The Plating Montipora Coral, is great looking and easy to care, but it can get big!
The Plating Montipora Coral Montipora peltiformis is an attractive plate Montipora. It typically grows in colonies of thin plates or scrolling shapes, while attaching an encrusting base on rock. Rather than forming upright branches it has upright nodules on the surface, giving it a textured appearance. Hence one of its common names is Rice Coral. Like other plating varieties of Montiporas, it is fast growing but with its light weigh skeletal structure it easy to frag.
The M. peltiformis is usually gold or green topped with purple or blue polyps. The edge or margin will sometimes be a lighter pink or purple. In the wild this species of coral has different growth forms at different water depths. Deep water colonies can have massive plates or whorl shapes that overlap in tiers, with individuals being up to a 3 feet (1 m) across. Those from shallower more turbid waters have extensive horizontal plates with a rougher surface. Colonies can form large continuous coral beds.
A very attractive small polyp stony (SPS) coral, the Plating Montipora Coral makes a great showpiece in a reef tank. It is moderate to easy to care for, accepts a wide range of lighting, and is very peaceful. They are also less likely to bleach or get the diseases that the Acropora corals tend to get.
The Plating Montipora Coral is a fast growing Montipora, so it does need a roomy tank in which to expand. It’s a great variety to fill in those areas where a branching coral may not work. Keeping this coral trimmed back is necessary. Yet this can be positive thing as 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: peltiformis
Distribution / Background
Montipora Coral Information: The Plating Montipora Coral Montipora peltiformis was described by Bernard in 1897. Some common names they are known for are Rice Coral, Scrolling Montipora Coral, Plate Montipora, and Plated Coral. Aquacultured specimens are often described by their color, such as Blue Polyp Scrolling Montipora Coral, Purple Polyp Plating Montipora Coral, or Light Yellow with Purple Polyps.
Where Montipora Corals Are Found:M. peltiformis are found from Madagascar to Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef. It is also found in the Philippines, the Coral sea, Flinders Reef, and the Houtman Abrolhos Islands.
Montipora Coral Habitat: M. peltiformis are generally found on shallow reef slopes, but can also be found in deep water. It has different growth forms at different water depths. At times reefs can be made up of massive colonies of 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.
What do Montipora Corals look like: The Montipora Spp. corals have very porous and lightweight skeletons. The Montipora peltiformis are a plating species of small polyp stony (SPS) corals. It grows in colonies of thin plates or scrolling shapes, while attaching an encrusting base on rock. Rather than forming upright branches it has upright nodules on the surface, giving it a textured appearance.
The colors of the Plating Montipora Coral are usually gold or green topped with purple or deep blue polyps. The edge or margin, where there is new growth, will sometimes be a lighter 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. peltiformis 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.
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
A well-feed live rock/reef environment is what is needed for your Plating Montipora 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|
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. 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: 74° – 83° F (23° – 28° 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
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.
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. peltiformis 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.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- Eric Borneman, Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History , TFH Publications, 2001
- Anthony Calfo, Book of Coral Propagation, Volume 1 Edition 2: Reef Gardening for Aquarists, Reading Trees; 2nd edition, 2007
- Ronald L. Shimek, Guide to Marine Invertebrates: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species, Microcosm, 2005
- J.E.N. Veron, Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific , University of Hawaii Press; 2 Rev Ed edition, 1993
- Blane Perun, AFCD Coral Field Guide – Montipora peltiformis, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Featured Image Credit: Vojce, Shutterstock