The Spongodes coral is a Montipora species which is apparent in its similarity to Montipora Capricornis and Montipora Digitata. Montipora are found all over the Indo-Pacific, though the frags sold here are aquacultured by ORA. These corals are grown in aquariums and then fragged to be sold to hobbyists such as yourself. This comes with many benefits that will be discussed below.
Most experienced hobbyists would agree that Montipora aren’t beginner corals. However, they are easier than Acropora, so they are good for the hobbyists looking to dabble in the world of SPS corals. Let’s go over some of the care requirements in case you are new to keeping Montipora. The great thing about Montipora is that they recover well. So, if you make a mistake, chances are that you’re Montipora will survive, even if it bleaches a little. Montipora are light loving corals. They can be put under similar lighting as Acropora, which translates to about 200-300 micromoles of PAR. This is where your Montipora should end up, but don’t start it in this range. When you first add the coral to your aquarium, you need to acclimate it to the light by starting it low on the aquascape or somewhere in lower light and slowly move it into brighter light. This is important to avoid bleaching or color loss. Montipora also needs moderate to high flow. You need to provide lots of flow to prevent detritus from collecting on the coral and to deliver nutrients and elements to the coral. Lots of flow is good, but you can provide too much flow. Make sure that the flow won’t knock the coral off the rocks. This is especially a concern with plating corals because the plates can act as a sail, pushing the colony off the rocks. It would take a lot of flow to do this, but it can happen.
What about feeding? Montipora, like other SPS corals, have very tiny polyps that don’t tend to directly take food in. Spot feeding Montipora is not something you should waste your time with. Montipora contain a photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae which provides the coral with most of its nutritional needs. However, dosing phytoplankton and/or amino acids can bring some vibrancy to the color of the coral. Next, let’s talk about water chemistry. In order to keep Montipora, you need to be able to keep your calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium levels in a good place and stable. Fluctuations with these parameters can be terrible for stony corals, but SPS such as Acropora and Montipora tend to handle it poorly. As for your other parameters, keep your temperature at 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep you nitrates at 1-5 ppm and your phosphates at 0.01-0.10 ppm. This ensures there are enough nutrients in the water to keep the corals happy without risking lots of algae growth.
Purchase Size: 1 – 2″
Placement: You can place this coral anywhere in your aquarium as long as its lighting and flow needs are met.
Lighting: Medium to high.
Flow: Moderate to strong.
Parameters: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, 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 are great for several reasons. First, they are better adapted to aquarium conditions such as lighting, flow, and water chemistry. They are overall hardier than corals collected from the ocean. Corals such as this Montipora Spongodes from ORA are much more likely to survive and do well in your aquarium. Second, aquacultured coral are far less likely to carry pests and disease, though you should still dip and/or quarantine the to be safe. Last, these corals are more sustainable and environmentally friendly!