Sun Coral: Care, Placement, Feeding (Beginners Guide)

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When you’re starting the saltwater aquarium hobby, you’ll likely get the same old advice of which corals you should choose. And that’s a good thing. 

But, what if you want a coral that’s unusual, different, and more demanding. A coral with different needs than others. If you are up to the challenge, I have one in mind. 

The Sun Coral

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Sun coral care. In addition, I’ll mention other things as well, such as its placement, lighting, and faster growth. 

Sounds good enough? 

Let’s get started.

Related: Acan Coral Placement

sun coral


Sun Coral Care

The Sun Coral (Tubastrea Aurea) belongs in the group of LPS (large polyp stony) corals, however, unlike most of them, it is a non-photosynthetic coral. You can easily say that the Sun corals are the most popular non-photosynthetic coral in the aquarium hobby. 

And why they wouldn’t be?

Despite their more demanding requirements, Sun corals can be a stunning centerpiece in every reef tank. They have bright and vivid coloration, despite their non-photosynthetic nature. 

These types of corals are found all across the oceans in the world, where they live as individuals or by forming colonies. They don’t form a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, which makes them more reliably on outside sources of food, such as plankton or smaller fish. Photosynthetic corals usually live in shallow waters, however, that’s not the case with the corals from the Tubastrea genus. They live in different ranges of habitats, from shallow waters to depths of several thousands of meters.

Aquarium Care 

Despite the fact that they don’t need light to survive, they still need the usual water parameters you want to see in a healthy reef tank. After all, they are large stony polyp (LPS) corals, with a calcium carbonate skeleton, and with that comes the need for optimal levels of calcium in the aquarium. 

Their aquarium care is moderately difficult, mostly because of their frequent feeding requirements. Other than that, they don’t have specific requirements. 

If you are interested to learn more about Sun Coral care requirements, keep reading.

Sun Coral Placement & Lighting 

Despite their name, Sun corals don’t need light to stay alive. If you are looking for a perfect spot to place them, you won’t find it.

That’s because you can place them everywhere you want. However, be careful when placing them on areas under direct lighting. Slow acclimation is the best way to ensure that the coral will stay in a healthy condition. If you ask me, place the coral on a surface where you can have access to easily feed it. 

Sun Corals need moderate to strong water movement to stay in a happy mood. Stronger water flow will help the coral get the nutrients easier, and at the same time, it will prevent growing algae on it.

Sun Coral Feeding 

Common knowledge is that every coral needs light as its primary source for getting the essential nutrients. What if I told you that’s not the case with these types of corals. It’s the only reason, actually, why people are so afraid to get them. 

All the corals from the Tubastrea genus, including the Sun coral (Tubastrea Aurea) are non-photosynthetic corals. It means, unlike the other LPS, they don’t form a symbiotic relationship with the zooxanthellae (marine algae). So in this case, with these types of corals, an expensive lighting system in your tank is not necessary. It’s good only from a visual aspect. Of course, unless you keep it with other species that require good lighting. 

Without light, these corals mainly depend on capturing food (with their tentacles) to stay alive. 

What do Sun Corals eat? 

Sun Corals will eat different types of foods such as brine shrimp, Mysis, including a small fish, as well.

Different Ways to Approach Sun Coral Feeding 

The main reason why hobbyists are reluctant to get them is the fact they need to feed them every day. It may sound like a fun job to do, however, after a while, it can become a chore. 

And nobody wants that. After all, we are in this hobby because of the joy it can bring us, and we are not here to become a slave to it. What can we do to ensure that these corals, as responsible hobbyists, get all the essential nutrients? 

These are the most common, and most efficient ways. 

The first way of feeding the Sun coral, or any other non-photosynthetic coral, is to get it out from the tank and place it in a small container. Of course, the water in the container must be from the tank, to avoid shocking the coral. When the feeding is done, take the coral back in the aquarium. This way of feeding is tedious, and it requires a bit of work, but it is the best in terms of water quality. I’ll explain it in more detail, later in this article. 

The second way includes target feeding. In this scenario, you directly feed the coral, which in my opinion, is the best way to ensure that the coral is eating. 

And the third way is to implement an automatic system, to constantly add food in your tank. 

Whichever way you choose, just make sure that you feed your sun corals at least every other day, preferably if you can, every day. 

One interesting fact I’ve not mentioned is that you can train them to eat at the exact time every day. At least, it’s something that I’ve heard of, so I can’t claim if it’s possible or not. 

However, for the sake of this guide, let’s see how can you try to make this possible. Some people have problems to get used to these corals eating, so this might be useful. The first step is to feed them in a particular hour, every day, for a couple of weeks, or months if needed. Always use the same tool. After some time, you’ll notice that the corals extend their tentacles at that particular hour, as a form of anticipation for food. I am not sure this method works, but it doesn’t harm to try out. 

At last, it’s very important to take into consideration the amount of food you present in your tank while feeding the sun corals. We all know, what the extra amount of food can do to a healthy saltwater aquarium. It will destabilize the nutrient levels in your tank. But, there is a way to prevent this happen. 

Regular water changes and a quality protein skimmer will do the job.

Final Thoughts 

Although the Sun coral is not the coral you’ll see in most tanks, it is still one of the most beautiful and unique corals in the aquarium hobby. However, it does present some challenges.

Keeping them in home aquariums is not recommended unless you are an experienced reefer, or a person willing to put in the work. 

But, don’t let happen this information discourage you from getting the Sun coral for your saltwater aquarium. I am confident that with a little bit of dedication and effort, you’ll have success keeping these unusual corals. 

Featured Image: Justin Casp (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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