Coral reefs are beautiful components of saltwater aquariums. Any saltwater aquarium will never be completed without healthy corals. It’s important to make sure they’re well-fed with the right coral food so that they can thrive. There are many different types of coral, and each one has specific nutritional needs. In this article, we’ll discuss the best coral food options available on the market, and we’ll help you decide which one is best for your aquarium. Want the best coral food without all the reading? Check out Red Sea Reef Energy Plus AB+. So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced aquarist, read on to learn more about coral food.
Best Coral Food Options:
What is the Best Coral Food?
For mixed coral reef tanks, we love Red Sea Reef Energy Plus AB+. It is a great all-in-one superfood. Users report better growth, brighter colors, and greater ease of use with automatic dosers. It is formulated to leave no unnecessary polluting organic material in your water, which could spike water parameters.
What is the Best Coral Food for a SPS-Dominant Reef Tank?
For an SPS-dominant tank, our pick is Polyplab – Reef-Roids. Reef-Roids include natural marine plankton and zooplankton and does not include processed fish meals that can rapidly degrade water quality.
What is the Best Coral Food for a LPS-Dominant Reef Tank?
For an LPS-dominant tank, our pick is Coral Frenzy. Coral Frenzy contains 5 total ingredients. By keeping it simple, this product reduces waste creation in your tank. It has natural phytoplankton and zooplankton plus an Atlantic white fish protein.
What’s the Difference between LPS and SPS corals?
Time for a coral education lesson. The basic subdivision of corals is hard and soft corals. Hard corals are named as such because they build a hard skeleton as they grow. When they die, the skeleton is left behind and helps build up the reef height. The hard skeletons create the scaffolding for future coral growth. Over time, the skeletons eventually become rock, which helps create live rock.
On the other end of the scale, soft corals do not leave skeletons behind when they die. They simply shrivel up and disappear.
Hard corals can be further divided into LPS and SPS corals. LPS means “Large Polyp Stony” and SPS means “Small Polyp Stony”. LPS corals are usually large and have bodies that inflate with water, hiding the skeleton underneath. Examples include Hammer and Bubble corals. LPS corals are very popular in the aquarium trade and can glow fluorescence under blue LED lights.
SPS corals are often branched or swirling-shaped masterpieces. They have thin skin covering their skeleton so you’re more able to directly see their shape. SPS corals need bright light, strong water movement, and are generally quite difficult to keep, even for the most experienced reefkeeper. Perfect water quality at all times is a requirement so be prepared to simultaneously manage temperature, salinity, KH, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Nitrate and Phosphate. In other words, good luck! Examples of SPS corals include Montipora and Seriatopora.
Do I Need to Feed My Coral?
Corals receive a good amount of nutrition from the photosynthesis of light; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is sufficient, especially for large corals. For example, larger polyp coral frags often consume plankton or krill. By experimenting and adding a mixture of organisms to your tank, you can more closely replicate their wild habitat and keep them healthy. When feeding coral, we suggest turning your tank water flow to low speed or off completely, which will make it easier for your corals to feed. You will also need to make sure your reef salt is a good selection for your coral.
How Often Should You Feed Coral?
The answer will be slightly dependent on the type of coral you’re keeping, but we generally recommend feeding photosynthetic coral 1-2 times per week. The best time of day for feeding is in the evening after the aquarium lights have been turned off for the day.
For non-photosynthetic corals, Gorgonians, or Sea Fans, feed them much more frequently. Because they’re not photosynthesizing their energy, these corals rely heavily on food for energy.
How and What Does Coral Eat?
Coral is cool. Reef-building corals work together in a symbiotic relationship with algae called zooxanthellae. Algae live in the coral polyps and use sunlight to make sugar, which the coral can use for energy. In their part of the deal, the coral provides carbon dioxide and a protective home for the algae. Everyone is happy in the end.
However, this isn’t the only way the corals get energy. Corals also catch tiny floating animals in the water known as zooplankton. They hunt at night when polyps come out of the skeletons, stretching their tentacles into the water to catch any animals that float nearby. The polyps wrap their tentacles around the animals and pull them into their mouths. Stealthy little hunters, right?
