The Sun Coral, also known as the Sun Polyp Coral or the Tube Coral is a stunning, although somewhat difficult to keep coral. They are probably the most popular non-photosynthetic coral available in the hobby. They are a colonial coral with stunning yellow tube-shaped polyps that extend from a central hard skeleton. Sun Corals can be a centerpiece coral and can bring a splash of bright yellow to a tank’s substrate.
They are generally found on reef ledges or slopes in the Indo-Pacific region, especially Tonga. They are found as deep as 200 feet, due to the fact that they are not reliant on sunlight for energy. In a home aquarium, they should be placed on the substrate in a relatively low light area. This coral is somewhat fragile and should be handled with care when placing it in the aquarium. It is important that it be handled by the bottom only.
Because they are non-photosynthetic, Sun Corals can be kept in very low lighting. In fact, in areas of high light they can quickly be damaged. In terms of flow they are not particularly demanding. A moderate level of flow will allow the polyps to sway and keep the coral clean while not damaging the polyps. However, because this coral requires active feeding the flow should be turned down or off at feeding time to allow the coral to eat.
While not light or flow demanding the Sun Coral needs regular feeding This means that they must be fed in order to survive. They are best fed at night when their polyps are extended. Once the flow has been turned off they can be spot fed vitamin enriched brine shrimp or micro-plankton. Each polyp should be fed individually and, ideally, a few times a day. Keeping a Sun Coral requires effective nutrient removal, such as a protein skimmer, due to the required feedings.
Sun Corals will self propage by dropping heads from the mother colony and these can be glued to a frag plug in order to start a new colony. It is generally not advised to try and frag a Sun Coral by cutting it.
While generally classified as an advanced coral, if a hobbyist can meet the Sun Coral’s food needs they make a unique and hardy addition to a home aquarium.