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Do I Have to Feed Torch Coral?

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Torch corals (Euphyllia glabresens) and other hard corals sit at the apex of reef aquarium difficulty -- experts consider them among the hardest organisms to keep thriving in home aquariums. Experts also acknowledge that controversy exists. disagree on how necessary it is to feed torch corals. Author Bob Goemans and others believe torch corals can survive without physically feeding. Others say it aids them. It's generally agreed that feeding won't hurt them.

All About Torch Corals

Torch corals belongs to a group of corals called large-polyp stony corals, abbreviated within the hobby as LPS corals. Torch corals share a genus with hammer corals (E. ancora) and frog spawn corals (E. divisa) and have similar care in the home aquarium. Though hard corals like torch corals take more care than soft corals or anthozoans in the home aquarium, they're considered "entry" hard corals, since they are not quite as delicate as other members of the family.

Food Requirements

Experts disagree on how necessary it is to feed torch corals and other Euphyllia species. For example, an article on Aquarium Fish USA's website indicates you should feed Euphyilla corals several times a week, while an article in "Tropical Fish Hobbyist" magazine says these corals do not need feeding. Most corals, including torch corals, have symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae living within their cells. The algae produce sugars and oxygen for the corals. Some coral species can survive without supplemental feeding. However, even the "Tropical Fish Hobbyist" article characterizes feeding as "quite beneficial," even if the author, Bob Goemans, doesn't feel it's mandatory. Feeding does make sense, since animals like corals need more than just sugar to survive. Meaty foods can provide necessary nitrogen compounds like amino acids.

How to Feed Torch Corals

It is not difficult to feed torch corals. You will need a tool with which to squirt food at the specimens. Like many aspects of the reef aquarium hobby, you can purchase an expensive dedicated piece of equipment for this, but a regular dime store turkey baster works just as well. Feed foods like mysis shrimp, fortified brine shrimp and prepared foods from saltwater fish stores. Just spray the food directly at the torch coral. The individual polyps will snatch bits of food from the water column. Feed enough that the corals -- or other aquarium organisms -- will eat it all within a few minutes, to avoid polluting the water with rotting food. It may take some trial and error to determine the specific amount of food to administer for your aquarium and your torch corals. Feed your torch corals several times per week.

The Other "Feedings"

Torch corals need more than one kind of nutrition. In addition to meaty foods, they require light and mineral supplements. LPS corals require powerful lighting to thrive, typically at least 5 watts per gallon. Deeper tanks will need even more lighting. Metal halide bulbs and T5 fluorescent tubes can provide adequate light for them. Torch corals "eat" calcium and trace elements from the water to build mass. You can provide this several ways, including calcium reactors or liquid supplements like kalkwasser. Without adequate lighting and calcium, torch corals can pine away and die.