How to Care for Ricordea Coral

How to Care for Ricordea Coral

Ricordea spp. is an extremely colorful and highly sought-after coral in the saltwater aquarium hobby owing to its distinct bubble-like appearance, bright pigmentation, remarkable fluorescence, and ease of care.

Ricordea comprises two attractive and undemanding species — namely, Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma. Rather than true corals, these colonial animals are referred to as corallimorphs or naked/false corals.

In this article, I will be talking about the Ricordea coral. This includes complete information about its appearance, natural habitat, tank requirements, preferred water conditions, care routine, feeding, etc.

Quick Notes about Ricordea Coral

Name Ricordea coral
Common Names Florida False Coral, Floridian Disc,
Mushroom Anemones, and Ricordea mushrooms
Scientific Name Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma
Tank size (minimum) 10 gallons (~40 liters)
Keeping Easy to moderate
Propagation Easy to Moderate
Water flow Low to moderate 
Optimal Temperature 22 – 26°C  (~72 – 78°F)
Optimal Salinity SG = 1.021 – 1.025
Optimal PH 8.1 – 8.4
Optimal KH 8 – 12
Nitrate 5 – 10 ppm
Feeding Photosynthetic / recommended
Tank placement Bottom or mid-sections
Growth Rate Slow to moderate
Invasive No
Temper Semi-aggressive
Color Form Blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, orange, etc.

Background Information

R. florida and R. yuma are member species of the genus Ricordea — belonging to the family Ricordeidae and order Corallimorpharia.

Apparently, Corallimorpharia is an order of marine cnidarians closely related to stony or reef building corals (Scleractinia). Despite the many similarities, members of this order lack the hard, calcified skeleton found in Scleractinian corals. In addition, Corallimorphs are often called naked or false corals because of their inability to calcify.

Ricordea corals are known for their unique bubble-like appearance, fleshy body, and brightly colored tentacles that come in a variety of color combinations including blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, and orange. And they exhibit fluorescence under full actinic lighting.

While Ricordea florida populations are naturally domiciled in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Ricordea yuma on the other hand are distributed across the Indo-Pacific.

Here is the taxonomic hierarchy of the Ricordea corals:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Corallimorpharia
Family: Ricordeidae
Genus: Ricordea
Species: Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma

Habitat of Ricordea Coral

Ricordea corals exist in different locations. Ricordea florida comes from the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, whereas Ricordea yuma is found in the Indo-Pacific region.

Both species inhabit reef flats, typically in shallow water, pools, and rocky areas, either living solitary or in small groups.

Description of Ricordea Coral

These corallimorphs are characterized by the presence of bubble-like or short-rounded tentacles surrounding a conspicuous mouth within a small, disc-shaped polyp.

Ricordeas are usually about 5 – 7.5 cm (2 – 3 inches) in diameter, but they can grow up to 13 cm (5 inches).

In addition, they exist in a wide variety of color combinations including green, yellow, pink, purple, orange, blue, and sometimes tan. A specimen can have up to four different colors displayed across its body, tentacles, tips, and oral disc.

Although both species of Ricordea are similar in morphology, there are few distinctions that can be used to tell each other apart.

Let’s take for instance, the mouth area of both corals. There’s a concentration of short tentacles bordering the mouth of Ricordea yuma, whereas in Ricordea florida — a little free space can be seen around its mouth area.

Another difference is the orientation of tentacles on the coral’s body. A random or uniform distribution of tentacles occurs on the body of Ricordea floridea, whereas R. yuma possesses alternating rows of large and small tentacles that seem to radiate outwards from the center of the polyp.

Moreover, Ricordea yuma has a large oral disc as opposed to the short one found in Ricordea florida. In terms of coloration; these corals come in a wide variety of attractive and lively colors. However, the colors of Ricordea yuma are punchier and more vibrant than those of its close relative, Ricordea florida.

