathize with the concern... but it is of little substance to worry about. Feeding corals (even daily) requires so very little food that even "heavy" coral feeding cannot compare with average fish load feeding. Do consider that the size of a coral polyps "tummy" is magnitudes smaller than a yellow tangs stomach. And even if this were not the case... aggressive water movement and the products of a good skimmer (or two as with larger aquaria) easily temper the influx of nutrients. It is really all about good water quality. Small weekly water changes instead of monthly water changes... changing one oz of carbon weekly instead of 4 ounces monthly, etc> Like most reef keepers, I keep a handful of reef-friendly fish in my 72-gal bow front, and they, of course, would like to be fed daily as well. So Anthony's proposition would seem to require a doubling of the normal amount of food placed into the tank. <doubling?!?! Ha! I'm coming to dinner at your house <G>. You are too generous, my friend. Consider the relative size/mass of your fishes compared to the mass of the corals. Or... put another way... if you were starving and had to choose between eating your yellow tang, or whatever flesh you could skin off of a deflated bubble coral... which would you choose? Indeed... corals simply need tiny feedings. LPS are the hungriest to generalize and even they don't eat much. Soft corals (with polyps too small for most to even be target fed) often get more than enough food incidentally from fish feces and feeding activities. Yes... we are talking about a very small amount.> The fish (two clowns, two cardinals, a Coral Beauty, a Long nose hawk fish and a yellow tang) are only fed as much as they can eat in about 30 seconds (which is one cube of frozen food). <OK... hopefully no adult brine shrimp either :) > Feeding the corals is an always messy proposition since the corals don't necessarily capture everything they are given <they should if their feeding polyps are out... else most don't feed by day from go (must be enticed with juice in the water 15 minutes prior)> and what they do get the fish, being opportunistic, steal food right off the corals' feeding tentacles. <understood... but this is not the corals fault/flaw... it doesn't happen this way in the wild. The corals feed at night when most greedy reef fishes are sleeping/hunkered down. Thus... the corals are more successful at keeping captured prey in the wild. As aquarists, we have imposed an unnaturally high concentration of fishes in proximity to the coral (in the aquarium) and feed he coral by day most often> It usually takes the entire contents of a thawed-out cube to make the rounds amongst the corals (two bubbles, a frogspawn, a torch, and a hammer).   <very fine... does not sound like much> Two cubes of food per day in a tank my size would seem, in my mind, to be a recipe for a nitrate disaster.   <no worries here if the skimmer you have reliably produces a cup of dark skimmate daily. Most do not because most skimmers in my opinion are flawed if not complete junk.> Would you suggest alternatively feeding the corals one day, the fish the next? <cannot say for certain, but sounds like a reasonable experiment. Time will tell. You must observe the coral to see if they seem to be genuinely growing (calcification, not just polyps expansion from aging lights)> Feeding a smaller amount to each group, say, half a cube?   <Nah... you could just feed the corals fist and let the fishes scavenge while hungry. Then feed the fishes later... all in effort to minimize drifted food> Either way, I'm concerned that the corals will not receive enough food because of the hungry, thieving fish. Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks for your tremendous help/support. Scott Ball <no worries... any daily act of feeding is likely a tremendous help. Perhaps the best solution over all (my favorite) is to not target feed the corals (!) but instead add a fishless refugium to the tank with seagrass an/or rubble to encourage the massive proliferation of natural zooplankton. Really best if mounted slightly above the tank too for plankton to overflow nightly and let corals do their natural thing! You can make the refugium a focal point with a mangrove seedling growing out of the top of the tank and a cheap 75 watt spotlight shining on it. Be creative, my friend. With kind regards, Anthony>

Coral Chow? Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a question about feeding my corals. I have a bubble coral and I started out feeding it twice a week. Then not much at all. It started to not expand fully. It has a small piece of Septa where a mouth used to be. I read your article on feeding bubble corals 5 times a week or every day. The pet store where I buy my stuff isn't all that great on knowing all the animals. I'm going to list my corals and I feed formula one to the bubble and it looks better already. I want to know which ones require meat and how often and how much. <Well, it's hard to generalize. There are many different corals that can benefit from "meaty" foods; some need to be fed very finely minced seafoods...I'd suggest a good reference on corals, such as Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals", or Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" for much more detail than we can go into here> Example: one block of formula one or half or one quarter. I don't want to feed meat to any coral that requires light and I hear doing that can kill your coral. <Not altogether true. Sure, corals that are completely autotrophic will not benefit from further feeding. These are rather rare, but there are well known examples, such as Xenia and Clavularia. You could "kill your coral" by smothering them in foods that degrade the water quality...> I have an extra large bubble coral. Will putting the food in while tentacles are out sting you or just stick to you. <Well, they will "sting" other corals, and they can potentially sting a human, possibly causing an allergic reaction of you are susceptible.> Should I wear gloves? I prefer my bare hands. <Frankly, if you're going to come into contact with your corals, wearing gloves is never a bad idea...> One Open brain. <Eats larger zooplankton, such as minced krill, etc.> One extra large hammer coral. One Torch coral. <Both can eat fairly large pieces of food, similar to the Trachyphyllia> 2 tongues one red and one green. A large colt coral. A large Green Daisy Polyp. <Phytoplankton would be best for these animals> Also for each when is the best time to feed. It seems for most when the tank lights are out. I know the bubble requires meat but read one internet article about how meat will kill it. I'm pretty sure the bubble, brain, hammer all can take meat. I pretty sure the torch, daisy polyp, colt and tongues take marine snow and phytoplankton. I just want to be sure and how often and how much to feed. <My answer is simple: Feed as often as you can without degrading water quality> My corals all look good but I don't want anything to die because of starvation. I have no fish in the tank and there are a lot of those little worm caterpillar small looking things in the tank. They are very common and get on the filter pads and rock and are in my 46 fish only as well. <Sound like they could be amphipods. Harmless and beneficial scavengers...> I appreciate any help you can give..........Thanks so much............Chet <Well, Chet- once again, it's hard for me to give precise answers for all of these animals in the space that we have here...One of the aforementioned books would be a great help in learning more about the specific corals that you maintain...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Coral feeding 6/11/04 I feel so stupid I post you guys like two questions a day at the moment but I want to understand what I'm doing and get it right I am beginning to understand it is not quite an exact science though. <no worries> Any way my maze brain coral (if that's what it is) still haven't fed it but I now understand I can feed it actual food as in Mysis or krill mashed I thought it had to have liquid zoo or phyto plankton. <yes on the former... easy on the latter. For this and all corals, just look at their polyps (size and behavior) - "Form Follows Function". Large polyps that come out at night eat zooplankton (amphipods, copepods, etc. and like substitute: Mysis, rotifers, etc.). Tiny polyps that are out all day long or randomly, tend to eat nanoplankton (perhaps bacteria, floc, phyto, etc.)> Geo Liquid is what I have had recommended know anything about what this is? <no idea> Is it what I need? <if its a phyto substitute... no. Not needed for this coral> Thanks so much for answering all my stupid little (and some rather vague) questions, cheers. <all good... best of luck. Anthony>

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