How to Feed Coral?
There are three main methods of feeding coral: Zooxanthellae algae, direct feeding, and indirect feeding.
Zooxanthellae algae corals develop vivid colors. These algae feed coral via photosynthesis and create energy from sugar created from light. Because each coral species has different light requirements, Zooxanthellae algae might provide sufficient food for some species, while other species might need feeding supplementation.
Direct feeding is what it sounds like – the coral draws food directly from the surrounding waters. Two clues if your coral is a direct feeder – large tentacles and/or a visible mouth. Examples of direct feeding corals include Open Brain, Elegance, and Plate Corals. Direct feeding corals eat a range of foods, including small diced fish, krill, small pieces of shrimp, plankton, or phytoplankton. Be careful with overfeeding when doing direct feedings, as it can spike your nitrates, which can spell trouble down the line for your corals.
Indirect feeding occurs when corals ingest dissolved organic chemicals via the water without being directly fed as the examples above. Favorite coral foods include waste products and uneaten fish food.
Because there are three ways to feed the coral, the advice here is to know your coral. What species of coral do you have? Learn about how they best consume nutrients, what their ideal feeding schedule is, and more. Try to group corals with similar feeding requirements so you’re not inadvertently under or overfeeding your reef tank. Overfeeding can be linked to water parameter issues so keep an eye on your tank with regular water testing. You might want to consider purchasing a protein skimmer to help remove any unwanted food.
Best Coral Food Options
- Polyplab – Reef-Roids – Coral Food For Faster Growing
- Coral Frenzy 0.5 mm Reef & Fish Pellet
- Fauna Marin Ultra LPS Grow and Color 100 ml Medium
- Two Little Fishies, Marine Snow, 8-Ounce
- Kent Marine PhytoPlex, 16-Ounce Bottle
- Red Sea Reef Energy Plus AB+ 500ml Aquatics
- Poseidon’s Feast :: Live Marine Copepods – 3000+ Tisbe & Tigriopus Pods
- Two Little Fishies – Goniopower Advanced Zooplankton Diet, 30gm
- Seachem Reef Phytoplankton, 16.9 fl. Oz.
- Hikari Coralific Delite, 1.23 Ounce each
- Brightwell Aquatics CoralAmino – Amino Acid Complex for Coral Coloration & Growth, 250ml
Although originally engineered for feeding the Goniopora genus of coral, Reef-Roids are a popular coral food source for all filter-feeding corals. Reef-Roids include natural marine plankton and zooplankton and does not include processed fish meals that can rapidly degrade water quality.
The particle size of Reef-Roids is around 150-200 microns which is ideal for Goniopora feeding. Users report that Reef-Roids results in excellent polyp extension, faster growth, and deeper, more vibrant colors on filter-feeding corals such as Zoanthids, Mushrooms, and Ricordia.
One container can feed a 100-gallon tank for 3 months with two feedings per week. You can either broadcast feed your corals by pouring Reef-Roids into a high flow area or target feed your filter-feeding corals. In order to target feed, use a syringe or turkey baster to place the food extremely close to the coral, where it will be easy for the coral to consume the food.
- Engineered for Goniopora and filter-feeding coral species
- Affordable – one container lasts about three months
- Users report great coral growth and color vibrancy
- Not suitable for non-filter feeding coral species
Coral Frenzy is a great all-around coral food choice. It can also be used for feeding small fish in your tank. Every ingredient is listed on the label and there are no secret ingredients or fillers. This product is straightforward.
Coral Frenzy is capable of feeding multiple creatures in your reef tank such as small fishes, SPS coral, LPS coral, crustaceans, and scallops.
Coral Frenzy contains 5 total ingredients. By keeping it simple, this product reduces waste creation in your tank. It has natural phytoplankton and zooplankton plus an Atlantic white fish protein.
