One of the biggest benefits to keeping coral in your aquarium is that, by and large, these underwater creatures are “set it and forget it” – they generally take care of themselves.
At the same time, almost every single species of coral can benefit in a big way with laser targeted feeding from time to time.
Sometimes you’ll want to target feed corals that just aren’t getting enough nutrients on their own. Maybe you need to bounce back the health of corals that have become a little malnourished and a little sickly.
Other times, though, you’ll want to target feed corals to give them a quick injection of nutrients to support a spurt of growth.
This happens a lot when folks want to split corals, want to frag corals, or just want to give them a bit of a boost to get the colony more established.
At the end of the day, though, it’s never a bad thing to know how to target feed your coral even if you are only going to be doing it every now and again.
That’s why we put together this detailed guide.
How to Target Feed Corals?
First things first, it’s important to understand the difference between target feeding your coral and broadcast feeding your coral.
With broadcast feeding, you are sort of feeding your coral the same way that you would have fed your fish:
You turn down the protein skimmer as well as the main return pump and then you sprinkle your food into the mix. Do your level best to make sure that the food evenly disperses near the wave pump so that it spreads throughout the aquarium, giving the food a couple of minutes to mix throughout.
Then all you have to do (maybe 30 minutes later) is power the pumps and system back on and you are rocking and rolling.
As we highlighted a moment ago, this method is well and good for fish and other underwater creatures that are mobile and willing to “hunt” their food sources.
But it doesn’t work all that well with coral.
No, it’s much more effective if you use either pipettes or some sort of baster (like a turkey baster) to be much more targeted with your feeding approach.
The idea here is that you turn your return pump, skimmer, and wave pumps down – essentially eliminating all water flow activity.
Then you fire up a full pipette or turkey baster with your coral food, maneuver it right near the mouth of the coral itself, and then gently spray the food directly on them.
They will handle the rest of the heavy lifting for you!
It’s never a bad idea to watch your corals as you feed them, either. You’ll get a chance to see them fluff up, wiggle their tentacles, and generally do what corals do when they are enjoying a feast.
Should You Target Feed Corals?
If you’re wondering whether or not you should even take the necessary steps to target feed corals we can put your mind at ease.
While not absolutely necessary with every single type of coral out there, the truth is most coral in aquarium settings could benefit from a jolt of targeted nutrients every now and again – and some absolutely need to be “handheld” this way if they are going to thrive.
As we mentioned a little bit earlier, targeted feeding is a perfect way to guarantee just the right amount of nutrients get to your coral instead of end up diffused within the water of your tank.
This targeted nutrition guarantees good health for your coral, but it also guarantees that they get the nutrients necessary to reproduce, to grow, and to be a little more resilient when it inevitably becomes time to frag them or for them to split in the colony to expand.
Without targeted feeding you might have a decent coral collection, but you’ll never have one that is really taking off and really thriving.
Learn how to target feed, make it a practice to do so (as recommended based on each species of coral you have), and watch as your underwater world really takes off for the better.
How Often Do You Target Feed Corals?
Every single coral species is going to need nutrition on a different schedule, but the general rule of thumb for targeted feeding specifically is to stick to one or two times a week.
Some coral are going to need targeted feeding a little more frequently than that, others can go a little longer without targeted feeding, and others still are going to sit right in that sweet spot pocket of two times a week.
You’ll only be able to figure this feeding schedule out after researching all of the different types of coral you are keeping, their specific nutrition schedule, and how that nutrition schedule impacts the nutrition schedule of all the rest of the underwater creatures in your aquarium.
This isn’t a ton of research you’re going to have to undertake.
Google is your best friend and you’ll find the answers to the targeted feeding schedule for pretty much any type of coral in record time.
Still, it’s not a bad idea to confirm this schedule with multiple sources. Have a look at different websites, different YouTube videos, and different forums just to make sure that you are dialed in.
In the world of coral, sometimes too much nutrition is just as bad as too little.
The last thing you want to worry about is sort of “over stuffing” your coral, creating or triggering unsustainable growth levels, and really stressing out your coral colony all while thinking you were really doing something nice for them.
This isn’t something you want to do willy-nilly.
On top of that, it’s also a good idea to make sure that you keep careful track of all the different feeding schedules you have for the individual types of coral, too.
It could be something as simple as keeping notes on a whiteboard or index card near the tank or something as advanced as Google Alerts and reminders on Google Calendar.
At the end of the day, though, if you have multiple species in the same tank you need to be sure that they are all getting fed on the right schedule.