What Do Zoanthids Eat?

Zoanthids (Zoas) are one of the most popular corals to add to reef aquariums, as they are easy to care for and come in many different colors and patterns. However, when it comes to whether you should feed your Zoanthid or not, it can cause quite a heated discussion among aquarium hobbyists.

If you have already made the decision to feed your Zoas, this article will give you an in-depth explanation of feeding your corals and what foods we recommend. But, if you are still torn between feeding them or not, do not worry. We hopefully can help you make that decision by listing what foods are suitable for your Zoanthid, and why people decide to give them food in addition to good-quality lighting. 

What Do Zoas Eat?

As you probably already know, most zoanthids contain microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. The algae provide your coral with food from photosynthesis, which is where the confusion that “Zoanthids never need feeding” comes from. Even if you have the best lighting fixture on the market, feeding your Zoanthids will benefit them even more. 

Most Zoanthid species are also very able to actively catch prey. In the wild, Zoanthids eat plankton and other microscopic organisms to survive. In your reef aquarium, conditions are slightly different, therefore, it is recommended you feed your Zoanthids with some meaty foods to keep them healthy. 

Feeding your Zoanthids with meaty foods and organic matter is essential for their health, and has even been known to make zoas brighter. So yes, even with top-notch aquarium lighting, it would be beneficial for you to feed them a few times a week. Additional feeding will only make your Zoa happier and encourage Zoanthid reproduction – which is important if you want to create that “WOW” Zoanthid garden you have been dreaming of. 

The Best Foods For Zoanthids

Feeding your Zoanthids is easy with the following foods!

Reef-Roids

Reef-Roids are a mixture of marine plankton that are naturally found in the ocean, offering you the most natural and realistic coral food type. They are pretty awesome foods as they are formulated to minimize water degradation and are suitable for other filter-feeding corals such as Mushroom Corals

Oyster-Feast

Made up of oyster eggs and ovarian tissue, this really is a protein-rich meal for your Zoanthids! This choice of coral food will provide your Zoa with excellent nutrition. It is best to mix Oyster-Feast with some aquarium water and feed to your corals using a syringe. 

TDO Chroma Boost

TDO Chroma Boost comes in multiple sizes to fit your Zoanthid’s mouth. These nutritionally dense pellets are top-dressed with Haematococcus pluvialis. They are also perfectly sized for Zoanthids and can be mixed with aquarium water to create a paste for easy target feeding. 

It is also recommended you throw in some amino acids and vitamins in your Zoanthids diet. These can easily be added by mixing them into foods. 

One last thing before we get onto how to feed your Zoanthids. Have you been told that “Zoanthids enjoy living in dirty aquariums”? Well, that is not a complete lie, as they usually can tolerate “dirtier” water, however, your other corals inside your reef aquarium may not agree. 

When feeding corals, it is recommended to get a good skimmer to remove excess waste, perform regular water changes as normal, and test the water parameters frequently. 

How To Feed Zoanthids

When it comes to feeding Zoanthids, you cannot just throw food into the water and hope that they will catch it. This way of feeding is extremely wasteful and will probably cause issues with the water chemistry inside your aquarium. 

With a syringe full of food, place it into the aquarium water (careful to not brush up against any corals as some contain toxins) and put the end near the center of your Zoanthid colony. Gently squeeze the food out, ensuring it is directly above your Zoa’s mouth – this is the thing that looks like a bullseye. 

Once you have finished feeding your Zoanthids wait a minimum of five minutes before turning on any pumps, to allow as much food to be absorbed as possible. 

Things To Consider When Feeding Zoanthids

One of the biggest issues in reef aquariums is overfeeding. Start off by feeding your Zoanthid with a small amount of food and build it up over a couple of weeks or months. This will allow you to monitor how much food they can consume in one setting. 

Before you feed your Zoanthids, turn off any pumps to increase the chances of them capturing the food. If you forget to turn them off, the food will get swept away in the current. 

Another important factor when feeding Zoanthids are their tank-mates. When feeding your Zoanthid Coral, you must also consider any fish or invertebrates you may have. When it comes to “dinner time”, sometimes fish can get a little naughty, often seen nipping at Zoanthids as they also try to consume the food. Many hobbyists have been successful in feeding Zoanthids during the night when fish are resting or turning the lights off, so they think it is bedtime. 

Zoanthids Rejecting Food

Zoanthids are subtle eaters, in fact, you may see them closing their polyps slightly even though they are still absorbing the food. Therefore, if you can’t see them eating, don’t worry – this is normal for Zoanthids. However, if the food is too big for your Zoanthids’ mouth, they may reject it. Imagine trying to fit a whole watermelon into your mouth – it is impossible! Always check your Zoanthids mouth size and match it to the food’s particle size. 

Conclusion

By making the decision to feed your Zoanthids with meaty treats such as mysis shrimp, oyster eggs, and other plankton-based foods, you should be rewarded with fast Zoanthid growth and vibrant colors. For more information check out our ultimate zoanthid care guide!

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  • Roy Lee

    I have an unhealthy obsession with reef keeping and maintaining successful tanks. If you haven't noticed from the website, I love everything related to saltwater tanks like coral, fish, and everything else in between.

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