Montipora are arguably the second most popular Small Polyp Stony Coral behind Acropora.
Montipora are found in Reefs and Lagoons from the western Indian Ocean, southern Pacific Ocean, and Red Sea.
With just a little bit of searching, a reef hobbyist can find plating, encrusting, or branching varieties of Montipora in just about any texture or color.
Montipora also tend to be easier to care for than Acropora making them more appealing to beginner hobbyists looking to try SPS for the first time.
These Corals have barely any sting and will not hurt other Corals they come into contact with.
Montipora can come in Branching, Plating, and Encrusting Coral varieties in almost all colors.
Sometimes, the same species may have different growth forms, even one colony may have different shapes.
Branching Montipora Corals
Like other Branching SPS Corals, Branching Montipora grows into fascinating, complex structures. These Corals have thicker Branches with antler-like tips.
The Polyps are very concentrated and can create a very fuzzy appearance. A Healthy Branching Montipora will have white tips that indicate new growth.
Though these Corals will grow towards the light on their own, new growth will start to shade out any old Branches below.
Because of this, it’s often necessary to regularly Frag and trim the colony for optimal health.
Encrusting Montipora Corals
This Coral has a very hard and bumpy appearance; the individual Polyps are barely noticeable.
Encrusting Montipora quickly Grows over rock and other structures in the Aquarium.
Plating Montipora Corals
These Corals are aptly named after their mostly horizontal circular growth.
Plating Montipora Corals have a rough texture with Polyps that do not extend very far. These Corals will continue to expand outwards as far as they can, but will eventually start to plate upwards as well.
Though Plating Montipora Coral brings another dimension to the Reef Aquarium, a Colony can take up a lot of space.
Due to its outwards growth, it eventually shades out anything that grows below it.
This can take a lot of real estate from the rest of the reef; because of this, many hobbyists try to place them as low as lighting allows.
Like many Corals, Montipora have a special Symbiotic relationship with Dinoflagellates called Zooxanthellae that live inside its tissue.
The Dinoflagellates carry out the actual Photosynthesis.
The Coral animal derives nutrients off of the byproducts of the Dinoflagellates’ Photosynthetic process.
Zooxanthellae is usually brown in color and the Coral tightly regulates the population living in its flesh depending on its nutritional needs.
The most success for Montipora comes in between 200 and 300 par.
When introducing new Montipora, start with lower lighting locations, around 125-150 PAR, and work the Coral upward to the desired point.
Though a PAR level of 300 is optimal, there is a great deal of success with higher PAR levels as well.
More damage is caused by overexposure to light intensity than not providing enough light so take a couple of weeks to allow the coral to adjust to Lighting conditions in your Tank.
Montipora tend to prefer high flow, much like that of Acropora. Though you should not place Montis directly in front of powerheads because this can cause tissue in the Coral to die off.
Even if you are not able to provide super strong flow in your tank, one thing you will want to pay attention to is detritus settling on either Encrusting or Plating Colonies of Montipora.
The shape of these Corals as they grow create low areas that act as detritus traps.
If there is not enough flow to blow these areas clean, the detritus that accumulates will kill off that portion of the Colony.
If that is a problem you are running into in your Aquarium, either add more flow or manually clean off that accumulation.
Montipora require both clean water and consistent high levels of major ions to maintain their growth rate.
They are not quite as temperamental as Acropora however suboptimal water chemistry can lead to undesirable changes in color or cause the Polyps of the Coral to retract for extended periods of time.
Elevated Phosphates can lead to poor coloration and possible algae issues.
Nitrate is an indicator of poor water quality and can cause stony Corals to crash altogether if not lowered.
The main parameters you may need to dose for successful Montipora Coral growth are Alkalinity, Calcium, Magnesium, and Trace Elements.
- Hardness: 8-9 dkH
- Calcium: 400-450 ppm
- pH: 8.1-8.4
- Salinity: 35 g/L
- Phosphates: 0,1
- Nitrates : 2,5 and 10 ppm
- Magnesium: 1200 - 1400
- Strontium: 8 - 10
- Temperature: 76° - 80° F
- Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 - 1.025
Diet / Nutrition
It might seem counterintuitive to feed SPS as they lack fleshy Polyps that will quickly accept foods, but SPS actually appreciate broadcast feedings every now and then; target feeding is not recommended and can actually cause the Coral to retract.
As Montipora Coral gets most of its ‘nutrition’ from lighting, Amino Acid and Zooplankton Supplements are not regularly needed and should not be overdone; some systems that run higher Nutrients don’t need them at all.
In low Nutrient systems, Supplemental feedings should be done one to two times a week at the most.
Fragging / Propagating
Fragging Montipora Coral is relatively easy , especially plating varieties. In some ways, Fragging SPS is easier than Fragging LPS or Soft Corals, though the recovery rates can be a little trickier.
In order to Frag Plating Montipora, simply break the plate up.
This can be done inside or outside of the tank as long as you have full control over where the break is.
A bone cutter can also be used to make smaller, more precise incisions.
In order to Frag Branching or Encrusting varieties, you will need a bone cutter to split a Branch or to get an encrusted piece off the rock.
Once done, simply glue the Frag to a Frag Plug or back to a piece of rock in the Aquarium.
Pests / Diseases
There are plenty of nudibranchs that can plague a home Aquarium such as Zoanthid eating nudibranchs that take on the coloration of the Zoos they munch on.
Though these invertebrates mainly target Plating Montipora, they may also go after Encrusting and Branching varieties as well.
The Montipora eating variety though are Snow White and are absolutely terrible to deal with.The main challenge in eliminating them is that they are highly resistant to dipping. They require pretty heavy concentrations of whatever commercially available dip you like to use, but on top of that even if the nudibranchs die, the eggs are often completely unaffected.
There are a few ways to tell if you’re facing a Montipora nudibranch outbreak.
These signs include:
1. Exposed areas of skeleton when there are no signs of aggression from other Corals and stable Water Parameters
2. Random Bleached areas of the Coral away from the edge
3. Egg clutches on the underside of the Coral
4. Visual observation of nudibranchs
There are a few options for dealing with Montipora eating nudibranchs, and usually, the solution will be a combination of all methods.
One of the most aggressive ways for eliminating Montipora eating nudibranchs from the Aquarium is to persistently Dip the Coral.
This Dip should be strong and administered regularly; basically, you want to dip as frequently as you can without risking damaging the Coral.
At the same time, check the undersides of the Coral for eggs and manually remove them.
In addition to dipping the Corals, you may try more organic remedies, such as introducing a Wrasse that is a natural predator.
In particular, the Yellow Coris Wrasse (Halichoeres Chrysus) and the six-line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus Hexataenia) have proved to be the most helpful.
Lastly, you may need to sacrifice a piece of Coral.
Some hobbyists have found success in removing all Montipora from the Aquarium except for one piece.
This piece will act as a lure that can be removed once nudibranchs have occupied it. However, as nudibranchs can live in other parts of the Aquarium, this method is not always guaranteed to be completely effective.
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