Toadstool coral is one of the easiest coral to care, which makes it perfect for beginners. Just because they are easy to care, it doesn’t mean that they are ugly or lame. On the contrary, they are visually pleasing and attractive – and they can be a great part of your home décor. Before choosing corals, you need to make sure that the type of coral you pick would be suitable for your lifestyle and living condition. It’s a good thing that this particular type of coral isn’t complicated or difficult to care and maintain, so let’s dig further into it.
Understanding Toadstool Coral More
Toadstool coral is a part of Leather Coral’s variety. They are quite popular, mostly because of the easy maintenance and care, and also their size. They aren’t difficult to maintain and care – as long as you don’t involve other corals. But they are the great option if you want something new, something unique, and something easy.
This coral generally comes in (plain) brown hue and their size is pretty big. Leather corals, including Toadstool coral, have several unique (and pretty strange) habits that can be pretty interesting to watch. Once in several months, they would withdraw their own tentacles and then retract to themselves. This habit is quite common in other corals – it means that they are under a stress. However, Toadstool corals would shed their slimy coats periodically. The shedding process itself can happen in several days to a full week. Once the process completes, they would expand to the normal proportion again.
This type of coral requires such shedding process because it will remove any attached algae, bacteria, and other types of microorganisms. Be aware if you don’t watch any of these – and your coral shrivels and then die.
This coral is considered as the beginner-friendly type to start from. They don’t need much lighting (at least not the intense type) and they have high resistance (and also tolerance) for (dissolved) organic material. They don’t eat in the traditional manner. The coral would share the caps to face the water flow surrounding them. When they do this, they can absorb the dissolved nutrients from leftover food, fish waste, and others.
However, you should keep in mind that this isn’t exactly a ‘sociable’ coral. Yes, they are hardy, beautiful, attractive, and easy to care, they don’t really get along well with other corals. They have aggressive chemical substance (as their defense) that can kill the nearby and neighboring corals. Stony corals, especially, would be affected by this chemical.
So, here’s the general fact about this coral:
- Aside from being known as the Toadstool, this one is also known as Rough Leather coral, Mushroom coral, and Umbrella coral.
- The scientific name is Sarcophyton Glaucum
- The coral originates from Indian Ocean, with 16 to 30 inches in height
- The coral gas aggressive temperament. It can’t live with another coral
- It is perfect for aquariums sizing around 55 gallons
- The care and maintenance is pretty easy and direct
Toadstool Leather Coral
This is a great coral for saltwater aquarium. It is the type of soft and saltwater reef coral that is easy to care – that’s why it is crucial to pay attention to the water tank’s condition, which should imitate the condition of the saltwater. You can find this type of coral as different varieties – based on the polyps’ size and color. It would be common to find things like Yellow Fiji Leather, green polyped, short polyped, and long polyped. They are the most common and popular Toadstool varieties to buy.
If you have a saltwater aquarium, there are certain requirements that you need to do if you want your corals to strive and survive.
- Temperature is between 72 and 78 degrees of Fahrenheit
- Specific gravity is between 1.023 and 1.025
- The lighting is moderate
- The water flow should be moderate too
- The pH should be around 8.2
- Harness is from 8 to 12
Some people say that they enjoy extra benefits from adding iodine, strontium, and other types of trace elements. However, some people say that they are able to care for the corals without extra supplements. They are able to do so because the corals can get the important nutrition from the light. After all, they are photosynthetic creature. They have zooxanthellae or photosynthetic dinoflagellates inside them. This zooxanthellae is able to convert light into (life-sustaining) sugar. Moreover, they can also absorb the crucial nutrients from the water directly.
There is a reason why this coral gets its name. The coral look similar to Toadstool Mushroom. It has long stalk and also a small (mushroom cap-like) top which is called capitulum. When the cap gets bigger and wider, it would fold – making it look like an anemone carpet. The coral has fuzzy appearance when their polyps are extended fully. But when it retracts the polyp, it will reveal smooth surface. It happens every night and also several times within a day.
