By Bob Goemans
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Turbinaria frondens

(Dana, 1846)

Yellow Cup Coral

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-West Pacific Ocean: Widespread.

Natural Environment: Inhabits shallow reefs and rocky foreshores and usually seen at depths between 25 to 65 feet (8 - 20 m).

General Husbandry: Occasionally seen in the trade.

This is an extremely hardy stony coral, nevertheless, does need somewhat strong lighting, and if not supplied the needed intensity, is capable of photo adapting to lower levels of light. However, this will influence the physical structure or appearance of the coral and may become more encrusting.

Best placed where sufficient space is available around the specimen, as this species is a rapid grower, and once attached to its place in the aquarium it would be almost impossible to move it. Simply best to predict its size in the coming year and provide it the area it needs to keep looking its best!

Moderate water movement seems to serve it well, yet an occasional strong wave of water movement helps to keep detritus from collecting on its surfaces.

Even though not a common coral in the trade, this species can be considered a good beginners small-polyped stony (SPS) coral, as its one of the easier to maintain photosynthetic stony corals. Even though no direct feeding is required to keep it healthy, should increased growth be desired, direct feeding during daylight hours can be tried.

Even though I've never personally tried hand feeding this species, zooplankton-type foodstuffs such as rotifers, newly hatch brine shrimp, or Cyclop-eeze could be applied over the polyps during daylight hours. If tried, water movement should be greatly reduced while attempting feeding. Nevertheless, for general health and growth, average water conditions along with good lighting and moderate water currents will suffice.

Easily propagated, with frags generally responding well to placement in various types of putty media.

Maricultured specimens readily available.


    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Cnidaria

    Class: Anthozoa

    Subclass: Hexacorallia

    Order: Scleractinia

    Family: Dendrophylliidae

    Genus: Turbinaria

FYI: When irritated, these corals can dispense copious amounts of clear mucus. If this mucus touches other corals it can damage them as it is presumed to contain nematocysts or a toxin used as a defense mechanism.

In the wild, usually greenish-brown, sometimes yellowish to grey.

 Turbinaria frondens (Yellow Cup Coral)
Photo © Bob Goemans
Site Supported in Part by:
Dr Gs Marine Aquaculture