Montipora are one of the most common corals in the reef aquarium and in the ocean. They are fast growing and moderately easy to keep. Montipora are found all over the Indo-Pacific, but this particular coral is aquacultured by ORA. Instead of being collected from the ocean, aquacultured corals are grown in aquariums and then fragged to be sold to hobbyists such as yourself. These corals have important advantages over others, which we will discuss later.
Montipora are more difficult to keep than a typical soft coral, but are generally easier than Acropora. There’s a good chance you are a pro at keeping Montipora, but in case you aren’t, we’ll go over the basic care requirements.
Let’s start with lighting. Montipora require high lighting, similar to Acropora in the 200-300 micromoles of PAR range. It is incredibly important that you acclimate the coral to high lighting first to reduce the chance of bleaching. Do this by starting the coral in low light and slowly moving it into higher light. Overexposing corals with too much light is a common issue for beginner hobbyists, so be careful. Another thing to note is that the exact coloration of Montipora can vary from system to system.
Montipora digitata prefer moderate to strong flow, as do most SPS corals. They can be given more flow than plating Montipora and may even require more to keep them free of detritus. Waste settling on the coral can cause die-off, so ensure you are providing enough flow. Ideally, the flow should be irregular and random to avoid dead spots. Water movement is important because it provides the coral with needed nutrients and base elements while also keeping it clean.
Speaking of base elements, let’s discuss water chemistry. Maintaining elevated levels of calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium is important to keep your stony corals healthy. Large enough fluctuations can cause devastating effects. Maitning these levels with lots of stony corals often requires the implementation of a calcium reactor, dosing, or kalkwasser, all of which need experience and knowledge to be used correctly. Montipora seem to be particularly sensitive to low magnesium, so test your levels if you are having issues.
For other parameters, keep the temperature between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit and stable. Keep the nitrates at 1-5 ppm and the phosphates as close to 0.01 ppm as possible but not 0.
Finally, let’s discuss feeding. Montipora have tiny polyps, so they are unable to consume food that isn’t tiny. They rely mostly on the products of their zooxanthellae for nutrition. However, dosing your aquarium with amino acids and live phytoplankton can greatly improve the coloration and increase the growth rate.
Purchase Size: 1 – 2″
Placement: You can place this coral anywhere as long as its lighting and flow needs are met.
Flow: Moderate to strong.
Parameters: 72-78° F, pH 8.1-8.4, salinity 32-35 ppt
Calcium: 350-450 ppm
Alkalinity: 8-12 dKH
Magnesium: 1,250-1,350 ppm
Aquacultured corals such as this Purple Digitata from ORA are better adapted to aquarium life, making them hardier and more likely to survive. These corals will flourish in a well-kept aquarium. They are also far less likely to carry pests or diseases, though you should still dip and/or quarantine them to be safe. To make it even better, these corals are more sustainable and environmentally friendly.