With Coral Frenzy, it is recommended to feed two or three times a week, depending on your system. When first starting with this product, it is recommended to use less than you think you need in order to learn how to calibrate feeding and not spike your water parameters. It is recommended to turn off your skimmer when feeding.
- Only 5 ingredients (no fillers)
- Can feed range of creatures, like small fishes, SPS coral, LPS coral, crustaceans, and scallops
- Flexible coral and fish feeding food means you can use one food for entire tank
- No fillers for cleaner water parameters
- Product size is smaller than others on list, meaning you will have purchase more frequently
Fauna Marin is a large coral farmer in Germany. They’re experts in coral and raise both LPS and SPS corals, marine fish, and marine invertebrates.
This product is formulated for feeding LPS and Azoox corals. This particular product comes in pellet form. This food is high-protein (75%) and contains marine proteins, lipids, Omega 3 fatty acids, marine oils, antioxidants, and trace elements. Like most other options on the list, it is recommended to turn off the water flow in your tank so it is easier for your corals to feed.
To use this food, Fauna Marin suggests feeding twice a week. To do so, place an individual pellet into each polyp so the coral can ingest the pellet.
- Protein-rich coral food (75%)
- Engineered for feeding LPS and Azoox corals
- Reputable brand
- Users report excellent growth and color
- Won’t work for all coral types
Two Little Fishies is an excellent coral food for filter feeders because it contains special biogenic suspended matter found in natural seawater, including “marine snow” aggregates. This is a natural component of any marine animal’s food supply and a unique element of this coral food.
This option includes the necessary ingredients of phytoplankton and zooplankton that are required for corals, like all other options on this list.
To use this product, most feeding methods will work. Make sure to turn off water flow before feeding so it is easier for your corals to feed. If you keep this food in your refrigerator, take it out 15 minutes before feeding so it has a chance to return to room temperature.
- Contains biogenic materials found in natural seawater
- Biogenic materials and marine snow aggregates mimic natural seawater
- Great for feeding filter-feeding coral
- Some users report lackluster coral response
Kent Marine PhytoPlex has a balanced ratio of lipids, carbohydrates, and protein which are essential for corals. This product can be used for a variety of sea creatures, including corals, sponges, clams, scallops, bryozoans, tunicates, sea fans, filter-feeding sea cucumbers, and many annelid worms. Kent uses their own formula to recreate a salt water-based food that contains aqua-cultured, naturally-occurring phytoplankton.
This food is recommended for SPS corals. SPS corals are best fed via the indirect, broadcast feeding method.
- Balanced ratio of lipids, carbohydrates, and protein for corals
- Does not contain gluconates or other sugars
- Has natural phytoplankton
- Easy to overfeed so be careful when administering
Red Sea Reef Energy Plus AB+ is an all-in-one superfood for your corals. Users report better growth, brighter colors, and greater ease of use with automatic dosers. It contains an organic complex of dissolved and suspended carbohydrates, amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins. It can be absorbed and consumed directly by the corals, making feeding your reef tank easy. It is formulated to leave no unnecessary polluting organic material in your water, which could spike water parameters.
Reef Energy Plus is an enhanced coral food that provides complete nutrition for Soft, LPS, SPS, and non-photosynthetic corals. Lab testing of this option demonstrated a 15% faster growth rate with Reef Energy Plus than other coral foods on the market.
- Suitable for Soft, LPS, SPS, and non-photosynthetic corals
- Proven 15% faster growth rate of coral
- Won’t pollute your tank with leftover organic compounds
- Trusted brand
- If left unrefrigerated for more than one week, compromised product quality
- Some users report receiving bottles near expiration date
Poseidon’s Feast is an excellent choice if you’re seeding a new aquarium environment or if your current tank needs a boost. It contains adult and juvenile copepods, a small crustacean (species Tigriopus californicus and Tisbe biminiensis) that fish and corals love to snack on. The adults will be consumed first, as they’re visible to fish and corals, while the juveniles make their way into the rocks, macro algae, and sponges where they will consume detritus and start to reproduce. This means you can develop a healthy copepod population over time.
