Cabbage Coral

Scrolling Montipora Coral, Porous Lettuce Coral, Plated Coral

Family: Acroporidae Cabbage Coral Montipora foliosa, also known as Scrolling Montipora Coral, Porous Lettuce Coral, Plated Coral or Pore CoralMontipora foliosaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Carrie McBirney

   The very attractive, non-branching Cabbage Coral is easy to care for and comes in a variety of attractive colors!

   The Cabbage Coral Montipora foliosa is a plate Montipora. It typically grows in colonies of thin plates without upright branches forming on the surface. But it does have rows of ridges run perpendicular to the edge, or margin of the coral, which is a good identifying characteristic. It is described by various common names including Scrolling Montipora Coral, Porous Lettuce Coral, Plated Coral, and Pore Coral.

   In its natural colors the Cabbage Coral can be pink, green, brown, cream, blue, lavender or gray. The polyps are typically contrasting in color to the main fleshy part of the coral, typically white or shades of blues and purples. Some also have a contrasting edge or margin color, in a pale cream pink or purple. Captive varieties can have even more color variation due to cultivators bringing out these desirable hues. It's a very attractive small polyp stony (SPS) coral that makes a great showpiece in a reef tank.

   The M. foliosa is a fast growing Montipora and it has been bred in captivity. They're easy to moderate to care for, accepting a wide range of lighting. They are less likely to bleach or get the diseases that the Acropora corals tend to get, but it needs a roomy tank in which to expand. Keeping this coral trimmed back is necessary, yet this can be positive thing. Selling the pieces to other aquarists helps to preserve the wild population. These Montipora can be quite dominating in a tank, yet their beauty makes it easy for one to make allowances for the rapid growth of connecting plates.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Cnidaria
  • Class: Anthozoa
  • Order: Scleractinia
  • Family: Acroporidae
  • Genus: Montipora
  • Species: foliosa
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Scientific name

   Family: Acroporidae
   Species: Montipora foliosa

Distribution / Background

   Montipora Coral Information: The Cabbage Coral Montipora foliosa was described by Pallas in 1766. Some common names they are known for are Scrolling Montipora Coral, Porous Lettuce Coral, Plated Coral, and Pore Coral.

   Where Montipora Corals Are Found: M. foliosa are found in the waters of Australia in the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, and Houtman Abrolhos Islands. They are also found from the Red Sea to New Hebrides and then to Fiji.

   Montipora Coral Habitat: M. foliosa are generally found on protected upper reef slopes and shallow warm waters, such as lagoons, at depth that ranges from 0 to 9 feet (0 - 3 m). The water movement within their habitat is usually calm yet turbulent, a nonlinear water movement. At times, entire reefs can be made up of just this particular Montipora species, thus underscoring the need for a larger tank in captivity.

   Montipora, as a species, are found from deep water (greater than 10 meters / 33 feet) to the reef crest and from clear oceanic reefs to turbid (not clear because of stirred-up sediment, etc.) lagoons. Even though their range is large, Montipora are more likely to be found in quiet water at mid-depths.

Status

   The Montipora foliosa is not on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.

Description

   What do Montipora Corals look like: The Montipora Spp. corals have very porous and lightweight skeletons. The Montipora foliosa are a plating species of small polyp stony (SPS) corals. It grows in colonies of thin plates without upright branches forming on the surface. The corallites grow between the many thin and short spaced walls or reticulum. These rows of ridges run perpendicular to the edge, or margin of the coral, which is a good identifying characteristic.

   The colors the Cabbage Coral come in pink, green, brown, cream, blue, lavender or gray. The polyps are typically contrasting in color to the main fleshy part of the coral. These polyps can be white, turquoise, dark pink, dark blue, or purple. The margins or edges of the M. foliosa can be a contrasting pale cream pink or purple. Captive varieties can have even more color variation due to cultivators bringing out these desirable hues.

Difficulty of Care

   Montipora Coral Care: The M. foliosa is easy to moderate to care for, accepting a wide range of lighting. They must be placed so they have room to grow because, under the right lighting, they are a fast-growing species. Unlike Acropora, which are in the same family, Montipora corals do not stress as easily and are more resistant to bleaching and disease. Some credit this resistance to their deep-set polyps.They are easy to propagate as well. Wild caught specimens do not do as well in captivity as aquacultured ones.

Foods / Feeding

   Montipora Coral Feeding: In the wild, Montipora corals have developed several feeding strategies. Through a symbiotic relationship with a marine algae, known as zooxanthellae, they receive the majority of their nutrients. They also capture planktonic organisms and microscopic food particles from the water column and can absorb dissolved organic matter.

   In captivity, they do well in well-feed reef tanks, accepting very fine particulate foods. Zooplankton and tiny plankton can be fed once a week. Copepods, Artemia, and nauplii are too large for them to ingest. Most online vendors recommend adding filter feeder food. New forms of prey are also being developed, such as invert larvae and new strains of rotifers.

