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Tropical Saltwater Reef Aquarium Mushrooms

In the article I’m going to tell you about Tropical Saltwater Reef Aquarium Mushrooms. Mushrooms, sometimes called mushroom corals, belong to the order corallimorpharia, and they make ideal reef animals for marine aquarists entering the reef-keeping hobby.

Tropical Saltwater Reef Aquarium Mushrooms

The beginning reef aquarist starting a saltwater aquarium often has a steep learning curve, and so it’s helpful to start out in the reef hobby with the hardiest of reef creatures. When it comes to sessile invertebrates (those invertebrates like most coral that don’t move about the aquarium) so-called mushrooms are about as hardy as any.

Corallimorphs are Coral-Like Animals

Mushrooms are corallimorphs (order corallimorpharia) that look like both anemones and true corals but are actually neither. The internal structure of corallimorphs is strikingly similar to stony coral, but, unlike many stony corals that have elongated tentacles, corallimorphs may only have short tentacles, which resemble pimples or bumps. As such, corallimorphs are not nearly as efficient at food capture and aggression (or defense) against many adjacent sessile invertebrates.

While mushrooms may resemble coral and anemones, most species are far easier to keep than either coral or anemones. Mushrooms simply do not require the same level of husbandry, largely because they are remarkably tolerant of a very wide range of environmental conditions. In short, mushrooms are one of the most forgiving animals for the novice reef aquarist to consider keeping as he or she hones his or her reef-keeping skills.

Corallimorphs and Nutrition

Although most, but not all, corallimorphs are inefficient when it comes to food capture, they are able to meet much of their nutritional needs through photosynthesis. Again, this is very similar to many stony corals that host symbiotic zooxanthellae within their tissue. The difference with most corallimorphs is that they don’t require the same high intensity reef-ready lighting to survive. This is a big plus for the aquarist thinking about getting into reef-keeping, as it is the expense of purchasing and then running high-intensity reef lighting that keeps many out of the reef hobby.

The balance of the corallimorphs’ nutritional needs is provided through the absorption of dissolved nutrients in the water column, detritus that may settle on the animal’s oral disc, and direct feeding of phytoplankton or other commercially available reef foods. While it is not absolutely necessary, many advanced aquarists do recommend target feeding their corallimorphs to maximize growth.

Types of Mushrooms for the Saltwater Aquarium

Within the order corallimorpharia, the so-called “mushrooms” are generally advertised in the North American marine aquarium hobby as Ricordea mushrooms, Discosoma mushrooms and Rhodactis mushrooms. These are all the individual species’ genus names, although it should be noted that there is a significant amount of taxonomic debate about these animals. Commonly, the aquarist may hear mushrooms referred to as disc anemones, mushroom polyps, mushroom coral, hairy mushrooms, elephant ear mushrooms, metallic mushrooms, umbrella mushrooms, warty mushrooms, cup mushrooms, and other descriptive names.

Research the Mushroom Species before Buying

As with all marine aquarium animals, the conscientious aquarist will do species-specific research before purchasing a mushroom. While there are some mushrooms that are quite aggressive, require high intensity lighting, and even consume fish, the vast majority of mushrooms offered in the hobby make excellent saltwater aquarium animals for the novice reef aquarist.

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