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FAQs on Foods/Feeding Reef Invertebrates

Related Articles: Feeding Reef Invertebrates, Feeding a Reef Tank: A Progressive Recipe by Adam Blundell, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Frozen Foods, Culturing Food Organisms,

Related FAQs: Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 2, Coral Feeding, Brine Shrimp, Algae as Food, VitaminsCulturing Food Organisms


What Do Whelks, Mantis Shrimp, and Gorilla Crabs Eat? (Google much?)    1/21/07 <H>ello, <Greeting, Gene.> <W>e recently got live rock from <F>lorida and have some gorilla crabs and a 3 inch dark blue greenish red mantis shrimp. (We had a neon green one too but it died.) <Nice to know some folks make pets out of what others are considering nuisance hitch-hikers.> My question is what do you feed Gorilla crabs? <Anything that comes from the sea. Fish meat, shrimp, clam, etc.> We couldn't find anywhere what to feed them. Just stories about people killing them. <They are opportunists, and in a captive display setting they usually end up predating or harassing the "desired" specimens. You may feed them anything from the fish counter at your local grocery store, excepting greasy fish, like salmon.> They are really sweet and we want to keep them. <Good for you! I recently witnessed a 6" Gonodactylus smithii that a patron of my LFS has set up a 70g FOWLR for.> We put them in a 10 gal with a rock with lots of holes and feather coulerpa <caulerpa?> and other seaweed. We know they eat sponges, (that's why we took them out of the 80 gal) but what else can we feed them? <Are the crabs in the same system as the stomatopods? If so, you will eventually witness the wide range of the mantis shrimp appetite...> We gave them some microwaved Nori (to make consistency like seaweed) and the<y> ate some. <T>hey are currently in a ten gallon aquarium with whelks that we don't want either. <The mantis will almost certainly make a meal of these, too.> What do you feed whelks? <They are carnivorous borers, making meals of crustaceans by digging through their carapace with a tipped "proboscis" called a radula. I wouldn't be surprised to find your mantis taking a whack at the whelk either.> <W>e dropped in some shrimp and they started eating it, but not a< >lot. The ten gallon is split in half with a tank divider, and they seem happy. <I would recommend a larger system if you plan to continue down this road...> On the website it says Mantis shrimp will eat krill or shrimp but they don't. Have any info? <IMO, mantis shrimp are highly intelligent predators that enjoy and benefit from a challenge. Try getting some Cockle clams that have been flash-frozen. He will make short work of the perplexing treat when you place it in the system. Like everything else that we try to keep in our care, they are used to a diverse menu of foods, and do best when given a variety of (meaty) foods.> <T>hanks so much for your time, GC <You're welcome, Gene. But one last thing: I was not sure about the whelks, so I Googled it and found info to answer your q's without even scrolling down the search-results page. The info IS out there, if you choose to look for it. -Graham T.>

