Zoanthids are one of the most popular types of soft coral in reef tanks. Many hobbyist love them for their coloration and growth rate.
Typically, Zoas get all their energy requirements from photosynthesis. This occurs because of a symbiotic relationship that they share with zooxanthellae. This is a photosynthetic algae that lives in the tissues of most corals. The coral provides housing and protection for the algae, and in return, the zooxanthellae provides oxygen, glucose, amino acids, etc. to the coral.
They can also get nutrients from your tank water. Your water will have nutrients in it, fish poop, etc.
Do you need to feed Zoas?
While it is not necessary to feed zoas, you can improve their overall health, growth, resilience, and coloration with supplemental feeding. All corals are different when it comes to feeding them. Some like chunks of food like shrimp, and others respond better to powder blends. Let’s take a look at some of the foods that zoas like.
5 Best Foods For Zoas
1. Reef Roids by Polyp Labs
Reef Roids is a small powder or particle food. It is around 100-200 microns and is great for filter feeders.
It is a blend of naturally occuring marine planktons which contains a species of zooplankton that is unique to their product.
This is a fine powder that you can mix with your tank water and broadcast or target feed. Most people feed their zoas with Reef Roids one to two times per week.
Corals will get most of their nutrients from photosynthesis and your water, so a twice a week feeding of this may help to improve growth and coloration.
This used to come in a plastic tub, but you can now purchase 75 grams of it in a sealed bag.
- Crude Protein: 60%
- Crude Fat: 20%
- Crude Fiber: 8%
- Moisture: 6%
- Ash: 6%
2. Coral Feast
CoralFeast coral food is designed to promote coral growth and vibrant color. This is an all natural coral food that does not contain any fillers. It is a fine powder that is 300-500 microns in size.
Zoas and other filter feeding corals really like this coral food. It is a powder blend of different ingredients. They respond well when feeding them, and it should improve the overall health of your corals.
It contains whole Krill, Freeze Dried Rotifers, Arctic Copepods, Whole Brine Shrimp, Apocalypse Royi, Spirulina Powder, Palmaria palmata, Ulva lactuca, and Porphyra Umbilicalis
- Crude Protein 55.3%
- Crude Fat 15.5%
- Crude fiber 8.28%
- Crude lipid 12%
- Min Moisture 7.95%
- Ash 9.58%
3. Coral Frenzy Powder Formula
Coral Frenzy is a coral food that comes in 2 different forms. It comes as a powder and as a pellet. For zoas, the powder is a great choice because the particles are small enough for them to put in their mouth. In addition to various ingredients like Krill and Copepods, this also contains probiotics.
The size of the powder is 53-2300 microns. It comes in 3 size containers: 45g, 90g, and 180g.
Zoas respond well to this when feeding. They will take the food and close up which is to be expected. You should feed your zoas 1 to 2 times per week with this by broadcast or target feeding. CoralFrenzy may help to improve your zoa growth and colors.
Ingredients: Marine Fish Protein, Salmon Roe, Krill, Paracoccus, Schizochitrium, Arctic Copepods, Spirulina, Artemia, Rotifers, D. Salina, Probiotic blend
4. Red Sea Reef Energy AB Plus
Reef Energy is listed as a All-In-One-Coral-Superfood. This product is a liquid. The benefit of this is it can be hooked up to a dosing pump. If you do not want to bother manually feeding your corals, then a liquid option is a good choice. You will need a dosing pump setup for this.
If you don’t have a pump, or if you prefer to manually feed your corals, that is ok as well. You can simply pour in the suggested amount, or you can target feed. Both work well.
The liquid can spoil, so it does need to be refrigerated. However, you can put one weeks worth in your dosing pump without it going bad. You will need to refrigerate the bottle after it is opened.
Reef Energy AB+ is an organic complex of dissolved and suspended simple building blocks of carbohydrates, amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins. This is a completely different ingredient list than the powdered coral foods. Those consist of Krill, Copepods, shrimp, etc.
Remember, corals are animals and they need vitamins, carbohydrates, and amino acids just like we do. This provides a unique way to feed your zoas.
I use this product in addition to powdered coral foods as they both offer something a little different.
