Fungia is a genus of mushroom or disc coral found throughout the Indo Pacific. Fungia fralinae is a particularly recognizable member of this genus which can be found in bright pink, purple, red and yellow, and some color forms are commonly known as wagon wheel fungia.
Fungia corals are solitary corals and can sometimes be confused with Cycloseris, however one way to easily distinguishing the two is by looking at the bottom of the coral.
As juvenile Fungia sp. develop the bottom of the coral is attached at the center and become detached with age, while Cycloseris is free-living throughout its life. Fungias will have a scar or marking on the bottom which shows they were once attached.
We found this example of Fungia fralinae while diving in Indonesia and you can clearly see the smaller Fungia attached to a larger Fungia skeleton. Next to that are two intermediate sizes Fungias which have presumably detached from the same Fungia skeleton.
This form of of reproduction demonstrates an interesting coral reef survival mechanism known as the Pheonix Effect, where dead corals and colonies can “spring back” to life from tiny pieces of tissue deep inside coral ridges. Juvenile Fungias are able to rise from tissue in the Fungia skeleton, while using the existing skeleton as a framework to grow before detaching with age.
Not all Fungia are as prolific at asexually reproducing in this manner but Fungia fralinae is quite adept at forming these crop circles or ‘Fungia Trees‘. In the picture below you can see three juvenile Fungia of varying sizes growing on the edge of an encrusted coral skeleton with two larger free-living Fungias in the background. This particular specimen was found around 20m (65 feet) deep at Menjangan Island, North West Bali.
Fungia sp. corals can be kept in a reef tank aquarium under moderate to high light conditions with moderate to low flow. The tissue of Fungia sp. is rather fragile and you should take extra care when handling this corals to not damage the tissue, and can be placed directly on soft substrate like sand to avoid any further tissue damage. You can also try feeding your Fungia corals several times per week.