Are Goniopora Corals Right for Your Tank?

Hello Everyone, Steven here! Thank you for joining me today for another episode of the “Are ___ right for your tank” series. Today we will discuss one of the more mysterious corals in the hobby- the goniopora, or “flowerpot” corals. If you prefer watching my video, please feel free to open the link below.

A magnificent ref goniopora coral, credit squareriggersailor of Reef2Reef.

The goniopora is a large polyp stony coral that has been in the hobby for many years. I recall seeing them arriving the LFS I worked at the time from time to time. However, until recent years this coral possesses the reputation of being one of the more difficult corals to maintain. Obviously there are success stories no matter what kind of creature it is, but the general community was struggling to keep goniopora happy for a longwhile. Please comment below if you were one of the goniopora pioneers and have had success from early on. What did you do? and what was your pro-tip?

I suspect a lot of the recent success in this coral is tied to their availability from captive grown sources. I do not have evidence to support my theory, but it does seem that as of late most of the goniopora offered in retail are tank grown and fragged vs. wild harvest. This is the only data point that leads me to suspect the ties between recent success and captive grown.

captive grown corals offered by ORA, credit ORA.

So what makes keeping them so tricky? My personal experience: Aside from the perfect reef water parameters, I have found that the goniopora in my tank does best when it is moved to the lower level of tank with subdued lighting. I don’t really think the strength of flow is a key factor but will caveat weaker flow in general is a no no for LPS as detritus can build up and drown them. And when I have the most success with them is when I target feed them heavily! I am currently in the process of testing out a few different brands of coral food and will produce an episode to dive into coral feeding. But until the new food arrive, I have had great success with Reef roid and I have found that my goniopora coral really puffs up and gain lots of growth as I increase the feeding cadence.

So are they right for your tank? Well here are a few factors to consider:

  • Do you have enough space for it to “stretch” its arms without touching other corals? The tricky thing about LPS is their polyps can sometimes shrink and look all innocent, but that same polyp can also suddenly stretch across the tank and zap another coral in matter of days. I’d suggest at least 3-4 inch (if not 6-8″) radius of clear space between the goniopora and your other corals for safety.
  • Do you have a high nutrient tank to supply the goniopora with “dirty” water for feeding? If not, will you be able to commit to target feeding this coral several times a week?
Back in them days goniopora almost comes exclusively in green color, now a days many variations are offered. credit yourfishstore

I think these two are the more important deciding factor for today’s tank grown goniopora corals. As long as you have these two covered, you can work and move the corals around until you achieved the optimal lighting and flow. Every coral is different, even corals of the same species can be different if they are of different color, size, or polyp density. So you’ll just have to test it out and feel the vibe with them. Please just note they typically stay deflated for a day or two after re-homing so don’t worry too much. But should begin to regain its confident after day-2. If they remain deflated after day-3 then you have reasons to worry.

Have you had this coral? Did you encounter any specific issue with them and was able to over come? And how large is your current colony? show off your corals in the comments and let’s see them!