The Ricordea, or flower mushroom coral, is a very popular mushroom anemone (coral) among the saltwater aquarium enthusiasts, because they are relatively easy to keep and have some amazing coloration. The two most popular species in the hobby are Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma. R. florida inhabits in the tropical Western Atlantic and Caribbean waters while R. yuma is seen in the tropical Pacific. In nature, they are primarily found on the rock structure with areas of shallow and medium depth reefs. They are also found in deeper waters as smaller colonies or as solitary animals.
Technically speaking, they are not true corals, but rather are more similar to the mushroom coral anemones.
Ricordea have a small, round body with short club or berry-shaped tentacles. The basal portion of the coral has a flat disk that functions as a foot while the other end is the oral disk which functions has a mouth in the center (sometimes more than one mouth if the ricordea is in the process of splitting.
Both species have their own distinct colors and patterns that range from orange and green to neon-green and shining blue.
Ricordea are considered to be photosynthetic corals, because of the symbiotic zooxanthellae that live within the body. This is thought to provide the coral anemone with the majority of its nutrition.
During the process of photosynthesis, zooxanthellae produces oxygen and sugars, which are then used by the mushroom anemone for food. Not a bad deal, eh? Seems like an arrangement Homer Simpson would be proud of.
Despite the fact that they will derive some of their nutrition from photosynthesis via the symbiotic (commensal?) relationship with the zooxanthellae, it is important to note that the ricordea is an animal, and animals like to eat. These coral anemones are capable of capturing Artemia (brine shrimp), Mysis shrimp as well as other small zooplankton-like foods.
For maximum growth, it is best to feed your ricordea regularly, although you may find it to be a bit challenging to keep the food away from aggressively-eating fish.
Life in the Aquarium
Ricordea are very popular corals for both beginners and experienced aquarists due to their minimal upkeep and a wide tolerance for lighting conditions. They are generally easy to care for and would make an excellent addition to almost any reef tank.
To maintain their health and vibrant coloration, the ricordea needs moderately bright lighting, which means they are best kept with Powerful Aquarium LEDs or T5’s. I had some challenges keeping them happy in my tank when I had metal halides—you may need to experiment to find the proper depth based on your own aquarium lights.
They require low-to-moderate flow and room to grow/multiply without the risk of bumping into neighboring corals. Don’t put them directly into a high flow area.
Ricordea, like other mushroom corals, are fairly easy to frag or propagate. Fragging can be accomplished simply by cutting the animal cleanly with a razor blade and allowing the frag to settle and attach onto some live rock rubble.
To learn more about fragging corals, I recommend you check out How to Frag Corals.
Ricordea adds color, variety, and beauty to almost any saltwater aquarium and are available at many saltwater aquarium shops for a reasonable price (about $25/polyp, many times) and tend to do well in captivity.
Looking for more information about other great corals? Check out these articles here:
Watch this video to go deeper into caring for the ricordea: