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15 Elephant Ear Coral Facts You'll Never Forget

Elephant ear coral facts are about the marine world.

The marine cnidarian, elephant ear coral (Sarcophyton trocheliophorum), is one of the sturdiest corals that can be popularly found in the aquarium trade. These corals are also popular by names like leather toadstool, mushroom coral, and fleshy soft coral, owing to their leathery appearance. These corals have a mushroom-like appearance with a flared to that can fold and twist into a funnel-like shape. They don't have a well-developed digestive system. They feed on planktons, but they're incapacitated to catch larger prey. They need a good amount of light as they're photosynthetic and are heavily dependent on zooxanthellae for nutrition.

Corals can undoubtedly transform a dull aquarium by adding a splash of colors to it! However, the beautiful marine species can portray aggressive moves when other species of corals are kept in close contact. Additionally, they also contract certain diseases as a result of incompatible mates, poor maintenance, shock, or stress.

If you enjoyed reading these intriguing facts about the leather toadstool, then stay put. Here are some more engaging facts about the finger coral and hard coral.

Elephant Ear Coral Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an elephant ear coral?

The leather toadstool of the Alcyoniidae family is a leather-like reef coral species.

What class of animal does an elephant ear coral belong to?

They belong to the Anthozoa class.

How many elephant ear corals are there in the world?

Due to the lack of quantification, there's no evidence on the exact number of mushroom corals.

Where does an elephant ear coral live?

The green leather toadstools can be located in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea.

What is an elephant ear coral's habitat?

The habitat of these corals include lagoons, tidepools, and rocky reefs.

Who do elephant ear corals live with?

Corals usually dwell in colonies.

How long does an elephant ear coral live?

The lifespan of the species is not known properly.

How do they reproduce?

Reproduction is asexual and conducted in three manners in the marine habitat - budding, fragmentation, and division.

In budding, small pieces detach and break off from the original pedal disk and end up forming new individuals. Sometimes, during the slow movement, some bits and pieces are deposited on the substrate, which later develops into new ones. This is called fragmentation. Lastly, in division or fissure, the corallimorph breaks down right from the center into two separate new individuals.

In an aquarium, breeding needs to be aided. When all the polyps have retracted, they can be carefully removed from the aquarium, and fragmentation can be performed with a knife or razor. Before putting the mother colony back, some iodine must be added to clean out accumulated mucus from the aquarium.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the mushroom coral is Not Listed. The IUCN Red List has not recorded these corals, perhaps because they're readily available in the pet trade and plentiful within their habitat.

Elephant Ear Coral Fun Facts 

What do elephant ear corals look like?

The mushroom coral comes in the shade of cream, yellow, or tan. They are large-sized with a soft yet firm, leathery texture. One must be extra cautious while handling them as they get torn easily. The capitulum is twisted with multiple folds. The polyps have a light green or brown shade and are comparatively finer and shorter. Females are larger than males.

These facts are about aggressive corals.

How cute are they?

Corals have a wide range of shapes and bright colors. They have a catchy appearance, but they might not qualify to be called cute.

How do they communicate?

Recent research revealed that corals have the potential to produce 'distress' signals which implies that they're in danger. Normally, corals interact by using smells or chemical signals, especially for attracting their prey.

How big is an elephant ear coral?

They measure 35.4 in (90 cm) in length and run 35.8-48 in (91-122 cm) deep. The fire coral is almost ten times the size of the species, measuring around 78.7-118.1 in (200-300 cm).

How fast can an elephant ear coral move?

Reef corals are not one of the fast-moving marine organisms. In fact, they remain static in one place throughout their lives.

How much does an elephant ear coral weigh?

The weight of the green leather toadstool has not yet been unearthed.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Since a majority of the corals are hermaphrodites, they don't have any designated name. However, a single coral is regarded as a polyp.

What would you call a baby elephant ear coral?

A baby elephant ear coral, that is, the larva, is formed from the combination of sperm and egg. This larva is called a planula.

What do they eat?

These reef corals are carnivorous as they thrive on planktons. Nutrition is primarily derived from symbiotic algae, that is, zooxanthellae.

Are they poisonous?

They release toxins that are directed towards other intruding coral. They produce terpenes that are poisonous enough to keep these encroachers at bay.

Would they make a good pet?

The mushroom coral can be commonly found in reef aquariums. If you're a beginner aquarist, then the species is just perfect for your reef aquarium! They are low maintenance as well as easy to handle. However, they need lots of aquarium space and prefer a moderate flow of water.

Did you know...

The mushroom coral from some distance might appear like a giant cauliflower!

How did elephant ear corals get their name?

Just like the brain coral has acquired its name from brain-like corals, the elephant ear coral has derived its name from its large, floppy, and leathery appearance, resembling the droopy ears of an elephant. The capitulum comes in several twists and curls, rendering a distinct identity to the favorite aquarium species.

How do elephant ear corals feed?

Interestingly, they engage in a warping motion by convoluting the upper region. This produces water ridges that flow down to the feathery pinnules on the tip of the tentacles. Since they extract nutrition from symbiotic algae, light plays an important role. Sustenance and growth are facilitated only when there's bright light.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these black coral facts and harbor seal facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable soft coral coloring pages.

Second image by Vincent Kruger.

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