Toadstool corals are a very common coral for beginners. This coral normally grows a stalk which
is attached to substrate and grows up into a flat cap at the top, which gives it the “Toadstool”
appearance. In my personal experience this is the hardiest coral I have ever come across and a
perfect beginner coral for a beginner.
Common Names: Toadstool Coral
Skill Level: Beginner
Classification: Soft Coral / Leather Coral
Light Level: Low to Moderate
Water Flow: Moderate
Disposition: Peaceful (Somewhat – this is explained below)
Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
The typical color of the toadstool is different shades of brown. A little rarer but still available
are purple toadstools and yellow toadstools. Toadstool corals can also have different color
polyps. Notice that the coral in the top of this article has white polyps, the coral frags at the
bottom of this posting have brown polyps and the coral directly below has green/yellow polyps.
While the disposition of this coral is considered peaceful it is very important to know that these
corals are known to leach toxins into the water to war with other corals. This is often referred
to as “chemical warfare” within a reef aquarium. Normally with proper filtration these toxins
can be properly dealt with and will not affect your reef. However it’s important to realize that if
your toadstool coral reaches a large size and your aquarium filtration cannot keep up these toxins
can build up and affect the health of your reef. This paragraph is not meant to scare you off of
purchasing a toadstool coral but it’s an important fact to be aware of.
Toadstool corals contain Zooxanthellae within their bodies to provide for the majority of their
nutritional requirements through photosynthesis. This means that they have the ability to get
their food from the lights on your tank. This coral requires a moderate water flow to keep debris
from building up on its cap.
Toadstool corals will occasionally slough-off a layer of its skin. This is usually done to rid the
coral of debris which has accumulated on its body. If the coral does do this the tissue which was
shed should be removed from the tank.
When it comes to lighting I have found this coral typically does best when located on the bottom
of a tank and not located directly under the light.
It’s very easy to tell if your toadstool coral is happy by viewing its polyp extension. If the lights
are on and your toadstool has no polyp extension and looks somewhat “shriveled” then your
coral is upset about something. Some of the common reasons your coral could be upset is that
it’s getting too much light, there is something off with your water quality, or if the coral has
been recently touched by something. I have found that toadstool corals are one of the slowest
corals to regain polyp extension. This can be very frustrating since it can take so long to figure
out if you have corrected the problem which made the coral mad in the first place. If you have
recently bought a toadstool coral and the polyps are not extended I wouldn’t worry. It can take
several days if not weeks for a coral to regain polyp extension. The toadstool coral below sat
there on the bottom of the tank with no polyp extension for two weeks before it finally opened
up again. After the two week period the coral began to extend its polyps again and was perfectly
Propagation of this coral is very easy. You can pull the coral out of the tank and literally cut the
Toadstool coral cap with a pair of scissors or a razor blade. You then can take your newly cut
toadstool frags and rubber band them to your frag plug or onto a piece of rock. In a week or two
the coral will have attached itself to the surface and the rubber band can be removed. When it
comes to fragging a coral it doesn’t get much easier than this.
If you choose not to frag your toadstool it’s very likely that eventually your toadstool coral will
drop small buds of tissue off its cap which will grow into toadstools just like the mother colony.
Below you will see three small toadstools which have attached to a piece of live rock after
dropping off the mother colony.