Specialized Care is Key to Success with Sun Corals

Sun coral (Tubastraea spp.)When ascribed to the various species of the genus Tubastraea, the common name “sun coral” is both fitting and ironic. It’s fitting when you consider that the spectacular polyps of many Tubastraea species can quite justifiably be described as sun-like in both color and shape. On the other hand, it’s ironic in that these species, unlike so many of the corals that grace our aquariums, lack symbiotic zooxanthellae and, therefore, don’t depend on sunlight—or intense reef-grade aquarium lighting—for their sustenance. Having no special lighting needs might seem to suggest that these corals would be a good choice for the novice reefkeeper. However, just the opposite is actually true. Tubastraea are heavy feeders that require a high level of commitment and exceptional husbandry skills and are generally best left to more advanced hobbyists.Physical traits Tubastraea spp. are considered large-polyp stony (LPS) corals, with several species possessing striking yellow to orange polyps that emerge from tubular, and in some cases branching, corallites. There are also darker-polyped species that appear in the aquarium trade from time to time, such as T.

Ricordea Florida: an Underappreciated Caribbean Beauty

A group of Ricordea floridaAs an American reefkeeper, it’s all too easy for me to forget that some truly gorgeous invertebrate livestock originates relatively close to home in the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean. I was reminded of this recently when CC entrusted several of his Caribbean specimens to my care in advance of his pending move to the great state of Florida. By the way, if you “felt a great disturbance in the force” some weeks back, it had nothing to do with the destruction of Alderaan. More likely, it was just Chris’s head exploding at the thought of his prized Caribbean species intermingling with my lowly Indo-Pacific corals and fish. Did I ever mention that CC is a terrible “species-ist”?Anyway, among this adopted assortment are several color varieties of Ricordea florida. Now, prior to receiving these specimens, it had been a long time since I’d given much thought to rics, and I’d forgotten how truly stunning these humble corallimorphs can be, so it was really nice to get reacquainted with them. They’re also fairly rugged, so whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced hobbyist, R

Tridacna derasa: A Good Excuse to Clam Up!

The smooth giant clam (Tridacna derasa)Of all the Tridacna spp. clams available to hobbyists, perhaps the hardiest and easiest to maintain of them all is Tridacna derasa, the so-called smooth giant clam. This species is so smooth, in fact, that amorous, gold-chain-wearing male specimens have been overhead in bars making comments like, “Say, did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” and “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put ‘U’ and ‘I’ together.” Okay, maybe T. derasa isn’t that kind of smooth, but its shell does lack pronounced ridges or scutes, making it relatively smooth to the touch. So, that’s probably where the name actually came from (though you have to admit my explanation is much more fun). It’s a fast-growing species when given proper conditions and a great choice for first-time clam keepers who have the tank space to spare.Physical traits T. derasa is the second largest of the Tridacna clams, potentially reaching 18 inches to upwards of 2 feet in length.
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