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Ricordea mushrooms are corallimorphs, best described as a type of stony coral that lacks a skeleton. They are beautiful animals that are suitable for beginning reefkeepers and experts alike as their care requirements are not demanding. Most will adapt to a wide range of lighting and water quality conditions.

There are two different species of Ricordea commonly available. Ricordea yuma comes from Indo-Pacific waters, while Ricordea florida is a Caribbean species. There are also quite a few corallimorphs of uncertain identification that closely resemble Ricordea. Ricordea florida are generally found in shallow water, although richer colored specimens may be from more shaded areas. In high-energy shallow environments, Ricordea tend to form larger colonies of rather dull colored polyps, while in deeper, shaded, or protected areas they tend to occur in smaller aggregations and have the beautiful bright colors. There is not much known about the habitat range of the Indo-pacific species, though the general pattern of coloration seems to hold true for many corallimorphs. Strong actinic supplementation accentuates the color patterns, and they are considered by many to be among the most beautiful and desirable of corals in our captive reefs!!

Ricordea have been reported to take a variety of foods, and may be fed Artemia and Mysis shrimp as well as other small prey items. However, it is often noted that Ricordea may have a limited prey capture response, and if they do not capture offered foods, it should not be of concern. They are photosynthetic, containing symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) that provide nourishment to the animal. Both species will naturally reproduce using a method called pedal laceration, as well as by fission. In pedal laceration, the mushroom slowly moves sideways, leaving small pieces of its basal attachment behind that grow into baby mushrooms!

Be aware that R. florida should only be available as single or perhaps a few isolated polyps on a very small piece of live rock. Current collection laws prohibit the collection of colonies attached to live rock. If larger colonies are being sold, they should be avoided unless they were grown in captivity. R. florida also commands a rather hefty price from most livestock sources.

This is an unusually attractive genus of corallimorphs that seem to be less prone to rapid division and consequently less likely to "take over" a tank. They are an excellent choice for many reef aquariums.



We have recieved several notes regarding the status of R. florida and its collection on small live rock as stated in the article. In particular, writers make note that this is only true in Florida, and that other countries (notably Haiti) may be supplying larger colonies to the trade.

Regarding Haiti: Haiti has been responsible on and off for imports over the past fifteen years, much of it illegal. There are few restrictions on collection in Haiti, and enforcement and monitoring is poor by officials and illegal collection and poaching is common. The illegal trade is explained in the AIMS Publication, Status of Coral Reefs of the World, 2002. However, there are significant restrictions at the U.S. side of things. Specifically, live rock is classified as Scleractinia (a CITES II restriction) and must be accompanied by a CITES certificate. Haiti is a non-CITES party, and so should not logistically be able to export any CITES material, including live rock, to the U.S., who requires such documentation. Ricordea is not CITES listed, but the rock is. If Haiti is the source for large colonies of Ricordea on live rock, it is more than likely illegal. To my knowledge, there are no other suppliers of Caribbean live rock to the United States.

Most Ricordea florida in the states is from Florida and subject to the guidelines I mentioned. However, if anyone is able to provide documentation of such exports and imports (on our side), such as companies involved and permit information, I would be very interested to see it and would investigate the situation. At such time as I was able to confirm the legal import of large colonies of Ricordea on live rock, I would certainly offer a retraction of the statement.

Eric Borneman

Photos courtesy of Reef Central members.
Text by Darren Walker & Eric Borneman.
Many thanks to John Love (Rock Anemone) for his assistance with this project.


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