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Old 01-21-2013, 05:59 PM   #1
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Sun Coral Help

I've finally decided to register with this site after many months of browsing as I've been trying to learn as much as I can after just setting up a saltwater tank a few months ago. I am a member of another forum that has helped me in my saltwater venture but there isn't much focus on corals, which I've began getting into as of late. One of my main reasons for registering at this time is because I need help with a coral I have recently acquired.

I purchased a sun coral online and it arrived just this past Friday. I had been researching sun corals for quite some time and was looking forward to finally being able to get one. I knew that I would need to feed this coral as its NPS.

This sun coral appears to be branching, which isn't something I had really seen much of while doing my research on their care. Because of this, I'm even more uncertain.

I guess my biggest problem is that I did not know what to expect upon the corals arrival. I knew it had to be fed but did not know just how hard it may be to get it to feed initially. However, I have been researching constantly since I have acquired the coral, especially now that time has passed and it has not opened to feed.

I've been told (and read) that because it still has color it is still alive. It is mainly orange still, with just some white at its base. It is in a shaded area of my tank, with the light blocked by rockwork. I'm honestly beginning to wonder if the coral is even alive, regardless of color, because I have not seen any 'flesh' of the coral. The polyps/tentacles have not made an experience.

I've read bout different methods of feeding and I've chosen to try feeding (or rather enticing) by placing a bottle (cut in half) over the coral. This will keep the food at and around the coral and keeping other members in my tank from stealing the food. I attempted this last night but never saw any movement. I punched a small whole in the cap of the bottle that I used to cover the coral, larger enough for the syringe to fit through. I started by blasting the 'liquid' from foods into the bottle to hopefully trigger a feeding response. I had soaked brine and mysis in tank water along with garlic and vitamins. I repeated this process over a time frame of at least an hour to no avail. I'll be picking up some cycops on wednesday, when my LFS gets their shipment. I've read good things about cycops in terms of getting a sun coral to open.

So first off, can someone tell me if this coral is even alive?

Any more suggestions on what I'm doing currently or what else I need to do?



Some tank specs.

I have a 60 gallon tank.
I started with 50lbs of live rock and 25lbs of base rock. I have an additional 10lbs of rock that is curing that I will add once my levels are safe.
Reef Octopus BH 2000 protein skimmer (running about a week or so)
Two maxijet pro powerheads (one 900, one 1200)
Lighting is a 4 54 watt bulb T5HO, two 10k and two actinics

Fish:
Starry blenny
Melanurus wrasse
2 Ocellaris clown (one is b&w)

CUC:
various snails (2 turbos, some cerith, nassarius, and some netrite)
various hermits (redleg, one blueleg, and one scarlet)
peppermint shrimp (2)

Corals:
Ricordias (6)
Purple Mushrooms (2-3 on one rock)
Sinularia Leather (1)
Snowflakes Polyps (small colony located on one small rock)
Zoa (small colony located on one small rock)

All of the corals appear to be doing great.

Ammonia- 0
Nitrite- 0
Nitrate- 20-40

Nitrate is higher than I'd like. I've got 15-20 gallons of water mixing and will be home to do a water change in a few hours.

I use Instant Ocean salt and RO/DI water that I filter at home.

The corals are all relatively new and still of small size. The newest fish is the wrasse that was added Friday.

I believe I've covered everything, I'll happily answer any questions I can that anyone may have. I just want to save this coral, if it is indeed alive.


This is a picture (if I managed to upload correctly) I took of the sun coral on Saturday (I believe) I have since attached the coral so a small piece of rock rubble to keep it out of the sand in case that was causing any issues. Also, just in case I will need to remove the coral to feed in a separate container. I have not done that yet as I fear to stress the coral even more.


