Elephant ear mushroom anemones, Rhodactis mussoides, are curious members of the broad and diverse group of corallimorphs. Ricordea, Discosoma and other Rhodactis shrooms are much more popular for home aquariums but a newly discovered orange morph of this Rhodactis species might finally put R. mussoides on the map.
In the aquarium trade there are two very different mushroom anemones that go by the common name of ‘elephant ear’. There is the jumbo sized Amplexidiscus fenestrater which truly can grow to the size of an elephant ear, and has the unique ability of closing up quickly like a purse and is capable of eating small fish. There is also the oddball Rhodactis mussoides which has the curious habit of growing in an almost encrusting form with sprawling meandering ‘polyps’ that often have multiple mouths in a series.
While diving in Tulamben on the very same reef where we observed the spectacular adult blue squamosa clam, a little further and deeper we came across an exciting specimen of Rhodactis mussoides with a neon orange coloration. The elephant ear mushroom anemone is commonly seen in brown and sometimes green but this is the first we’ve ever heard or seen this species occurring in an orange color.
Regardless of the color, Rhodactis mussoides has a very beautiful and intricate texture that imparts a very attractive texture to its thick fleshy surface. The network of numerous small irregular bumps are more brightly colored than the valleys and they give this species of Shroom an unmistakeable appearance.