Model Design

False Corals

Most false corals do well in moderate to low current and can thrive on less light than most stony and soft corals can. Thus, they are an ideal choice for a simple reef tank that won't do too much damage to your pocketbook.

Aquarium Capacity 30 gallons

Life Support live rock, live sand, standard reef filtration

Lighting two to four fluorescent lamps

Background black or dark blue

Decoration a few seashells

Special Requirements reef water conditions and moderate current


(see text) Invertebrates

Algae snails 5

Brittle stars 2

Lysmata amboiensis 1

False corals 3 to 5 assorted varieties (see text)

The taxonomy of false corals, also known as disc anemones, mushroom corals, or mushroom polyps in the aquarium trade, is in something of a shambles, and none of the names applied to them in the aquarium literature may be correct. This should pose few problems for you, however, since they all require the same basic care. Moderation in all things seems to suit them best. They prefer lower light levels and gentler currents than most of the sessile invertebrates kept in reef tanks.

Individual false corals are discs ranging from dime-size to half dollar-size. They have either short, stubby tentacles or no tentacles at all. In some, the tentacles are branched at the tips; while in others, the tips of the tentacles are a contrasting color. Many different colors and patterns occur, including red, blue, and fluorescent green in stripes, swirls, dots, and squiggles. These many variations probably explain why invalid species names have frequently been assigned to the group. As long as they do not touch each other, the different varieties can live together in one aquarium. They often reproduce by splitting off daughter polyps from the margin of the disk, so the aquarium eventually becomes heavily populated with them.

Biotope Tanks 169

Biotope Tanks 169

False corals are typically supplied as small colonies of five to twenty individuals attached to a chunk of live rock. Keep this in mind when purchasing rock for the initial setup of this aquarium, and be sure to leave room. Otherwise, setup and maturation of this tank should proceed as suggested for the others in this chapter, with a waiting period of two weeks to a month after the live rock and live sand have been added.

Various small fish can share the tank with false corals, including dottybacks, neon wrasses, flasher wrasses, and gobies. Leave out the fish, however, if you add the giant false coral, Amplexidiscusfenestrafer. This atypical species grows to the size of a dinner plate and specializes in feeding on clownfish in its natural habitat because it mimics a large sea anemone. In the aquarium, it will catch and eat many kinds of small fishes.

Red Sea fishes have traditionally been scarce and expensive in the U.S. aquarium trade. Their beauty and hardiness, however, have made them popular with aquarists despite the cost.

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