Long Tentacle Plate Coral (LPS) (Heliofungia actiniformis)

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Long Tentacle Plate Coral (LPS)
Heliofungia actiniformis
Long Tentacle Plate Coral (LPS) (Heliofungia actiniformis)
Name Long Tentacle Plate Coral (LPS)
Name Lat. Heliofungia actiniformis
Family Mushroom Corals
Family lat. Fungiidae
Order Stony Corals
Order lat. Scleractinia
Origin Indo-Pacific
Diet Autotrophic, planktivore
pH 8.1-8.4
Hardness 8-12 °KH
Lighting Medium
Current Moderate
Behavior Peaceful
Keeping Solitary
Care Level Moderate
Life Span N/A
Protection CITES Appendix II; EC Annex B
Metric Units
Size < 40 cm
Temperature 23-27 °C
Salinity 33-36 ‰
Aquarium 200 l
US Units
Size < 16"
Temperature 73-81 °F
Salinity 1.020-1.025 sg
Aquarium 50 gal

Distribution and habitat

Heliofungia actiniformis belongs to the group of LPS (Large Polyp Scleractinia). They are widely distributed in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans, from Sri Lanka to New Caledonia. This solitary coral is found on inner reefs, shallow slopes and in lagoons on rubble and sandy areas at depths of 1-25m. It can have different colorations depending on light intensity, trace elements and nutrients.


They should be positioned at the bottom in a sandy place with medium light intensity and moderate flow. As a substrate, only lime-rich, heavy metal-free substrates should be used. The aquarium should not lack live stones, which act as a biological filter. To ensure water quality, filters, skimmers and heaters are necessary, as well as pumps to simulate tides, swells and bottom currents. Lighting must correspond to the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals

Salinity: 33-36 ‰ pH value: 8.1-8.4
Carbonate hardness: 8-12 °KH Nitrate content: 2-8 mg/l
calcium content: 420-450 mg/l Nitrite content: 0.0-0.05 mg/l
Magnesium content: 1.250-1.350 mg/l phosphate content: 0.01-0.1 mg/l

Regular addition of trace elements, especially calcium and strontium, is recommended. For salinity, an average value should be aimed for, which may only vary slightly by +/- 0.5 ‰. Ammonia and ammonium must not be measurable. Special attention shall be paid to consistently good water quality and water values.


Zooxanthellae, which are unicellular symbiotic algae, live in their tissue and provide them with assimilation products of their photosynthesis (light requirement). The zooxanthellae promote growth and provide additional food to the plankton and small particles that are collected in large quantities from the water current. Thus, in addition to the food produced in the aquarium during fish feeding (mysis, krill, Artemia, etc.), commercially available supplementary food in the form of phyto- and zooplankton should be offered regularly. Regular and varied feeding promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Behaviour and compatibility

They should not be kept with fish that regard their polyps as food (e.g. emperor or butterfly fish). They are well tolerated with other corals, but sufficient distance must be kept from cnidarians.

Reproduction and breeding

In nature, reproduction is sexual via marine larval stages. A special property of Heliofungia is that they can spontaneously form offshoots (anthocauli formation).

Species protection

Species protection: WA Appendix II; EU Appendix B. The proof of purchase is the required proof of origin for the animal. Please keep it safe! Your pet store will be happy to provide you with further information.


The coral consists of a solitary polyp with tentacles up to 50 cm long and relatively thick. Contact can lead to tissue damage and death of the coral, therefore great care is necessary during transport and insertion. Supplemental Actinic Light (short wavelength, violet-blue light) illumination is very beneficial to their growth (zooxanthellae).

A calcium reactor and a magnesium dosing pump are recommended for the necessary uniform supply of calcium carbonate and magnesium. Too high temperature, insufficient lighting or current as well as sudden change of water values can lead to tissue decay (RTN - rapid tissue necrosis). They are very sensitive and can be easily injured during handling. Newly introduced animals must be acclimated slowly to the water in the aquarium

If different species are kept together, make sure that fish and invertebrates match each other in terms of water quality and temperature requirements, as well as their social behavior, and that the setup meets the ecological needs of all species kept together

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Christian Sänger; Image: Helmut Kreutmayer

Source: ENGELMANN & LANGE (2011): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Wirbellose, Verlag Harri Deutsch; VERON (2000): Corals of the world, Australian Institute of Marine Science