Feeding gorgonians and filter feeders Hello I have just added to my 155 gal tank some finger corals, gorgonians, mushrooms, some featherdusters, I have a plate coral, and some other anemones. All these are from the Atlantic side of panama in central America. I also have a Atlantic blue tang and 3 snappers. I added this in the past weekend. My polyps 2 of them don't seem to be very well. What should I be feeding them I was reading in your book that they filter feed and have to few days a week give them food. Should I buy those bottles they sell at the stores I think I saw one from Kent marine called Micro vert that feeds inverts its liquid style. And zooplankton what should I do? << I think all types of plankton foods like that are very beneficial to corals.  Live plankton better than bottled plankton, but all plankton is good.  Also, lots of light. >> Thank you much <<  Blundell  >> Yeast for corals and clams - 3/2/04 I have read that yeast can be used to feed clams and filter feeding corals. <Well, it is better used as an additive in foods for clams and corals. I have little knowledge about its overall usage but it is generally added to food preparations for Artemia and rotifer and larval fish rearing. Doesn't really have the correct fatty acids and lipids that would be useful to your target animals. It bares mentioning that it can really muck up the tank pretty bad.> I haven't been able to get information on how to properly administer the yeast. <this is rare information indeed. There is little published about its use in aquaria let alone the proper dosage and probably for good reason. This is a less than ideal natural food substitute. Stick with marine oriented products.> Could you just mix up a small amount every day, in lukewarm water with a tiny amount of sugar, let it sit, then add 1 teaspoon to your tank (my tank is 210gal). <I think this is unnecessary. I would try KORALvit which makes use of an amalgam of additives that are used by most clams and corals in the proper amounts. The product is getting a pretty good response from users on various forums.> I am thinking of using this in conjunction with Eric Borneman's coral ration. <I wouldn't use yeast. Eric Borneman's ration is fine but I wouldn't add yeast to your aquarium> Your book Reef Invertebrates is great! <Bob and Anthony thank you.> Thank You <Thanks ~Paul> Robert Yeast and filter feeders 2/29/04 I have read that Knop recommends using yeast to feed Clams and various filter feeding corals. <limited applications (species that will/can eat it) but very effective for those few. Like many nutritive substances added to the tank, it can be easily abused and feed nuisance organisms growths just as easily> I have been unable to find good instructions in creating/using a yeast drip, can you give my some instructions?. <I am not aware of any specific protocol.. just judicious experimentation like using iodine, phytoplankton, etc where small amounts are added until a slight response in nuisance algae like diatoms flares, then back down to a previous dose and ride for a while> I am extremely interested in this method to help supplement food for filter feeders. <interesting but very limited as its particle size is so large. Do resist this feeding style in any lg qty> Also, could a drip help increase the rotifers etc... in my refugiums. <they would benefit much more by a phytoplankton drip> What are its disadvantages/advantages to phytoplankton use? <if live, they will feed some bivalves, microcrustaceans and s few corals. Still... zooplankton is a much more important food to provide> Finally, I know some people include yeast in there coral ration home made mixes that they make and freeze, how effective is this. <no idea... I've never seen a study on it, but if one exists it would be in fishereries data... do explore there my friend> Thank you Greg <Anthony>

Filter feeding questions 12/9/03 Dear Crew: Sorry to bother again, but thanks to your website and books this should be the last email for a while.   <no worries :) > Thank you for opening me up to a wonderful, rewarding hobby and given me new appreciation for aquatic life as a whole.   <outstanding to hear... do share your love and empathy for the aquatic realm with others!> Tank Specs:  45gal, 45lbs live rock, 96watt PC lights, 1in crushed coral, Fluval 304 can filter, cyclone hang-on skimmer, oscillating powerhead (160gph) aimed at filter output for chaotic flow, dwarf lion, leaf fish, Manadrin (fat and happy) for months,  Devils hand coral, small zoanthid mat, red-sea xenia, silver-branched xenia, feather duster, various snails and crabs (1-2 per 10gals),  just added a 14in hang-on refugium with refugium mud a few days ago.  I also have a large number of small feather dusters that are multiplying within the substrate.  Okay so here are the questions: <all good to this point (especially adding the refugium)... but do consider upgrading this skimmer (doubtful it gives you several cups of dark skimmate weekly or better)... and do be sure to siphon or stir that sand weekly with water changes (1" is a bit too thick for using coarse media like crushed coral unless you have very strong water flow and good stirring)> 1. I want to add starburst polyps and a yellow tree coral (Nephthea sp.). Is the tree coral going to start any trouble, <the Starpolyp is far more aggressive> Eric said in "Aquarium Corals" that they produce a lot of chemicals.   <true... most soft corals do... and many of the Alcyoniids and Neptheids are quite noxious. All soft corals really are rather rough> And if they are compatible will weekly feedings of DTs and Zooplex (and the flow from the refugium) be enough for the tree coral to flourish?   <its hard to say for sure... I am not a fan at all of bottled supplements. The refugium is far more useful here IMO> I have a lot of filter feeders and Im afraid it might be sorted on the food. 2. How much flow would be appropriate for all these corals (tree included if it would fit)? I couldn't find a good guideline, only low, medium, or strong current. <10-20X tank volume turnover per hour would be a good start> 3. Could a blue or red Linkia star fish work in this setup? <a blue Linckia likely never would... the tank is too small (100 gall minimum) and too young. They need old, large and mature tanks to support their feeding/grazing needs for long term. A tiny Fromia might be better here> Thank you so much for all the information and being patient with us newer aquarists. Keep the books coming! I cant wait until my copy of "Reef Invertebrates" shows up. Helpful and dedicated people like your crew are hard to find in any field and I thank you for all your hard work. -Nick C. <thanks kindly for your recognition my friend... it is truly redeeming. Anthony>

