Fungiidae, or Fungiid, corals are some of the most motile and beautiful LPS (large-polyped stony) corals for the marine hobbyist. Although all stony corals (and even some soft corals) are hermatypic, Fungiidae corals are typically considered to be non-reef building. Fungiids are solitary corals. They consist of only one polyp, which is frequently mobile both in nature and in captivity. They resemble a disc or dome covered with tentacles. Disc corals are symbiotic, meaning they contain zooxanthellae and gain a portion of their energy from photosynthesis. Fungiid corals are commonly called disc corals, disk corals, mushroom or stony mushroom corals (compare to the leather mushroom corals and the corallimorph mushroom corals), plate anemone corals, helmet corals, slipper corals, tongue corals, plate corals, fungus corals, dome corals, Neptune’s cap corals, long tentacle plate corals, and mole corals.
The Fungiidae family of corals is in the order Scleractinia (stony corals) and the subclass Hexacorallia (or also known as Zoantharia). Being in the Hexacorallia subclass means that the polyps have tentacles in multiples of six. Some common genera of Fungiidae are: Cantharellus, Ctenactis, Fungia, Halomitra, Heiofungia, Herpolitha, Lithophyllon, Podabacia, Polyphyllia, Sandalolitha, and Zoopilus. This is by no means a complete taxonomy. For more detailed descriptions of each genus, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
Generally speaking, Fungiids have similar care requirements across their genera. These little guys move…a lot. They should be placed on a soft substrate, like the sand bed at the bottom of your aquarium. If you put them on your live rock, it is likely they will move elsewhere and possibly fall and damage themselves in the process. Additionally, if the disc coral is placed on rock, their tissue may become abraded on the rock, leaving them susceptible to infection.
In the wild, Fungiids will be found in protected waters like those on back reef slopes, lagoons, atolls, and on the reef flats found between the lagoon and reef. Naturally, these corals prefer low to moderate water flow. Check with your retailer or wholesaler for the requirements of your particular specimen. If the water current is too strong, it will interfere with their mucus net, which most aquarists agree aids in the feeding of the polyp. They do best in low to moderate lighting, but do not thrive under high intensity lighting. As their requirements necessitates placement on the bottom of your tank, sometimes this is enough to moderate the lighting in a high intensity system.
As mentioned above, Fungiids utilize a mucus net while feeding. This helps capture food, and most disc anemones cannot survive on photosynthesis alone. Typically, they prefer meaty foods, such as zooplankton, brine shrimp, or processed meaty marine food supplements. Some hobbyists have even reported their mushroom corals (corallimorphs) being eaten by their plate anemone coral. In the wild, it has been documented that Fungiids will eat jellyfish, as well. This being said, it is probably a good idea to keep them away from other corals. Some species are more aggressive than others. Your supplier will have more information on your species.
Some of your Fungiids may have an attachment scar on their undersides. Although they are considered quite motile, in their early stages they are attached to their parent polyp by a stalk. This makes them look like a mushroom-which helped lead to the mushroom coral common name. The parent polyp actually decalcifies to the point you may think it dead-do not throw this away. It then enters a dormant state, appearing as a dead and barren coral skeleton. Later, sometimes months later, the daughter polyps, or anthocauli, grow from stems. More than one polyp can grow from a stem. In addition to this awesome method of reproduction, disc corals also reproduce sexually either through brooding (fertilizing its own gametes in its gastovascular cavity, or stomach) or via sexual spawning to produce planulae (the larval form of coral polyps). Most corals in the Fungiidae family have separate sexes. Lastly, plate anemone corals can propagate through fragmentation, though some are more successful than others. If at least a sixth (remember their Hexacorals) of the polyp remains, it can regenerate. Sometimes, you’ll see divisions in the polyp reminiscent of pie slices. This is the parent polyp budding a daughter polyp. Calfo’s book has some nice pictures of the anthocauli and Borneman’s book has a photo of a Fungia (Cycloseris) distorta (formerly known as Diaseris distorta) with visible daughter segments.
Please visit the Marine Species Identification Portal for example photographs of the rest of the species, as Salty Underground only uses photographs of the corals we sell.