Thank in advance for any help and for reading my long post.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:07 PM   #2
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Hello and welcome. It doesn't look good at all, but It's not done yet. Living tissue over the skeleton would indicate this, as you've already read.
The polyps are very drawn in however. All you can do is what you are doing. I don't think it's the type of food so much as the right environment. Give it a little time and effort and see what happens.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mr_X View Post
Hello and welcome. It doesn't look good at all, but It's not done yet. Living tissue over the skeleton would indicate this, as you've already read.
The polyps are very drawn in however. All you can do is what you are doing. I don't think it's the type of food so much as the right environment. Give it a little time and effort and see what happens.
Thank you.

The fact that it is so receded is why I am so concerned, that and it has not responded to any of my efforts on top of that.

As this is my first coral that has a hard skeleton, I wasn't sure what to expect, not to mention it being NPS. Will any 'fleshy' tissues just be present in the tubes?

It just seemed to me from pictures that most sun corals were much more 'fleshy' and plump, for lack of a better description. However, it did seem most were not quite like this one, since it appears to be branching.

In you opinion, or anyones elses for that matter, would it be best to leave in in the tank as I have and feed with the bottle covering it or remove it to its own container to feed? I don't want to stress it but don't know how much stress it would actually cause now that is on the rock and I wouldn't have to touch the coral at all.

Also, are there any other foods I should be trying before it can actually open up to feed? Rather, can smaller foods of any sort diffuse (or similar) in any way that the coral would actually be getting fed?

Other than polyp/tentacle extension, is there any other indication to show that it is making progress in the right direction? I feel it may be a while before it can feed on its own if its in that bad of shape but would like to know whether my efforts would be improving it in anyway.



Thanks again, I guess I'm doing something right which makes me feel better.
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:01 PM   #4
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I am a fan of the branching types over the typical colonial type. I wouldn't remove it to feed it. It's not going to make a difference.
No. Polyp extension is the way you are going to know if it's getting happy. Cyclo-peeze is the smallest stuff I would feed a large polyp coral. I feed mine small pieces of chopped fish, mysis, stuff that size or larger.
The image below is the size foods i mean (the pinkish pieces are flake)


This is also a branching specimen. This is what yours would look like with polyps out (except of course for the color)
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:30 PM   #5
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I am a fan of the branching types over the typical colonial type. I wouldn't remove it to feed it. It's not going to make a difference.
No. Polyp extension is the way you are going to know if it's getting happy. Cyclo-peeze is the smallest stuff I would feed a large polyp coral. I feed mine small pieces of chopped fish, mysis, stuff that size or larger.
It seems I just came across the colonial type when I was researching, at least not any that were obviously branching. Though they certainly look different when the polyps are out. Yours looks nice by the way. I hope mine is able to turn around.

Also, during research mysis and similar seemed to be a popular choice for feeding and thats what I had on hand in preparation. I didn't expect it to be in such bad shape it wouldn't be able to readily feed soon off. Just wanted to make sure there wasn't any other foods to begin with until its get its strength back to be able to properly feed. I will pick up the cyclops on wednesday and see if that makes a difference. Until then, I'll continue with what I'm doing and how I attempted to entice and feed it last night.

I'll continue to look for any improvements in terms of seeing any extension from any of the polyps. I am assuming if it just declines I would know from the skeleton turning white, correct?

Also, with the way I am attempting to feed/entice the coral, about how long should I try for at a time? I'll continue to feed in the tank I just don't want to add more food and cover longer then necessarily and mess with my water quality and do more harm in that way.

I ordered this coral (and some zoas) from Reefs2go. The zoas are doing fine but I did message them about the sun coral just to get their opinion on the matter as well. I also asked what they fed and was told brine and flake. Thought maybe if I wasn't trying something that was familiar it may be affecting the corals effort to eat as well. Though it doesn't exactly look like its ate recently, to me anyway. However, I am new to this but assume that is why it is in such bad shape.
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:57 PM   #6
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Yes, more and more skeleton will show as it goes downhill. How long to feed is up to you. I would wait until the lights are out at first. later you will be able to "train" them to come out in indirect light.
There are people that do not feed their sun corals at all and they do ok also. I've always fed mine a few times a week and the one you have there could certainly use some fattening up. I agree that it looks like it's not eaten in quite some time.

