Soft Mushroom Corals or Disc Anemones

Mushroom coral

Federica Grassi / Getty Images

If you're beginning to care for mushroom corals or disc anemones, this gallery of Order Corallimorpharia, Family Discosomatidae or Actinodiscidae, and Ricordeidae will help you identify which types of soft corals you may like best. These species have other names such as giant cup, elephant ear, hairy, frilly, spotted, speckled, metallic, fluorescent, umbrella, warty, forked tentacle, and Ricordea.

With many colors to choose from, being solid or multi-colored, spotted, striped, or textured, and because they are easy to care for, one can see why these corals are among the most popular with reef aquarists.

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    Red Mushroom (Discosoma sp.) Corals

    Red Mushroom Coral (Discosoma sp.)
    Debbie Hauter

     These make great occupants for a tank.

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    Blue Mushrooms

    Blue Mushroom Corals
    Janet Brassard

    Due to their tolerance of less than perfect water and lower light requirements, mushroom corals make an excellent coral for beginners.

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    Blue Mushrooms

    Blue Mushroom Coral
    R. Tebben

    Since they derive much of their nutrition from the water around them, mushrooms prefer dirtier (small suspended particulates and dissolved organic matter) water than many other types of corals, making their care in an aquarium much easier.

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    Pink/Red Mushroom Corals

    Pink/Red Mushroom Corals
    Joe Martin

    The multitude of mushroom colors (red, blue, purple, and green) makes them a terrific addition to almost any marine aquarium.

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  • 05 of 21

    Green Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.)

    Green Mushroom Coral
    Howard Wahl

    Mushroom corals can be easily purchased either online or at most local fish stores that carry saltwater fish and invertebrates.

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  • 06 of 21

    Pink Mushroom (Discosoma sp.)

    Pink Mushroom Coral
    Joanne Adam

    Not responding well to bright lights or heavy currents, to allow for maximal expansion and reproduction, these corals are best kept under low lighting conditions (fluorescent lighting is ideal) with little water movement.

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    Spotted Mushroom Corals

    Spotted Mushroom Corals (Discosoma sp.)
    Shawn Richey

    These corals are safe with fish, crustaceans, and motile invertebrates but should not be placed next to other soft and stony corals and sessile invertebrates because of the detrimental effect they can have on them.

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    Speckled Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.) Coral

    Speckled Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.) Coral
    Nelson Nunes

    How can you tell if your mushroom corals are receiving the right amount of light? Mushrooms that are exposed to too much light will tend to curl up. Mushrooms that are receiving too little light will extend, reaching for the light source and also lose some of their bright colors. Mushrooms that are getting the right amount of light will lay flat on the rock or substrate.

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  • 09 of 21

    Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.) Corals

    Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.) Corals
    Melanie Morin

    Mushroom corals obtain much of their required nutrition from their surroundings as well as from light (the sun in the ocean).

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    Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.) Coral

    Mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.) Coral
    Nelson Nunes

    Using a highly developed mucus capture and transport system, these corals derive nutrients by collecting and ingesting particulate matter suspended in the water around them and from their zooxanthellae.

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    Blue Green Pimple Mushroom Anemones

    Blue Green Pimple Mushroom Anemones
    R. Tebben

    With the right conditions, most mushroom corals are quite prolific in an aquarium, producing many offspring several times per year if they receive even less than perfect lighting and nutritional levels.

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    Fluorescent Green Mushroom Corals

    Fluorescent Green Mushroom Corals
    Brian Conger

    While mushroom corals will tolerate less than ideal conditions, their optimum water chemistry parameters are:

    • Salinity: 1.024 to 1.026
    • Temperature: 76 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Nitrates: As with most corals below 10 ppm is best over time; however mushrooms are quite forgiving and will tolerate much higher levels for long periods.
    • Phosphates: Below 0.3 ppm.
    • Water Flow: Moderate to low flow but not directed at the mushrooms.
    • Lighting: Moderate to low.
    • pH: 8.0 to 8.4
    • Calcium: The ideal level is 450 ppm.
    • Alkalinity: 3.2–4.5 mg/L considered optimum.
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    Giant Elephant Ear Mushroom Coral

    Giant Elephant Ear Mushroom Coral
    Doug Cunningham

    The elephant ear mushroom coral is usually brown or green with a large wavy surface, a leathery texture, and multiple mouths. It can reach 10 inches or more in diameter.

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    Striped Mushroom Corals (Actinodisc sp.)

    Mushroom Coral (Actinodisc sp.)
    Phyllis Daniels

    These corals display a wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns. Some are solid colors, whereas, others are striped or spotted. Striped varieties are usually green.

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    Ricordea floridea Mushroom Corals

    (Ricordea floridea) Mushroom Corals
    David Playfair

    This type of mushroom coral is highly prized by the avid collector and makes a vibrant addition to the reef aquarium.

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    Hairy Mushroom Anemones (Rhodactis sp.)

    Frilly Mushroom Coral (Rhodactis sp.)
    R. Tebben

    The Rhodactis hairy mushroom occurs in many colors including brown and tan and the more colorful green. Just like the name suggests, the surface of these mushrooms is covered with many hair-like tentacles, giving it a hairy appearance.

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    Flower Anemone (Actina equina)

    Flower Anemone (Actina equina)
    R. Tebben

    The Ricordea or flower mushroom coral has short, club, or berry-shaped tentacles. It shares some similarities to stony corals and is also termed a disc anemone. It is found in a variety of color forms, but green is the most common.

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    Spotted Red Mushroom Coral (Discosoma sp.)

    Spotted Red Mushroom Coral (Discosoma sp.)
    Tom Hynes

    The spotted mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.) corals display a wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns. Some are solid colors, whereas, others are striped or spotted. The spotted ones are usually blue or green with spots.

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    Stony Disk or Mushroom Coral

    Stony Disk or Mushroom Coral
    Debbie Hauter

    This is a stony disk or mushroom coral (Fungia scutaria). Other common names for this coral include plate, tongue, fungus, chinaman hat, dome, helmet, mole, Neptune's cap, plate, long tentacled plate, and slipper coral.

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    Ricordea Coral

    Ricordea Coral

     Ricordea corals are highly prized in the saltwater aquarium hobby.

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    Stony Disk or Mushroom (Fungia sp.) Coral

    Stony Disk or Mushroom (Fungia sp.) Coral
    Joni Haas

    A stony disk or mushroom (Fungia sp.) coral covers the floor of the tank.