Sun coral the non photosynthetic and bright coral of cold reef tanksThe Sun Coral is one of the most popular corals in the saltwater aquarium community due to its appearance and vibrant colors. The Sun Coral is a non-photosynthetic coral, meaning that it is completely dependent on water currents to bring it food particles as opposed to photosynthetic corals that harbor a population of Zooxanthellae to help them process light and other nutrients for food.

In this article, you will learn all about the Sun Coral, how to care for it, feed it, and provide it with the right environment so that it continues to bring color and life to your own aquarium setup.

What Is a Sun Coral?

The Sun Coral is a popular large polyp stony or LPS coral that is beloved by aquarists all over the world because of its bright coloration and tube-shaped structures. This particular coral has tube-like extensions taking on different colors making it look the underwater equivalent of its namesake, the sun.

Sun Coral Stats

Before we head over to the details of how to care for Sun Corals, it is best to get to know this amazing creature by taking note of its taxonomy and the facts about its coloration, size, and tank placement. Read the information given in the table below. These facts should help you get to know the Sun Coral better, as well as better gauge whether or not this particular coral is a good fit for your aquarium and its current inhabitants.

Ideal Temperature Range 77 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Light demands Low Lighting
Growth speed Fast
Ideal PH range 8.1 to 8.4
Ideal GH range 8 to 12
Cultivation difficulty Beginners

In addition, to the facts above, you might be interested to learn the taxonomic details of the Sun Coral. These details are given in the information table below.

Phylum Cnidaria
Class Anthozoa
Subclass Hexacorallia
Order Scleractinia
Family Dendrophylliidae
Genus Tubastraea
Species Coccinea

Sun Coral Care

Now that you have more knowledge about the Sun Coral and its peculiarities, you are ready to take on the dearth of information on how to care for this particular aquarium organism. Below is a table full of useful information on setting up an ideal environment that will make caring for your Sun Corals easier and more intuitive.

– Tank and Water Parameters

Once you have managed to calibrate your reef aquarium according to the ideal environment parameters for Sun Corals, you will also need to understand how to care for them on a daily basis. In this section, our experts share their techniques for caring for these corals, particularly on fertilizing them, feeding them, and keeping them as happy as possible.

If you plan on keeping more than a few colonies of Sun Corals, you need to provide them with enough space to grow. In general, all corals are healthier and happier in a large aquarium where they do not touch and where the neighboring fish or aquatic animals do not bump into them often. Sun Corals are no exception; be sure to increase your tank size if you ever decide to raise a lot of Tubastrea.

– Light Requirements

Aside from paying close attention to the feeding patterns and requirements of your Tubastrea, you should also make sure to place them in the shaded or darker areas of your aquarium. Because Sun Corals are non-photosynthetic, they do not need specific intensities of or exposure to light. This makes Sun Coral placement relatively easier compared to positioning corals that are photosynthetic.

Placing them in the darker or shaded areas of your aquarium will allow them to bring those corners to life with their bright coloration. This will also ensure that they live harmoniously with corals that have a need for light.

– Substrate Requirements

The Sun Coral does not do well in sandy substrates as the particles may harm its body and tentacles. Instead, you will want to place your Sun Coral on rocky overhangs, rock caves, or flat surfaces in your aquarium.

– Fertilizing Requirements

Sun Corals do not really need to be fertilized; instead, what they need is to be fed a highly nutritious diet that will help them grow and thrive in your aquarium.

The Sun Coral will eat anything from Mysis or brine shrimp, rotifers, copepods, and even cut-up pieces of small fish, scallops, and other seafood. Simply use a turkey baster, a modified large syringe, or Julian’s thing to gently shoot at its feeding polyps and wait for them to open up and grab the food particles floating nearby.

Feed your Sun Corals four to five times a week, and observe them for a period of time before increasing or decreasing their food intake. The Sun Coral is an organism that is almost always hungry, though it does prefer feeding during nighttime.

As mentioned previously, Sun Corals are non-photosynthetic organisms. If you want to raise them successfully in an aquarium setup, you need to commit to feeding them regularly and with the proper kind of food.

It might seem like a lot of work, but Sun Coral feeding is quite easy once you get used to it. Feeding them on a regular basis and with the proper food should keep your Sun Corals happy, healthy, and continuously growing.

– Trimming

When aquarists observe their Sun Coral not opening, this is usually because of poor tank water parameters or the presence of irritants in the environment. Aside from feeding your Sun Coral and keeping it in a clean tank, you should also look into trimming it when it gets too large for its enclosure or if it begins trespassing into another coral’s territory.

Regular trimming will not only encourage your Sun Coral to open up and feel more comfortable in the tank, but it will also help your coral propagate faster.

You may trim your Sun Coral twice a month or whenever necessary using a sharp blade or coral scissors.

– Propagating

If you want more Sun Corals for your reef aquarium, you can simply make use of a method called fragging. To do this, you will need a Dremel with a cut-off disc or round cutting bit, or a pair of wire cutters. You can also opt to use a sharp razor blade or cutter if those are the only pieces of equipment available to you.

Select a healthy polyp of Sun Coral and use your chosen tool to make a clean, straight cut. The cut should run right through the skeleton of your Sun Coral, and you should have a small fragment of the Tubastrea once you are done. Expect the cut part of your Sun Coral to ooze a bit, and a few of the tissues surrounding the injured area might die off.

Attach the new fragments of Sun Corals to a mesh to help stabilize it. Then, reposition in your reef tank and feed it as you would the mother coral. You should see these new corals begin to grow on their own after a few weeks.

Tank Mates

If you want to build a reef tank with your Sun Coral in the spotlight, you need to be mindful of the best and worst tank mates that you can possibly house with this type of coral.

– Ideal Tank Mates

The best tank mates for your Sun Coral would be other species of non-photosynthetic corals such as the Chili Coral, Tree Coral, Sea Fans, and Ball Sponges. Just be sure to provide each of your coral colonies with enough space, and you should have a peaceful and colorful setup.

– Tank Mates To Avoid

On the other hand, you should avoid keeping your Sun Coral with highly-aggressive or photosynthetic corals. These corals will likely have different water and tank requirements and won’t make a good match for your Sun Coral. Some examples of the corals you should avoid include the Finger Leather Coral and the Green Star Polyps.


Sun coralThe Sun Coral is one of the prettiest and easiest corals to care for in a reef aquarium. Before you leave to purchase your own colony of Sun Corals, let’s have a quick review of the key points of this article.

  • The Sun Coral is a non-photosynthetic large polyp stony coral.
  • The Sun Coral needs to be fed by direct or targeted feeding on a regular basis.
  • It can be placed in the darker or lower areas of your aquarium.
  • You can frag your Sun Coral to propagate it faster.
  • Do not house your Sun Coral with photosynthetic or aggressive corals.

Now that you know everything about basic Sun Coral care, you should be well-equipped to introduce this organism to your aquarium and help it thrive in its new home.

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