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
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.
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.
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.
Interested in reading about Purple Dendros?
Purple Dendrophyllia Care