Jewel box clam 10/16/03 Hello, I just recently got some live rock from Tampa bay saltwater, When I was observing the rock in a quarantine tank I noticed what looks like siphons coming out of a few rocks, they told me these were Jewel box clams? <very common... actually fairly hardy for being non-photosynthetic> I have not been able to find out much about these as far as care and requirements. <they are obligate filter-feeders. You will want/need to have a fishless refugium plumbed inline to the display and/or have a deep sand bed for producing plankton and nutrients to sustain them. Most bottled supplements will not adequately feed them. You might try DTs phytoplankton though> I have placed the rock in my refugium and all appears to be fine. Do you know anything about these or where I can find more info. As always thanks. <we do have a solid chapter on care for bivalves in our new book Reef Invertebrates (Calfo and Fenner). I would also suggest you explore the message boards for fellow enthusiasts of filter-feeders. Many such folks there. Best regards, Anthony>

Phytoplex vs. ChromaPlex vs. Zooplex - 9/24/03 Hi! I have a question about Phytoplex vs. ChromaPlex vs. Zooplex. The Phytoplex has micron size up to 15 microns. The new Zooplex has micron size up to 800 microns. I am assuming the larger the micron size the smaller the particle size is. If that is correct, do I still need to whisk the Zooplex (800micron)? <not correct, mate... the smaller units of measure are smaller particles> I have a 75 gal soft coral tank. I have a Colt coral, Gorgonian and Cladiella that require these type of products. <ahhh... no they don't. <G> At least, that is to say... I believe there are much better options. Live cultured phyto or any bottled brand that is sold refrigerated and dated (like DTs)... and a refugium for live zooplankton. Warm bottled supplements in my opinion are not good for long term success> I am have a difficult time figuring which one I need. <take my advice... none. Add a refugium and call it a day :) > I have been rotating them, one every other day with one cap full. I read on your web page about refrigerating them and whisking them in a blender. Keeping them in the frig is no problem but how do whisk a cap full at a time? <to answer your question... simply ameliorate it with a few cups of aquarium water (add water, whisk, then return the water to the tank). But do know that supplements purchased at room temperature and of an unknown age scare me. Best regards, Anthony>

-Feeding filter feeders- Hello again! My tank contains only cured LR (has been just one week in the tank) with a lot a macro- and micro algae starting to grow on it but some filter feeders as well: about 10 baby tube-worms, some Sycon sponges and some other creatures, which I believe are tunicates ( I will soon send you a picture for identification). As I do not yet have any crustaceans or fishes, I do not feed at all. However, I worry about the health and growth of the above filter-feeders. Do they need to be given some kind of food in order to survive and grow ? <Absolutely, I'd start by getting yourself some phytoplankton and dosing it a few times per week. Live DT's phyto is my phyto of choice!> I have my MH lamp on from 17.00 to 01.00 (8 hours) and my sump from 01.00 till 10.00 (9 hours). Do I need to change the lighting time? <Nope, should be fine. Enjoy! -Kevin> Best regards, Thanassis

