Encrusting Montipora corals are a many-colored and beautiful group of Montipora coral which grows over the surface it is attached to instead of building its own skeleton and growing up toward the light. This makes them unlike like many other SPS and more like Green Star Polyps as far as growth patterns are concerned. You could almost consider the Encrusting Montiporas way of growth the exact opposite of the Montipora Capricornis.
Common Names: Encrusting Montipora
Skill Level: Moderate
Light Level: Moderate
Water Flow: Moderate
Water Conditions: 74-78° F, dKH 8-10, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.024-1.027
One of the most common types of encrusting Montipora found in the marine hobby trade is the Sunset Montipora (Red Skin with Green Polyps) so we will use that one to show pictures of growth. Notice in the first picture is a freshly fragged piece of Sunset Montipora “skin” glued down onto a flat disk.
This next picture shows the frag has begun to grow and spread out onto the disk. The polyps are fully extended now and the coral has recovered from being fragged.
Now fully encrusted onto the plug, the frag was attached to a piece of live rock so it could continue to spread and grow
This image shows that the Montipora has now grown over the plug and encrusted onto the rock so that it may grow larger.
This final image shows that soon the rock will be fully encrusted and the Encrusting Montipora will begin reaching for the next closest rocks. Notice that no branches or skeleton have been formed, the coral has only encrusted onto whatever it can touch.
(added 05-13-2013) This picture shows the Sunset Montipora now growing onto a neighboring rock as highlighted in the yellow circle below.
(added 06-13-2013) You can see more clearly the Sunset Montipora encrusting onto the neighboring rock.
So far with larger encrusting Montipora corals I have noticed that when they touch another coral they usually lose the “fight” and do not encrust up over the top of other corals, so I have not been trimming it back other than for frags. A lot of times when corals touch they begin a sort of chemical warfare or begin stinging each other. Since the Encrusting Montipora always loses the battle, I would consider this a peaceful coral. However, if you want to play it as safe as possible you could place this coral on a small live rock “island”.
There are numerous colors and variety of patterns of Encrusting Montipora, it is impossible to mention all of them in one blog post but some of the most common names and colors are Sunset Montipora (Red skin with Green polyps), Superman Montipora (Blue Skin with Red Polyps), Pokerstar Montipora (Dark Brown/Almost black skin with Green , yellow, brown polyps). Some of the more rare ones you might occasionally see are Hologram Montipora (blue skin with green polyps) and Chili-pepper Montipora (Green skin with Red polyps). This is by no means all of the different types of Encrusting Montipora, but just a few of the ones I thought deserve to be mentioned because I find them particularly interesting looking.
I normally place my Encrusting Montipora in the moderate light level and with a moderate flow. I have noticed that they do not generally like high light levels or high water flow; they do not show good polyp extension, even when slowly acclimated to it. When in my tanks I stick them in the middle of the tank and out of direct high flow and they seem to thrive.
Encrusting Montipora corals are a photosynthetic coral and do not need to be directly fed. The coral produces its food from the lights on your tank. The polyps will occasionally catch food in your tank but its main source of food is through photosynthesis. However adding oyster eggs or other coral food to your tank to feed the SPS is something I will always recommend. I can visibly see the corals catching food and retracting it into their bodies to eat. I am currently working on documenting the growth difference between corals fed VS corals non-fed in aquariums and expect to see quiet a difference in growth rates and color.
Propagation of this coral is unfortunately much more difficult than other SPS where you get to just break off a chunk and glue it to a frag plug. My preferred method is to set an established piece of Encrusting Montipora among rubble rock and once it spreads I just pull the piece of rubble rock out. However, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone depending on available room so you can cut into the rock and frag pieces using a Dremel or band saw and glue it to a frag plug. I have also had success scraping the skin off of the live rock with a razor blade but that took quite a bit of extra time.
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