Animals & Exhibits    >    Animal Guide    >    Invertebrates    >   

Mushroom soft coral

Mushroom soft coral

Not on Exhibit

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Anthomastus ritteri

  • Animal Type


  • Diet

    animal plankton

  • Size

    to 6 inches (15 cm) across

  • Relatives

    reef-building corals

  • Habitat

    Deep Sea

  • Range

    on rocky surfaces at depths of 700-4,050 feet (213-1,243 meters)

Natural History

This animal takes on two very different shapes. When closed up tight, it looks like a mushroom. But with tentacles outstretched to feed, it looks more like a flower. So how does a mushroom coral catch its meals? Those showy tentacles contain poisonous stinging cells that capture tiny animals drifting by.

The Aquarium has raised mushroom soft coral throughout its entire lifecycle so we can populate our exhibits from home grown animals.


Anything that finds its way into the ocean, whether it's tossed away as trash, washes off a beach or falls off a boat, may eventually make its way to the deep sea. It's important to realize that the deep sea is not so far away that it's beyond the reach of human activities. Living creatures in the deep are affected by what we do at the surface.

Cool Facts

Catsharks sometimes lay their egg cases on a mushroom coral's stalks.

 Animal Guide Home