Pigments homologous to the green fluorescent protein (GFP) contribute up to approximately 14% of the soluble protein content of many anthozoans. Maintenance of such high tissue levels poses a severe energetic penalty to the animals if protein turnover is fast. To address this as yet unexplored issue, we established that the irreversible green-to-red conversion of the GFP-like pigments from the reef corals Montastrea cavernosa (mcavRFP) and Lobophyllia hemprichii (EosFP) is driven by violet-blue radiation in vivo and in situ. In the absence of photoconverting light, we subsequently tracked degradation of the red-converted forms of the two proteins in coral tissue using in vivo spectroscopy and immunochemical detection of the post-translational peptide backbone modification. The pigments displayed surprisingly slow decay rates, characterized by half-lives of approximately 20 days. The slow turnover of GFP-like proteins implies that the associated energetic costs for being colorful are comparatively low. Moreover, high in vivo stability makes GFP-like proteins suitable for functions requiring high pigment concentrations, such as photoprotection.