Knobby False Coral

Watermelon Coral, Ricordea Mushroom Coral
Yuma Pacific Ricordea Coral, Ricordea, Stubby Anemone

Knobby False Coral, Watermelon Coral, Ricordea Mushroom Coral, Yuma Pacific Ricordea Coral, or Stubby Anemone, Ricordea yumaRicordea yumaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Carrie McBirney

   A beautiful Knobby False Coral will make your tank spectacular, but those with the best colors can be quite pricey!

   The Ricordea genus are some of the most sought after mushrooms due to their brilliance and the variety of colors available. They fetch a hefty price if the color is intense, yet once they multiply, you can recover some of this cost if that is your aim. Besides the Knobby False Coral, the other popular mushroom coral in this genus is the less pricey Florida False Coral R. florida.

   The R. yuma can be one of the priciest of corals in relation to its size. Though easily found, some of the colors that they are available in can be hard to find. After purchase, make sure your tank has the same lighting as the Ricordea you saw pictured. If not, your new mushroom may display a different shade than you thought you were getting. Water movement also plays a part in color and propagation. Unlike those colorful, yet touchy Acroporas, you don't want your mushroom's water to be pristine, since they need nutrients to be happy.

   Reaching only 2 - 3" (5 -7.5 cm), the Knobby False Coral is a great addition to any nano tank, or to larger sized aquariums as well. They are moderate to care for. They will do well in moderate light, yet bright light is harder on them compared to the Florida False Coral. This mushroom does not thrive under direct metal halide lighting, so indirect light would be suggested. They can handle a moderate to high water flow due to the fact that they grow so tightly against the surface they are on.

   The R. yuma propagates easily, yet depending on genetics, can sometimes multiply slowly in captivity. Swifter water movement may speed up propagation. Many color morphs are available from captive breeding. After splitting, the clone mushroom doesn't necessarily always resemble the "mother" mushroom, thus giving the aquarist a variety of shades and colors. They have very few predators if any.


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Scientific name    Family: Ricordeidae   (= Ricordiidae)
   Species: Ricordea yuma   Syn: Ricordia yuma

Distribution / Background    Mushroom Coral Information: The Knobby False Coral Ricordea yuma was discovered by Duchassaing and Michelotti in 1860. Some names they are known for are Watermelon Coral, Ricordea Mushroom Coral, Yuma Pacific Ricordea Coral, Rhodactis, Coral Anemone, and Stubby Anemone. General names both the Knobby False Coral and The Florida False Coral are known for are Mushroom Coral, Anemone Coral, Ricordea, and Mushroom Anemone.

   Where Mushroom Corals Are Found: The Ricordea yuma are found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

   Mushroom Coral Habitat: The Knobby False Corals are found on substrate in higher areas of tide pools and high up on reefs in moderate to fast moving waters. They feed on small particulate in the water column and lay so flat against the surface, that they can handle the swifter water flow. R. yuma propagates easily, yet depending on genetics, can sometimes multiply slowly in captivity. Many color morphs are available from captive breeding. They have very few predators if any.

Status    The Ricordea yuma is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species

Description    What do Mushroom Corals look like: These Coral Mushrooms Ricordea yuma are basically a coral without a skeleton and their internal structures are the same as stony corals. The top of their body or the upper surface is called the oral disc. The stalk area, which is very small, is called the column and it is located just above the pedal disc, which is where they attach to surfaces.

   The R. yuma comes in muted pinks, brown, green, orange, red, blue, purple, and bright pink. They are usually bright or even fluorescent in intensities. The body, tips of the tentacles, and even the mouth can all be different colors as well. At times, the area around the mouth opening will be a muted color. The Knobby False Coral has one mouth opening that is round and has verrucae on it. The tentacles around the margin of the mushroom can be longer which would aid in grabbing food. They can actually warp their surfaces to change the water flow over them to direct particulate material toward their mouth.

   Mushroom Coral Life Cycles: The Knobby False Coral can grow to can grow to 2 - 3" (5 - 7.5 cm), but their life span is unknown.

Difficulty of Care    Mushroom Coral Care: The Knobby False Coral is moderate to care for and will do well in moderate light, yet bright light is harder on it compared to the R. florida. It does not thrive under direct Metal Halides, so indirect light would be suggested. They also can handle moderate to high water flow due to the fact that they grow so tightly against the surface they are on. If their lighting and/or water movement preferences are not met, they will just float around the tank until they find a suitable spot or have an unpleasant encounter with a pump. Like other mushrooms, they can handle higher nitrates than SPS and LPS corals.

