What do corals eat?

In this article, we are going to answer what do corals eat, what corals are, how corals should be provided with food, and what is a coral reef. 

What do corals eat?

Some corals obtain their main source of energy from light while others extract nutrients from the water. Other types of corals, such as soft corals, depend on eating phytoplankton and slow-moving larvae found in the water. 

Corals can also eat bacterioplankton. Bacterioplankton is bacteria that is found in the water from decaying material, and is a very important part of the food chain. Other food sources for corals are zooplankton and dissolved organic material.  

In smaller amounts, corals that have larger polyps, can eat larger food items such as small fish, select the exact size of plankton they want to eat, or larger creatures found in the sea. 

What are corals?

Corals are invertebrate animals that live in the water that is part of a species known as Cnidaria. Members of the family of Cnidaria include rook pools, jellyfish, and sea anemones. The main characteristic shared by Cnidarians is that they have one stomach with just one mouth opening surrounded by tentacles. 

Members of the family of Cnidaria, such as corals, live in large groups that have the same genetical polyp which forms a colony. The process of creating a colony is known as budding, which consists of copying the original polyp. Corals can be classified as soft corals or hard corals. 

Soft Corals

Include sea fans, sea feathers, and sea whips. The main difference between soft and hard corals is that soft corals are more wood-like. They live in colonies that look like bright-colored plants. 

Soft coral colonies can be differentiated from hard coral colonies because soft coral polyps have tentacles that happen in numerals of 8 and can be found in caves or ledges, in all the oceans. 

Hard Corals

There are more than 800 species of hard corals that form the very popular coral reefs. They have a rock-like calcareous skeleton. They have a hard structure because they thrive in one important mineral, calcium. Hard coral extract calcium from seawater and help them to harden their structure for protection and growth. 

How should corals be provided with food?

If you have corals in your aquarium they can get their food from photosynthesis and symbiotic algae that grow in your tank. You can also give them live food if you have larger corals in your tank. Some food you can give to these corals includes zooplankton, fry, fish, shrimp, or smaller organisms. 

Look for the species of coral you have in your aquarium or tank and see for specifications of what food they need. 

What is a coral reef?

Coral reefs are made from thousands of polyps of hard coral. They are home to a hundred or millions of creatures from the sea such as fish and other animals. Coral reefs are one of the largest structures that can be found on the planet and are the basis of marine life. 

Coral reefs have been on the planet for thousands of years. There is one important species of algae known as zooxanthellae that lives inside each coral polyp. They share space, gas exchange, and nutrients to survive. 

Coral reefs are also the house and ecosystem for mangroves and seagrass beds. 

  • Mangroves 

They are trees that live in the sea also known as halophytes that have adapted to live in seawater. Mangroves are very important to stabilize shorelines, protect coastal zones from storms, and filter pollutants found in the water. 

  • Seagrass beds

They are a very important part of the ecosystem of the sea. They provide food, shelter, and essential nutrients for a lot of fish and other species of the oceans. Seagrass beds also provide refuge for endangered species such as seahorses, turtles, and dugongs that need protection. 

Just as mangroves, seagrass beds also provide protection when there are storms because they reduce waves by absorbing energy before waves hit the coast. 

Follow this link for more information about coral reefs. 


This article answered what corals eat, what corals are, how corals should be provided with food, and what is a coral reef. 





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