Reef Feeding and Philosophy - 8/15/03 Hello Crew,  <Good afternoon> I am a disciple of your website reading, the FAQs every day, and I think my tank has benefited greatly from all the info. <The you very much for the kind words. This is why I volunteer here> I have a 75 gallon reef tank with a 20 gallon sump. 5 inch DSB and 90lbs of live rock.  <Fantastic! Next you're gonna tell me you quarantine too, right?>  I have the following creatures (that I know about): Yellow tang. Strawberry Pseudochromis. Bubble coral. Yellow cup coral. Red and Purple mushrooms. Star polyps. Elegance coral. Leather coral. Large feather duster. Various snails and hermit crabs. Serpent star. I noticed in the FAQs that the crew doesn't seem to like Marine Snow.  <There are questions as to the general size of the ingredients and to the science behind the product. We here at Wetwebmedia have no problem at all with true marine snow, tehee!>  I had been using DT and blended shrimp, krill etc but my cup coral and feather duster and leather were not extending their polyps very much, if at all.  <All about size, baby! (wait that didn't come out right...wait...wha..??) What sounds good to us isn't necessarily what is useful to the coral. Have you read some of Anthony Calfo's articles and books? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm >  I tried using marine snow and everything is looking great, the cup and feather duster and leather have there polyps (feathers) extended almost all the time now.  <Size baby>  Should I continue using Marine snow or would you recommend something else?  <I feel that if this product works for you, and you notice a true difference, then use it. I just have a hard time that this product is the difference>  I cannot find exactly what you don't like about the product.  <A great many things can and do go wrong with bottled "reef food" products. First and foremost, there is no real quality control. The scientific community has been over this a few times. Robert Toonen did an article for Reef and Marine Fishes 2001 annual regarding food stuffs and their ability to maintain size and consistency over time. Another issue is the over use of the product in a tank. How much is enough without bio fouling your tank? If your animals don't eat the recommended amounts, then what? The stuff just rots in your tank. Additionally, doesn't this stuff ever rot or go bad? Heck yeah, it does. Over time it runs through its "useful" date, and putting the stuff in your tank is just as bad as adding urine to it. (if you get my meaning. If not, then you're just pissing away your money. Please send it to me. ((Your money not your urine =}.....))  There is no telling what other chemical, natural, synthetic, products had to be instituted to prolong the life of the product, either. If this stuff can just sit on a shelf indefinitely.......well think about it. Would you want to eat a steak that sat out on a table at room temperature for who knows how long.......would you chance it? Stuff to ponder, mate> My elegance is a new addition and seems to be suffering the same fate as a lot of others I have found in the FAQs. It is covered in brown and white slime which i am blowing off daily and I have dipped it in an antiseptic solution which seemed to help slightly. Any advice on keeping this coral alive?  <well, quarantine to start (if you can, and always a good idea! Feeding, if it will take small chopped meaty foods, and impeccable water conditions. Keep the water changes coming!> With hindsight I would have done things a bit differently, for other new aquarists reading I'll list a few things.  The Pseudochromis is very aggressive and rarely seen, I wouldn't have purchased it.  <...for your tank, but I like this addition in the right tank> The cup coral was dyed bright yellow. Though it has survived and faded to a greenish color it's still a disgusting practice.  <AGREED. It is FRAUDULENT and a downright DIRTY thing to do not only for the animal but for the misled consumer. I'll be honest, I might knock a tooth out of the dealer who would try to sell me something like that. Bastards.> Feather dusters do not seem happy in a new tank setup. I should have only added after a refugium.  <Great advice!> Elegance corals are expensive and seem to be prone to dying.  <Not so sure, but it does need some care and understanding of the environment from which it came. Do your homework before purchasing new inhabitants.> Bubble corals are great, they are really interesting to look at, going through various changes throughout the day and mine has been the hardiest thing in my tank.  <Indeed!!!!!> I think I should have avoided hermit crabs, they are aggressive and I think I would have more small interesting creatures without them.  Thanks, Gerard <Don't agree. I have had tanks with and without and have noticed little difference. I do agree they are aggressive and opportunistic but I see much more of a need for them in the aquarium than some other species (like starfish)> Anyway any feeding tips or elegance coral suggestions would be appreciated.  <feeding- I would also try more live products. I like www.instantalgae.com for various live foods. From mysids to copepods to straight up centrifuged phytoplankton in a bottle. I also like DTs and Bio-Plankton. There are lots of choices for food out there now, so try them and see what mixture works for both your animals and your pocketbook! The elegance is as stated, and try not to move it or disturb it much if possible>