Common Species: C. doederleini, C. jebbi, C. noumeae
Common names for Cantharellus spp. are disc or disk anemone. All Cantharellus species are monostomatous, containing only one mouth. Cantharellus corals are different from the other Fungiids because they are actually attached to the substrate. C. noumeae attaches via a stalk and C. jebbi is an encrusting species. Each is endemic to only one area. C. noumeae is endemic to New Caledonia and is considered endangered. It is normally found in bays sheltered from strong currents or in deep water near sediment. Mining operations and the sedimentation that accompanies it largely threatens the species. C. jebbi is found in the Bismark Sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea. They are found on reef slopes and may sometimes form colonies. C. doederleini is endemic to the Red Sea. They are found only as solitary polyps on fore-reef slopes.
Common Species: C. albitentaculata, C. crassa, C. echinata
Common names for Ctenactis spp. are slipper or tongue coral. These slipper corals are free-living (mobile, not attached to the substrate). They are not disc shaped. Instead, Ctenactis spp. are an elongated oval-looking like a hairy human tongue on the reef slope. These tongue corals are found throughout the Indo-West Pacific Oceans. C. albitentaculata is always monostomatous (containing only one mouth). The other species, C. echinata and C. crassa become polystomatous as the polyps grow larger. In the species that have multiple mouths, the mouths are all found on a central groove called the fossa. The polyp can be cream, ivory, or light to dark brown. Tentacles may be white, and some may have pink or purple margins to the polyp.
Subgenera: Cycloseris, Danafungia, Fungia, Lobactis, Pleuractis, Verrillofungia, Wellsofungia
Species within Fungia and its subgenera can be written two different ways. For example, for a specimen found in the subgenus Cycloseris, it would be written as such: F. (C.) costulata or just plain F. costulata, dropping the initial for the subgenus.
Common Species: F. (C.) costulata, F. (D.) fralinae, F. (F.) fungites, F. (L.) scutaria, F. (P.) gravis, F. (V.) concinna, F. (W.) granulosa
Common names for Fungia spp. are disc or disk coral, mushroom coral, plate coral, fungus coral, and tonge coral. These are quite popular in the aquarium trade, and come in many bright colors such as purple, green, brown, and red, sometimes in the same polyp. These are commonly found on reef flats and slopes in the Indo-West Pacific. Fungia spp. may grow up to a foot in diameter, and are round or oval shaped. These disc corals are monostomatous and the tentacles are normally extended at night.
Of the subgenera, Cycloseris (including the former Diaseris) have distinct wedge or pie shaped fragments in their disc, from whence daughter polyps arise. The subgenus Wellsofungia is known to be inhabited by Fungicola sp. the pit crab. It lives between the septa (calcareous dividers in the skeleton reminiscent of ribs). Many species of Fungia may house the sea snail the wentletrap (Epitonium sp.) or by the coralliophyllid boring gastropod (Leptoconchus sp.).
Common Species: H. clavator, H. pileus
Common names for Halomitra spp. are dome coral, helmet coral, and Neptune’s cap coral. These dome corals are…dome shaped! They are brown, ivory, or cream. H. pileus has a purple margin and white mouths. Helmet corals are polystomatous (containing multiple mouths although they are a single polyp). Although Halomitra corals are commonly found in clear water on reef slopes, H. clavator will also frequent turbid waters with low current, like those found in lagoons.
Single Species: H. actiniformis
Common names for H. actiniformis are plate coral or plate anemone coral. These are quite common in the aquarium trade. Plate corals are found in the Indo-West Pacific Oceans. They are motile, monostomatous polyps. Heliofungia corals have longer tentacles than the other Fungiids. They do not recover well from fragmentation, but in exchange, H. actiniformis is hermaphroditic, broods its planulae, and also will bud daughter polyps.
Though plate corals are generally brown in color with white knobbed tentacle tips (acrospheres), most species in the aquarium trade are brighter in color. They can be bright green with yellow acrospheres, pink or pale purple with pink acrospheres, or bright green with pink acrospheres. H. actiniformis is normally found in shallow water between 1-25 meters on reef slopes and flats.
Single Species: H. limax
Common names for H. limax are slipper coral, tongue coral, and mole coral. These are free-living, polystomatous polyps. Their multiple mouths are located in and alongside the fossa (cetral groove). These are the largest single polyped corals, growing as much as 1 meter (3 feet)! Slipper corals grow as an elongated oval. If broken, they may regenerate in an “L” or “Y” shape. The polyp is normally green, cream, or brown do to zooxanthellae. The tentacles do no contrast in color, but may pale as they taper. H. limax is found throughout the Indo-West Pacific Oceans, the Red Sea, and Madagascar. As they do grow to such an immense size, added to the fact of their profligate mobility, these would not be ideal for most aquariums. That being said, they are less aggressive than Fungia species, and are less dangerous to nearby corals.
