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Innovative Marine Aquariums

Containing encrusting montipora?


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I got a mystic montipora as a freebie in a coral order. I wasn't planning on SPS in this tank, but something about those little half-blue polyps is really charming, and I want to keep this coral. Thing is, I have a pico, and encrusting montis are evidently pretty damn invasive. 


So, how do I contain this pretty thing? One of my ideas is to put it on my back wall, and just remove pieces when it tries to get onto the rockwork. Is it relatively easy to cut with something like a scalpel and a bit of pressure, or would I have to pop the whole colony off the back wall and frag it? Getting mostly intact(ish) frags would be nice. 


What other life can an encrusting monti not grow over? I have a potential spot on my rock where it would be fenced in by Captain Jerks palys (fairly large palys, nasty toxin), ricordea, and encrusting halimeda. I know it'll try to grow over zoas, but I can't see it getting far enough over the Jerks without getting into a shape where it would be really easy to break the edge off. And I'm sure it won't do so well with the rics. If anything, I'd have to worry about the rics growing up the rock and getting at it. So, can it encrust over halimeda? I suppose I could break those bits off. 

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Pretty much all encrusters grow really fast and putting it on the back wall would be fine - they can make some weird shapes, ball up on themselves, and plate a little bit to stretch out onto other surfaces. You just need to be really diligent about staying on top of it when it gets bigger to prevent it from smothering things since once they get big, they can grow extremely fast.


When montis come up to a coral that beats them (literally everything), they simply re-encrust over their dead skeleton over and over and over slowly building it up until they are able to just shade out the other coral. They will eventually grow over just about everything just by out-growing it. Things like cyphastrea and encrusting chalices that do basically the same thing are all that will hold it back.


The cool thing is you can just glue fast growing frags like acros directly on top of them and they will just plate out right on top.

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Oh, yeah, my other thought is that I should not let it get big. Aside from not wanting that much of it, seems like it's easier to keep under control if there's only a little. Just a few square inches would be nice. I think it might look striking on the back wall by my green candy apples, and considering those seem permanently stretched to 1 1/2" long (they're in the highest light I can manage but apparently want more), it would take a very long time for this to get tall enough to get around them. 


How easy is it to remove from just plain acrylic? Might try letting it grow on a portion of my 'glass' that I never look through anyway, as long as it would be easy to dislodge if I don't like it there. I'd just have to figure out how to attach it, since I wouldn't want to superglue it onto the tank wall. 


If it's a portion that's not flat against a rock, how easy is it to frag? Will bone cutters do the job without hurting it too badly? It doesn't feel very dense. 


I've heard about a method for containing these, where you surround them in a sort of putty moat. Then, when they grow onto the putty, you just break it off the rock and replace it, and you've removed a section. Does this work pretty well? Seems effective. 


Edit: I bet I could put this on the back wall, then surround the lower edge with a really thin layer of putty. That way, I can relatively easily remove the putty and keep it from getting onto my rockwork. May need to experiment with how difficult it is to remove putty from acrylic. I guess the question then becomes, how do I sever the coral along the edge of the putty? I don't want to have shards of it going everywhere, obviously, and I'd rather it not look like I've cut it with my teeth. Does any form of knife work OK? 

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So the way to "plant" it on your back glass without a big frag plug bump is to glue the frag plug to a small old magfloat or some extra magnets that you have, let it grow off the plug onto the back, and then remove the plug and magnet it. You can keep moving it around to let it "seed" other areas. It's going to get big - that's just what montis do.


How easy encrusting coral is to remove once it's grown onto your glass will depend on the material and texture of your back wall. If it's glass or really polished acrylic, you can get it off with a razor blade (or piece of scrap acrylic  as a scraper so you don't scratch things) just like coralline, but more of a pain in the ass, especially as it gets older and thickens. If it's textured, you probably aren't removing it. The more phosphates you have and the faster it grows, the easier it'll be to break apart since it'll be more brittle and less dense.


If you have a sandbed and the rocks aren't touching the back wall, you'll be fine - it'll start to grow across the sandbed and you just snap it off with your hand or poke it with a stick to break it up and mix the shards into your sand.


You are definitely overthinking this.

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The back wall is polished acrylic, yep. Unfortunately, my rockwork is touching and/or very close to it. It used to be away from the back slightly, but I kept losing frags down there, and got fed up with it. I know that's not the best for flow, but the sea squirt behind one of my rocks is doing fine, so apparently there's some water movement. I squirt back there with a turkey baster before water changes to dislodge gunk. 


I am probably overthinking this some, yeah. Sometimes I do. 


That being said, I have an idea that is possibly a bit silly, but seems solid. What if I made a shape out of putty, like a thin, flat, weird-shaped frag disc, and hung it on the back wall? Then I could put the monti on that. When it started getting near the edges of the 'disc', I could break those edges off and add new edges. If I just had it hung on the wall, I could remove the whole piece for easy fragging. 


The bits aren't tightly encrusted onto the plug yet, from what I can see. I think I'm going to take them off, put one on the back wall, and put another one on a frag disc I can set in the sand to see what it thinks.


I'm kinda seeing some trouble in my future with this lil guy. Somehow, it's going to cause me a problem. Probably by getting big. But look at those little blue polyps- I gotta try. Don't mind the retracted section, I was feeding the tank and thought I'd see if it liked reef roids. Thinking yes? But the polyps are tiny, so it's hard to see if they folded around the food or not. 


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  • 1 month later...

Careful with Mystic Sunset montipora.  Just like you, I was smitten with the blue/purple polyps against the neon orange base.  They grow fast and is invasive and will cover up just about anything and everything.  Isolate them and trim back when they grow, otherwise they can take over your rock work.



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Yep, that's why I made this thread. To ask how to contain it. 


I made a palm-sized 'frag plug' out of putty, put that on my back wall, and put the monti on that. Now I can trim it and the putty back every time it gets near the edges. Hopefully this works.

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  • 2 years later...

Works great! I wound up losing the monti to a palytoxin issue (Captain Jerks living up to their name), but I'm using the same trick for some psammocoras now. I just have to be sure to cut the whole situation up before they hit the edge. 


I used the Instant Ocean 2-part putty, though any way to make or obtain yourself a thin, flat, easily cuttable surface would also work out fine. The putty's nice because you can form it to whatever shape and texture you want, and put in holes to hang it with, but you could also use something like a really wide, thin tile propped against the wall, or whatever other brand of putty you like.


I suggest setting the putty on a plastic bag or what have you, so that when it dries, you can peel it off. Otherwise it'll get stuck to whatever you put it on to dry. You can incorporate the frag plug and put it into the tank wet, at least for this kind of putty, but it'll want to warp out of shape if you hang it before it sets. 


This would also work great for zoas, or anything else that someone might want to have semi-contained on their back wall. I might tinker with it a bit more.

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