Faulting Foul Food? "Pollution in a Bottle" 3/24/03 Hi again guys Well...I am writing this with head hung low....I have written to you all and have received great info from you concerning problems I've been having with my tank and my corals dying. After all I have asked, it all came down to one very very stupid mistake on my part. Did you know that just because a bottle of invert smorgasbord sits on a unrefrigerated shelf, that it can't continue to do that after you open it. <actually.... even refrigerated, such products have earned the moniker "pollution in a bottle". The bigger surprise for you might be that very few if any corals actually eat such meaty suspensions... most of the product is wasted and simply contributes to nuisance algae. The main problem (among many) is particle size with these bottled algae fertilizers :p> Well it can't and the bottle clearly states that in the instructions. I guess for the last few months I have been polluting my tank as I alternated my feedings of the smorgasbord <pollution yes... toxic, doubtful in small quantities. It was simply degraded> and my plankton (which by the way I do keep in the fridge). <excellent> So from someone who has learned the hard way, please make sure in you continuing great advise that you include the " please read the instructions" notation on anything you put in your tanks. Thanks for all the help Robert <will do, my friend... and let me strongly suggest that you save your money on such bottled food supplements... it is better spent elsewhere (refugia, water changes, etc). Anthony>

Corals 2/28/03 How do I know when my corals are open and ready to feed? <the feeding strategies of cnidarians varies tremendously. For those that feed on particles ("organismal feeders"), simple polyp extension will say it loud... do read more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fdreefinverts.htm Anthony>

Glorified Refugium? Have you ever used the Bio-genesis zooplankton generator. I've read about it and a lot of people swear by it. What is your opinion? Tana <never heard of it and it does not turn up on my cursory "net search. Please direct us to information if you'd like an opinion. Kindly, Anthony>

Starving Sea Star?? Dear Bob- (or Anthony...) <cheers, mate> I have been reading your Faqs and I emailed the other day about my orange Linkia. Exactly what kind of greens and meat do I need to feed him so I don't overfeed the tank or underfeed him?  <tough to say... we first need to ID the genus of the star. Numerous genera are collectively shipped as "Linkia sp". Please scour the web, this site, Indo Pacific Field Guides, other books etc to get a genus and species of possible. In the meantime, simply a wide variety of frozen foods like you would feed a Marine angelfish to be specific> (29 gal reef tank, 2 months old, 2 clowns, 2 cleaner shrimp, 1 horseshoe crab (3"), 1 orange Linkia and 35 lbs of live rock!  <for what its worth... I'm certain that the horseshoe will die in their tank in 6-12 months despite your best efforts. They need a lot of food and a lot of room to grow, scavenge, bury/forage. They need huge tanks!> (seems like the Linkia goes around the rocks once, ends up on the glass and sits there. I clean the front glass so I can see the tank whole idea of reef tank!) and he sits on the clean glass.  <alas... not indicative of anything specific, my friend> After reading your info, I figure I need a protein skimmer, is the SeaClone™ Protein Skimmer ok for me?  <ahh... do read through the FAQs on this topic. Or visit the message boards. You'll find that most people like me won't even take this skimmer for free! You can add Prisms, Berlin and Nautilus to this category for me. I like to get a lot more bang for my buck... my strong advice without spending too much money would be an Aqua C Remora (for hang on the tank <H.O.T.>) or Tunze's smallest unit (model 210)... see here at General Aquatics: http://www.generalaquatics.com/myProducts.cfm?CFID=382338&CFTOKEN=23764741 &parentcategoryid=1%7Cprotein%20skimmers&categoryid=1|protein%20skimmers& vendoridtoDisplay=21|Tunze&collection=1%7Cprotein% 20skimmers > I don't want to take all the food out of the water for the star, but I notice it is getting cloudy!  <not sure that I follow the last comment? In reference to skimmer efficiency? If so... no worries... seastars are deposit feeders. If in relation to target feeding... no pieces should be left more than a few hours to rot and cause cloudy water>  Please help and thank you very much!! Ron  <I sincerely thank you for caring, my friend. I truly believe that your empathy will make you a fine and successful aquarist. Best regards, Anthony> Widen

