In the ocean, corals face challenging conditions that affect their growth. In aquariums, you can control the environment so your montipora can grow to its full potential.
Montipora (montis) are a great SPS (small polyp stony) coral to start with because they are hardier than acropora corals and are known for their fast growth rate.
How Fast Does Montipora Coral Grow?
Montipora corals are one of the fastest-growing SPS corals in reef aquariums, but if you compare them to large polyp stony (LPS) and soft corals, they are quite slow growers.
When their requirements (lighting and water flow) are met, and you keep the water parameters within range, you can expect your monti to grow up to 5 times its original size in the first 6 months.
In the beginning, they may not grow at all, and that is normal. During the first couple of months, your monti will be busy acclimating to its new home, and when it feels comfortable, you will suddenly see a growth spurt!
How Does Montipora Grow?
Your montipora will either grow in a plate-like, branching or encrusting formation depending on which monti you have. However, they all require clean water and stable high levels of major ions to maintain healthy growth.
As montiporas grow, they get a white ring around the edges. This is similar to how acropora displays its growth tips and turns white. When SPS corals display growth rings and tips, they are often mistaken for coral bleaching. It is important to know the difference between montipora bleaching and white growth areas because disturbing your monti during its growth period when it is healthy can end in coral death.
How Do Branching Montipora Corals Grow?
Branching montipora corals are one of the most fascinating and complex structures to watch grow in aquariums. These montis have thick branches that resemble deer antlers with concentrated polyps. Healthy branching montis will form white tips to indicate growth.
Branching montipora corals naturally grow towards your lighting fixture, and when they do, they will start to shade out old branches below. Therefore, to keep your montipora colony healthy, regularly trim it back.
How Do Plating Montipora Corals Grow?
Plating montipora corals get their name for their horizontal circular growth pattern. Their polyps do not extend very far, but they will continue to expand outwards and plate upwards towards the light.
Plating montis are one of the fastest-growing types, therefore they can take up a lot of space, often shading any corals below them. However, they are beautiful SPS corals that will bring your aquarium reef to another dimension!
How Do Encrusting Montipora Corals Grow?
Encrusting montipora corals quickly dominate reef tanks by growing over rocks and anything else they can encrust over. Although they are not the most popular monti coral, they will provide your aquarium with a unique burst of color and interesting textures.
Should I Feed My Montipora?
Most of your montiporas nutritional requirements come from photosynthesis processed by the zooxanthellae when your lighting is on. However, your monti can also benefit from occasional supplementation feedings of amino acids and zooplankton.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, therefore, feeding your monti amino acids will result in increased growth and improve its size, color, and overall health. Stony corals like your montipora also rely on zooplankton to meet their energy requirements.
Feeding your montipora is not regularly needed, and overfeeding should be avoided to prevent nitrate and phosphate spikes that could reduce your montis growth rate. If your system has a high nutrient content, then you don’t need to feed them at all, but if your system has a low nutrient level, then you can feed your montis one to two times a week at the most.
Are Montipora Corals Hard To Keep?
If it is the first time keeping SPS corals, then montipora corals are the way forward, because they are a great choice for beginners.
By maintaining tank stability, you will be rewarded with good growth. The most important factor is the water parameters, even though montis are known to tolerate less than perfect conditions, your monti will not tolerate large fluctuations.
It is particularly important to maintain stability with alkalinity, and ions such as calcium and magnesium, as these are all vital for your monti to build its calcium carbonate skeleton. To control this, dosing your aquarium is recommended to keep up with your montis fast growth rate.
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
Where To Put Montipora In Aquariums?
As mentioned, montipora are one of the easiest SPS corals to care for, however, for your montipora to grow well you must place it in an area that meets all its requirements.
As your monti requires moderate to high water flow and lighting (PAR 250-400) to grow and thrive, you should place your coral in the middle or top region of your aquarium.
Some montis also create epic displays on the back of the aquarium, mounted on the glass. You can easily glue your montipora with superglue or reef-safe putty, however, because of the difficulty to remove them magnetic frag plugs/rocks are recommended.
Before placing them in their final destination, remember to place them lower down your aquascape, gradually moving them up. This allows them to acclimate to your aquarium, particularly the lighting conditions you have.
Montipora corals are one of the fastest-growing SPS corals after acropora in the aquarium trade. Once your montipora has fully settled inside your aquarium, you can expect it to grow after a few months. Plating montiporas are the fastest, known to grow up to 5 times their original size within the first six months.
Once montipora start growing, they are known to explode inside aquariums, creating a mesmerizing display!