Corals constantly battle for space in the ocean, often growing over each other and starting chemical warfare. In aquariums, space is limited, therefore, placing corals too close to another coral can be a problem.
While some corals (for example, large polyp stony corals) are equipped with long sweeper tentacles packed with nematocysts (specialized stinging cells to warn off encroaching neighbors), some corals such as small polyp stony (SPS) and soft corals have much shorter polyps.
Montipora (montis) are one of the most popular SPS corals in aquariums, and once you get one, it is hard to stop! So, what happens if you were to place montipora too close to each other inside your aquarium? Well, that is exactly what we are covering today in this article!
Can Montipora Touch Each Other?
When the same type of montipora coral starts touching, one will usually grow over the other, or they will grow around each other in a swirling pattern as they try to outcompete for space.
Some parts of your monti may die as it grows and touches another, but the whole colony shouldn’t die. When montipora corals encrust over each other, they create a mesmerizing combination of colors.
However, sometimes different montipora corals will sting each other if they touch because it is in their nature to outcompete other corals for light, water flow, and growth. For example, a brown montipora digitata will typically lose a coral battle with their vibrantly colored siblings.
When different montipora corals touch, and start a stinging battle, just like in a boxing ring, there is usually one obvious winner. To prevent different species of montipora from touching each other, you can easily frag them or cut them back.
If you are unsure if your montis can touch each other, speak to your local fish store (LFS) and ask for their opinion.
Do Encrusting Montipora Fight?
If you have two encrusting montipora corals, they will fight, however, they are usually equally matched. When encrusting montiporas fight for space, you will notice a slime where they are touching. One will usually grow over the top of the other, but you will notice the growth rate will slow down where they fight.
If they stop growing at the contact point, cut back the area, so they are no longer touching.
Does Montipora Coral Sting?
Montipora corals do contain nematocysts however, they do not have a powerful punch, and will lose pretty much every territorial battle inside your aquarium. When placing your montipora inside your aquarium for the first time, take a good look at your other corals.
Even though montis are unlikely to sting other corals (unless they touch), they will get stung by corals that have long sweeper tentacles, so always allow enough space between corals – at least 2-3 inches between the same species, and 5-6 inches between different coral species.
Can Montipora & Acropora Touch?
Even though montipora and acropora are both SPS corals, they will battle it out if they touch. Montipora corals are generally the least aggressive SPS corals, however, acropora (millepora) is one of the most aggressive types.
If your monti and acropora touch, your monti will lose the battle, and it will likely experience some significant damage. So, as you can see, it is highly recommended that these corals are kept at a safe distance away from each other in your aquarium!
Will Damaged Montipora Grow Back?
If your montipora has taken some damage, it should grow back if it still has healthy flesh. However, if your montipora has been significantly damaged and there is a lot of dead tissue with an exposed skeleton, it may not be able to regrow its tissues before algae take over and smother your monti’s polyps.
To give your monti a fighting chance of survival, ensure it is getting enough water flow and lighting, and that the water parameters are within range.
Where Should You Place Montipora?
Because of their tank requirements, you should place your monti in the middle to top region of your aquarium. Your montipora needs moderate to high lighting and moderate to high water flow to grow and thrive.
Water flow is not only important in transporting nutrients and keeping debris off of your monti’s polyps, but water flow can also determine which way your coral grows.
Montipora corals are an interesting group of SPS coral with a wide range of colors and growth patterns. Some montis will encrust, some will branch, while others prefer to plate out.
When the same species of monti touch, they will usually happily grow around one another without stinging each other. However, if you place montis next to other SPS corals, they will generally lose a coral battle, therefore always give your montis plenty of space to spread out in your aquarium and avoid placing them next to aggressive corals like acropora.
If you are ever unsure about SPS compatibility, speak to your LFS, as these guys are pros when it comes to placing different corals together inside reef tanks.