Sun Coral (Tubastraea)
These corals MUST be fed very frequently and in comparably large volumes. As such, no guarantee is offered outside of Live Arrival.
Tubastraea Coral Care
Sun corals get their name from their bright yellow coloration and sun-like appearance of each polyp. Despite their bright sunny name, these corals are non-photosynthetic which means they do not get any energy from the light unlike most corals in the hobby. In fact, they are probably the most well-known non-photosynthetic coral in the hobby and have been a fixture in the industry for decades. Their popularity is rooted both in their beautiful appearance as well as the challenge to keep them alive and thriving. Please see below for additional care tips for Tubastraea as well as checking out our Top 5 Tips for setting up a reef.
Islands of the Indo-Pacific including Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Unlike most of the corals kept by reef hobbyists, Tubastraea are non-photosynthetic. Because Tubastraea do not photosynthesize, they can theoretically be kept in an aquarium with no lighting at all. In the wild you often see them in deeper water or on the underside of caves. In the home aquarium one could simulate this by placing the sun corals in caves or under overhangs, but such placement makes it difficult to view them or feed them.Low Light
Low light translates to about 30-50 PAR
Medium Light is between 50-150 PAR
High Light is anything over 150 PAR
Lighting is a loaded topic, so for a more in-depth discussion of lighting, please see our Deep Dive article.
Tubastraea are not reliant on strong flow and in fact, lower flow is helpful during feeding to give the sun corals an opportunity to catch the food out of the water column.
The best trick I have learned is to place sun corals a few inches below a powerhead. This provides the coral with some shade from the light but more importantly puts the colony into a swirling flow area. The next time you feed your aquarium, spray some food around the powerhead and look at the area just below the pump. A lot of times I see a flow pattern where the food circulates several times before getting sent across the tank.
We cannot stress enough how much food these corals consume. In the past we struggled keeping Tubastraea long term despite feeding the systems twice per day. We achieved success finally by making a frozen food preparation and setting it right next to the aquarium with the sun corals. Every time anyone walked by the tank, they were free to feed the corals with a turkey baster. On any given day they would receive between a dozen to two dozen small feedings.
Again, these corals MUST be fed very frequently and in comparably large volumes.
In terms of propagation, this genus has been successfully fragmented, however recovery time can be slow.
Proper acclimation is extremely important considering the stress imposed on the animals by the shipping process. Please take a moment to review our Acclimation Guide.
The images were taken with a Canon 5D mk II and 100mm macro lens under T5 Fluorescent lighting. Quite a lot goes into how we go about shooting the corals and anemones you see on Tidal Gardens. For an in-depth look at our methods, check out our comprehensive Reef Aquarium Photography FAQ.