Corals Bright As the Sun

by DFS-Pet-Blog on September 9, 2009

Sun Coral

my sun coral

**Guest post from Felicia M.**

I’ve been the proud owner of a sun coral since I found a black and orange combo sun coral at my local store in June 2007. The orange side, a Tubastrea coccinea, was in very good health with plump, fleshy polyps. It even extended its polyps in the take-home bag. The black side, a Tubastrea micrantha, wasn’t in too bad shape, but it did have some tissue recession between the polyps, which is common. It just needed some TLC.

When deciding where to place my new coral, I knew it was most important to put it where I could easily target feed each polyp. I target feed my sun coral daily with thawed mysis shrimp and Cyclop-Eeze, making sure after feeding to squirt food out from between the polyps where it can decay. When I first brought it home, it was reluctant to open. I trained it to open at the same time every evening by gently squirting it with small, meaty foods and “mysis juice,” the soupy part of a frozen mysis cube. Now that it’s comfortable, it opens every evening at dinnertime. I used to have a shrimp that stole food right out of the sun coral’s polyps, so I cut the bottom off a plastic water bottle and used it to cover the coral during feeding.  A hole drilled into the lid allowed me to squirt food from a syringe into the bottle.

Sun corals are non-photosynthetic, so light is of little importance to them. If the lighting is too bright, though, algae can grow around the coral or on its exposed skeleton and choke the coral. Sun corals like moderate, alternating flow and often won’t open if the flow is too slow.  In the wild these corals live on warm, bright reefs and in the cooler, deeper waters beyond. This is why they can adapt well to different environments. I’ve kept mine as low as 65°F, but average about 70°F. Most sun coral keepers maintain them at normal reef temperatures, up to 78°F. They are quite sensitive to high nitrates and poor water quality, and need supplemented Calcium and trace elements to grow.

baby sun coral polyps

baby sun corals

A few months after I brought this coral home, I started noticing tiny black and yellow polyps scattered on my live rock. I did some research and discovered that sun coral colonies are hermaphroditic, containing both male and female polyps. A male polyp fertilizes a female polyp’s egg, then she broods the larvae inside until it is ready to be expelled and swim to its new location. The tiny larvae attaches to a rock to start building its own colony. I am finding new ones all the time in my aquarium; it is certainly a task to target feed all of them. I hope that any baby sun corals living in the caves I can’t reach are getting enough passing Cyclop-Eeze to survive.
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann Marie McCann September 9, 2009 at 8:43 pm

I enjoy reading your blog and your sun corals are beautiful; I like the black and orange combination. I have several sun coral colonies as well. I hated to dirty my reef water by spot feeding mine and they have gotten large that I needed to figure out some other way to feed them. I took some Zoo Med magnets and used some Aquastick to adhear the coral onto the magnet. The sun coral colonies are attached to the side of the aquarium like a powerhead. When I feed my sun corals, I take them out of my reef tank, put them in a container with tank water and food. I leave them in the container for about half an hour (mixing the water so all polyps are able to get food) and then just put them back into the tank. My three colonies thrive.

Felicia September 16, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Ann Marie, Thanks for the tip, I’ve never heard of mounting a sun coral colony to a magnet. What a cool idea. I think I’m going to try that! Mine is kind of top heavy and I’ve always struggled with snails and urchins tipping it over. I think I’ve got a spare MagFloat around here somewhere…

precious April 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

hello i just wanted to say that this website was very helpful .

RonO May 19, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Oh I have to have one.

vladimir vunich December 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm

hi nice idea with the magnets do you actually press the colony in to the aquastick?

here is a photo of mine i hope it works.
http://s455.photobucket.com/albums/qq278/Judge-Dread-LCT/?action=view&current=302010026.jpg
http://i455.photobucket.com/albums/qq278/Judge-Dread-LCT/302010026.jpg
[IMG]http://i455.photobucket.com/albums/qq278/Judge-Dread-LCT/302010026.jpg[/IMG]

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