Montipora (Montis) corals are one of the easiest small polyp stony (SPS) corals to add to your aquarium. If you have successfully kept large polyp stony (LPS) and soft corals, now is the time to take your coral husbandry to the next level!
As montis come in a variety of colors and growth patterns, there is a montipora out there for everyone. Even though montis are relatively easy to care for, they do have specific requirements in terms of lighting, water flow, and stable water chemistry to thrive.
How Much Lighting Does My Montipora Need?
Montipora corals are photosynthetic, therefore they rely on your aquarium lighting as a source of energy. They have a symbiotic relationship with microscopic algae called zooxanthellae, which live inside your coral’s tissues. It is the zooxanthellae that perform photosynthesis and keep your coral healthy.
For your monti and the zooxanthellae to be happy, your lighting intensity should have a PAR of 250-400, however, to acclimate your monti to your aquarium lighting, it is best to start with around 125-150 PAR and gradually increase it over time. Light overexposure can cause damage such as coral bleaching, so give it a couple of weeks to adapt to its new home.
It is also important you check the PAR level for your particular montipora coral, as some prefer moderate lighting, while others will thrive with more intense lighting.
What Happens When My Lighting Is Too Intense?
If your lighting is too intense for your montipora coral, it will start turning white, and it will eventually bleach. If this happens, move it down your aquascape and turn down the lighting intensity if possible. Bleached montipora corals will recover if the zooxanthellae are still present inside its tissues, but if your monti has expelled all the zooxanthellae, then it will not.
What Happens When My Lighting Is Not Strong Enough?
If your montipora is not receiving enough lighting, it will slowly start to lose its beautiful coloration, or even turn brown. Montipora corals turn brown when the zooxanthellae overpopulate, and therefore, your monti takes on the natural golden brown pigmentation of the zooxanthellae.
What Lighting Fixture Is Best For Montipora Corals?
Montipora corals are not fussy when it comes to selecting your lighting fixture. Your monti coral will grow well under T5’s, metal halides, or LED lighting as long as you provide the proper PAR level for your type of montipora. However, a color spectrum of 14-20K is recommended for the best coloration.
How Do Montipora Corals Grow?
Montipora corals grow in a mesmerizing display. Branching montis grow branches like antlers, plating montipora grow outwards and create plating layers, and encrusting montipora corals will spread over any surface it can find.
If you were to compare your montis growth rate with LPS or soft corals, they actually have a relatively slow growth rate, however, montis are one of the fastest-growing SPS corals you will find.
After your monti has settled into your aquarium, it can grow up to five times the size it arrived within the first six months. Once montipora corals start growing, they are hard to stop, which is why you should trim them back now and then to prevent them from shading other corals.
Do Montipora Like High Flow?
Your montipora will appreciate a moderate to high flow, preferably with a random movement, as montis originate from deep water or shallow reefs with turbid conditions.
However, there is such a thing as too much flow. You want it strong enough that detritus does not settle on your monti, but be careful to not blast your monti, as this can cause it to lift off the rock or substrate.
Why Is My Monti Coral Turning White?
Many hobbyists will jump to the conclusion that when a monti turns white, it is bleaching. While this may be true, there are other reasons why montipora corals turn white, and guess what, not all of them are bad!
As your monti coral grows, it will display white tips or a white rim, depending on what type of montipora coral you have. For example, branching montis will exhibit white growth tips, and encrusting and plating montis will display a white ring around the edges.
But, if your monti has white spots, or most of its tissues are turning white, you have likely bleached your monti, or a pest is munching on it. Montipora bleaching can happen if your lighting is too intense, this is why acclimation is super important.
How Long Can Montipora Be Out Of Water?
Montipora species are found from deep waters greater than 33 feet (10 meters) to the highest point of a coral reef ecosystem. Montis that originate from deeper waters should be out of the water for the least amount of time, therefore, you should not exceed 15 minutes of exposure. But, if your monti is usually found in the shallow parts of the reef, it will be able to tolerate more air time, usually up to 30 minutes.
When corals like your monti are exposed to air, they start to slime up as a stress response to protect themselves. If your monti is going to be out of the water for a long time, fill a container with aquarium water just to be on the safe side!
Where To Place Montipora Coral?
Because of your montipora coral’s requirements, you should place it in the middle to the top region of your aquarium, where it will receive enough water flow and lighting. Because of their interesting growth patterns, you can also mount your monti at the back of your aquarium on the glass using glue or a magnetic coral frag/rock.
Remember the first time you add your monti into the aquarium, place it lower down, and gradually move it up to its final spot, so it can acclimate to its new home.
Do You Need To Feed Montipora?
Your monti gets most of its nutritional requirements from your aquarium lighting, however, your monti may also benefit from occasional feeding of amino acids and zooplankton. Feeding your monti with amino acids will help improve its growth rate, coloration, and overall health.
If you decide on feeding your monti, be careful not to overfeed, as this can elevate your nitrate and phosphate levels, which you want to avoid. Feeding your montipora coral one to two times a week at the most will be enough to give them that extra nutrition.
Easiest Montipora To Keep!
Are you ready to dive into the world of montis, but are unsure where to start? Starting with some easy montipora corals is a great way to take on the challenge of keeping an SPS reef tank.
Monti caps and monti digitata are great to start with because they are easy to care for and are easy to find at your local fish store (LFS) and online.
Montipora corals are one of the easiest SPS corals to add to your aquarium, however, they have special requirements to thrive, such as lighting and providing the correct PAR levels.
Montis are photosynthetic. They rely on your aquarium lighting, so that the zooxanthellae that live inside their tissues can perform photosynthesis. For your montipora coral to thrive it requires moderate to high lighting with a PAR of 250-400, however, always check with your LFS what lighting your particular monti needs.
With the correct lighting, your montipora will grow and thrive into a beautiful underwater display!