Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Flowerpot corals, despite their delicate names, are generally aggressive animals (3). They are capable of developing elongated 'sweeper' polyps, like the sweeper tentacles of other corals, which can inflict severe tissue damage on a coral within their reach. It is therefore unusual to see other coral species growing close to the flowerpot coral (3), and it is believed that this adaptation benefits the flowerpot coral in the intense competition for space on the reef (5). Like other reef-building corals, flowerpot coral polyps have microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) living within their tissues. Through photosynthesis, these symbiotic algae produce energy-rich molecules that the coral polyps can use as nutrition. In addition, the large polyps can use their tentacles to capture plankton to feed on, and thus are not as reliant on sunlight, required for photosynthesis, as some other coral species (4). Flowerpot corals have separate male and female colonies (not all corals do) which release sperm and eggs into the water for external fertilisation. The fertilised egg develops into a free-swimming larva that will eventually settle on the substrate and develop into new colonies (3).
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Description

The appearance of this pretty coral belies its aggressive behaviour. Many individual coral polyps, (anemone-like animals that secrete a skeleton), form colonies which join together at the base of their skeletons. These colonies grow to form branches, columns, solid colonies that are dome-shaped, or colonies that adhere close to the substrate (2). Colonies may be meters across and sometimes whole sections of a reef face are covered exclusively by one branching Goniopora species (3). One Goniopora species, daisy coral, is named for its extremely large, flower-like polyps, and can grow to cover areas of six to ten meters (4). Each polyp has 24 long and fleshy tentacles that are normally extended day and night (2), although these quickly retract when touched revealing the massive skeletons beneath (4). Each Goniopora species differs in the shape and colour of their polyps, which allows their identification underwater (2).
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Distribution

Range

Occurs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans; from the coast of Mozambique, to the Red Sea, and east to northern Australia, southern Japan and Hawaii (2).
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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

Colonies are usually columnar or massive but may be encrusting. Corallites have thick but porous walls and calices are filled with compacted septa and columellae. Polyps are long and fleshy and are normally extended day and night. They have 24 tentacles. Different species have polyps of different shapes and colours, which allow them to be identified under water. (Veron, 1986 <57>)
  • Veron, J.E.N. (1986). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Angus & Robertson Publishers, London.
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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 969 specimens in 35 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 481 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 368
  Temperature range (°C): 22.163 - 28.617
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.038 - 2.922
  Salinity (PPS): 33.068 - 40.331
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.230 - 4.969
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.067 - 0.475
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.777 - 6.552

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 368

Temperature range (°C): 22.163 - 28.617

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.038 - 2.922

Salinity (PPS): 33.068 - 40.331

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.230 - 4.969

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.067 - 0.475

Silicate (umol/l): 0.777 - 6.552
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Flowerpot corals are most commonly found in turbid water protected from strong wave action (3)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:12
Specimens with Sequences:18
Specimens with Barcodes:7
Species:3
Species With Barcodes:3
Public Records:7
Public Species:3
Public BINs:1
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Barcode data

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Genomic DNA is available from 3 specimens with morphological vouchers housed at Queensland Museum
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Genomic DNA is available from 1 specimen with morphological vouchers housed at Ocean Genome Legacy
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Status

Listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).
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Threats

Flowerpot corals face the many threats that are impacting coral reefs globally. It is estimated that 20 percent of the world's coral reefs have already been effectively destroyed and show no immediate prospects of recovery, and 24 percent of the world's reefs are under imminent risk of collapse due to human pressures. These human impacts include poor land management practices that are releasing more sediment, nutrients and pollutants into the oceans and stressing the fragile reef ecosystem. Over fishing has 'knock-on' effects that results in the increase of macro-algae that can out-compete and smother corals, and fishing using destructive methods physically devastates the reef. A further potential threat is the increase of coral bleaching events, as a result of global climate change (6). More specifically, Goniopora is potentially threatened by the live coral trade. Goniopora is one of the genera that dominates the live coral trade for use in aquariums. Goniopora and Euphyllia species are traded more than any other genus, partly because they normally do not survive more than a year, and therefore have to be replaced fairly frequently. A small amount of flowerpot corals are also traded as ornamental carvings, and for biomedical purposes; due to the similarity in structure of coral skeletons to human bones, they can be used in bone grafts (7).
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Management

Conservation

Flowerpot corals are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that trade in this species should be carefully regulated (1). Indonesia and Fiji have export quotas for flowerpot corals (1). In Indonesia it is one of five genera with the highest quotas, despite there being no scientific reason to suppose they are capable of supporting higher harvest levels than other genera (7). Flowerpot corals will form part of the marine community in many marine protected areas (MPAs), which offer coral reefs a degree of protection, and there are many calls from non-governmental organisations for larger MPAs to ensure the persistence of these unique and fascinating ecosystems (6).
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Wikipedia

Goniopora

A variety of Goniopora sp.

Goniopora, often called flowerpot coral, is a genus of colonial stony coral found in lagoons and turbid water conditions. Goniopora have numerous daisy-like polyps that extend outward from the base, each tipped with 24 stinging tentacles which surrounds a mouth.

Distribution[edit]

Species of Goniopora can be found in the Arabian Sea areas, the Indian Ocean, and various tropical and subtropical areas of the Pacific Ocean. Various species live as far north as Hong Kong (where they are the dominant colonial non-reef-building coral) and southern Japan.

Care[edit]

Goniopora is a sensitive coral that when probed can sensitise and contract . Goniopora are a very difficult coral to keep alive and are not recommended for a novice reef aquarium hobbyist. The short, greenish-colored species are less sturdy and durable than the pink or purple species.[2] However, it is very seldom that any of these will survive more than three months. Many precautions must be taken to raise Goniopora. First, they require moderate to high lighting, depending on species. They must also have some water movement so their polyps can move freely. However, it should not be directed right at the polyps or the movement might be too vigorous. The water temperature must remain between 77 and 84 °F (25 and 29 °C). There must be adequate amounts of calcium and iron in the tank to help skeletal development. Placement in the tank is also crucial. They must be well positioned on a sturdy rock to avoid damaging falls. When placing Goniopora they must have enough room to grow and move their tentacles. Goniopora should be monitored for shriveling after being moved to a new tank to make sure they are getting enough sunlight.

Feeding[edit]

Goniopora are avid feeders susceptible to death from nutritional deficiencies. There are many different ways to feed Goniopora. For example, they can be directly fed with a syringe (avoiding a hard, straight flow into the polyps or that triggers them to close up) or food can be sprinkled on the top of the tank and let to reach the Goniopora on its own. However, direct feeding seems to work best. Alternately, plankton can be placed in the tank with all filtration systems off so the food does not get swept away. The filters should be turned back on after one to two hours to keep the tank clean and livable for all of the creatures. Goniopora need foods high in manganese and iron.[3]

Fragging[edit]

Goniopora grow daughter cells in a type of asexual reproduction called fragging. The mother corals have wounds from the daughter corals that usually heal up in about two weeks. The daughter corals grow about 1 millimeter a month. Some scientists suggest that the daughter Goniopora live inside cells of the mother coral before breaking out and growing on their own

Issues[edit]

There are many issues that go along with keeping Goniopora. The first one is that it is very hard to locate and buy, especially the red species. Goniopora may grow in murky or clear water depending on the species. Because different species have such different requirements, it adds to the challenge of keeping them alive.

Species[edit]

This genus contains the following species:[4]

References[edit]

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