Aquarium Care

   Pristine tank conditions are needed to keep all Montipora spp. corals. Doing water changes of 10% every 2 weeks is needed, although it is suggested that doing 5% water changes once a week will bring about amazing results. Keep the nitrate levels low. Maintaining calcium and alkalinity levels are important.

   Suggested levels for Montipora species are:

  • Calcium:  400 to 450 ppm (closer to 450). If the Monti does not have enough calcium, it will not grow.
  • Alkalinity:  3.2 TO 4.5 MEQ/L (8 to 10 dKh - 10 is recommended)
  • Phosphates:  0, zero. Phosphates are the worst of all and all corals hate them.
  • Magnesium:  1350-1500. Magnesium makes calcium available, so if your calcium is low, check your magnesium levels before adding any more calcium.
  • Strontium:  10

Aquarium Parameters

   A well-feed live rock/reef environment is what is needed for your Cabbage Coral, along with some fish for organic matter production. These corals are usually hardy and fast-growing, however a mature tank is recommended.

Quick Reference Chart
Lighting: Prefers Low Lighting Levels Prefers Medium Lighting Levels Prefers High Lighting Levels
Water Flow: Prefers Low Water Flow Levels Prefers Medium Water Flow Levels Prefers High Water Flow Levels
Temperament: Peaceful Temperament Semi-Aggressive Temperament Aggressive Temperament

   For tanks with metal halides, position your Monti in the mid levels. With other lighting, position your Monti at the upper to mid levels depending on the watts used. Your Monti will show whether it is happy or not by the coloring. Do not keep lights on for more than 7 hours, or the risk of developing algae on the M. foliosa will become greater. Make sure that no other corals or even algae can come in contact with your Montipora. Monti's are mild mannered and will end up loosing any chemical warfare.

  • Minimum Tank Size / Length: 10 gallons (38 L) or larger
  • Marine Lighting: All, (within reef lighting parameters)
  • Temperature: 72° - 80° F (22° - 27° C)
  • Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 - 1.025
  • Water Movement: Moderate and turbid
  • Water Region: Middle to top of the aquarium

Compatibility and Social Behaviors

   Montipora are not aggressive corals, nor do they posses strong defenses. Because of this, they must be placed away from any aggressive or defensive coral. Although not as touchy as Acroporas, the Montipora genus should still do best kept in a small polyp stony (SPS) tank. It will tolerate a mixed coral tank better than Acros, but plenty of room should be around your Montipora, even distancing it from another Montipora species. Oddly, colors can at times determine hierarchy in a tank. For instance, a brown Montipora digitata will usually loose to attacks by their colored up sisters and brothers.

   The Montipora genus are peaceful, but watch out for crabs. Many experienced aquarists do not believe in any crab should be kept in a closed system. Crabs are opportunistic predators, with the exception some of the symbiotic crabs like commensal crabs, and gall crabs.

Sex - Sexual differences

   No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding and Reproduction

   The Montipora Sp. are male and female and can reproduce both sexually and asexually. In the wild they reproduce sexually by releasing eggs and sperm at the same time, resulting in a fertilized egg which then forms into a free-swimming planula larva. Eventually the planula larvae settles onto the substrate, becoming plankters. This then forms a tiny polyp which begins to excrete calcium carbonate and develops into a coral. Planula larvae are extremely vulnerable to predation, and very few survive. Montiporas reproduce asexually as well. In the wild Montiporas spread from breakage due to storms and fragmentation.

   Propagation is rather simple for Montipora corals. First you need to choose a healthy coral that is not showing any signs of distress. Then, simply cut a branch at least 2" long and glue the frag to a plug or rock. You can use the 2-part epoxy or underwater putties. A little tip, don't glue frags upright since they will grow faster on their sides.The slime that the coral will exude should not come in contact with any other corals and gloves are suggested. Give the frag ample water flow.

Potential Problems

   The Montipora spp. are generally disease resistant, but can still get the same illnesses that any other small polyp stony (SPS) coral can get under poor conditions. An ailment on some Montipora's are tumor like growths, but these tumors are not harmful, just ugly. Caution is recommended if you plan to add Limpet snails to your tank as they have been known to eat Montipora corals (as well as Acropora). Magilopsis (a gastropod) and Prosthiostomum (a flatworm) are common Montipora pests.

   In general, if your M. foliosa has any kind of tissue recession, just cut off the healthy part. Just make sure you cut into some of the healthy part also, to be sure there is no disease encroaching on the healthy tissue. Also, keep out the cyanobacteria and algae with good water movement, and your Monti will stay happy.

Availability

   Montipora Corals for Sale: The Cabbage Coral M. foliosa is moderately easy to find at pet shops and on line. Online they can run about $79.00 USD or more depending on size. Many reef clubs have these corals and can they can also be obtained for a fair price from an aquarist who may have this coral.

References

Author: Elizabeth M. Lukan; Clarice Brough, CRS; Carrie McBirney
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