SPS Corals Grow Better in Reef Tanks with Regular Feeding

Over 99 percent of newly settled Acropora perish within the first year on wild reefs. Even the tiniest Acropora frags fare far better in our tanks. We don’t let algae to encircle and smother us. We keep them safe from predatory fish and disease, but we could definitely do more than the bare minimum.

It’s all about feeding our stony corals this time.

While I believe most of us feed our huge polyp corals. It’s also critical to consider the nutritional requirements of our Acropora and other stony corals. With that out of the way. Let’s dive right in and learn why it’s so important to feed our stony corals.

While our Acropora’s symbiotic zooxanthellae can provide the majority of their nutritional requirements, several species can also obtain nutrition by collecting items directly from the water. This type of direct feeding gives crucial nutrients that they wouldn’t be able to receive via zooxanthellae photosynthesizing alone.

Nitrogen, phosphorus, certain amino acids, and trace vitamins and minerals are examples. Beyond just being plain sense, feeding corals has been scientifically demonstrated to result in stronger tissue growth. A higher rate of calcification, which means it grows faster, and better general health and nutrient storage. To put it another way, the coral is better, healthier, develops faster, and has a nicer appearance.

Isn’t that fantastic? Feed corals things like Artemia nauplii, a brine shrimp, and rotifers in laboratory conditions. But these aren’t really available to the typical enthusiast unless you want to culture them yourself.

They’re not difficult to complete. If you’re interested, brine shrimp can be hatched or decapsulated eggs can be purchased and used as a feed. I’m not a big fan of working with live foods and needing to culture and refrigerate them.

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That’s why I rely on pre-packaged feeds like Reef Roids or New Life Spectrum’s coral micro feed. Of course, we don’t know exactly what goes into those items when we utilize them. The total nutritional profile may not be ideal, and we wouldn’t know. Reef Roids merely lists marine plankton, and while New Life Spectrum provides a bit more information. It’s difficult to determine if it’s satisfying all of our coral’s demands.

There’s been a lot of new research in this area to see if there’s a better way to produce corals. Use those corals to repopulate bleached reefs. This is one paper in particular that I would recommend.

The Impact of Different Feeding Regimes on the Survival, Growth. Bio Chemical Composition of Acropora Coral Recruits is the title of the study. They go into greater depth than I can here. As a result, the authors of the paper investigate feeding four different Acropora species four different diets. They’re using enriched rotifers, their own specialized food, natural sea water, and then extremely finely filtered sea water.

As a result, I find their findings particularly intriguing because the species they’re examining is one that we keep in our tanks as well. They are Acropora hyacinthus, Acropora loripes, Acropora millepora, and Acropora tenuis. So the team fed Selco S.parkle to their rotifers, which is a powder that you combine with water and then feed to the rotifers to make them more nutritious.

They don’t say exactly what went into their custom-made diet, but they do feed their corals twice a day. At 10:00 a.m. and then again at 4:00 p.m. They now give the corals 20 minutes to feed without using any pumps or moving the water. Then they switch on the pumps for a few minutes to mix everything up. Give another 20 minutes to finish feeding without the pumps.

The dosage was subsequently calculated to be 2.4 rotifers per milliliter of water. Which corresponded to the natural food density seen on reefs all around the world. So, for those of you who feed your corals, do you feed them this frequently, like twice a day? I don’t think so.

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I try to feed them every day, but it sometimes only happens a couple of times a week.

So they conducted their experiment for 93 days and then examined the growth and chemical content of each coral in the study to see if it had any impact. So it does have an impact, albeit a significant one. Acropora growth is optimal in aquariums that use just natural seawater. That’s fantastic news for those of you who live near the coast and have access to natural sea water. But it’s bad news for the rest of us. So the unfed, highly filtered sea water tanks grew the slowest. These are the tanks you and I would have if we didn’t feed our corals at all.

Enhanced rotifers, or their bespoke diet, were the second and third highest ranking meal types for overall coral development and health, depending on the species, but both diets are better than not feeding at all. So the essential point here is that we need to feed our stony corals in the same way that we feed our fish. You wouldn’t keep a fish in a tank if you weren’t going to feed it. That is not something you should do to your coral. Turn off your pumps, or at the very least your return pump and skimmer, and leave your corals 30 minutes to an hour to consume anything you’re going to put in the tank before re-starting everything.

Your corals will repay you with more growth and improved color, I guarantee it.

And I’m hoping that they will reveal what their bespoke feed is in the future, because it would be fantastic to be able to design our own coral food in the same way that we can for fish.

The study focused on larval coral since researchers wanted to replicate it and eventually repopulate reefs. I believe it applies to the coral we keep in our tanks as well. Let me know what you feed your corals. If you don’t feed them at all in the comments section below. I believe people can be successful in either situation. I believe you will be more successful if you feed them. As a result, I hope you enjoyed it.

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