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Hairy Mushroom Coral

Rhodactis sp.

ON EXHIBIT:  Boneless Beauties at Ocean Journey

Hairy Mushroom Coral

The physical characteristics of mushroom corals, also called corallimorphs, lie somewhere between corals and anemones.  They lack the calcium carbonate skeletons of the corals, but their internal structures are identical to that of a stony coral polyp.  Mushroom corals attach to substrate using a suction cup-like pedal disc, just like an anemone.  A single mushroom polyp can live independently, but several polyps are often found growing in a cluster together.

Corallimorphs may reproduce sexually or asexually in three different ways. Asexual reproduction may include budding, laceration and division. Budding occurs when a single polyp produces a small genetically identical polyp that usually grows and separates from the pedal disc of the parent. Laceration occurs as a polyp moves slowly over the surface and leaves behind small pieces that will eventually grow into new polyps. Division is where an individual polyp divides down the center, creating two animals.

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About This Animal

SIZE: Up to 5 inches

RANGE: Central Indo-Pacific Ocean

HABITAT: Shallow reef slopes, bays, lagoons, and boat channels. Prefer to grow on dead coral and between coral heads

DIET: Carnivore; larger plankton, larval fish and shrimp, also photosynthetic deriving nutrients from symbiotic algae (zooxanthallae)