The coral Montipora capricornis is a small polyped stony coral.
Montipora capricornis is one of the less demanding species of small polyped stony corals that can also be kept in a home reef aquarium. Care instructions are the same as for most stony corals from a warm climate. High alkalinity, high levels of calcium, clean water, lots of light.
I have purchased the Montipora capricornis shown above at an auction during a Marine Aquarium Society of Toronto meeting. I wasn’t even sure if this small coral cutting was going to make it in my still recovering tank, but it was only a few dollars, so I have decided to give it a try. Montipora corals can grow real fast. Montipora capricornis sometimes can take over an entire reef tank if it is not kept in check — it really grows that fast. So captive propagated frags of Montipora capricornis are usually cheap unless they are of some really exotic coloration.
The popular belief that stony corals grow only about a centimeter in centuries is simply not rooted in reality, corals can grow real fast under the right conditions.
The slowness of coral growth is not why you should try to avoid ruining them while scuba diving or snorkeling. A lot more real danger is that you could spread some infection that will kill dozens of square meters of corals real quick.
But the rise of water temperature in the world’s oceans and the subsequent coral bleaching (the destruction of the symbiotic zooxanthellae living inside the cells of cnidarians) is a lot more serious threat than incidental damage caused by scuba divers, or the collection for the aquarium trade.
As for Montipora capricornis, captive propagated frags are ubiquitous and can be dirt cheap, so the collection of any significant quantities from the ocean seems pointless.
People sometimes even sell “show size” pieces of Montipora capricornis just to reduce the space taken up by this fast growing species in their home reef tanks.