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Flowerpot Coral

(Goniopora sp.)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Difficult   • Temperament: Aggressive   • Waterflow: Medium
• Placement: Bottom to Middle   • Lighting: Moderate   • Color Form: Red, Purple, Pink, Tan, Green
 • Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Magnesium, Trace Elements   • Water Conditions: 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
• Origin: Indo-Pacific   • Family: Poritidae   • Species: LPS Hard Corals

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Flowerpot Coral native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Flowerpot Coral (Goniopora sp.) is a common name applied to a variety of Goniopora and Alveopora corals found throughout the Indo-Pacific. While there are many distinct species of Goniopora and Alveopora, this profile is intended to cover the basics that are common to all varieties.

Goniopora is a species of large polyp stony (LPS) coral that forms branching colonies with polyps that always have 24 tentacles, with both the disc and tentacle tips having colors that range from purple, pink and red to tan and green. The Polyps are long and fleshy and the tentacles are normally extended both day and night. Alveopora are also a species of large polyp stony (LPS) coral that forms branching colonies with polyps that always have 12 tentacles instead of 24.

Beyond simply a difference in appearance, Alveopora sp. species have been found to do better in the aquarium environment than Goniopora sp. species; however, both types should be considered advanced or expert level corals to keep.

In addition to Alveopora sp. species being more hardy in the aquarium environment, hobbyists have also found that red and purple Flowerpot Corals do better than tan or green specimens. The exact reason for this is not currently known; however, the anecdotal evidence has been consistent amongst many reef hobbyists.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Flowerpot Coral in the home aquarium.

It was thought for many years that Goniopora and Alveopora corals did poorly in the aquarium environment because of a lack of lighting intensity. However, modern high intensity lighting systems have had little to no effect on successfully keeping Flowerpot Corals.

Hobbyists have since learned that the difficulty in keeping these corals is more in the unique combination of aquarium conditions that are required for long term growth and prosperity. More specifically the combination of water chemistry, water flow, lighting, filter feeding opportunities and direct targeted feedings.

Flowerpot Corals need moderately intense lighting in order for the zooxanthellae they host to thrive; however, they do not need the high intensity of light provided in many modern reef aquariums. It is for this reason that most hobbyists with highly intense lighting place their Flowerpot Coral in a lower middle to bottom location on the reef.

Water flow should be moderate in strength with varied, turbid or laminar flow, which is typically created by a wave box, alternating powerheads or by placing the coral in an area of the tank that receives varied water flow.

Ideally the water flow should be sufficient to remove waste products generated by the coral, while still allowing the coral filter feeding opportunities from zooplankton and other foods present in the water column. Water chemistry is also crucial for the the Flowerpot Coral in order to ensure proper skeletal growth and development.

Hobbyists should utilize quality reef salt and reef supplements in order to provide proper calcium levels, magnesium and trace elements, which are all crucial to calcium based hard coral skeletal structures. Lastly, Gonioporas will require regular targeted feedings of meaty foods like cyclopeeze or baby brine shrimp.

Some very established reef aquariums with large refugiums may be able to provide enough water column filter feeding opportunities for Goniopora and Alveopora corals to thrive; however, most hobbyists will find that regular targeted feedings are necessary for the coral to survive and thrive within the aquarium environment.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Flowerpot Coral.

Reef building hard corals like the Flowerpot Coral require proper calcium carbonate levels in the aquarium in order to build their skeletal structures. They are made up of tiny animals with a tubular body and an oral gap fringed with tentacles. These tentacle polyps are equipped with nematocysts (poisonous cells used to sting prey), which they use to feed on small marine organisms ranging in size from zooplankton to very small fish.

Much of the energy requirements of the coral are provided by photosynthetic organisms that live in its tissue, called zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae supply the coral polyps with oxygen and food, and are responsible for the color of the corals In return, the corals provide a protected living area for the zooxanthellae. However, Flowerpot Corals also require additional feedings of larger meaty foods like cyclopeeze or baby brine shrimp.

In most cases, target feeding of the Flowerpot Coral will be required to insure that they receive adequate nutrition. Since the Flowerpot Coral is slow to feed and often out competed by tank mates like shrimp and fish, many hobbyists use the cut top of a soda bottle to allow them to squirt the food onto the coral and keep it from floating away or being eaten by competitors.

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