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Can Mushroom Corals Move?

by Brian Dunleavy
Can Mushroom Corals Move?

Has your mushroom coral moved on its own? Do not worry, as mushroom corals can move!

Mushroom corals are known for going walkabouts during the night in search of a more suitable aquarium placement. 

Mushroom corals, or corallimorphs, are a staple soft coral to add in reef aquariums. They are solitary animals from the family Fungiidae and are capable of benthic locomotion (movement) in the ocean, and reef aquariums.

Do Mushroom Corals Move?

Mushroom corals are interesting, but unlike stony and other soft corals, mushrooms can move. When mushroom corals move, it is pretty mind-blowing to watch and experience. 

Why Do Mushroom Corals Move?

Mushroom corals move around aquariums to find more favorable areas. So, if you have placed your mushroom coral in an area that doesn’t hit its sweet spot, your mushroom coral will “walk” to an area more suitable. 

How long does it take for mushroom coral to attach to rock?

It takes around one to two weeks for mushroom corals to attach to rocks, but remember, if they are not happy with their placement inside your aquarium, they can move.

What To Do When Mushroom Corals Move?

If your mushroom coral is on the move, do not move it back. As mentioned, mushroom corals move when they feel uncomfortable in their current location, and moving your mushroom coral back will only become a battle between your “ideal placement” and where your mushroom coral wants to be. 

So, always leave your mushroom coral to move to its sweet spot without interfering. 

Do Mushroom Corals Move On Their Own?

Mushroom coral moving

Although mushroom corals can move on their own, they do it very slowly. This process typically occurs during the night when the aquarium lights are switched off. 

So, if you wake up, and you can’t see your mushroom coral, do not worry as it is inside there somewhere. It has simply decided to move on its own and relocate. Let’s just say, mushroom corals are very unpredictable species!

To move around aquariums, mushroom corals can move in any direction they want. However, one thing they all have in common is the way that they can move. 

How Do Mushroom Corals Move Inside Aquariums?

A mushroom’s ability to move comes down to its tissues. The mushroom coral inflates and deflates its tissues to move. 

However, larger mushroom corals usually detach from their base and use the water flow inside the aquarium to float toward their desired location. Once they have decided where they want to land, they attach their base securely to a new rock or substrate. Mushroom corals can also move by crawling around the aquarium. This is much slower than detaching from a rock, but the end goal is the same. 

Now, it is a challenging time when mushroom corals move, and while most can flip themselves back up the right way, some (particularly larger mushroom corals) may need a helping hand. If your mushroom coral moves and is left overturned for too long, it can die. 

Saying this, flipping your mushroom coral the right way up should be the only involvement as an aquarium hobbyist. When mushroom corals are on the move, they should not be disturbed unless you need to overturn them - this is extremely important, as interfering will cause extreme stress for your mushroom coral. 

If you are too late, and your mushroom coral has been left upside down for too long, and it has advanced decay or has died, remove it from your reef aquarium immediately.

Do All Mushroom Corals Move At The Same Speed?

Not all mushroom corals will move at the same pace. The type of mushroom you have will determine how fast it can crawl across your aquarium!

Mushroom corals, that have a smooth bottom and granular costae, can will move significantly faster because they can use the costae to anchor the surface and pull themselves along. Also, smaller mushroom corals can move faster than larger ones. 

What Will Happen When My Mushroom Coral Moves?

As mushroom corals crawl around, they leave behind tiny pieces of coral. If you are familiar with coral reproduction, you will know that corals break off and clone themselves to create new coral colonies. So, as mushroom corals leave a trail of themselves, they clone themselves along the way. This natural process is known as mushroom pedal laceration. 

If you do not want more mushroom corals inside your reef aquarium, scrape the mushroom coral fragments with a scalpel or blast them off with a turkey baster or pipette. Just ensure you have removed any fragments left floating in the aquarium water, otherwise, they will eventually settle and grow. 

Do Mushroom Corals Always Move?

Not every mushroom coral will decide to move. Some corals are happy with their placement, while others may move every few months. 

Should I Prevent My Mushroom Coral From Moving?

You should never prevent your mushroom coral from moving. Do not interfere, and let your mushroom coral crawl or float free until it has decided where it wants to anchor down. 

The only thing you should be cautious of is if you have a sensitive coral inside your aquarium which could get stung by the mushroom coral. Mushroom corals do not seem to bother fish and invertebrates, but they can cause chemical warfare if they approach aggressive corals while on the move. 

But, if you are worried about your other corals getting in the way, or if your mushroom coral will land on top of other corals, you can encourage them to settle in one area of your aquarium by adding new live rock where the environment suits their needs. 

Mushroom Coral Requirements:

  • Water Flow: Low to medium, indirect 
  • Lighting: Low 
  • PAR: 50-150


Mushroom corals can move both in the wild and inside aquariums. When mushroom corals move, it is a mind-blowing process to watch, but you must never interfere unless the mushroom coral is struggling to turn the right way up. 

So, if your mushroom coral has moved, there is nothing to worry about. Sit back, enjoy the show, and look forward to more mushroom corals appearing along the trail!

by Brian Dunleavy