Montipora capricornis


Also known as Monti for short, Montipora capricornis is a widely available coral, but try to buy frags if you can, says Jeremy Gay.

Common name: Montipora, Monti
Scientific name: Montipora capricornis
Origin: Pacific Ocean
Requirements: Bright lighting from metal halide, multiple T5 or high power LEDs. Strong flow averaging 20 times tank volume turned over per hour.
Water parameters: 24-26°C/75-79°F, sg 1.026, 35 ppt. pH 8-8.4, alkalinity 7-9 KH, calcium 400 ppm, magnesium 1350 ppm. Phosphate and nitrate zero.
Notes: One of the easiest SPS corals to recognise, the orange Montipora capricornis is also one of the easiest to keep. Its plate-like shape and swirls and its bright colour make this a popular addition to reef tanks. It is also a good stepping stone coral if on the way to trying out a full-blown SPS system with more demanding species like Acropora.

In the right conditions it has high calcium demands, so lots of water changes with a good salt, supplements or automated dosing may be necessary. If left unchecked it will form a large plate, 30cm/12” plus in diameter and then start to grow vertically too, taking on its characteristic and desirable swirls.

Its size and shape will mean it will shade corals beneath so place low down in the aquascape, lighting permitting. However, the overhang it creates does look characteristic of a natural reef.

This species is easy to propagate in reef tanks – sometimes by accident as its brittle skeleton makes it vulnerable to breakage. Broken-off bits and frags will continue to grow unaffected, making it also suitable as a fragger’s first SPS coral.  

Availability: Widely available from marine shops and mail order coral websites. Fragged and captive cultured specimens are better in terms of acclimatisation and in protecting the reefs from overcollecting.
Price: £30-50, depending on size. Frags may be as cheap as £10.

This item was first published in the December 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.