Zoas are much more resilient than these I'm afraid. Most of the time they are shipped from the collection areas wrapped in damp newspaper, without any water at all.
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:10 PM   #7
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Yes, more and more skeleton will show as it goes downhill. How long to feed is up to you. I would wait until the lights are out at first. later you will be able to "train" them to come out in indirect light.
There are people that do not feed their sun corals at all and they do ok also. I've always fed mine a few times a week and the one you have there could certainly use some fattening up. I agree that it looks like it's not eaten in quite some time.

Zoas are much more resilient than these I'm afraid. Most of the time they are shipped from the collection areas wrapped in damp newspaper, without any water at all.
I'll definitely keep an eye out for anymore skeleton showing, I hope to not see anymore of course.

I did wait until the lights were out last night and will continue to do so. It actually works out quite well with my work schedule as I get off rather late. I feel I have a better chance of seeing/getting it to open once its dark. I did check with a flashlight occasionally last night but never saw anything.

I'll continue to feed nightly for about half an hour now and see if there is any improvement. If I see it going downhill any I'll up the feeding time to see if that will help. Just want to make sure I'm giving it enough time to pick up that there is food in its weakened state.

Now that I've realized it definitely is starving I've been searching for 'starving sun coral' to see what I can figure out. I wish I could fine more direct information but for now I'm mainly finding threads of others who have been in a similar position. I also just now read that because I can't see any of what was referred to as the connective tissue, it is probably pretty severely starved.

I have certainly witnessed that with the zoas as they have shown no issues whatsoever.

The order containing the zoas and sun coral was delayed during shipping and I had to do some calling around and explaining as to why I needed that package even though they wouldn't deliver to my house that day. We had gotten a decent amount of snow the night before (8 inches or so) and UPS did not see my area as safe to drive in (even though I went out that morning without any issues). Anyway, I had to wait until the truck got back to the facility before I could pick up my package. The bags containing both corals were quite cold when I got them home despite the heat pack. I did acclimate for a decent length of time and the temperature was slowly brought up. I'm sure this drop in temperature did not help matters either...
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:18 PM   #8
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Ahh...that could very well have been the issue. Lazy, overpaid, UPS drivers.
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:33 PM   #9
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Ahh...that could very well have been the issue. Lazy, overpaid, UPS drivers.
Haha, yes. I'm certainly sure the colder temperature did not help matters.Though that doesn't take into account that its obviously starving. I was not happy that I was having to do the running around that day just to pick up my packages, one from Fedex and one from UPS. Fedex order I got quite a bit earlier.

There was also a tiger conch in that order as well that did not make it. I wasn't sure of its state at first, as it was my first time having and seeing one in person, but it was obvious once I placed in on my sand bed. It was immediately swarmed by nassarius snails and my shrimp, promptly removed of course.

Hopefully (on top of it starving) its just taking some time for it to get over the stress from the shipping, moving, and being in a new tank.

I'll continue the enticing/feeding just as I did last night, with the cyclops added it once I pick it up and hope for the best. I'd love to see it turn around as I am fascinated by these corals and want one in my tank. If this one does not make it I will look into getting another, probably from a different source.

I'll definitely update any progress, rather good or bad.

Still open to more advice, especially if anyone has been in this position with a starved sun coral.


Thanks again for you help, very much appreciated!
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:58 PM   #10
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Ahh...that could very well have been the issue. Lazy, overpaid, UPS drivers.
Hey hey Its the company not the drivers..lol. (but the company does bit)

I really hope your sun coral comes back. Keep us up to date. And welcome to the crew
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:36 PM   #11
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I don't know how late you're trying to feed it, but when I first got my sun coral, it wouldn't come out til between 1-3 AM. So I would feed it at that hour. Then I slowly got it to come out earlier and earlier. Now it's usually out by about 3-5PM. So if you're not already, you may need to feed it really, really late. I know you said you get off work late, but wasn't sure what "late" is to you. Lol. Late means different things to different people. I don't consider midnight late, but that's cuz I work night shift. Hope you get your sun coral to come out and eat, they're beautiful corals. Good luck!
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:11 AM   #12
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Hey hey Its the company not the drivers..lol. (but the company does bit)

I really hope your sun coral comes back. Keep us up to date. And welcome to the crew
Well this was the first real issue I've ever had with UPS so I won't talk too bad about them.


