Corallimorpharia is a widely popular order of Cnidaria in the reef hobby today. Closely related to stony coral, Corallimorpharia can be easily identified by the lack of a stony skeleton. Corallimorpharia can be broken down into many families and genus. The genus Ricordea being one of the most diversely colored and sought after. Only two species make up the genus Ricordea, Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma. Let’s take a closer look!
Ricordea can be easily distinguished from other mushroom species by rows of bubble-like tentacles. Telling Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma apart can be a bit more tricky. Ricordea yuma will have tentacles around the mouth and an alternating pattern of small and large tentacles on its body. Ricordea florida tends to have a smaller mouth and lacks the presence of tentacles around the mouth. There is also more of a random pattern to the bubble-like tentacles found throughout the body. In addition, Ricordea yuma are usually found in more vibrant and eye-catching colors.
Lighting and flow
Lets group these two categories together due to the lower demands required by Ricordea (unlike most other Cnidarians which can be more difficult to keep). Most mushroom species can flourish under a variety of light intensity. Ricordea are no different but do tend to prefer medium to high light. This will also help them exhibit a more vibrant coloration. The preference of high light comes from the shallow waters where they are found throughout the Caribbean (Ricordea florida) and the Indo-Pacific (Ricordea yuma). On the other hand, flow should be kept moderate. Low to medium alternating current is best throughout the aquarium. Too much flow may cause Ricordea to stress remaining closed or even detach from live rock.
Ricordea corals share a symbiotic relationship with single cell algae called zooxanthellae that live inside the coral tissue. These tiny cells help provide the coral with the majority of its nutritional needs through a process known as photosynthesis. Ricordea may also be fed brine shrimp or other zooplankton to help supplement additional nutrients needed for energy and growth. Lacking sweeper tentacles they rely on flow to bring food to the short tentacles. Located around the mouth these tentacles contain nematocyst (stinging cells) to help capture food. Providing amino acids and meaty foods with a turkey baster to target feed the coral will help support those vibrant colors reefers strive for.
With minimal care requirements it is easy to see why Ricordea have become so popular in the reef community. Without such strict needs these mushroom coral spread at a much faster pace then most LPS and SPS coral quickly outcompeting them for space. This on the other hand does make them more readily available due to the ability to be easily aquacultured. It truly is so easy to fall in love with these beautiful coral.