Sun coral, Tubastrea spp.

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Sun corals don't need strong lighting - but that doesn't make them easy to keep, explains Jeremy Gay.

Common name: Sun coral, Cup coral.

Scientific name: Tubastrea spp.

Origin: Indo-Pacific

Requirements: Zooplankton on which to feed and strong currents

Notes: Bright orange Sun corals are regularly seen in marine stores, though are not often cared for properly. In nature they often live in caves or overhangs, sometimes upside down, where they feed on small aquatic creatures swept past by laminar currents.

Unlike virtually every other coral you are likely to keep these are not light dependent, so you don’t need strong light to keep them, though they must be fed or will starve to death. If you couple a lack of food with normal, brightly-lit conditions, the coral will soon refuse to open and get covered with algae.

Keep Sun corals properly by placing them in a shady area and provide water flow to wash over them. Feed them daily on frozen brineshrimp and Mysis. Feeding at the same time every day will soon get them into a rhythm and they will open up their feeding polyps in regular readiness.

Target feeding is the best way to ensure Sun corals get their food and this can be done simply with a pipette, syringe or turkey baster. Feed regularly and provide ideal conditions for calcification, and they will spread over surrounding surfaces, providing some bright colour in the gloom.

Black Tubastrea are sometimes available, which require similar conditions in the aquarium.

Availability: Readily available in aquatic shops and mail order sites.

Price: £18-33, depending on size.

This item was first published in the October 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.