Gonioporas are gorgeous and ubiquitous, and almost every reefer has encountered them at some point in time. Many of them come in crazy colors such as Red, Green and even Blue. Yet they are considered one of the tougher LPS corals to keep, and up till recently, considered “impossible” by some. Well the exemplary specimen above by Hwee from Singapore is one coral that bucks the trend.
The gorgeous red Goniopora by Hwee was first obtained in 2009. Three years later today, the coral has grown to about twice its size and have even undergone multiple fragging. Most Goniopora bud off when they reach a certain size, and these buds later develop into larger colonies. Fragging a Goniopora is possible, but rather unconventional and risky – especially with such a touchy coral to begin with.
The mother colony has put out three buds and undergone three fragging sessions since. A simple bone cutter was used instead of a dremel saw, and it works. The frags healed in no time and have grown significantly. The bone cutter was used to “cut” and create a score line to map out the size of the frag. Cutting through carbonate skeleton of a LPS coral is not difficult, and once the score line is deep enough, the frag broke off and it was left to heal.
The water parameters and maintenance regime for Hwee’s tank is fairly standard, with calcium, magnesium and kH being in the normal range and water changes done fortnightly. Like the ORA red Goniopora, Hwee’s specimen is kept in the exact same conditions. The flow was just right such that the tentacles were always kept in motion but not thrashing around, and it was kept in bright lighting suitable for SPS.
The tank however, is fed twice a week with Fauna Marin’s Ricordea/Zoanthus food as well as ReefNutrition’s Oyster Feast to cater to the large amount of Ricordea and Zoanthus that share the tank. Apparently, the red Goniopora along with its multiple frags benefit highly from the occasional feeding, and take on a very unique appearance just after a meal. The polyps display a very unusual ribbed appearance much like a flexible spring hose. We’re not quite sure as to why this happens though.
The red Goniopora is a very aggressive coral and care should be taken with its placement in the tank. We got a chance to see Hwee’ Goniopora displaying its sweeper tentacles supercharged with nematocysts, ready to sting and take on any coral that intrudes in its space. These sweeper tentacles behave much like those from the Euphyllia genus. They are longer and generally much stronger than the normal tentacles and inflict real damage on any coral nearby, especially weaker soft corals or LPS.
The Goniopora is housed in a small 36 gallon mixed reef tank with SPS and various LPS. However, soft corals make up the bulk of the cnidarian population. Beautiful and eye catching as the red Goniopora may be, it vies for top spot as the center of attraction with Hwee’s crazy star polyp wall and impressive carpet of Ricordeas. The entire left side of the tank is plastered from top to bottom with luminous green star polyps, which gives the tank a unique and crazy look. Every few weeks or so, scraping and polyp management has to be done to keep the aggressive polyps out of the main viewing glass as well as the overflow teeth.
Star polyps can get out of control and can take over a tank without much of a problem, but when managed and maintained properly, it can be just as beautiful as a freshly mowed lawn. The carpet of Ricordeas as well as the collection of golden tipped clove corals are also just as beautiful, adding texture and color to an already colorful and lively tank. Most of the corals in Hwee’s tank are self propagated and traded with other reefers, and hardly any of them are store baught. The selection of corals in Hwee’s tank is limited, but showcases them in the best possible way and that is truly amazing and something that isn’t common nowadays.
In heavily stocked reef tanks, most corals are kept small, trimmed and not allowed to grow to their full potential. The corals are also accompanied by a collection of standard reef fish, which includes a pellet eating Spotted Mandarin fish. We would like to thank Hwee for sharing with us his story on this impressive Goniopora, as well as opening up his home for us to see it in person. Red Gonios can be difficult to keep but certainly not impossible.