Saturday, August 19, 2017


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Heliofungia (Fungiidae)

Welcome to the Heliofungia genus landing page. In this section, you will find general information about this genus and tips on how to identify it. If you are looking to confirm an observation made with the Coral Finder, use the image browser below to verify what you saw underwater. Then click on the following link for further comparison with a similar genus: Euphyllia.

Just a quick glance at the growing number of aquarium sites highlights that Heliofungia is a very popular coral in the aquarium trade.  Despite this popularity, it is only in recent years that research has been started into understanding this genus and its population dynamics.  There is still much to learn but Knittweis et al., (2009) in the suggested reading list below provide great information on one of the most up to date studies.

Vital Statistics

  • 1 species
  • Coral Finder p. 24, 27
  • COTW – Vol 2 p. 254-255


Found in the Indo-Pacific

ID Tips

Juvenile Heliofungia are attached, but become free-living as they grow.  The solitary corallites are large circular to oval discs, but may be hidden by long anemone-like tentacles during the day.

The septa have fine lobed teeth that clearly run out from the large central mouth (30mm wide).  The arrangement of septa running down the upper surface and costae running along the lower surface are characteristic of the Fungiidae.  Check out the Fungiidae training video for more information.

(slide show with photos of tentacles out and retracted)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Heliofungia in two key groups with Euphyllia being a candidate for confusion.  Note that the long tentacles may look like an anemone.  By wafting your hand over the surface of the colony, the hard disc like skeleton may be seen.

Similar genera to Heliofungia (Coral Finder p27)

Heliofungia may look superficially like Euphyllia but can be easily separated by the larger tentacles and the disc-like skeleton characteristic of HeliofungiaEuphyllia has a meandering skeleton with separate walls that may be seen by wafting your hand over the colony causing the tentacles to retract.


Similar genus: Euphyllia


Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Fungiidae family page
  • Fungiidae training video


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Hoeksema, B. W. (1989). Taxonomy, Phylogeny and Biogeography of Mushroom Corals (Scleractinia: Fungiidae). Zoologische Verhandelingen, 254, 1-471.
  • Hoeksema, B. W. (1993). Mushroom corals (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) of Madang Lagoon, northern Papua New Guinea: an annotated checklist with the description of Cantharellus jebbi spec. nov. Zoologische Mededelingen, 67, 1-19.
  • Hoeksema, B. W., & Dai, C. F. (1991). Scleractinia of Taiwan.  2. Family Fungiidae (including a new species). Bulletin of the Institute of Zoology Academia Sinica, 30(3), 203-228.
  • Hoeksema, B. W., & Moka, W. (1989). Species assemblages and phenotypes of mushroom corals (Fungiidae) related to coral reef habitats in the Flores Sea. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research, 23(2), 149-160.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (1985). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (2000). Corals of the World. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • Veron, J. E. N., & Pichon, M. (1980). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 3, Families Agaraciidae, Siderastreidae, Fungiidae, Oculinidae, Merulinidae, Mussidae, Pectiniidae, Carophylliidae, Dendrophylliidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, IV, 471.
  • Wells, J. W. (1966). Evolutionary development of the scleractinian family Fungiidae. Paper presented at the Symposium of the Zoological Society of London.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Chadwickfurman, N., & Loya, Y. (1992). Migration, habitat use, and competition among mobile corals (Scleractinia, Fungiidae) in the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea. Marine Biology, 114(4), 617-623.
  • De Grave, S. (1998). Pontoniinae (Decapoda, Caridea) associated with Heliofungia actiniformis (Scleractinia) from Hansa Bay, Papua New Guinea. Belgian Journal of Zoology, 128(1), 13-22.
  • Fujimori, K., Yamada, G., Yamada, M., Minami, T., Tohno, S., & Tohno, Y. (1997). A periodical change of mercury in the coral reef, Heliofungia species obtained from the Okinawa sea. Cellular and Molecular Biology, 43(6), 809-811.
  • Goffredo, S., & Chadwick-Furman, N. E. (2000). Abundance and distribution of mushroom corals (Scleractinia : Fungiidae) on a coral reef at Eilat, northern Red Sea. Bulletin of Marine Science, 66(1), 241-254.
  • Goffredo, S., & Chadwick-Furman, N. E. (2003). Comparative demography of mushroom corals (Scleractinia : Fungiidae) at Eilat, northern Red Sea. Marine Biology, 142(3), 411-418.
  • Hoeksema, B. W. (1991). Control of bleaching in mushroom coral populations (Scleractinia, Fungiidae) in the Java Sea – Stress tolerance and interference by life history strategy. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 74(2-3), 225-237.
  • Hoeksema, B. W. (1991). Evolution of body size in mushroom corals (Scleractinia, Fungiidae) and its ecomorphological consequences. Netherlands Journal of Zoology, 41(2-3), 112-129.
  • Knittweis, L., Jompa, J., Richter, C., & Wolff, M. (2009). Population dynamics of the mushroom coral Heliofungia actiniformis in the Spermonde Archipelago, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Coral Reefs, 28(3), 793-804.
  • Knittweis, L., Kraemer, W. E., Timm, J., & Kochzius, M. (2009). Genetic structure of Heliofungia actiniformis (Scleractinia: Fungiidae) populations in the Indo-Malay Archipelago: implications for live coral trade management efforts. Conservation Genetics, 10(1), 241-249.
  • Schuhmacher, H. (1979). Experiments on adaptations to sedimentation and substrate in Fungiid corals (Scleractinia, Fungiidae). Internationale Revue Der Gesamten Hydrobiologie, 64(2), 207-243.
  • Sweeney, B. M. (1976). Circadian rhythms in corals, particularly Fungiidae. Biological Bulletin, 151(1), 236-246.
  • Yamada, G., Fujimori, K., Yamada, M. O., Minami, T., Tohno, S., & Tohno, Y. (1998). Trace elements found to be variable in two coral reef species, Heliofungia actiniformis and Galaxea fascicularis, collected from the Ryukyu Islands. Biological Trace Element Research, 65(2), 167-180.