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What Is the Best Time To Feed Corals in Your Reef Tank

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Since you are an aquarist enthusiast, you should already know that corals are living creatures. Corals, like other species, need feeding in order to thrive in any environment. This necessity raises the question of the most appropriate time to feed corals.

The best time to feed corals is in the evenings or at night. In the evenings, the polyps of the corals go out to eat, making it the perfect time to feed them. During the feeding, corals also benefit from less intense light. However, every coral species might have particular feeding habits.

This question has many aspects to take into consideration. Having all the information will help you provide the best conditions for your corals. Keep reading to learn everything about the best time to feed them.

When should you feed your coral?

Corals benefit from feeding in the evenings or at night. It is the time when the polyps spread and the little creatures that corals eat go out. Low light conditions can also help improve the feeding process. However, corals can adapt to any schedule.

One of the principal sources of food for corals is the zooplankton. The zooplankton happens to go out mostly at night, allowing corals to feed on them. Some corals “hunt” using their polyps, and their job is more practical when the zooplankton come out of hiding.

Depending on the species of coral, they might need intense or dim light. However, for the feeding process, less intense light can help corals feed. Since corals also draw nutrients from the light, with low light they can better focus on the feeding.

If you manage to have a balanced ecosystem, you might be able to raise zooplankton in your reef tank. Having live zooplankton in your aquarium would grant corals the liberty to feed whenever they want. Zoos and public aquariums apply this technique. 

Another aspect to take into consideration is water flow. You might want to turn off your pumps at night during the feeding to avoid washing the food away from the corals. You can even see how the corals eat the food around them.

Most species of corals are quite resilient and will adapt to the conditions you provide to them. In many cases, you will determine the time and date of feeding. Then, your corals will work with your schedule. However, I strongly recommend you know your corals and research the species to better care for them.

Once the food enters the tank, the coral will notice it and will go out to feed. As they can detect food, the exact hour you decide to give them food is not paramount. Your coral species will, either way, go out to eat.

You will determine the best time to feed your corals depending on your possibilities, your ecosystem, and the conditions of your reef tank. 

To know more about feeding coral, you can check this article I wrote on the subject!

If you’re looking for more information on growing coral, check out my full guide that’ll tell you everything to get you started!

How often should you feed your corals?

There is no guidebook on how often corals should be fed. Some aquarists feed them once a month, while others feed them on a daily basis. Only by knowing the specific necessities of the corals of a reef tank can a schedule be determined.

One of the best methods is to feed small quantities once or twice a week. After doing this for some time, you will see how your corals respond to this schedule. This technique allows you to better understand their needs.

There might be a chance that your corals need more or less food. However, the only way to know this is by testing it in your reef tank. Corals normally adapt to the conditions they are given, but they can also let you know when they need more.

Overfeeding a reef tank is one of the most common mistakes among aquarists. Overfeeding won’t do much damage to your aquarium, but it is food that just goes to waste. You can prevent this from happening by evaluating the conditions your corals need.

The size of the portions you feed them is also something to take into consideration. Some species might need the food to be small, while others could benefit regardless of the size. In this sense, you need to know your corals.

Watching your ecosystem develop and respond to your care is among the best experiences for aquarium enthusiasts. When you start feeding your coral and see how they react to your care, you will certainly enjoy the feeling!

Let your corals tell you how often you should feed them and be marveled at it!

Is lighting important for coral feeding?

Lighting is one of the principal sources of energy for many species of corals. Corals can draw nutrients from lights through photosynthesis, helping them develop, grow, and reproduce. A well-balanced lighting supply is necessary for corals in a reef tank.

Photosynthetic corals are species that benefit from the nutrients they draw from the light. They absorb these nutrients thanks to the alga zooxanthella that lives on its surface. Both soft and hard corals can contain zooxanthella.

The zooxanthella is an alga that lives on the surface of different species of corals. This alga provides energy through photosynthesis in exchange for a safe environment to live in.

Most coral species need constant light for several hours of the day. During these hours, these species do most of their growing. Depending on the species, you might be looking at 10 to 12 light hours per day. 

Each variety of coral will have different specifications. Hard corals such as SPS and LPS benefit mostly from intense light. In contrast, soft corals benefit from dim light. Understanding the requirement of your species can help you provide the best conditions possible.

To learn more about soft corals, you can check the article I wrote about them here.

The setup of your lighting will be crucial for the success of the corals in your reef tank. As previously said, every species will have its particular requirement. In this sense, research will be the best asset to take care of your corals. 

Furthermore, I would recommend that you don’t attack your corals with too much light straight away. When introducing your new corals to your reef tank, you might want to do it progressively. 

Hitting new coral with intense light in a new environment could potentially kill it. Try to offer the best possible conditions when introducing it to your reef tank and increase the lighting slowly to give time for adaptation. 

Do photosynthetic corals need feeding?

Photosynthetic corals need feeding as much as any other species. Although the Zooxanthella provides energy through photosynthesis, these corals also use their tentacles and polyps to capture food from the water.

The photosynthesis from the zooxanthella can provide up to 60% of the needed energy of a coral. Photosynthesis constitutes the major source of energy for these species. 

However, this is not the only method these corals use to eat. Corals need more energy than that provided by photosynthesis, making it necessary for them to absorb compounds from the water or feed on other organisms in the reef tank.

Corals need the extra food and energy for many purposes. The extra food helps corals create new tissue for the polyps and the skeleton. In case of damage, corals use the extra energy to cure and repair themselves.

For their reproduction, corals also need extra energy. Corals reproduce asexually through budding. The budding process is where a coral creates a copy of itself to build a new colony. To produce this copy and to heal afterward, the energy provided by photosynthesis is not enough.

To complement their feeding, corals use their polyps and tentacles to capture floating creatures in the water. Almost anything that the corals can take with their tentacles becomes food and energy. 

With their polyps, corals can capture zooplankton, algae, brine shrimp, and many other little creatures. You can even watch them hunt when you feed them. 

To complement the already mentioned feeding methods, corals can also absorb nutrients from the water. Any compound on the water becomes beneficial for corals. They can absorb calcium, magnesium, and more.

According to some marine biologists, corals use all these methods to feed. They discovered that photosynthesis provides about 60% of the needed energy. Hunting constitutes about 20% of their ingest, and absorption the remaining 20%.

As you can see, corals need more than just lighting to thrive in your ecosystem. Use a functional feeding schedule, and you will have healthy corals in your reef tank.

Having corals in your reef tank might not be the simplest task. Yet, it is really gratifying to see your species thrive and develop. You will not regret the decision of having corals in your tank. Just make sure you provide the optimal conditions, and your coral will pay you back beautifully!

I hope I have made the whole feeding process easier for you with this article. 

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