The Discosoma sanctithomae, most commonly known as the Bubble Mushroom or Warty Mushroom, is named for the shape of its tentacles. It is also known as the Atlantic Bubble Mushroom, Warty Corallimorph, and St. Thomas Bubble Mushroom. It is a well known and favorite mushroom coral, offering a distinctive look to the reef aquarium.
This is a larger mushroom, and can grow to 4″ (10 cm). One of its unusual characteristics is that it will sometimes close part way, into a “purse-string” style, and quickly capture an unwary fish seeking to hide in the “enclosure”. Their tissue is very thin however, and can tear easy.
The Bubble Mushroom usually comes in translucent green, blue, yellowish green, purple-mauve, green, brown and orange with tentacles that may contrast in color and be iridescent. Instead of having long feeder tentacles, their tentacles will form rounded vesicles or they may elongate to take on a fuzzy appearance. Like other mushrooms, the tentacles do have toxins in them.
This mushroom is very decorative and moderate to easy to care for, but it is a more expensive mushroom coral. The Bubble Mushroom is a good choice for Metal Halide lit tanks, since it likes indirect intense lighting. You may have to experiment on locations for maximum size, color and reproduction. They are a bit more difficult than the Actinodiscus genus because they are not as tolerant of poor water conditions. They also cannot handle a high water flow since it will prevent them from getting nourishment.
The D. sanctithomae propagates easily in captivity, which can contribute to preserving the wild populations. After splitting however, 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.
A great nano coral, the Bubble Mushroom as Sealifebase calls it, the Warty Corallimorpharin. You can call it the Bubble or Warty Mushroom for short! Needing a tank that is at least 5 gallons, small fish may be in danger. The Bubble Mushroom usually comes in translucent green, blue, yellowish green, purple-mauve, green, brown and orange with contrasting and possibly iridescent tentacles. These tentacles will form rounded vesicles or they may elongate to take on a fuzzy appearance. Like other mushrooms, the tentacles do have toxins in them so in large numbers you may need carbon or other toxin removal products in nano tanks. They are great for nano tanks and beginners but do need slightly better water conditions than most mushrooms.
Species: Discosoma sanctithomae Syn: Rhodactis sanctithomae
Distribution / Background
Mushroom Coral Information: The Bubble Mushroom Discosoma sanctithomae was described by Duchassaing and Michelotti in 1860. According to the 2007 Taxonomy List, this coral is listed under Discosoma genus. Some other names they are known for are Warty Mushroom, Atlantic Bubble Mushroom, Warty Corallimorph, and St Thomas Bubble Mushroom. General names all Corallimorphs are called include Mushroom Coral, False Coral, Disk Anemone, Mushroom Anemone, Coral-like Anemone, False Anemone, and Jewel Anemone.
Where Mushroom Corals Are Found: The Discosoma sanctithomae are found in the Western Atlantic Ocean; Florida, Bermuda, Caribbean, and the Bahamas.
Mushroom Coral Habitat: These coral mushrooms are found in shallow coastal areas among Porites and Agaricia corals. They like to grow on dead corals, rubble, and between coral heads. They feed off micro particulate items in the water column although under very low water movement can grab larger particles as well. The D. sanctithomae propagates easily in captivity, which can contribute to preserving the wild populations. Yet after splitting, the clone mushroom doesn’t necessarily always resemble the “mother” mushroom. They have very few predators if any.
The Discosoma sanctithomae is not on the IUCN Red List for endangered species
What do Mushroom Corals look like: These Coral Mushrooms Discosoma sanctithomae 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. Their tissue is very thin and can tear easy.
The Bubble Mushroom comes in translucent green, blue, yellowish green, purple-mauve, green, brown and orange with tentacles that may contrast in color and be iridescent. Instead of long feeder tentacles, they will form rounded vesicles or they may elongate to take on a fuzzy appearance, and these do have toxins in them like all other mushroom corals.
Mushroom corals can actually warp the surface of their oral disc to change the water flow over them to direct particulate and flocculent material toward their mucous center for absorption. At times they will make a trumpet shape. This is thought to be formed when they are needing nourishment, or if the light level is low, or is of low quality due to age.
Mushroom Coral Life Cycles: The Bubble Mushroom can grow to 4″ (10 cm), but their life span is unknown.
Difficulty of Care
Mushroom Coral Care: The Bubble Mushroom is moderate to easy to care for. It is a good choice for Metal Halide lit tanks, since it likes indirect intense lighting. They should be kept in shaded areas in tanks with high output lamps. If they are not shaded, they turn all brown and fail to thrive, or will just float around the tank until they find a suitable spot or they have an unpleasant encounter with a pump. They cannot handle high water flow since it will prevent them from getting nourishment. They are not as tolerant to poor water conditions as the Actinodiscus genus.
Foods / Feeding
Mushroom Coral Feeding: The Bubble Mushroom is a carnivore. In the wild, these corallimorphs feed off micro particulate items in the water column although under very low water movement can grab larger particles as well. Most mushroom corals are also well equipped with nutritional alternatives for their well-being. They can derive nutrition from their symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, that dwells within their tissues. They can also actually warp their surfaces to change the water flow over them to direct particulate and flocculent material toward their mucous center for absorption.
In captivity D. sanctithomae eat small piece of fish and crustacean flesh. Make sure they are located where the water velocity is low. You will know when the water is too quick because the food will be whisked away before they have a chance to close around it.
Water changes of 10% bi-monthly or 20% a month are typical. Provide a reef environment with proper magnesium levels. Some claim 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 D. sanctithomae need nutrients to survive on and will not do well in a pristine environment. However, they are not as tolerant to poor water conditions as the Actinodiscus genus.
A typical live rock/reef environment is what is needed for your Bubble Mushroom. Provide rubble or dead coral and live rock for them to have something with which to attach their pedal disc. They do not do well with strong water movement, so direct the power heads and intake nozzles away from them. As they can float around when looking for a place to settle, 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 5 gallons or more
- Marine Lighting: Indirect, moderate to high
- Temperature: 72Â° – 83Â° F (22Â° – 28Â° C)
- Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 to 1.025
- Water Movement: Low / weak
- Water Region: MIddle to bottom of the aquarium
Compatibility and Social Behaviors
The Bubble Mushroom is semi-aggressive if they are near another coral. They will cause other corals to loose tissue, recess 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 D. sanctithomae will 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 D. sanctithomae 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:
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
The D. sanctithomae 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.
Mushroom Corals for Sale: The Bubble Mushroom D. sanctithomae, also known as the Warty Mushroom, Atlantic Bubble Mushroom, Warty Corallimorph, and St Thomas Bubble Mushroom can be found online and occasionally at pet stores, or you may be able to special order them. Online they are $35.00 USD and up, depending on size and color.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- Eric Borneman, Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History , TFH Publications, 2001
- Anthony Calfo, Book of Coral Propagation, Volume 1 Edition 2: Reef Gardening for Aquarists, Reading Trees; 2 edition, 2007
- Ronald L. Shimek, Guide to Marine Invertebrates: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species, Microcosm, 2005
- Julian Sprung, Aquarium Invertebrates, Advanced Aquarist’s Online Magazine, Copyright 2002
- Bob Goemans, Mushroom Coral, Discosoma sanctithomae, Animal Library, Saltwatercorner.com
Featured Image Credit: Pavaphon Supanantananont, Shutterstock