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Biology

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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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Conservation

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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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Description

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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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Habitat

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Flowerpot corals are most commonly found in turbid water protected from strong wave action (3)
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Range

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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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Status

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Listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).
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Threats

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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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Goniopora

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 src=
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

Species of Goniopora can be found in the Persian 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. Goniopera were present in the Caribbean during the Miocene Epoch, although they have since gone locally extinct there.

Care

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] 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

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

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

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

This genus contains the following species:[4]

References

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Goniopora: Brief Summary

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 src= 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.

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Goniopora

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Goniopora est un genre de scléractiniaires (coraux durs), de la famille des Poritidae.

Description et caractéristiques

Ces coraux possèdent des polypes très charnus, qu'ils gardent étendus pendant la journée. Ceux-ci peuvent se rétracter en cas de menace dans le squelette dur. Attention toutefois, cette caractéristique est partagée par certains autres genres, comme Alveopora. On les distingue par le fait que les Goniopora ont 24 tentacules, contre 12 chez Alveopora.

Liste des espèces

 src=
Un Goniopora sp. à La Réunion.

Selon World Register of Marine Species (29 janvier 2014)[1] :

Philatélie

Ce corail figure sur une émission d'Israël de 1986 (valeur faciale : 40 s).

Notes et références

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Goniopora: Brief Summary

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Goniopora est un genre de scléractiniaires (coraux durs), de la famille des Poritidae.

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