Every day that we observe corals in the ocean and take care of them in our aquarium it becomes clearer how important feeding is to them. Recently while watching a live video from our good friend Shane Danger Coleman, we couldn’t help to rebound on a very good point he made.
Some of the most amazing corals we encounters, are very often from an environment we might qualify as ‘Dirty’, basically any environment which isn’t the ideal image of a clear water, offshore reef. We understand that this statement is quite misleading because in the minds of many aquarists, dirty means that they actually enjoy high nutrients like Phosphates and Nitrates. This is completely wrong as LPS enjoy the same water quality as SPS, and low nutrients levels too.
What we actually mean is that this water is murky with high particle content, so high food availability – nutrients are more available but they are locked into particulates. Corals from these habitats should be regularly fed as well and a lot of unique SPS also enjoy that particular environment.
The reason why LPS corals withstand lower water quality better than most SPS probably has to do with their slower metabolism, and their higher energy reserves. It’s not because they resist longer, but that they actually thrive in it. Our experience shows that no LPS ever looked better than when we actually had to add Nitrates in their system due to being in very clean water.
Many of these slow growing LPS corals live in almost darkness, as they can’t compete in bright light environment only with photosynthesis. Therefore their large mouth helps them make up the nutritional balance by also consuming food and lots of it.
Feeding coral is a science on its own, there are many different foods available, and protocols depending on the species. But LPS are easy to feed directly into their polyp, thus limiting pollution, as most of the food is actually absorbed by the coral.
Nevertheless, heavy feeding and keeping low nutrients is a challenge in crowded tanks that need a large filter system, and meticulous cleanings. Apart from nutrient explosion, some coral food if heavily used can release pollutants, contaminants, and sometimes even unwanted heavy metals is they are overused. This story was written primarily with LPS in mind but the same points of clean water plus food particles is also true for soft corals.