5. CoralAmino By Brightwell Aquatics
CoralAmino is a liquid Amino Acid supplement used to feed corals including zoanthids. While there are amino acids in foods that corals eat, this is a free form version. This means they are readily available for corals. They do not have to break down food or organics first to get the amino acids. This is the most elementary form.
You may think, why is this on the list? It serves the same purpose. It is designed to improve the health, growth, and coloration of corals.
Here is it how it benefits your zoas. It provides the building blocks for coral tissue growth. It can also encourage growth by budding and fission, and it helps to improve colors.
Brightwell Aquatics does recommend target feeding with this product, and they do recommend daily use.
Another great use for this is soaking other coral foods with this Amino Acid supplement. This is great if you are dealing with some unhealthy or recently fragged zoanthids.
Ingredients: Purified water, proprietary complex of free-form amino acids, proprietary base.
How To Feed Zoas
There are 2 ways to feed Zoanthids. There is the broadcast method and target feeding. We will review both of them. You can be successful with either method, and each has their own benefits and draw backs.
Broadcast feeding is just adding coral food to your tank so it disperses everywhere in your water. Your zoas will then take up the food as it passes over their body. This method is quick and easy. The downside is that you are adding a lot of nutrients to your tank. If you have insufficient filtration, your nitrate levels may rise, and you may experience hair algae. Also, some corals, including some zoanthids, do not respond as well to this method.
This is a great method if you have a tank full of zoa colonies. This way, you do not have to spend time individually feeding each colony.
The preferred method for feeding a tank with a small amount of corals is target feeding. This means directly feeding your coral as opposed to just dumping a lot of food into your aquarium. There are many advantages to feeding by the target method. This reduces the risk of increased nitrate and phosphate levels. It also reduces the risk for unwanted algae growth.
The disadvantage is this process is more time consuming. Pouring 10ml of liquid coral food into a cup and pouring it into your tank takes about one minute. Individually feeding each colony or frag takes much longer. However, it does make your coral food last longer, and it reduces the chance of unwanted algae or cyanobacteria growth.
To target feed, simply suck up the coral food in a pipette or syringe and squeeze it out over the frag or colony. This reduces the amount of food you will introduce to your tank. You will need to turn off your powerheads so that they do not blow the food away from the coral. This also reduces the amount of food that you use from the container so your coral food will last longer using this method.
Tips On Feeding
The goal is to feed your zoas as often as needed up to the recommended dose until you see improvement that you are looking for.
If you choose to broadcast feed, it is best to start slow and under dose. Some products recommend daily feeding, and your tank may not be able to handle the massive increase in nutrients if you do this. As an example, Red Sea Reef Energy Coral Nutrition recommends dosing 4ml per 25 gallons daily. If you have a 75 gallon reef tank, dosing 12ml every day may be a large amount of nutrients. This is why some people complain about getting hair algae after using this.
I use and love Reef Energy, but I do not feed it everyday. Every persons reef tank is different, and you need to start small and ramp up your dosing slowly to see how much your tank can handle. You might not see the impact right away on growth and coloration with low dosing, but you should once you get to the proper level. This recommendation is not just for Reef Energy. This applies to all coral food for Zoas. Start slow and ramp up the feedings.
You also do not need to feed everyday even if the product recommends it. Of course the manufacturer is going to suggest using their product every day. They are going to sell way more of it. Granted, you may not see improvements unless you do daily feedings. Work your way up to the amount where you see improvement.
The caveat to under dosing is not seeing any positive changes after you start feeding your zoanthids. You can’t complain that you saw no improvement in your zoas with a product if you don’t use it as directed. As an example, someone on a forum complained that Reef Energy AB + didn’t do anything for their corals. They were dosing a 100 gallon tank with 10 ml twice per week. The recommend dose is 16 ml a day, everyday.
Another thing to remember is that you may not see an improvement in your zoanthids with any coral food. If your colonies look plump and colorful, you may not need extra nutrition.
IMO, Zoas can benefit from extra feedings, even if they show no improvement in growth or color. It may not look different, but that dose not mean it isn’t healthier. It may become more resilient to disease, and it may recover faster from fragging or cutting. Overall, supplementing Zoanthids with coral food should improve their overall well being.