Credit: Blane Perun

Hairy Mushroom Coral

The hairy mushroom coral (Rhodactis indosinensis) is a species in the Discosomatidae family, and a member of the Corallimorpharia order, that is native to the Indo-Pacific oceans. This coral can be found in shades of green, purple, brown and tan, but of all the colors exhibited in the variety of hairy mushroom corals, the green versions are the most colorful and vibrant.

Regardless of the color and design of the coral, the surface of all hairy mushroom corals will appear hairy because they are covered extensively with small, delicate hair-like tentacles. When exposed to intense indirect light the hairy mushroom coral will open fully, measuring anywhere from five to seven inches across.

Hairy mushroom coral grows out of rocks in the shallow water of ocean beds so that it can take full advantage of the frequent sunlight this area of the ocean gets on a daily basis. This placement is crucial as the majority of the hairy mushroom corals nutritional intake is generated through photosynthesis, although the coral itself is not responsible for this process. By hosting minute algae within its body, the hairy mushroom coral can take advantage of the symbiotic relationship, resulting in light-driven photosynthesis that creates key nutrients and energy for the coral.

The hairy mushroom coral also has the ability to trap and eat organisms that are carried by with the ocean currents, such as plankton, which the hairy mushroom coral will use to supplement the minerals and nutrients it obtains from photosynthesis.

Reproduction in hairy mushroom corals occurs asexually, through fission or laceration, when portions of the base or mouth detach from the adult polyp and begin to grow into a separate coral. Because the hairy mushroom coral reproduces so easily, colonies of corals can grow quite large and expansive, even in a home aquarium. Frequent supplemental feedings of marine snow, phytoplankton, brine shrimp and other trace elements will help encourage population of hairy mushroom coral within a home tank.

A fair amount of water movement is necessary for the hairy mushroom coral, to the extent of setting up the water to shoot directly onto the specimen. This moderate water flow not only mimics what the hairy mushroom coral would be getting in its natural environment, but it will also help keep algae and debris away from the hairy mushroom coral, which could cause the hairy mushroom coral to decay. Water conditions should be kept stable for hairy mushroom coral, being vigilant about checking temperature and pH levels. If the tank is medicated regularly, the hairy mushroom coral must always be removed before the medication process is initiated. Hairy mushroom coral need to have their own separate space in a tank so that they do not encroach upon other territory inhabited by fellow creatures or release dangerous levels of poison through the hairy mushroom corals chemical defense system.

Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

Whale in Ocean