Tigriopus californicus is rich in omega-3 fatty and amino acids. Tisbe biminiensis are smaller and live in small cracks. They help keep your aquarium clean and keep any fish you have in with your coral entertained as they hunt for these copepods around every crevasse in your tank. This product is great for feeding finicky fish & inverts such as Mandarins, Seahorses, Anthias, Wrasses, SPS, LPS & NPS Corals, Clams, and most other filter-feeding inverts.
- Contains adult and juvenile copepods
- Species include Tigriopus californicus and Tisbe biminiensis
- Great for finicky fish eaters and corals
- Well-insulated shipping so you receive healthy batch
- Some users report leaking jars on arrival
Goniopower is a dehydrated zooplankton mix created by Justin Credabel. It is specially engineered for feeding Goniopora, Alveopora, and other suspension-feeding invertebrates such as soft and stony corals, anemones, zoanthids, clams, and scallops.
This food comes in a powder-based form so you’ll have to mix it before feeding. It contains all the amino acids, vitamins, fatty acids, pigments, essential lipids, and trace elements your tank needs to be healthy.
It can be used a few times a week as a solo food or in conjunction with other coral foods, depending on your tank needs.
- Engineered for Goniopora, Alveopora, and other suspension-feeding invertebrates such as soft and stony corals, seafans, anemones, zoanthids, clams, and scallops
- Users report strong growth and vibrant colors
- Requires mixing before using
Seachem is a well-known and respected brand in the aquarium world. This coral food option is a concentrated blend of green and brown marine phytoplankton. The proprietary mix provides essential fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, amino acids, with biological carotenoids for your corals. Particle size ranges from 1-20 μm, meaning this product is a useable food source for a range of corals and invertebrates.
We like this product because it contains a blend phytoplankton. Blends (versus single strains) are linked to better nutritional value. Studies have shown increased consumption of phytoplankton in coral with blended populations.
- Blend of green and brown marine phytoplankton
- Particle size ranges from 1-20 μm to feed multiple organisms easily
- Blends of phytoplankton associated with better nutritional value
- Good value
- Users report it smells bad
Hikari is a well-respected Japanese fish food brand. The main ingredients in this option are Krill meal, xanthan gum, krill extract, cassava starch, lecithin, and wheat flour. Coralific Delight is one of their offerings for coral and can be fed in two ways.
First, if you mix the product with water and allow the mixture to thicken, it can be target fed directly into the polyps. This is the ideal approach for LPS corals.
The other method involves a more diluted mixture (more water added) that is target fed close to the polyps. The goal here is to let the food drift into the polyps.
Hikari claims your corals will grow faster and have bright coloration with this product, which is backed by our experience.
- Contains Krill meal, xanthan gum, krill extract, cassava starch, lecithin, and wheat flour
- Easy to use
- Well-respected brand
- Two methods to feed corals
- Requires mixing to feed corals
Brightwell Aquatics CoralAmino is a coral food widely used by professional coral farmers globally. It is based on and inspired by extensive oceanographic research on tropical coral reefs undertaken by marine scientists.
This coral nutrition supplement resembles the proportions of amino acids present in many species of stony corals. Although ratios of amino acids in coral tissue vary from species to species, it is possible to establish a general average ratios, making the product a productive food source for stony corals, soft corals, solitary, and colonial polyps.
Brightwell Aquatics CoralAmino contains free-form amino acids, which are important to corals that have undergone, or will undergo, fragmenting or propagation. This product encourages both the formation of new tissue and repairs damaged tissue, while also encouraging growth by budding and fission.
- Formulation based on extensive marine scientist research
- Used by coral farmers globally
- Contains free-form amino acids that aids coral repair and growth
- Users report excellent growth and repair after continued use of this product
- More expensive than other options
Conclusion: Best Coral Food
The best way to maintain a healthy reef tank is by including the right type of food for your coral. Different species have different nutritional needs, so it’s important you understand what type of set-up you have before deciding on which foods are best for you. We hope this guide has given you some ideas about how to feed your corals. What coral foods work best in your tank? Share your experience below!