The Dendrophyllia coral is one of my favorite LPS corals. The strong splash of yellow and orange that it adds to the reef is hard to match from any other coral besides the sun coral. It is important to realize that the sun coral and the Dendro are different corals even though they look very similar.  There are three key differences between the Dendrophyllia and sun coral. The first difference is that a Dendro’s tentacle/ polyps are usually extended during the day where sun corals are closed.  Secondly, Sun corals polyp size is generally smaller. And finally, the two different species of corals have different colony growth patterns.

Common Names: Dendrophyllia “Dendro”

Skill Level: Beginner

Classification: LPS

Disposition:  Peaceful

Light Level: Low

Water Flow: Low to Moderate

Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025



With Dendrophyllia it is especially important to realize that this coral is a non-photosynthetic species so it will need to be fed regularly. For some reef keepers this is a turn off and they shy away from corals that have to be spot fed. I however find it to be an enormously rewarding experience.  I feed my Dendro colonies every two days.  I take raw shrimp bought from the grocery store and blend it up into very small pieces. I then use a turkey baster to shoot the small pieces onto the Dendro.  The coral catches the small pieces of food in their tentacles and draws it into their mouth.

Food caught in dendo tentacles (i apologize for the bad picture)


I have noticed that with the Dendrophyllia there is such a thing as “too much light” and “too much flow”.  If the coral is getting too much light you will notice they stay closed up. This will make feeding difficult and will in turn lead to the death of the coral.  These corals will do best when placed under a ledge of rock or near the bottom.  Low light is not a worry when it comes to these corals. The same applies with too much water flow, the tentacles will stay retracted.  Place the corals in low light and medium flow and it will flourish.

Dendros placed under rock ledge on bottom of tank.


Dendro placement in tank. “low flow , low light”


Dendrophyllia propagation of the coral is handled like many other LPS corals. In the picture below you will see where this Dendro is growing new heads. These will eventually grow into full heads and begin growing branches off the main head.  Use snips and break off heads from the main mother colony, break off the branches where they “fork”.  Once the piece is removed I glue it onto another piece of live rock or a frag plug. It’s okay to have your coral out of the water for several minutes.  Once the glue is dry place your rock back into the tank.  Give your coral several days before you see full polyp extension.


Notice the small heads growing off the main head
Dendro frags glued to plugs and placed in low light

Interested in reading about Purple Dendros?
Purple Dendrophyllia Care

17 thoughts on “Dendrophyllia

  1. I have a dendro I purchased from and it has been 2 months now and I cannot seem to get mine to open? I am going to try a different placement today where there is minimum flow and light. It will push out like it will open but it will not fully extend. Can you tell me if there is a way I can get it to open? I have been using brine shrimp and mysid and reef frenzy to get it to open. I have even placed it in a cup and llet it sit in the food and nothing. It tries to open but does not fully extend.

    1. Hello Toni,
      It’s normal for them to not “fully” extend for most of the day or even days. After feeding mine stay open and puffy but pre-feeding they are what i would call as only half open. which is where they have tentacles waving in the water but do not look fully extended.
      It sounds like yours is acting normal.

    2. Toni did you ever get this figured out? We bought ours the same place and have been having the same issues…..

    3. Might be because you bought from Worst place to order from in the world. I’m surprised it even arrived alive.

      1. I place a plastic soda bottle (I cut the bottom half off) over my dendro, then use a turkey baster to feed it frozen stuff from the LFS. This way, it can eat in peace, at it’s own pace, without fish stealing the food from it. Afterwards, my dendro is super full and happy, gorgeous for hours.

  2. Add me to the list of this problem with the same vendor. I have put mine in containers with mysis shrimp every other day and I am force feeding pellets. The mouths are starting to extend a little bit after about a month or so, but not fully enough to eat. Let me know if you figure this out!

  3. Add me to the growing list of Dendro purchasers from Reefs2go. Got mine 4 weeks ago and been trying to entice it open with a syringe of mysis and brine shrimp, even marine snow. I can see the yellow tips of the tentacles wanting to come out, but no luck so far. I moved it from under a rock ledge with minimal light to under a ledge with almost no light today. Any other suggestions would be grateful!

  4. Wow – this is not looking good. This is why and how I found the site. Also bought mine from the same place having the same issue

  5. I buy mine in a coral convention, form a nice lady who is not a vendor and it open as soon as i put in my tank, yesterday was feeding day, even when it was close just “smell” the raw shrimp open and start eat, i place mine under a rock and low flow.
    Sorry about my english, my mother lenguaje is spanish.

  6. I bought mine from reefs2go also but with a better outcome apparently. I originally had a hard time getting him to open up and only got a good chance to feed him maybe once every 3 weeks. This eventually led to 2 polyps death but then I had to move my tank and during the 3 day drive in a 5 gallon bucket he was as happy as a clam. In my new tank I put him in an shaded area (no light) with no flow movement and he opens daily. He hasn’t grown but he’s not dead and it’s been 5 months so far. Changed my lights and it lit that area and he stopped opening so I moved him to a different dark spot and he’s opened right up!

  7. I bought mine from a reputable vendor, not Reefs2Go/Aquarium Depot. I have had mine for over two years, They only open at night and the early morning, but very rarely during the daylight cycle. My problem is that they have never grown more heads. Everything else that I have has thrived and grown like crazy, but not my dendros.

  8. I bought my Dendro from one of the local stores here and it has been doing wonderfully. I bought it in February as 2 heads and currently I have 6. The polyps are open the largest during the late evening but they are open almost the entire day. I feed them every day (sometimes every other) and it’s usually mysis or Rods.

    1. I purchased mine from a local ReeFer who had fragged me 2 polyps from his colony. Opened up right away and stays open all day and night. It only shrinks for a little but every other day to excrete waste but it’s always open nonetheless. His diet consist of enriched frozen brine, high quality pellet, Rotifers, and mysis, Within 6 months I had 4 new heads that grew, good luck,

  9. I bought mine from Aquarium Depot, formerly Reefs2Go and after 4 weeks I am finally staring to go hints for red peaking from the center of the polyps. I have been spot feeding Reef-roids into them once or twice a week so they don’t starve. Fortunately, they aren’t dead based on the recent movement. But, just because they aren’t open, don’t forget to feed.

  10. Wow I am having the same issue. I have it on a ledge med tank shaded low flow. It pokes out barely but shrinks back in when I spot feed it mysis or reef roids/coral frenzy. It’s been a week now. Going to move it to the sand bed so it gets no light at all. Same place of purchase aquarium depot. Has anyone from previous post had any luck so far? Or did they all perish?

  11. Its because they are not dendros but suncorals, they dont open during the day!, bought one form that website but it wasnt a dendro, thats the reason why yours wont open during the day.

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