Mushroom Coral Care Guide
Mushroom corals, also known as disc corals or corallimorphs, are a type of soft coral that belong to the family Discosomatidae. They have a circular or semi-circular shape and come in a variety of colors, including green, purple, blue, and red. Some even have a metallic sheen or a fluorescent glow. Mushroom corals are relatively small, usually only growing to a diameter of 2-3 inches, although some species can grow larger.
In this guide we will cover everything from how to identify mushrooms, how to properly care for mushroom corals, and our top 5 mushroom corals for reef aquariums.
Mushroom Coral Taxonomy and Identification
Mushroom corals are classified under the phylum Cnidaria, which also includes other types of soft and hard corals, as well as jellyfish and anemones. Within the family Discosomatidae, there are several genera, including Discosoma, Rhodactis, and Ricordea.
To identify a mushroom coral, look for its circular or semi-circular shape and its fleshy, jelly-like texture. The coral's mouth is located in the center of the disc, surrounded by tentacles that it uses to capture food. The tentacles of mushroom corals are usually shorter than those of other types of corals, so they shouldn’t cause issues with neighboring corals.
Mushroom Coral Growth
Mushroom corals are relatively easy to grow and propagate, which makes them a popular choice for both beginner and experienced reefers. They can be propagated by cutting the coral in half with a sharp knife or scissors, and each half will grow into a new colony.
Mushroom corals grow best in low to moderate water flow, and they prefer to be placed on a flat surface, such as a rock or piece of coral rubble. They can adapt to a variety of lighting conditions, although they tend to do best under moderate to high lighting.
Mushroom corals reproduce sexually and asexually. During sexual reproduction, the coral releases eggs and sperm into the water, where they combine to form larvae that settle on the ocean floor and grow into new colonies. During asexual reproduction, the coral splits in half or buds off new polyps.
Mushroom Corals Moving
Mushroom corals are known for their ability to move around the aquarium. They do this by inflating and deflating their coral tissues, which allows them to "walk" across the substrate. They may also move in response to changes in lighting, water flow, or water quality.
If you notice a mushroom coral moving around your aquarium, don't be alarmed. This is a normal behavior for these corals, and it usually indicates that they are healthy and happy in their environment. However, if you don't want the coral to move, you can anchor it to a piece of rock or coral rubble using a small piece of fishing line or aquarium glue.
Water Conditions & Parameters for Mushroom Corals
Mushroom corals are relatively hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. However, to ensure their optimal growth and health, it's important to maintain stable water parameters.
Water temperature should be kept between 75-80°F, and salinity should be between 1.023-1.025. pH should be between 8.1-8.4, and alkalinity should be between 8-12 dKH. Nitrate and phosphate levels should be kept as low as possible, ideally below 5 ppm and 0.03 ppm.
It's also important to perform regular water changes to remove any accumulated waste or toxins from the aquarium. A 10-20% water change every 1-2 weeks is recommended.
Lighting Conditions for Mushroom Corals
Mushroom corals can adapt to a variety of lighting conditions, but they tend to do best under moderate to high lighting. LED or T5 lighting is recommended, and the light should be placed above the aquarium and angled towards the corals.
If you notice that your mushroom corals are not opening up or are losing color, it may be a sign that they are not getting enough light. On the other hand, if the corals are bleaching or turning brown, it may be a sign that they are getting too much light.
Mushroom Coral Placement
Mushroom corals prefer to be placed on a flat surface, such as a rock or piece of coral rubble. They do best in low to moderate water flow, so avoid placing them near powerheads or other sources of strong water flow.
When placing mushroom corals in your aquarium, be sure to leave enough space between them and other corals to prevent them from touching or competing for space. You can also anchor them to a piece of rock or coral rubble using a small piece of fishing line or aquarium glue to prevent them from moving around.
Feeding Mushroom Corals
Mushroom corals are photosynthetic, which means that they can produce their own food through photosynthesis. However, they also benefit from supplemental feedings of small meaty foods, such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, or small pieces of fish or shrimp.
Feed your mushroom corals 1-2 times a week, being careful not to overfeed. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and an increase in harmful bacteria.
Common Problems With Mushroom Corals
Mushroom corals are relatively hardy and easy to care for, but they can still be susceptible to a few common problems. One of the most common issues is bacterial infections, which can cause the mushroom coral to turn slimy or mushy. This is usually caused by poor water quality or overcrowding in the aquarium.
Another issue is pests, such as flatworms or nudibranchs, which can feed on the coral's tissue and cause it to decline. To prevent pests, quarantine any new corals before adding them to your aquarium, and avoid overfeeding or overstocking your tank.
Finally, mushroom corals can be sensitive to changes in water parameters, such as temperature or salinity. If you notice that your corals are not opening up or are losing color, it may be a sign that something is off in your aquarium. Check your water parameters and make any necessary adjustments.
Top 5 Mushroom Corals
If you're looking to add some mushroom corals to your aquarium, here our top five species to consider:
- Ricordea florida: This species comes in a variety of colors, including orange, green, and blue, and has a metallic sheen.
- Discosoma spp.: This genus includes the popular "superman" mushroom, which has a red and blue coloration.
- Rhodactis spp.: This genus includes the popular "jawbreaker" mushroom, which has a black and white coloration.
- Actinodiscus spp.: This genus includes several species of mushroom coral, including the popular "bounce" mushroom, which has a bumpy, textured appearance.
- Amplexidiscus spp.: This genus includes the popular "yuma" mushroom, which has a bright orange coloration.
Mushroom corals are easy to care for and come in a variety of colors and shapes, making them a great choice for both beginner and experienced reefers.
By following the care tips outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your mushroom corals thrive in your aquarium and add a pop of color to your underwater world. Happy reefing!