Today we did some mushroom coral gardening. Mushroom corals have the tendency to grow like weeds and every once in a while, they need to be “pulled”. The garden was a 120 gallon custom acrylic saltwater reef aquarium that is about 15 years old. We just began working on this system about a year ago. When we arrived, there was just as much hair algae as mushrooms and in many places mushrooms growing on hair algae! It was a jungle to say the least.
That initial visit a year ago could have used some power tools as we pulled all the rock out of the tank, manually removed all the hair algae possible off the rock, and re-aquascaped by placing any algae remaining on the rocks face down away from the lights. This helps the algae die off. Mushrooms grow in the same place as the algae (toward light) so we turned many mushroom rocks face down as well. They are strong corals (weeds) however and it didn’t take long for them to move around the rocks and stretch out in the light again.
Mushrooms are great corals, hardy & colorful but they can get out of control and take over a tank. They will sting and kill other corals as they multiply very quickly. They’re kind of like Gremlins! As a result, placement in an aquarium should be carefully thought out to take their future growth into account. We implement a very high tech & scientific method to manage their overgrowth – manual removal of the entire rock they are attached to. I know…crazy concept. Basically, we pull out the mushroom rock as needed and install cycled live rock in its place. This involves re-aquascaping the landscape which our clients always enjoy. Our strategy of aquascaping is to “fluff” the rock to create lots of caves & pathways for animals to travel through. Fish love caves! This also helps allow better flow through the rock, creating a healthier environment.
When aquascaping a reef tank, we also try and create ledges and holes where new corals can be placed in the future. You may notice in the “After” picture there are a couple different flat prime locations that would be good for a variety of coral types. The after picture is very cloudy and difficult to see detail, but you can see the larger openings created. We will take a few more pictures in a couple days when things should be much clearer. The foundation has been laid however for a much more varied and diverse display.