Gorgeous Gonipora: Flower Pot Coral Care Guide

The Goniopora Flower Pot Coral is a spectacularly beautiful and delicate Large Polyp Stony (LPS) coral that used to be thought of as impossible to care for in a home aquarium but is now within reach of aquarium owners with experience caring for moderately difficult species who are willing to feed and nurture them. As their name suggests, the large, flowing polyps can look like a collection of flowers and can be an eye-catching addition to your tank.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into what it takes to care for the Gonipora Flower Pot Coral.

Table of Contents

Here are a few links you can use to jump down to a particular section of the article.

Quick Facts About the Goniopora Flower Pot Coral Care:

Gonipora flower pot coral

  • Scientific Name: Goniopora 
  • Common Names: Daisy Coral, Ball Cora, Sunflower Coral, Goni
  • Max Size: 5 ½ Inches
  • Aggression Level: Aggressive
  • Colors: Tan, Green, Purple, & Red
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Photosynthetic coral: yes
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Water flow: Moderate
  • Placement: Upper half of the tank (depends on the intensity of the lighting and height of aquarium)
  • Feeding: Absolutely required to keep them alive: small particle foods including phytoplankton and zooplankton

Natural Habitat

The Goniopora Flower Pot Coral, like most of the coral species you would add to your tank, originally comes from a warm water tropical reef.  Many of the individuals you will find in the hobby are originally from the reefs around Australia.

Gonipora flower pot coral

This image helps see where the common name comes from

Ideal tank conditions and care guide

The ideal tank conditions to care for the Gonipora Flower Pot Coral involves a combination of the right chemistry, lighting feeding, placement, and tank mates.

Water chemistry

Here are some quick stats about the ideal water chemistry for Gonipora Flower Pot Coral care:

  • Hardness: 8-12 dkH
  • Calcium: 400-450 ppm
  • Temperature: 73-84 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH: 8.1-8.4
  • Salinity: 35 g/L

A quick note here–there are ranges listed for a few of the parameters above, but a quick note of caution that the intent here isn’t to signal that it is okay for the parameters to fluctuate frequently in your tank, but rather, indicate you can typically be successful if you keep the actual values relatively stable but within that range.

To learn more about water parameters, check out this article.

Daisy coral close up

These polyps look like underwater flowers (Daisies)

Lighting

Gonipora Flower Pot Corals are generally thought to be LPS corals that prefer moderate lighting levels. When lighting is too high, these corals will bleach. Too low and they will slowly take on a more brown, less vibrant coloration–due to the changes in the population of symbiotic zooxanthellae in their polyp tissue.

A suitable PAR to target is probably about 100, +/- 20% (Range: 80-120)

Remember, with any coral animal, it is important to acclimate to the long-term conditions by gradually increasing to the final, full-strength lighting.

Feeding

These days, feeding is generally thought to be important for most corals. Although the Gonipora Flower Pot Coral does get some of its nutrition from light (via the dinoflagellates in their polyp tissue), they are animals, and animals need to eat.

Pink gonipora in a reef tank

Lack of nutrition from feeding is thought to be one of the factors that led to the very low survival rates experienced by early reef tank owners. With the array of available food options today, combined with good feeding techniques, the survival rate has improved for these corals.

The feeding behavior is not as obvious as in some of the other Large Polyp Stony corals that will move meaty foods towards the mouth, but rather is indicated by an erratic or jerky movement of the polyps, in the presence of food.

Gonipora Flower Pot Corals do best when provided amino acids, phytoplankton, and zooplankton to consume.

Water flow

In terms of water flow, Gonipora Flower Pot Corals definitely follow the Goldilocks principle there–not too fast, not too slow, but just right. What does just right mean in this case? Anyone who has seen these corals can attest that they are beautiful and almost mesmerizing when the long flowery polyps are extended and flowing in the current.

 

Flower pot coral polyps in the current

As you can imagine,  the key there is to not provide too much flow directly at the coral. A gyre or even random flow will provide the right type of flow. Moderate intensity ensures that you don’t damage the delicate polyps on the rigid skeleton.

Placement

Looking for the perfect place for your Gonipora Flower Pot Coral? As mentioned earlier, the ideal placement will have moderate light intensity and moderate flow. For most systems, that means somewhere in the middle 50% of the tank. You probably want to reserve the area above that point for the most light-demanding corals and the area below for those low-light or non-photosynthetic corals.

LPS corals are relatively easily damaged when they fall or are dislodged by large snails, urchins, or fish. Please take care when placing to secure your frag or colony in place.

Awesome flower pot coral polyps on live rock

Compatibility

Looking for the perfect tankmates for your Gonipora Flower Pot Coral? There are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. It has large, fleshy polyps that may be tempting to polyp-eaters, so it is best to avoid those
  2. It will sting neighbors with the aforementioned long, fleshy polyps, so best to give it a wide-berth
    • Assume the tentacles can reach further than they look
    • Give the coral colony room to grow around all sides
  3. Other than that, this coral can be kept with other reef-safe fishes and corals.

General note of precaution

Generally speaking, beware of general advice like the above. There are a lot of variables that can affect and light penetration and water flow which can cause the actual conditions in your tank at that intended spot, to be higher or lower than what the assumptions above would indicate. When in doubt, use good judgment and your God-given reasoning skills to make the best choice for your tank and corals, and use this info as a guide.

Two helpful videos

If you have a few more minutes, check out these two excellent videos about Gonipora Flower Pot Coral care:

What to read next

If you plan to keep the Gonipora Flower Pot Coral at home, you may want to learn a bit more about:

The first article will save you money over the long run and can be a fun and interesting aspect of this hobby all on its own. The second article introduces a vital technique (feeding corals) you will need to master, to keep this coral successfully.

If you like Goniporas, here are a few other coral care pages you may want to check out, too:

Gonipora flower pot coral

Gonipora Flower Pot Coral

Conclusions

The Gonipora Flower Pot Coral is certainly a show-stopping beauty that will be an attractive showpiece in your tank, but you have to be willing to put the time in to carefully feed and nurture this moderately difficult LPS coral if you want it to thrive in your tank. If you’re on the fence about whether you can keep up with the maintenance, it may be best to leave them at your local fish store. However, if you’re up for the challenge please leave a comment and let us know what your experience is like caring for this gorgeous Goniopora.

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