Whether corals need to be fed is often a controversial topic, as every reef setup is different. However, there is strong evidence that when done properly, feeding corals does promote good growth, coloration, and overall health. So this may make you wonder, do you need to feed montipora?
What Does Montipora Eat?
Photosynthetic corals like your monti will get most of their nutrition via photosynthesis. Let’s just say that your monti will not kick up a fuss if you forget to feed them. However, they will appreciate occasional supplement feedings to promote better health, coloration, and growth.
For example, if your monti starts looking a little washed out and the water chemistry is perfect, the lighting and water flow are on point, and there are no visible pests or irritating tank mates, then your monti may be craving a little more than lighting.
Montis are not expressive feeders, for example, if you have ever kept LPS (large polyp stony) corals you will know what I mean! LPS corals go crazy when you feed them, however, SPS corals like your monti will not express such excitement.
Even though montipora corals may not be the most aggressive feeders in the ocean, they do appreciate three types of foods. These yummy coral treats come from amino acids, zooplankton, and fish.
Let’s start with the most complex, amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins, and they play a critical role in biological functions (at the cellular level).
Even though you cannot see them, amino acids float around in the aquarium water, where corals will consume them. Therefore, adding them to your broadcast feeding routine is a perfect way for your montipora to absorb them.
Zooplankton strengthens the overall health of both your corals and fish inside your aquarium. As your monti has a very small mouth, zooplankton should not exceed 5-20 microns.
In particular, your monti will love rotifers. Montipora corals that are fed rotifers will have a greater polyp extension and healthy coloration.
Lastly, let’s talk about fish. Not only do fish add that ultimate coral reef look inside your home, but they also have a positive effect on your corals. Fish poop contains nitrogen, and although elevated levels should be avoided, small quantities of nitrogen are needed for your monti to thrive.
As corals cannot get nitrogen from photosynthesis, fish poop makes a perfect natural supplement! However, you must remember to frequently check your water parameters so that the nitrogen and phosphate levels do not spike.
How To Feed Montipora Corals?
As your monti lacks large fleshy polyps, it may seem logical to target feed montis. While many hobbyists are very successful at target feeding SPS corals, your montipora will appreciate broadcast feeding. Target feeding reduces the amount of waste and allows precision, however, montis are sensitive, and therefore they will often retract when being blasted with food.
Broadcast feeding allows your montis to consume what they want as the food floats past, and as montipora corals do not heavily rely on physical feeding as their main source of nutrition, target feeding is not necessary.
Another important note is overfeeding, something that your local fish store (LFS) probably drilled into your brain when you bought your first fish or coral. This is because overfeeding marine life can result in death.
If your aquarium constantly has a high nutrient level, it is not recommended to feed your montipora corals, but if you have a low nutrient system, you can feed them 1-2 times a week, remembering to siphon out any uneaten food.
How Do Montipora Corals Grow?
What makes montipora corals so unique is their epic growth patterns. Depending on which type of monti you have, will determine how it grows.
- Encrusting montipora: These will grow over rocks and anything else they can encrust over, quickly dominating any surfaces including the back of the glass.
- Plating montipora: These montis have a horizontal circular growth pattern that expands outwards and plates upwards towards the light.
- Branching montipora: Montis have thick branches that resemble antlers that will extend towards your lighting fixture.
As your montipora grows, it will either display white tips or white edges. This is often confused with bleaching montipora corals. If your montipora is starting to bleach, the white areas will be distributed over your whole coral or it will exhibit white spots, not localized at the tips of edges.
White tips and edges indicate that your montipora is getting enough light and nutrients to grow.
How Fast Do Montipora Corals Grow?
In the beginning, your monti may not grow at all, but do not worry as this is normal. It takes a couple of months for your montipora coral to feel comfortable in its new home!
Once your monti has acclimated, its water flow and lighting requirements are met, and your water parameters are stable, your montipora will have a growth spurt. After 6 months, a healthy montipora can grow up to 5 times its original size!
How Much Light Does Montipora Need?
Just like any other coral, montiporas are photosynthetic. This means your aquarium lighting plays a vital role in providing enough energy to drive photosynthesis and produce oxygen for your coral to thrive.
Photosynthesis is carried out by the symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae that live inside your montipora coral’s tissues, therefore, your monti requires a specific amount of light for both of them to survive.
Your aquarium lighting should be fairly strong, with a PAR range between 250 and 400 and a color spectrum between 14 and 20K. However, you should never blast newly added montis with intense lighting, as this can cause your coral to turn white. Always place your monti lower down, and gradually move it towards its final placement to acclimate it to its new home.
Where Should I Place My Montipora?
After acclimation, your monti should be placed in an area that meets all of its requirements to grow and thrive. Because your monti requires moderate to high lighting and water flow, the middle to the top region will hit your montis sweet spot!
How Do I Know If My Montipora Is Healthy?
A healthy coral will look bright, and it will have good growth. Your montipora should have puffy tissues with white tips or edges to show off its new growth.
When your lighting is on, a healthy montipora will extend towards the lighting, and it should have no signs of disease, tissue necrosis, browning, or bleaching.
Are Montipora Corals Easy To Keep?
If this is your first time keeping SPS corals, then look no further, montipora corals are a perfect choice! Not only are they the easiest SPS corals to care for in aquariums, but they are also the perfect stepping stone to keeping more advanced SPS corals like acropora.
If you maintain tank stability, you will be rewarded with an impressive coral reef display. To maintain tank stability, your water flow, lighting, and water parameters must be as perfect as possible.
Ideal Water Parameters For Montipora Corals:
- Temperature: 75 – 79 °F
- Alkalinity: 7 – 9 KH
- pH: 8 – 8.4
- Salinity: 1.024 – 1.026 (1.025 is ideal)
- Calcium: 420 – 440 ppm
- Magnesium: 1260 – 1350 ppm
- Nitrate: <10 ppm
- Phosphate: 0.01 ppm
Easiest Montipora To Keep
I highly recommend starting with monti digitata and monti caps!
Montipora capricornis, often called monti caps, are staple SPS corals to start with. These encrusting beauties form expanding plates and are fairly accepting of a wide range of lighting and less forgiving than their acropora cousins.
Montipora digitata, also known as finger coral, are also perfect for beginners because they are hardy enough to take a little abuse in aquariums.
While your montipora coral will get most of its nutrition from lighting thanks to the zooxanthellae that live inside their tissues, feeding montis is recommended in low nutrient systems for them to thrive.
By occasionally feeding your montipora coral with zooplankton and amino acids, you will be rewarded with a healthy coral specimen with bright colors and good growth!