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Ricordea

The Ricordea, or flower mushroom coral, is a very popular mushroom anemone (coral) among saltwater aquarium enthusiasts because they are relatively easy to keep and have some amazing coloration.

Ricordea florida vs. Ricordea yuma mushroom corals

What differences do you see between the two genera?

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, or perhaps more accurately, taxonomically speaking, they are not true corals, but rather are more similar to the mushroom coral anemones. But let’s face it, whether they are anemones or false corals doesn’t really matter with respect to the point of trying to help explore their care needs in an aquarium–so we will treat them like corals for the rest of this article.

green blue and purple ricordea mushroom coral

Those colors really pop on top of the coralline algae

Overview

Ricordea mushrooms have a small, round body with a 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 month if the ricordea is in the process of splitting). The two most popular species in the hobby are Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma.

R. florida inhabits the tropical Western Atlantic and Caribbean waters while R. yuma is seen in the tropical Pacific.

side by side comparison of Ricordea florida vs. yuma

Note how the buds on the purple Ricordea florida, on the left, seem random while the buds on the orange Ricorea yuma on the right are more ordered

Quick care facts

  • Common name: Ricordea mushroom, Flower mushroom
  • Scientific names: Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma
  • Care level: Beginner and Advanced
  • Aggression level: Semi-aggressive – don’t let it touch or crowd neighboring corals
  • Light requirements: Medium to high
  • Flow requirements: Low to medium
  • Special notes: R. yuma is much more challenging than R. florida 
  • Water quality: Standard reef tank water parameters are needed. Learn more here.

Feeding

Ricordea mushroom corals are considered to be photosynthetic, because of the symbiotic zooxanthellae that live within their body tissues. It is technically the single-cell zooxanthellae that are responsible for photosynthetic operations, but they gladly share their sugar (glucose), in exchange for a relatively safe home in the reef…or more specifically…in your home. This is thought to provide this mushroom coral anemone with the majority of its nutrition.

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 ( or is it 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.

Watch this video to go deeper into caring for the ricordea, the differences between Yuma and Florida and feeding:

Life in the Aquarium

Ricordea mushroom corals are very popular for both beginners and experienced aquarists due to their minimal care needs and a wide tolerance for lighting conditions (generally speaking, there are always exceptions). They are generally easy to care for and would make an excellent addition to almost any reef tank.

green and orange ricordea mushroom corals side by side

Excellent examples of a green and an orange Ricordea florida mushroom coral

To maintain their health and vibrant coloration, they need moderately bright lighting. 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.

See what aquarium water parameters are most important, here.

close up image of the mouth at the center of this mushroom coral

Another mouth to feed

Propagation and fragging

Ricordea corals, like other mushrooms, are fairly easy to frag or propagate, the same way you would frag any other mushroom coral. Fragging can be accomplished simply by cutting the animal cleanly with a razor blade to separate it into pieces. The larger the piece, the larger the newly fragged colony will be/start out.

The hardest part about fragging Ricordea is getting the pieces to attach where you want them. You can’t glue Ricordea mushroom frags, to get them to stay neatly in place on a frag plug like you can some other corals. You could potentially hold them in place with a toothpick if it is important for you to control how they attach.

orange ricordea mushroom coral with green mouth

However, my preferred and recommended method is to take a small plastic container (the kind you would save a small portion of leftovers in), fill the bottom with a layer of live rock rubble, shells, or frag plugs, and gently place your cut-up fragments of the Ricordea mushroom coral, and cover the container with a breathable mesh (with a pore size as large as you can but smaller than your frag pieces). The Ricordea mushroom coral pieces will “want” to attach and will settle all on their own, over a period of about 7-10 days.

After that point, carefully remove the mesh (watch out, unattached pieces may float out, so go slowly), and you should see that most of the coral fragments attached to the substrate in the container.

To learn more about fragging corals, I have two recommendations:

Check out this article first–and then consider ordering a copy of the book: How to Frag Corals.

Conclusion

Ricordea mushroom corals are a tale of two species–that look similar–but respond differently to life in a home aquarium.

Ricordea florida corals are attractive and hardy mushroom corals that will add color, variety, and beauty to almost any saltwater aquarium. They are generally widely available for a reasonable price (about $25/polyp, many times) and tend to do well in captivity if provided the right environment in which to thrive.

Ricordea yuma coralsby comparison, are rarer, more expensive, and harder to keep, although not much is commonly known or shared about how to vary husbandry to have greater success.

Both species are available in a wide array of gorgeous colors that will brighten up your tank if you give them a try.

Learn more

Thanks for reading this article. Don’t stop here, there is a lot more on the site you might like. I personally recommend you check out these other popular articles next:

Ricordea mushroom coral care guide

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