Montipora is a genus of small polyp stony coral in the phylum Cnidaria. Depending on the species and location, Montipora may grow as plates or ridges, appearing to some as a bowl or flower. Undisturbed, the plates expand radially and may encrust over surrounding rocks, shells or debris. These corals are extremely common on reefs in the Red Sea, the western Indian Ocean and the southern Pacific Ocean, appearing as far north as Hong Kong. There are seventy five known species.
Members in this genus are usually thin corals that form leafy, plate-like, encrusting or semi-massive colonies. The colours vary greatly. The calices are less than 2 mm in diameter and are usually well separated by the coenosteum. The skeleton is lacy, the walls are indistinct and the septa, when present are small and in 2 cycles. The columella is rarely developed and the corallites are inconspicuous and appear empty as the polyps are very small. These corals may look different, but are subject to the same dangers that soft corals suffer from.
Like other corals, Montipora corals are colonies of individuals, known as polyps, which are about 2 mm across and share tissue and a nerve net. The polyps can withdraw into the coral in response to movement or disturbance by possible predators, but slightly protrude when undisturbed. The polyps usually extend further at night to capture zooplankton from the water. These corals have zooxanthella, symbiotic dinoflagellates that live inside the tissue of the polyps and produce energy for the animals through photosynthesis.
Montipora genus corals are most common in shallow reef environments with bright sunlight and moderate wave motion. Small reef fishes, such as the hawkfish live near Montipora colonies and perch on the ridges of the coral. Environmental destruction has led to a dwindling of populations of Montipora, along with other coral species. Unlike Acropora corals, Montiporas are more stress resistant, and not especially susceptible to coral bleaching when stressed.
Most Montipora corals are brown, pink, or green but variants with bright colors or having a ridge color with a high contrast to the core color, such as the rainbow and superman Montipora are more prized by aquarists. Captive propagation of Montipora corals is widespread in the reefkeeping community. Able to endure varied conditions, Montipora corals can be grown by enthusiasts without the use of metal halide lighting. In a well-lit reef aquarium, finger-sized fragments can grow into basketball-sized colonies in 2 to 3 years.
- Montipora aequituberculata Bernard, 1897
- Montipora capitata:52Dana, 1846
- Montipora capricornis Veron, 1985
- Montipora digitata (Dana, 1846)
- Montipora dilatata Studer, 1901
- Montipora flabellata:53
- Montipora foliosa (Pallas, 1766)
- Montipora grisea (Bernard, 1897)
- Montipora patula
- Montipora spongodes Bernard
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