Difference between Ricordea floridea and Ricordea yuma

  Ricordea floridea Ricordea yuma
Distribution The Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea The Indo-Pacific region
Mouth structure Doesn’t have or very few bubbles (tentacles) around it Large concentration of bubbles (tentacles) around it
Tentacles orientation Mostly random distribution Radiate outwards
Coloration Less colorful More vibrant
Size Smaller Bigger
Growth rate Slow to medium Medium
Difficulty Easy Medium

Difference between Ricordea floridea and Ricordea yuma

Feeding Ricordea Coral

As with other marine corals, Ricordea derives much of its energy from the products of the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae living in its tissue. Mutualistic relationship with the zooxanthellae allows Ricordea coral to obtain nutrition through the process of photosynthesis.

Ricordea corals can also filter-feed, hence they are capable of straining suspended matter, food particles, and dissolved organic matter from the aquarium water.

Besides, you can engage in supplemental feeding once or twice per week to bolster their growth. Just feed them:

Basically, they love everything your fish or shrimp eat.

Tip: Do not give them too big pieces of food. It will be better to finely chop them (up to 5 – 10mm or 3/16 – 3/8 inch) to increase the consumption rate.

Target feeding is recommended. You can do that by putting food directly to their mouth using a squirt feeder or turkey baster.

Tank Requirements and Water Parameters

Tank Size:

The recommended minimum tank size for housing Ricordea coral is 10 gallons (~40 liters).

This coral species is small-sized and slow-growing, so it can be raised in large tanks as well as nano ones.

Related article:

Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:

Temperature: The optimal temperature for keeping Ricordea coral is between the range of 72 – 78 °F (22 – 26 °C).

pH: pH values within 8.0 – 8.4 are considered ideal for this species.

Specific Gravity: Salinity should be between 1.021 – 1.025.

Hardness: Between 8 – 12 dKH.


The Ricordea coral will thrive under moderate lighting conditions. Hence make sure to provide ample illumination using full-spectrum LED lights or other high-quality light sources.

Also, the presence of actinic lights will make the fluorescent colors of your Ricordea corals pop. So keep that in mind while setting up your reef tank’s lighting system.

Water flow:

Ricordea corals prefer low to moderate levels of water flow.

That’s just right to keep the polyps lively, sweep away detritus and also carry the suspended planktonic matter to the mouth of the coral.

Note that high water flow will stress your Ricordeas and it may blow them onto a nearby coral, hence the opportunity to deliver potent stings to the immediate tank mate.

Care and Maintenance of Ricordea Coral

How to Care for Ricordea CoralMuch of the care routine is centered on keeping the aquarium water clean, promoting stability, and maintaining excellent water quality to encourage optimal health and survival of your Ricordea corals.

That said, make sure to carry out regular partial water changes, this may be 25% monthly, 15% bi-weekly, or 5% weekly using RO/DI water treated with quality salt mixes. Partial replacement of the aquarium water eliminates excess nitrates and at the same time, replaces depleted trace elements in the water which aids the growth and bodily functions of the coral.

Ricordea is a relatively slow-growing coral, so it is unlikely to overpopulate and overrun your reef aquarium.

In addition, it is a semi-aggressive coral and as such, needs to be adequately spaced out from other corals especially LPS corals with long sweeper tentacles. Ricordea corals lack this kind of tentacles, but they can equally deliver fairly potent stings using their bubbly tentacles to corals in close proximity.

Furthermore, these corals should be placed close to the bottom, or areas where they will enjoy moderate lighting and gentle water flow to keep the polyps healthy, lively, and stress-free.

Frequent water testing should be a norm for any reef aquarist that wants to keep the Ricordea coral.

Note that Ricordea yuma is a lot more sensitive to changes in water conditions than Ricordea florida, so try as much as possible to keep the water chemistry stable. And make a habit of testing the aquarium water frequently to maintain optimal water values which are essential to the coral’s growth, health, and longevity.

Potential Problems Associated with Ricordea Coral

Brown Jelly: This is a common disease for many corals including Ricordea species. It is characterized by a jelly-like brown mass that appears to be floating on the surface of the coral. The brown jelly disease can be caused by poor water quality or tissue damage, it can lead to rapid tissue necrosis and it is capable of spreading to other corals in the tank.

Solution: Remove the sick coral from the tank, scrub off and siphon any visible brown jelly. Afterward, treat the sick Ricordea with iodine dip (15ppt), then place it in a quarantine tank till it recovers before transferring to the main tank.

Lugols Solution – check the price on Amazon

Do not overdose. Use the instructions on the bottle based on your tank size.

