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Fungia / Disk Coral: Fungia spp.

Phylum: Class: Order: Family: Genus: Species:
Cnidaria Anthozoa Scleractinia Fungiidae Fungia F. spp.

Common Names:  Fungia Coral, Disc Coral,  Short-Tentacled Disc Coral, Plate Coral, Mushroom Coral.

Scientific Name:  Fungia spp.

Description:

Fungia Corals are flattened, normally rounded or somewhat oval discs which contain a single polyp.  The disc may be raised in the center where the centrally located mouth can be found.   The mouth is fairly large and in the shape of a slit.  Short, widely spaced feeder tentacles which are used to capture and move food to the mouth are usually apparent across most of the surface of the coral.  The tentacles may be extended during the day, but extend to their fullest at night.

Fungia Corals are highly variable in coloration and may be found in shades of brown, purple, red, pink, orange, blue or green sometimes with strips or a colorful edging (usually pink) around the perimeter of the coral.

The skeleton has radiating septa that extend from the mouth to the edge of the coral.  The septa have small to large, rounded to pointed teeth along their length similar to a saw blade.  The coral can grow  to about 12″ across, but are usually 2″-6″ in the hobby.

The juvenile coral start out attached to another coral or the substrate, but the adult coral is free living.  One identifying feature for Fungia coral compared to some close relatives is that the adult will typcially show a scar where it was attached to the substrate.  The adults have the ability to move on occasion.  Exactly how they do this is not known, but the related Heliofungia inflates its tissues with water which make the coral more buoyant and allows it to move with the water currents.

There are a number of genus within the Fungiidae family that looks similar to Fungia, such as Cycloseris.  Hobbyists don’t generally differentiate between these genus as it can be difficult to do.  I refer to them as Fungia Corals here to differentiate them from other ‘disk’ corals.  Another commonly seen similar coral is the Long-Tentacle Plate Coral (Heliofungia actiniformis) which I will cover separately.

Natural Environment:
Found over much of the West Indo-Pacific region.  They typically live in protected reef or lagoon environments on sandy or gravel substrates or on small rock ledges in areas of low to moderate water flow.

Hardiness
Fungia corals are relatively hardy corals once acclimated to the tank.  Care should be taken to not handle the coral roughly which can cause the sharp septa to pierce the surface of the polyp.

Lighting
Fungia corals prefer fairly bright lighting, but may tolerate moderate lighting.  Coloration can change on some specimens depending on the lighting intensity and color temperature that they are placed under and are usually more brightly colored under higher intensity lighting.

Water Current:
Prefers moderate water motion.

Aggressiveness:
The Fungia tentacles have a fairly powerful sting, but they are short and do not have sweeper tentacles.  With the coral placed on the sand bed, there isn’t usually anyone close by to fight with unless they move around and get close to another coral.  Fungia seem to tolerate being in contact with each other.

Feeding:
Fungia corals are photosynthetic which will take care of most of their nutritional needs, especially when placed under strong lighting.  They will also readily take any meaty foods such as Mysis shrimp or chopped fish or table shrimp and may benefit from an occasional target feeding in the evening when the tentacles are apparent.  Food can be placed anywhere on the coral and the tentacles will move it to the mouth.  Since the tentacles are short and do not cover the food like an anemone can, the fish and crustaceans can start to think of the Fungia as basically a dinner plate when you try to feed it.  Placing the food closer to the mouth helps to minimize the time it take for the Fungia to ingest the meal or feeding them after the lights go out reduces the competition.  It may be helpful to temporarily reduce the water motion during feeding so that the food can be more easily transported to the mouth.

Supplements & Water Chemistry:
Salinity should be maintained between sg 1.024 and 1.026.
Alkalinity should be maintained in the dKH 8-12 range
Calcium should be maintained at 400 ppm or higher.
pH should be maintained between 8.0-8.4

Temperature:
Does well within a range of at least 74º to 84º F

Tank Positioning:
Best positioning is in moderate water flow on the sand bed under the brightest lighting possible at that depth.  Like any coral, they may need to be acclimated to intense lighting over a period of time.

Propagation:
Fungia corals will occasionally reproduce asexually in the aquarium by budding off a new coral. 

The Fungia coral can also be propagated by using a technique whereby the skeleton is cut using a band saw, cut-off wheel on a Dremel tool or cutter pliers.  The cut pieces are generally made around the size of a nickel or quarter.  The cut pieces can be returned to the aquarium where they will hopefully heal over and form new Fungia corals, complete with a mouth.  The coral will obviously start out misshapen and will tend to regain its circular shape as it grows out, but Fungia corals grow relatively slowly, so this is not a fast process.

Acknowledgments:
Header photograph by David Burdick – NOAA.  Remaining photos by ReefCorner © All Rights Reserved

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