wikiHow to Feed Coral

Coral is a marine organism that consists of numerous polyps through which they feed, and is found in tropical oceans. They feed on algae produced by sunlight, which is also called photosynthetic algae. However, when coral is kept in a reef aquarium, the sunlight that reaches the artificial environment is often not sufficient to produce enough algae to sustain its life. Therefore, it is important to know how to maximize this process in the tank as well as supplement the food your coral consumes. Learning how to feed coral will keep it healthy and thriving, resulting in a beautiful saltwater reef aquarium.


  1. Image titled Feed Coral Step 1
    Determine the type of coral you have or that you plan to purchase for your saltwater aquarium.
    • There are many types of coral and some need more tank lighting than others for algae production. Some also need regular supplemental food, while some varieties need very little, if any. The staff at your local pet or aquarium store should be able to advise you about your coral's feeding needs.
  2. Image titled Feed Coral Step 2
    Install the proper lighting in your aquarium to produce algae and provide more lighting for hermatypic (reef building) coral and less for ahermatypic (non reef building) coral.
  3. Image titled Feed Coral Step 3
    Purchase coral food from your local pet or aquarium store, preferably one that contains calcium, strontium, iron and magnesium.
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    Study the varieties of coral that you have in your tank so you know just the right amount of food to give.
  5. Image titled Feed Coral Step 5
    Plan to feed coral when the room is dim and the lights are out in the aquarium because this is when the coral polyps are open and extended.
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    Feed coral with the coral food, targeting areas that are less developed or have smaller polyps.
  7. Image titled Feed Coral Step 7
    Turn the lights of the aquarium back on after 10 to 15 minutes if you think there is excess food in the tank.
    • This will allow fish in your saltwater tank to feed on the leftover coral food and will help to keep the aquarium clean.
  8. Image titled Feed Coral Step 8
    Repeat the coral feeding process with the coral food every 2 to 3 days.


  • When learning how to feed coral, keep in mind that some varieties can be expensive to maintain. Hard corals that need intense light for algae production can cause a high electric bill because the tank must be well lit for 10 to 12 hours per day.
  • It is important to know the variety of corals you have in your tank to fit coral feeding needs. Hard or stony corals need intense light and some food supplements. Softer corals may need less light but more coral food.
  • Many corals do well when their food is supplemented, even if they aren't the type that requires regular feeding. This can result in large well-established coral, though it is important not to overfeed.
  • Keep in mind that ahermatypic coral requires less light but needs targeted food supplements. Because of this, it is considered difficult to keep and not recommended for those who are new to caring for coral.


  • Do not overfeed coral. Overfeeding results in wasted food and tank pollution.
  • Follow the care instructions for your particular type of coral closely. Hard coral requires a well-lit tank and will die from using dim light that doesn't produce enough food.
  • Seek professional help from the staff at your local pet or aquarium store as improper feeding can result in damage or death of your coral varieties.

Things You'll Need

  • Coral
  • Saltwater aquarium
  • Tank lighting
  • Coral food

Article Info

Categories: Aquariums | Ecology and Conservation