Stretching out: Sometimes Ricordea can stretch out up to twice their normal size.

Solution: Check your water flow. They can react this way if it is too strong. Another possible reason is that it is preparing to reproduce. The scientific term is Pedal laceration.

Shrinking: Although Ricordea corals (especially, Ricordea floridea) are pretty hardy and resilient, they still have some preferences. Do not give them too much light. Keep your temperature and water parameters stable.

Solution: Lower your lighting. Check your water parameters. Make sure they have enough food, they like nitrates and If yours are less than 5 they will shrink up.

Be patient, Ricordea typically bounces back.

Discoloration: Ricordea can lose coloration from lack of nutrients or low iodine. It can happen because, for some reason, the coral can no longer gain energy from photosynthesis.

Solution: Check your phosphates (0.05-0.1) and nitrates.

Red Dots: Unfortunately, it is not clear why sometimes Ricordea may get red dots around their mouths. Some aquarists believe that it can be because of calcium imbalance (too much).      

Solution: Carefully remove the plaque and treat the sick Ricordea with iodine dip every day.

Expel zooxanthellae: Ricordea usually does not expel zooxanthellae unless they are stressed. Without these microscopic algae that live in their tissues, their tissues become transparent.

API REEF MASTER TEST KIT – link to check the price on Amazon

Reproduction and Propagation of Ricordea Coral

In nature, Ricordea corals have two ways of reproduction:

  • Sexually by producing planula larvae through the fertilization of the male and female gametes. These larvae then settle onto the bottom and gradually metamorphose into new individual polyps.
  • Asexually. They are also capable of asexual reproduction, and this type of reproduction is very common in the reef aquarium. Ricordea corals can increase their numbers asexually through two known methods: longitudinal fission and pedal laceration.

Longitudinal fission takes places when the coral develops multiple mouths, and then splits in the center thereby separating into two individual polyps. An alternative method is pedal laceration whereby the coral leaves pieces of their foot behind while moving around, and these pieces will grow into new full-sized polyps.

Fragging Ricordea Coral

As a reef keeper, you can equally propagate corals by splitting them into small pieces using a clean, sharp cutting tool. The parent colony can bear the pain resulting from this propagation process, and it will easily heal and regrow the lost parts. The new frags on the other hand will grow into new colonies over time.

To propagate Ricordea coral, you will need a sharp propagating tool such as a blade or scalpel, an iodine solution to ward off infections, and a coral frag plug plus cyanoacrylate gel to attach the new frags.

Before you start, wear glasses and a pair of gloves. Do not touch the coral with your bare hands. Although their stings are not that bad, it is better to protect yourself.

  1. Commence by cutting through the mouth of the polyp, from the center to the edges.
  2. Dip the pieces of Ricordea with iodine for 5 – 10 minutes. It will help them heal quicker.
  3. Do not glue it! Ricordea doesn’t like to be glued to things immediately after fragging. It is living tissue and should not be glued.
  4. Put it into a low flow area in the tank. So, it will not be blown away. Leave it there for a few days. In most cases, it will attach to something by that time. After that, you can glue it to a frag plug and then placed it back into the reef tank.
    Option: You can tie it to a rock with a loose rubber band. Eventually, it will adhere to the rock.

Generally, Ricordea will spread naturally. So, in reality, there is no need to cut them to get more. Just be patient.

In Conclusion

The Ricordea corals: Ricordea florida and Ricordea yuma are great beginner corals for established reef aquaria. These corals have several qualities that are esteemed by aquarists, such as a unique appearance, small size, vibrant coloration, hardiness, and low maintenance.

Keep in mind that Ricordea florida is the better option for first-time hobbyists since it is hardier and less sensitive to water conditions than the Ricordea yuma.

Ricordea corals can be kept in reef tanks containing aquatic species like Zoas, Mushroom corals, SPS corals, Tangs, Blennies, Clownfish; however, your Ricordea corals need to be allocated enough space to grow, colonize and thrive.

They come in a wide variety of stunning colors that give off an amazing fluorescence under full actinic lighting. In addition, these corallimorphs are inexpensive, simple to frag, and they will thrive for years provided that optimal conditions are present in your reef aquarium.

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