Very often in a marine aquarium—especially in a reef tank—it is necessary to get food to a fish or invertebrate that will not get enough food if left only to its own devices. Enter the idea of target feeding.
Target feeding is ideal for fish, corals or other creatures that either won’t come out of their hiding place, or simply can’t move around to get food. Turn off the filters, skimmers, etc. and let the tank become very still. Then introduce some food to the animal by placing the food either directly onto it—in the case of corals—or in its vicinity—in the case of fish or other animals.
I remember many years ago when everyone thought it was impossible to keep any kind of live corals. Then we learned about what corals require, primarily in terms of light for the photosynthetic algae that live within many of them. Now we have the aquarium lighting that can keep these corals healthy and vibrant, and where we can even frag them to make new colonies.
Feeding corals and other inverts is just beginning to come out of the dark ages in that we have learned what most of these animals need to eat and how to deliver it to them. Target feeding is very important for the corals and other invertebrates that are not able to survive with light alone. There are now a number of different foods, mostly in suspension, that will keep pretty much every coral healthy and gorgeous.
Want to Learn More?
The equipment for target feeding has also improved. Most of us started out by stealing our wife’s kitchen turkey baster (I know that’s what I did, until she made me get one of my own for fish tanks only). That will do in a fairly crude and basic way, but there are better pieces of equipment now on the market. I suggest that you use them in your store to feed your corals and sell them to your reef customers for feeding their charges. The best-known, and one of the best, target feeding products is made by a very well-known gentleman in the marine industry. It consists of a long piece of flexible tubing; rigid tubing at the delivery end; and a syringe-like arrangement that holds whatever you are feeding and then injects it down the tube and into whatever rock or crevice you need to get food to. This same arrangement can be used to tempt fish that are hiding when first in a tank and refuse to take food. Introducing some small morsels directly in front of their hideaway will usually eventually get them eating.
Not only is target feeding good for your corals (and a necessity for some), but it is a good way to get hobbyists to interact with their tank. Once they get to know how their corals respond to target feeding, they will be able to quickly catch any problems, hopefully before they become major. And besides, it’s fun.