Orange Velvet Finger Coral: Montipora digitata

Phylum: Class: Order: Family: Genus: Species:
Cnidaria Anthozoa Scleractinia Acroporidae Montipora M. digitata

Common Names:  Orange Montipora digitata, Orange Velvet Finger coral

Scientific Name:   Montipora digitata

Veron Corals of the World:
Characters: Colonies are digitate or arborescent with anastomosing upright branches.  Corallites are immersed and small, especially in colonies from shallow water.  The coenosteum is smooth.  Color: Pale cream or brown, sometimes pink or blue.  Similar species:  Montipora samarensisHabitat:  Shallow reef environments. May be dominate species of shallow mud flats.  Abundance:  Common.

Orange M. digitata  is a finely upward branching hardy coral.  The body and polyps are orange in color which can range from a pinkish-orange to a deep pumpkin orange in color.  The actively growing tips are a lighter shade of color than the main body of the coral and may appear white.  The polyps are small, active during the day and evenly spaced over the body of the coral giving it a velvety appearance and hence its common name.  The skeleton is relatively fragile and easily broken if bumped.

There are other color morphs of M. digitata including green, blue, purple and brown variations.  While they are all classified as M. digitata, there have been differences noted other than just coloration including the fact that different color variants have been observed to ‘fight’ when placed in close proximity as mentioned in the attached article which generally indicate that they are not 100% genetically compatible.  For this reason, I am placing them in separate database entries.

Montipora samarensis which is a very similar looking coral can be differentiated by the fact that the body of the coral tends to be white rather than the color of the polyps as with M. digitata.  In addition, the polyps of M. samarensis are contained in pits on the skeleton whereas the M. digitata skeleton surface is more flat.

Jump to M. samarensis Database Entry 


Natural Environment: 
Shallow reef environments of the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea.

M. digitata  is one of the hardiest SPS corals and therefore an excellent coral for the hobbyist that wants to try their hand at SPS corals.  It also makes for a good SPS candidate in mixed reef tanks.

Orange M. digitata can tolerate a broad range of lighting.  Most of the pictures shown here were of specimens kept under fairly intense 400W 10K metal halide lighting, but they will also do well under more moderate lighting conditions.  The color may change somewhat depending on the light intensity and color temperature with the color tending towards pink under intense lighting and darker orange under less intense lighting.

Water Current:
Moderate to very strong water current.

Low.  All corals can sting or wage chemical warfare with adjacent corals, but M. digitata does not have strong defenses nor long sweeper tentacles and can live in close proximity to non-aggressive corals.  M.digitata however is a fast growing coral and can quickly encroach their neighbors due to their increasing size and therefore this should be kept in mind when placing in the aquarium.

M. digitata is photosynthetic and require no direct feeding.  It is unknown whether they will take any offered foods.

Supplements & Water Chemistry:
Salinity should be maintained between sg 1.024 and 1.026.
Alkalinity should be maintained in the dKH 8-12 range
Calcium should be maintained at 400 ppm or higher.
pH should be maintained between 8.1-8.4

Does well within a range of at least 74º to 84º F

Tank Positioning:
Best positioning is in a moderately strong water flow area in a  brightly lit area of the tank.  Due to its fast growth, place it so that the coral has some room to grow both horizontally and vertically.  It has a fairly weak skeleton and is best positioned where it won’t get accidentally bumped during tank cleaning to avoid prematurely fragging your coral.

The branches of the coral can be easily broken or cut into small fragments and glued to a suitable substrate.  Due to its weak skeleton, branches may break off and start new colonies where they settle in the tank on their own.

All photos by ReefCorner © All Rights Reserved