Mushroom Coral

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Mushroom corals are a multi colored and beautiful group of soft coral species which are fantastic beginner corals and bring a beautiful range of colors to your aquarium. Personally, the key attraction to this coral is the extreme hardiness which helps it survive through some of the “newbie” mistakes beginners may find they are making when starting with saltwater coral keeping. I recall a story related to me from a worker at a reef farm that someone had once dropped a bagged mushroom coral under a table and didn’t realize it. A month later they found the coral very shriveled and angry but still alive. The coral ended up surviving the ordeal (very low light, zero flow, and the same bagged water for that long period of time), now that’s a hardy coral!

Common Names: Mushroom Coral or Disc Anemone (rarely)

Skill Level: Beginner

Classification: Softie

Light Level: Can thrive in low light to high light.

Water Flow: Moderate

Disposition: Peaceful

Water Conditions: 74-78° F, dKH 8-10, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.024-1.027

 




Some of the more common types of mushroom coral you will see at frag swaps or your local fish store (LFS) are red mushrooms, green striped mushrooms, green hairy mushrooms, and different color variations of purple mushrooms. There are many different species and Genus of mushroom corals available in the hobby for sale, and for the most part they, all have the same care requirements. This is why I have condensed this very broad list of corals into one article.

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The average size of a fully grown mushroom coral is typically between one and two inches. The shape of this coral is roughly the same shape as an anemone. Its base is a circular stalk growing up into a flat disc with a mouth in the center.

 

Mushroom corals are a photosynthetic coral and do not need to be directly fed. The coral produces its food from the lights on your tank. Typically if you read my other coral articles I always recommend that you make sure you feed your corals whether it’s through direct feeding or putting oyster eggs into your water column. On the flip side though, with mushrooms I feel confident saying that if your water parameters are in check, these corals are going to grow and thrive no matter if you specifically feed them or not.

 

Before placing your first mushroom coral into your tank, it’s important to decide if you actually want mushrooms in your tank or not. While the mushroom coral is technically a peaceful coral, it can grow and spread very quickly. This means later on down the road you will notice your other corals are competing with mushrooms for space. I have personally seen in my previous tanks mushroom stalks attaching to other corals and therefore indirectly damaging the coral it was attached to. With many other fast growing corals you can put them on a live rock “island” to keep them from spreading onto other live rocks. That does not work with mushroom corals. They can detach from the live rock they are on and float around your tank until they find a suitable place. I have even found mushroom corals attached to my skimmer in my sump growing happily (the light supply they were living off of was a T5 over a nearby refugium).

If you decide you do want mushroom corals then within a few months of placing your first mushroom coral into your tank it’s likely you will find that your original mushroom has spawned several more smaller mushroom corals. These will most likely be growing together in a small clump but it’s possible you will find small mushroom coral buds growing on other live rocks in your tank.

 

I would recommend that you place your mushroom corals at the bottom of your tank and in low flow if possible. If you’re placing it in a high light or high flow area, watch it for a few days. If it’s unhappy it will have a shriveled look to its disc, a happy mushroom coral is a fully extended flat disc. If the coral stays unhappy, try moving to a lower lighted area with less flow if possible. Once your coral shows the full extended disc it will most likely thrive in that spot.

Propagation of this coral is extremely easy. You can pluck this coral off of the live rock it is growing on and snip it into several pieces with a pair of scissors. I’m not sure if it’s completely necessary to try to get a piece of the mouth for each cut but I always try to do so when I cut them. You can take all of these pieces and put them into a container of rubble rock with low flow. Over the course of a few days the pieces will attach and begin growing into fully formed mushroom corals. Something to be mindful of when propagating this coral is that when you cut it or squeeze it, water will shoot out of the mouth almost like a squirt gun. Make sure to wear gloves and eye protection when working with this coral.

 

 

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “Mushroom Coral

  1. I have a green tip that was on a shell. One of my hermit crabs decided it needed a bigger shell. Now I have a mobile mushroom. He does not extend at all and remains balled up (I’m guessing he’s not happy). Is there a way to get him off the shell without hurting him or the crab?

    1. Hi Doug,
      You can scrape the mushroom off the shell with a razor blade. You will cut some tissue but in a week the mushroom should be back to healthy again. Let me know how it goes!

  2. i just bought a mushroom about 1/2 inch..

    it open up upon reaching my aquarium but always look shriveled ….

    its almost a week now…

  3. My red mushroom looks healthy but for some reason it is staying almost “folded” right down the middle it used to lay flat but started this about a week ago and it looks like there is two of them stuck together at the lip. Do you possibly know why? Thanks Lynn

    1. Hello Lynn,
      Sorry I did not respond sooner but it sounds like your mushroom was multiplying.
      Do you have two of them now ?

  4. hi I have a green mushroom which has grown double in size in last 4 weeks ..during the day it is completely flat but after lights get dimmed it balloons up. Is this normal

  5. I keep a 24g tank at my office and also take care of my bosses 29g bowfront tank. Both tanks were set up at the same time, have identical water parameters. Identical lights, identical ecotech mp10 flow. My question is this….the same mushrooms in my bosses tank are huge…like 3 times the size of mine. Mine are doing well, but roughly stay about 1 inch in size. I recently have dialed back the mp10 flow and I have noticed my leather is more open now than before….but mushrooms are still small. This all changed about the time I upgraded my lights from crappy Marineland led to a single Radion. I have dialed the lighting back, but wondering if I need to dial it back more. When I had the Marineland LED…the mushrooms def were bigger. I changed the light because I plan on keep acros and other corals that need a better light source. Both tanks are set close in temps. Mine is at 76 degrees and my bosses sits a little closer to 78-79 degrees. Could temperature be a factor? The only other conclusion has to do with the tank dimensions. My tank is shorter and square (JBJ 24g nano), and my bosses tank is a standard Petsmart tall Marineland bowfront tank. I’m guessing that based on the height of his tank…the par readings for the light at the bottom is making it a perfect place for his mushrooms to grow so big! Any help would be appreciated. If you email me back, I can forward the photos of both tanks.

  6. I also have a lavender mushroom that has never displayed it’s lavender tips….would could be behind that? Flow, water quality? It actually has been splitting and pretty big. Sometimes in the morning before the lights come one I can see a few tentacles around the edge that have the lavender tips, but then go away once lights come on.

  7. I dont seem to have any luck with mushrooms. I have maybe 2 lime green ones that are very little, I have had them for about 7 months, not multiplying or growing, so I will just continue with my other corals that are doing very well.

  8. I dont seem to have any luck with mushrooms. I have maybe 2 lime green ones that are very little, I have had them for about 7 months, not multiplying or growing, so I will just continue with my other corals that are doing very well.

    I also have some red ones that have done fairly well, they have moved some to another rock, with a good current and lighting. They seem fine. Sure wish I could get the lime green ones to grow.

    Thanks for any info.

  9. What type of mushroom is in the picture at the top of this page? I have one just like that but I don’t know what kind it is.

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