The Natural Habitat
The Toadstool Leather coral is native in areas from Fiji Islands to Indian Ocean. You should have no issue finding them. They can be easily found in shallow water lagoons and flat reefs, or in reefs where both hard and soft corals are mixed together. These locations (shallow water reef) are typically flooded with high intensity light. It means that this coral won’t shy away from high intensity setup. Just because they are tolerable to low to moderate light (in aquarium), it doesn’t mean that they dislike high intensity light. They are okay with such arrangement when necessary.
The coral can grow quite well and surprisingly – when properly cared for. Don’t be easily fooled by the seemingly tiny frag size. Some aquarists have experience quite an impressive growth of the corals – from the frag nickel-size to a healthy colony with a cap, having 10 inches in diameter – at least.
How to Care for a Toadstool Coral
Toadstool coral doesn’t have any sweeper tentacle or stinging cell. If you place them in a mixed reef water tank, they are typically peaceful mate. But they do produce around 50 chemicals (even more!) and some of which are considered to have negative effect on the growth of certain SPS (Small Polyp Stony) corals. In open water, this type of coral come from mixed reefs that also live alongside stony corals. But in the confinement of home aquarium, this can be a problem.
The corals aren’t exactly fussy or ‘dramatic’. They strive well in the aquarium’s multiple areas. But they will do their best in spots with moderate light and water flow. It shouldn’t be too low or too high. If you have a deep sand bed, it means that you can place the coral on the sand-bed. Or you can also place it on the midlevel rockwork within the light’s perimeter. You should try it yourself because different aquarium owner will experience different outcome or require different setting.
Clownfish Surrogate Anemones
Do you know that Toadstool coral is great for anemone surrogate – especially for clownfish? You see, clownfish is needy, despite being a ‘houseguest’. They always need the constant contact once they are bonded with the polyps. Not only they clean the polyps, but they will also peck on them. The Toadstool Leather coral is okay with this kind of relationship.
However, it doesn’t always mean that the relationship is always fruitful or positive. Some polyps may retract away (they aren’t happy with the connection), but some may not. Some clownfish are reported to irritate the animal – it gets so bad that the coral finally dies. What you can do is to observe and monitor them. If they are happy with each other, that’s great! But if they aren’t, then you need to figure out a way.
Be aware if the corals start to release a gross-looking and string-y mucus slime. It is usually accompanied by them retracting the polyps, releasing that gross thing, and clamming up. It’s their way to remove algae, detritus, and other particles (from the surface) – it’s their way of cleansing. This is actually a harmless action, but if you place the Toadstool coral with other corals, those corals maybe affected and irritated.
Propagation and Reproduction
This Toadstool coral would become mature in around 6 to 10 years. The male colonies mature faster, but in smaller sizes when compared to the female ones. The male can be 4 inches x 4 inches x 4 inches, while the female can reach up to 24 inches x 24 inches x 24 inches. It’s possible that they clone themselves, but in tiny versions. They may drop small bits of bud or cap. That’s when fragging happens – small part can form a new and completely full size colony.
Be advised, though, that the frags are slimy and slipper. They won’t stick to live rock rubble – well, unless you are using cyanoacrylate glue. But some people can use plastic mesh or rubber band. Find out how from the net, if you are interested in learning.
Buying the Coral
You can always find a specimen from online fish store or the local one. If you try this method, get the aquaculture type and not the wild-caught one. Or, if you are interested to grow the coral from very beginning, find a fellow hobbyist from your area. There should be an aquarist nearby, right? Why don’t you make a trade for it? Buy a frag and it won’t cost you as much as buying one from the local store. Plus, you get to learn about growing the coral from very beginning. Isn’t that cool?
Always be aware of your water tank. Monitor and observe – those are the key words. Don’t be afraid to join communities to learn more about this amazing coral. Who knows? You may end up with super cool Toadstool coral that sparks up your interior décor.