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Sun Coral, Turbastrea ssp.


TurbastreaIntroduction: With their large, intensely orange colored polyps it is no wonder that Sun Corals are among the most popular coral. Unfortunately, they have a low survival rate as their aquarium requirements are different than many other corals in the hobby.

Light Requirements: Turbastrea lack zooxanthellae and are not dependent on light for their survival. They will tolerate low to high light conditions so their placement should not be influenced by light intensity, but rather good water flow.

Water Parameters: In a reef aquarium, you should maintain a specific gravity of 1.024-1.026. The pH should be kept at 8.3-8.4. Your alkalinity should be between 9-15 dKH and your calcium should be no less than 420 and no more than 500.

Obviously your ammonia (NH3) and nitrites (NO2) should be zero. Nitrates (NO3) should remain as close to zero as possible, but are acceptable up to 10 ppm. Phosphates should be no higher than 0.3 ppm but it is better if they are at an untestable concentration.

A reef aquarium will do best with a temperature between 77-80 degrees. It is important that this temperature does not fluctuate more than 2 degrees in a twelve hour period and should stay within the mentioned parameters.

Water Movement: Water movement should be strong, but indirect. You do not want forceful water aimed directly at your coral, but you do want it circulating well. Many Turbastrea coral fail to open and will eventually waste away due to weak water currents.

Feeding: Sun Corals are azooxanthellates meaning that they lack the zooxanthellae algae and are therefore not capable of producing their own energy. This group of coral needs to be fed if it is expected to survive for any period of time.

Sun Corals will initially feed at night after the lights have gone out. To entice the polyps to open, be sure that they receive adequate water flow. You may wish to target feed Turbastrea with a turkey baster. See our "How To's" for tips on Target Feeding Coral. Upon feeding, reduce the water movement around the coral to avoid distributing the food throughout the tank. You can offer the colony finely chopped seafoods such as krill, fish, mussel, clam, brine shrimp, plankton etc. They may not respond to the first feeding or two, but after a few feedings, the polyps will start to "beg" for food. Over time, the colony will start to be open almost all of the time.

Spacing: Turbastrea can be placed in full light, contrary to popular belief. Allow adequate spacing between corals for healthy, noncompetitive growth. While Sun Corals have a slow growth rate, well kept specimens will certainly grow and spread.