Whether you should feed your coral or not is a question every hobbyist has asked themselves at least once.
The Torch Coral (Euphyllia glabrescens), despite its slightly aggressive temperament, is a popular large polyp stony (LPS) coral known for its mesmerizing colors, ease of care, and hardiness, which make it a popular coral for both beginners and coral experts.
Torch Corals (Torches) have these magnificent bouncy, long fleshy tentacles that move with the correct water flow. Each tentacle is tipped with a glowing contrasting-colored bubble, resembling a torch, hence their common name. To keep their polyps healthy, Torch Corals require nutrition, some of which comes from feeding.
Some hobbyists never feed or give additional supplements to their corals, and yet their Torch Corals (Torches) have good growth and coloration. While others feed high-quality foods and see little or no growth. This is because coral success is largely focused on tank stability (water quality, lighting, and water flow), however, do not rule out feeding yet, as the majority of hobbyists find that both tank stability and occasionally feeding Torches results in rapid growth and vibrant colors.
What To Feed Torch Corals
All corals are photosynthetic. This means they rely on photosynthesis for nutrition from the symbiotic algae that live within their tissues, called zooxanthellae. The Zooxanthellae provide your Torch Corals with sugars and oxygen, and in return, your coral provides the algae with a safe, protected place to live.
Despite this, it is still recommended that you feed your Torch Corals now and then, and to be honest, it does make sense. Many living organisms similar to corals need more than sugar to survive. Giving a little meaty treat can provide your Torch Corals with essential nitrogen compounds such as amino acids, that can aid the process of coral growth.
When you are selecting what foods to feed your Torch Corals, you must consider the size of the food. This is because Torch Corals can be fussy eaters. Many hobbyists have found that Torch Corals will refuse large foods such as shrimp and small pieces of fish. So, if you want to give your Torch Corals some extra nutrition, try some brine shrimp, zooplankton, and coral-specific foods such as Reef-Roids or Coral Frenzy mixed with some aquarium water.
How Much Food Should You Feed Your Torch Corals?
Overfeeding your Torch Corals can result in unstable water parameters.
As uneaten food decomposes, it can cause spikes in ammonia, nitrate, and phosphate levels, which contribute to algae outbreaks. This should be avoided as algae smothers corals, blocking light, which is a source of food for your Torches.
If you compare the size of your belly to your Torch Corals, you will notice they have a much smaller space to store food than us, therefore they do not require three meals a day! Torch Corals should only be fed a couple of times a week. This allows them enough time to digest their food, and it also allows the water conditions to remain stable.
How To Feed Your Torch Coral
So, you have decided what yummy treats you are going to feed your Torch Corals, and now it is time to feed those brilliantly colored polyps. Knowing how to feed your corals properly will result in less waste, stable water parameters, and happy corals!
Luckily, Torch Corals are well-mannered during feeding, and it is fairly easy to feed them, however, it is always advised to turn off the water flow and feed during the evening when lights are turned off, so they can consume as much food as possible.
There are two common feeding techniques: broadcast feeding and target feeding.
This feeding method is pretty much a “dump and leave” method, which is easy to do and can be very efficient, however, there is more likely to be leftovers after the feeding frenzy.
Instructions: Manual Broadcast Feeding
- Firstly, turn off any pumps, and protein skimmers, so the food is not removed. However, do leave wave pumps on for broadcast feeding, so that the food can be evenly distributed inside the aquarium.
- Prepare the amount of food required for one feeding, and put it into a container that is easy to pour.
- Pour the food into the aquarium – it is best to aim near the wave pumps, so the food mixture can be easily spread. If you do not have any wave pumps, slowly pour the food into the aquarium from one length to the other.
- Allow your Torch Corals to eat for 30 minutes, then turn on any pumps and protein skimmers back on.
Instructions: Broadcast Feeding With A Dosing Pump
- Prepare how much food you want to feed your Torch Corals in one week.
- Fill your dosing pump with a week’s worth of food.
Target feeding is much more precise because it requires a pipette or (turkey) baster, therefore, there is significantly less waste and you know that your Torch Corals have managed to receive the food.
- Prepare the amount of coral food required for one feeding, and put it into a cup that you can dip the pipette or turkey baster in.
- Turn off any pumps and skimmers, and wait until the water flow has died down inside the aquarium.
- With the cup of prepared coral food, fill your pipette or baster.
- Gently hovering over your Torch Corals, slowly release a small amount of coral food above each polyp, allowing them to catch the food. Do not blast them with food – you wouldn’t want food thrown in your face when you are trying to eat, well, nor do your Torch Corals.
- It can be very easy to get carried away when target feeding that we often forget about the time. Set a timer, so you don’t forget to turn the pumps and skimmers on after 30 minutes.
If you have made up too much coral food, place it in a bottle and put it in the fridge to avoid wasting it.
Torch Corals are photosynthetic corals that get most of their nutritional needs from good lighting, however, additional feeding has been known to help torch corals grow better and brighter.
The odd meaty snack a couple of times a week will make your Torches happy and healthy, but just remember to keep an eye on those water parameters, so they do not fluctuate, and their feeding regime causes more harm than good. Feeding and nutrition is an integral part of torch coral care and one that you should focus on if you want optimal growth.