This soft coral is found off the coasts of Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, and on the Great Barrier reef. However, the frags sold here are aquacultured by ORA. These corals are grown in aquariums and then fragged to be sold to hobbyists such as yourself instead of being collected from the ocean.
This toadstool leather has a greenish tan coloration with long, thin tentacles and white, glowing polyps at the end. It grows a single stocky base and a large cap, giving it the mushroom appearance.
The lighting requirements for toadstools depend on the coloration. This particular toadstool does best under low to medium light, around 50-100 micromoles of PAR. If you want, you can slowly acclimate it to higher light, as this may bring out a better coloration. Do this with caution as too much light can cause bleaching.
Flow is incredibly important for this coral for several reasons. First, it helps keep the coral clean. It also helps remove the coral’s waxy layer that it sheds once a month. This is done to prevent algae or diatoms from growing on the coral. The coral will close up until the layer is shed and then extended out larger than before. Most of the growth can be observed after the coral sheds. Anyway, flow is also important because it delivers needed nutrients to the coral. Provide moderate, irregular water movement for this coral.
Regarding nutrients, shoot for nitrates of 1-5 ppm and phosphates as close to 0.01 ppm as possible but not 0. Most soft corals can tolerate and even thrive in nitrates up to 20 ppm, but this risks algae growth and may be unideal for other corals. As for temperature, keep it between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit and stable.
Next, let’s talk about feeding. Toadstool leathers contain an algae called zooxanthellae which provides the coral with most of its nutritional needs. While feeding could benefit this coral, the small polyps are not capable of eating a lot of prepared coral foods. This is not a coral you should go out of your way to feed. However, dosing your aquarium with live phytoplankton and amino acids will benefit all of your corals, including this one.
Lastly, let’s discuss coral aggression. This coral does not have sweeper tentacles or stinging tentacles of any kind. It does not harm other corals with contact. However, it can release toxins in the water to harm or slow the growth of other corals. Typically, this only happens when the coral is stressed or dying. Still, there is no guarantee it won’t start releasing toxins. To combat this, you can simply run carbon on your aquarium. If it seems like your other corals are being affected by potential toxins, you can do a water change. This rarely becomes a huge issue, but it is something to be aware of.
Purchase Size: 1 – 2″
Placement: You can place this coral anywhere as long as its lighting and flow needs are met.
Lighting: Low to medium.
Parameters: 72-78° F, pH 8.1-8.4, salinity 32-35 ppt
Aquacultured corals such as this toadstool leather from ORA are better adapted to aquarium conditions such as lighting, flow, and water parameters. It is better able to handle the stress of shipping and overall hardier than corals collected from the wild. Along with that, aquacultured corals are far less likely to carry pests and disease, though you should still dip and/or quarantine them to be safe. These corals are also more sustainable and environmentally friendly! How great is that?