Common Species: L. mokai, L. ranjithi, L. undulatum
A common name for Lithophyllon spp. is mushroom coral. Similar to Cantharellus spp., Lithophyllon spp. are also attached to the substrate via stalks or by encrusting the surface. However, unlike Cantharellus corals, Lithophyllon corals are polystomatous. L. ranjithi is found in shallow waters 10-20 meters deep. This species is considered to be endangered and is only found in Borneo. L. mokai is found throughout Indonesia. It commonly encrusts reef slopes from 6-27 meters. L. undulatum has also been known as L. lobata. It is found throughout Indonesia and Samoa. These polyps encrust reef slopes in shallow waters from 1-20 meters. Lithophyllon spp. can be brown, cream, green, or a rusty ocher color.
Common Species: P. crustacea, P. motuporensis, P. sinai
A common name for Podaacia spp.is mushroom coral. These polyps are attached to the substrate by stalks and are polystomatous. These are brown, ivory, or cream. These are normally found on reef slopes in the Indo-West Pacific. P. sinai has only been found on one reef slope in the Red Sea in shallow waters. P. motuporensis is found in Indonesia, Madagascar, and the Chagos Archipelago. It grows in shallow waters, sometimes up to a 50 cm. P. crustacea can grow to over 3 feet (1 m) in diameter, and is found throughout Indonesia, Madagascar, Samoa, and Maldives on reef slopes.
Common Species: P. novaehiberniae, P. talpina
Common names for Polyphyllia spp. are feather coral, slipper coral, and tongue coral. Like the other tongue corals, Polyphyllia corals are polystomatous, free-living polyps. Their mouths are in rows in the fossa and alongside. They can be light or dark brown or cream. P. talpina is a common coral in the aquarium trade, but can grow more than 50 cm. P. novaehiberniae is less commonly imported as it is prone to bleaching.
Common Species: S. robusta, S. dentata
Common names for Sanalolitha spp. are disc or disk coral, plate coral, and plate anemone coral. This coral is oval shaped, free-living, and polystomatous. S. dentata was formerly known as Halomitra meierae. Both species are found in Indonesia, Maldives, Samoa, and Seychelles on reef slopes and reef flats.
Single Species: Z. echinatus
Common names for Zoopilus echinatus are plate coral, disc coral, or disk coral. It is generally oval in shape and light or dark brown in color. These grow to an immense size, up to a meter (3 feet) in diameter. These are free-living, polystomatous polyps. It has a central mouth, with many others ringing the center. Zoopilus polyps fragment easily, and few complete polyps are often seen in nature. It does best in clear water, not turbid, on sheltered reef slopes. It is found from Japan, through Indonesia, the Phillipines, and Samoa. These may be ideal for captive breeding through asexual fragmentation.
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Borneman, E. (2001). Aquarium Corals: selection, husbandry, and natural history. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H Publications.
Calfo, A.R. (2002). Book of Coral Propagation: A concise guide to the successful care and culture of coral reef invertebrates (Vol. 1). Monroeville, PA: Reading Trees.
Ditlev, H. (2003). Scleractinian corals (Cnidaria:Anthozoa) from Sabah, North Borneo. Description of one new genus and eight new species, with notes on their taxonomy and ecology. Zoologische Mededelingen Leiden 77(9): 193-219.
Hoeksema, B.W. (1989). Taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of mushroom corals (Scleractinia:Fungiidae). Zoologische Verhandelingen Leiden Volume 254: 1-295.
Hoeksema, B.W. & Best, M.B. (1984). Cantharelles noumeae (gen. nov., spec. nov.) a new Scleractinian coral (Fungiidae) from New Caldonia. Zoologische Mededelingen Volume 58: 323-328.
IUCN 2010. (2011). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. Retrieved on August 15th, 2011, from http://www.iucnredlist.org
Reef Corals of the Indo-Malaysian Seas. (2011). Marine Species Identification Portal. Retrieved on August 15th, 2011, from http://species-identification.org
Veron, J.E.N. (2000). Corals of the world. Volumes 1-3. Townsville, Queensland, Australia: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Wood, E.M. (1983). Reef Corals of the World: Biology and Field Guide. Hong Kong, China: T.F.H. Publications Inc., Ltd.
Every coral I received came in EXCELLENT condition. The 2 xenia that arrived were especially beautiful. Both were pulsing while they were both still in the bag. Thanks for the beautiful coral, the updates, all the helpful info, and the amazing pricing!...
Anthony Echevarria from Roanoke, VA