Name: Goniopora sp.
Water parameters: Nitrate 5-20 mg/l, Phosphate 0,05-0,15 mg/l
Feeding: They are adept feeders that can grab and consume a wide variety of foods ranging from coral-formulated sinking pellets to frozen food such as brine shrimp, mysis, and krill.
Care level: Moderade
Part of the reason for the recent success is sourcing the coral. There are around 20 different species of Goniopora and some are more hardy than others. We have had the best success with Goniopora that originated in Australia. They tend to have better coloration and smaller polyps than the ones IÍve seen come from other geographies like Indonesia.
Goniopora are a photosynthetic coral so they derive some of their nutritional requirements from light. This is done through a symbiotic relationship with dinoflagellates called zooxanthellae that live in the flesh of the coral. The dinoflagellates are actually the photosynthetic organism and the Goniopora colony derives nutrients off of the byproducts of the dinoflagellatesÍ photosynthetic process. Zooxanthellae is usually brown in color and the coral tightly regulates the population living in its flesh. Too little light will cause the coral to turn brown in color. As it seeks more nutrition, the coral allows more zooxanthellae to build up in its flesh. Usually a coral will prefer a specific range of lighting intensity but that is less of the case with Goniopora.
Goniopora can thrive in a wide range of lighting. We have kept Goniopora in different lighting intensities here at Wild Coralsæranging from very dimly lit 50 PAR tanks all the way to bright aquariums receiving over 200 PAR. I would recommend placing them under moderate lighting intensities, between 75-125 PAR. Goniopora are consistent in their appearance under different lighting. That is to say that a red colored Goniopora wonÍt suddenly turn green when moved to another aquarium with slightly different lights above it. Sounds strange, but there are plenty of corals out there that can shift their color palate like that.
Having said that, the type of lighting system chosen will have a dramatic effect on how they are displayed. There are some incredibly fluorescent varieties of Goniopora that glow like safety cones under the right blend of actinic lights which would not be apparent at all under daylight lighting.
One of my favorite things about Goniopora is how the tentacles sway in the current. It is one of the most dramatic and aesthetically pleasing large polyp stony corals as far as motion is concerned. ItÍs movement is almost hypnotic and is one of the things that makes Goniopora such a great focal point in the aquarium.
One mistake I think some reef keepers make is providing them too much flow. If you have a powerhead blowing right at Goniopora from short range, it may kill off some of the tissue at that point of contact and cause a chain reaction to the rest of the colony.
Goniopora appreciate low to medium flow, but preferably with some randomness to it. That way you will get that gentle waving motion which helps keep the coral clean and brings food past the colony. If you see the tentacles violently thrashing about, that is probably too much flow and it would benefit from being relocated to a more calm section of the tank.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the time when aquarists struggled keeping Goniopora to now is the change in mentality regarding coral feeding. For decades the majority of hobbyists believed that feeding was not necessary. Fast forward to today and wellƒ the majority probably still donÍt Butæat least now there are more resources available demonstrating the positive benefits of feeding as well as a variety of coral foods in both powder and liquid form on the market.
I am absolutely convinced that Goniopora have to be fed and fed a lot. IÍve kept a lot of different types of Goniopora and just a personal anecdote, the times IÍve struggled with them had to do with neglect and lack of feeding. When I diligently provided them with a high quality food source, they almost always thrived.
What to feed Goniopora is a good question. Goniopora do not put on dramatic feeding displays like some large polyp stony corals. In fact, they seem to shy away from contact rather than aggressively trying to capture food. They have this ñpogo hopperî motion to their polyps when food is introduced. Some believe that the coral takes in a lot of their nutrients through their skin more so than consuming it with their mouth, so even if you donÍt see it actively feeding trust that something positive is still happening.
There are two types of food that I like to provide Goniopora. The first is liquid amino acids. In short, they are simple organic compounds that play a major role in building proteins as well as other biological functions at the cellular level. Corals regularly take in available amino acids from the water column so it is easy to provide them with adequate quantities by broadcast feeding an amino acid solution. If you want to know more about amino acids, I made a video going into great detail about them so check that out below:
The second type of food I like are dry powdered plankton. There are several different types on the market and I take the three or four I have on hand at any given time, mix them all up and when it is feeding time, make a cloudy solution with them to broadcast feed over the Goniopora colonies.
The best technique I have found is to completely turn off the pumps so that nothing blows away in the current and then spray a cloud of food over each colony with a turkey baster. The particles should be fine enough that the fish wonÍt come and harass the coral, but even if they do, you can apply another dusting after a few minutes. After about 15-20 min I then start the pumps back up. Some hobbyists leave the pumps off for longer than that, so you may want to experiment a little bit to see what works best in your tank.
Although coral nutrition is important, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you are going to experiment with broadcast feeding or target feeding, start slowly with it and donÍt expect explosive changes overnight. Having some phosphate and nitrate in the water is beneficial but overfeeding can cause these parameters to rise to dangerous levels that can be hard to remedy.