questions... and then more questions (foods with copper preservative, Yellow Tang) Good evening WWM crew! How are you all? I have some (several) questions tonight but I'll try to be as brief as possible. <Good Evening TJ,> OK, I've recently added a couple of scarlet cleaner shrimp (pacific) and have read that shrimp pellets are good to feed them. So I hopped off to the pet store & asked for some shrimp pellets. They sold me these nifty brine shrimp pellets which I've started to feed the shrimp every other night. They've only really made a meal of these pellets about three times (at first they weren't interested in them). I split one pellet in two & give each one half. So... tonight while they're eating their dinner, I happen to read the ingredients of these great pellets, & guess what I find at the end of the list? Copper Sulfate. YIKES! I managed to chase them down & take the food away from them but I'm wondering how much damage is already done? I thawed a little bit of frozen brine shrimp for them & let them eat that out of a dropper to finish off their dinner, but I've read that that stuff is basically as nutritional as potato chips. So aside from wondering if they're going to die from the copper in the pellets, I'm also wondering what I need to start feeding these guys from this point on. I have vitamins I can mix with the frozen brine shrimp, but if there's something that's better for them I'd rather do that. I'm quite frustrated with myself for not checking the ingredients first. Another lesson learned. Should I test copper levels or is there not really enough copper in these pellets to be harmful (unless ingested by inverts)? <Not to worry, not likely enough to do any harm and you would notice.... The brine shrimp pellets are about as nutritious as the frozen form! Your cleaners can eat all kinds of foods, formula one, two, prime reef, pieces of marine meats like shrimp, scallop, krill, etc. all are good shrimp food. All my shrimp eat these. Basically, fish food.> I'm also beginning to consider re-stocking the tank. I had an ich outbreak last month which you guys were great at helping me through. We had a 50% survival rate with quarantine. However, one of the two that survived was a yellow-tail blue damsel, and, true to his nature, upon being returned to the main tank, he became aggressive to the shrimp. I found a pet store that agreed to let him live there, and he's in a new home now. So, that leaves me with my yellow tang, Ace. I know that they can become aggressive to other yellow fish and/or tangs. Ace has been in my tank for 4 years, and is now enjoying being the sole fish, sharing his space with his cleaner friends, whom he visits frequently. I'd like to get a pygmy angel... maybe a bi-color, but I don't know if this is a wise idea or not. Can you advise? Ace isn't really aggressive... he never fought with his other tankmates; he doesn't try to fight his reflection or anything. If he thinks I'm going to bother his cleaners (like earlier when I was trying to take away their food), then he may half-heartedly swat at me with his tail, but that's about as aggressive as I've seen him get. I probably should mention that I only have a 20 gallon tank so if I add anything, I want to only add one, and something that will stay small, and preferably something that will visit the cleaners (it's so neat to watch the fish be cleaned by them). Sorry for the lengthy email. Thanks for all your help! Take care! TJ

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