If you are looking for a great beginner SPS coral, you should give serious consideration to the corals in the genus Monitpora, affectionately called “Monties” by those who care for them. Montipora corals are beautiful and easy to keep corals as long as you keep your water parameters in the right range. Montipora corals come in a wide range of vibrant colors, like purple, green, pink, tan or orange, alone or combined.
Montipora digitata, image above, is a branching species that is similar in size and shape to the also very popular acropora species.
Montipora capricornus, on the other hand, is a species that grows as flat plates, like in the image below.
In the ocean, Montipora corals can be found on reefs from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indo-Pacific Ocean and from eastern Africa to Australia, and from the Hawaiian Islands to the Pitcairn Islands. They managed to adapt to a wide range of habitats, from turbid lagoons to oceanic reefs and shallow areas, and from the reef crest down to really deep waters.
Montiporas can grow fairly large and do best when given plenty of room to grow. They also enjoy medium to strong lighting, and a medium to high water flow, with a relatively high calcium level.
While many montipora species are considered to be beginner SPS species, that doesn’t mean you should add them to a brand new tank. SPS corals, even the most toerant of the group require stability in water parameters and would do best if added to a tank that has been allowed to mature for at least a few months or more.
For more information about reef aquarium water parameters, check out this article.
Montipora corals have developed many different feeding strategies to be able to survive in the wild, especially in nutrient-poor waters. Their main feeding way is by the symbiosis with zooxanthellae algae, from which they get most of their nutrients. They would also capture microscopic food particles and planktonic organisms from the water column, when their polyps are extended and they are thought to also absorb organic matter dissolved in the water.
Montipora polyps are not very large, so their polyps are not able to capture larger prey, so the best foods are tiny (particulate-sized) foods.
In the home tank, you can easily propagate a healthy Montipora coral by breaking off a section of the mother colony and anchor it to a piece of live rock or a reef plug.
Montipora corals are hardy beginner SPS corals that are available in a variety of shapes and colors–so you are bound to find one that creates exactly the look you are looking for.
If you are looking try your hand at growing SPS corals, you can’t go wrong with many of the montipora species as a first. These corals are easily fragged, so you should be able to find frags from local hobbyists in your area or from aquaculture facilities like ORA.
Have you made the jump to SPS corals? Did you try montipora? How are they doing? Leave a comment and include a link to a picture of your tank and show them off. If you haven’t commented on the blog before, please try to write something relevant about montipora corals so I don’t mistake your comment as SPAM.