Thanks on both!

I certainly do too!
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:15 AM   #13
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I don't know how late you're trying to feed it, but when I first got my sun coral, it wouldn't come out til between 1-3 AM. So I would feed it at that hour. Then I slowly got it to come out earlier and earlier. Now it's usually out by about 3-5PM. So if you're not already, you may need to feed it really, really late. I know you said you get off work late, but wasn't sure what "late" is to you. Lol. Late means different things to different people. I don't consider midnight late, but that's cuz I work night shift. Hope you get your sun coral to come out and eat, they're beautiful corals. Good luck!
Midnight is actually when I get off from work

So by the time I get home and get things ready I'm sure it will be at least 1am, if not later when I'll begin the feedings.

Last night I was actually off from work but didn't start feeding until at least 1am. It was completely dark in the tank and I left it as dark as I could in the room as well. I checked it every so often with a flashlight but never saw it even attempt to open up. From what I've been reading this evening, it seems its really starved and I'm sure getting used to a new environment doesn't help matters.

Thank you, they really are! I was so looking forward to my sun coral and here I get one in terrible shape. I really hope things will turn around for it. I'm definitely going to keep trying.
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:52 AM   #14
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it took my sun coral almost 2 months to open
I was about to give up on it than I was told put it in a cave opening
after it opened I fed it now it opens everyday at 4pm like clock work
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:08 AM   #15
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it took my sun coral almost 2 months to open
I was about to give up on it than I was told put it in a cave opening
after it opened I fed it now it opens everyday at 4pm like clock work
Wow. Thats an awful long time. Glad you were able to get it eating!

Would you mine elaborating more on your experience with your sun coral?

Like the condition it was in when you received it and before it ate, any signs of life/the polyps, etc.

Methods were (other than and before moving it) to entice it to eat...those sorts of things.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:39 AM   #16
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it basically looked like a yellow skeleton when I got it

I never knew it didn't like a lot of light or high flow


after placing it in a semi dark cave it opened on it's own and that's when I fed it now it comes out the same time everyday
they don't like strong light or high current
just a slow steady current very low light
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:56 AM   #17
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That's exactly how to describe how mine looks, only orange.

It's in a shaded spot, definitely not getting any direct light. I'm not sure if there's anywhere I can move it that's darker but I can try. I'd say maybe moderate flow where it's at.

Still would think I would get some sort of response since I'm attempting to feed/entice when it's dark. Though I'm sure it still needs some time to adjust still.

I actually just finished trying to feed and again no response.
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:52 AM   #18
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Just watch your water quality. That's more important than feeding this coral. You don't want to be battling Bryopsis or Cyanobacteria if you don't have to.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:08 AM   #19
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Just watch your water quality. That's more important than feeding this coral. You don't want to be battling Bryopsis or Cyanobacteria if you don't have to.
Along with this, the higher nitrates might also be getting in your way here. Were you able to bring them down with your water change like you discussed gearing up to do in the original post? In terms of feeding it, and I'm sure I will get corrected here if I am wrong, that I would start using a small amount of food to work on training it to come out when you want it to with a turkey baster. If it is already in the dark and in a low flow area, then it'll adjust to this situation in the new tank, but giving it atleast the sniff of food will assist it with wanting to come out to feed.
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:35 AM   #20
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Here's something I learned the hard way with the bottle-feeding-trick. Be careful with the length of time you are placing the feeding bottle over top of the coral. Most liquid foods have a measurable impact on water parms in a confined space, particularly PH and Phosphorous. With that little "bubble" of space surrounding the coral filled with liquid food, a prolonged amount of time can have some bad PH mojo going on and burn the coral.
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