Foods / Feeding    Mushroom Coral Feeding: The Knobby False Coral is a carnivore. In the wild, these corallimorphs are well equipped with nutritional alternatives for their well-being. They derive nutrition from their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, that dwells within their tissues and they feed on small particulate in the water column, laying so flat against the surface, that they can handle the swifter water flow. They can also warp their surfaces to change the water flow over them to direct particulate and flocculent material toward their mucous center for absorption.

   In captivity R. yuma get most of their nutrition from their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, and tend to be a bit picky. They will eat live black worms. Other items you can try are Cyclo-peeze, newly hatched brine shrimp, and other similar sized foods. They do not feed as readily as other mushrooms.

Aquarium Care    Water changes of 10% bi-monthly or 20% a month are typical. Provide a reef environment with proper magnesium levels. Proper iodine levels are beneficial also. Due to their toxins, active carbon is a good idea with larger colonies of mushrooms. Do not over skim since the R. yuma need nutrients to survive on and will not do well in a pristine environment.

Aquarium Parameters    A typical live rock/reef environment is what is needed for your Knobby False Coral. Provide rubble or dead coral and live rock for them to have something with which to attach their pedal disc. If they detach, they can float around when looking for a place to settle, so it's a good rule of thumb to have all of your pumps covered. Most good quality pumps have guards on them.

  • Minimum Tank Size / Length: Nano tank of 1 gallon or more
  • Marine Lighting: Moderate. Does not thrive under direct Metal Halides, so indirect light would be suggested.
  • Temperature: 72° - 83° F (22° - 28° C)
  • Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 to 1.025
  • Water Movement: Moderate to strong
  • Water Region: Middle to bottom of the aquarium

Compatibility and Social Behaviors    The Knobby False Coral is semi-aggressive if they are near or touching another coral. They do not have a potent sting, but direct contact with another coral will still cause damage. They will cause other corals to loose tissue, recess and/or possibly die. Acroporas will not grow in aquariums with large mushroom populations. Make sure to leave 6 - 8 " between your mushrooms and other corals. Watch the growth rate since the R. yuma can overgrow and kill any nearby corals.

   Mushroom Anemones will tolerate their own species and usually other Mushrooms. In the wild many species of Mushroom Corals occur together in large groups. In captivity R. yuma will get along with their own species, but may not tolerate mushroom species outside their colony. Even in one genus, if the color is different or a different species, the weaker mushroom will detach and find another location. Strong water movement will cause them to detach as well.

Sex - Sexual differences    No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding and Reproduction

  • Mushroom Coral Reproduction:
       Corallimorphs reproduce in 4 different ways. The first three ways, asexual budding, laceration, and division/fission, are successful in the aquarium as most hobbyists soon discover. Budding is where individuals are formed from particles divided off from the pedal disc. Similar to budding, laceration happens when they move slowly over the surface and leave behind small pieces that will eventually form into mushrooms. Division or fission is where an individual divides down the center and forms two animals.
       Sexual reproduction is where eggs and sperm are released into the water column. They unite and form free-swimming larvae which are initially plankonic, and them settle and adhere to the substrate. Sexual reproduction has not been well documented, and has not been observed in captivity. Presumably modern filtration methods are inhospitable to free swimming larvae.

  • Mushroom Coral Propagation:
       R. yuma propagates easily, yet depending on genetics, can sometimes multiply slowly in captivity. Swifter water movement may speed up propagation.
       Mushroom corals can be easily propagated in captivity by cutting individual polyps into several pieces. Placed the pieces on a gravel substrate with low water flow. They will attach themselves to pieces of gravel. Later they can then be super glued to a suitable substrate such as a reef plug. It has been stated that the warmer end of their temperature spectrum encourages reproduction.

   For details on how to propagate your mushroom corals see Mushroom Corals: Mushroom Coral Propagation

Potential Problems    The R. yuma are disease resistant, and only affected by improper husbandry. Problems for the most Corallimorphs are pretty minimal unless your lighting, water movement, feeding and water quality are improper for these animals. A sign of this is if your coral mushroom detaches to look for "better conditions" to settle in. They have very few predators if any.

Availability    Mushroom Corals for Sale: The Knobby False Coral R. yuma can be found easily online and at pet stores, as well as from frag farmers and most reef clubs. Online they can run between $34.00 to $99.00 USD or more for a single polyp, depending on color.

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