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Why Your Goniopora Is Not Extending!

As the number of people keeping goniopora coral in their reef tanks has been steadily increasing over the last couple of years, we have noticed an increase in the number of questions that we have been seeing about keeping goniopora corals healthy.

We already have an article going over why your flower pot coral is not opening but since publishing that article, we have noticed a number of people reaching out about their goniopora not extending so we wanted to publish this article too.

Just like many other corals, goniopora can be very temperamental and even the slightest change to its environment can be enough to get it to stop extending and retract for days or even weeks at a time.

The most common causes of a goniopora not extending include but are not limited to issues with eater parameters, lighting intensity, harassment from tank mates, fluctuating water temperature, and problems with water flow.

We have seen some people say that a shrimp crawling over their goniopora (sometimes called flower pot coral) has been enough to cause it to retract for a day and not extend too.

We know that many beginners to coral keeping have picked up goniopora already but it really is not a beginner friendly coral at all due to how sensitive it is.

Still, as many beginners already have goniopora in their tanks, we hope that the information in our article below will be able to help you better understand the potential problems that may be preventing your coral from extending.

Are Goniopora Hard To Keep?

Goniopora are one of the more difficult corals to keep as they can be very temperamental and are generally very sensitive corals meaning that you usually need to have some existing coral keeping experience to successfully keep goniopora.

Even experienced coral keepers with years of experience can still end up having problems with goniopora due to how sensitive the coral is resulting in the coral not opening or extending.

In addition to the common issues that corals can have that can prevent them from extending, goniopora can also have problems with the nutrition levels in its aquarium water too.

If the nutrient levels drop too low for too long then some goniopora will seemingly give up and start to shut down.

Experienced coral keepers can usually recover goniopora coral in this condition but it does tend to take time, effort, and sometimes money for specialist coral foods.

Another very common thing that we see beginners to reef tank keeping make is that they will accidentally add none reef safe tank mates to their aquarium that then nip or even eat their goniopora coral.

If you have made this mistake then you usually have to look to move the offending tank mate that is eating your goniopora to a different tank or choose to sacrifice your goniopora.

Do All Goniopora Extend?

One common thing that many people often overlook is that there are 29 known sub-species of goniopora coral and not all of them will extend.

This can cause some people to waste time looking for a problem causing their goniopora to stay retracted when it is totally normal for the specific sub-species of goniopora they have not to extend.

The majority of goniopora that are kept within the fish keeping hobby are the variants that will extend but any reputable coral seller will be able to give you an extending sub-species of goniopora if you specifically request it.

We would also like to quickly note that there are some online sales pages for goniopora corals that clearly say that you are purchasing a none extending goniopora coral but people only look at the photographs and like the colors of the coral and purchase it without reading the descriptions.

We just wanted to make our readers aware of that as there are some excellent coral sellers that rightfully have great reputations but we have seen some people make posts on social media making accusations for some of the better sellers in the community when the problem is user error.

We know that reef tank keepers love their corals but always read the descriptions, especially if you are not familiar with the type of coral that you are purchasing as it can help avoid problems like this.

How Long Does It Take For Goniopora To Settle In And Start Extending?

Most goniopora added to a new aquarium will usually take between a week or two to settle in when the conditions of the tank are optimal for goniopora coral with water parameters being steady.

Due to how sensitive goniopora can be, it is common for goniopora to take much longer than two weeks to fully settle when in a new tank and it can sometimes take over a month to fully settle in.

In rarer cases, it can take multiple months for a goniopora to start settling into a new tank before the coral will start extending and opening.

If your goniopora is taking this long to settle in and start extending then this is a good indication that there is something wrong with your aquarium that should be investigated as soon as possible.

Due to goniopora being one of the more sensitive corals, they can serve as an excellent early warning system for problems in a reef tank and give you plenty of advance notice of issues that may eventually reach a level where they can have an effect on the other corals in your tank.

On the flipside of this though, due to just how sensitive goniopora can be, they can have issues with things that won’t cause issues for your other corals so it can take a little experience to know when you are having potentially serious problems and when it’s just your goniopora being a diva.

How To Revive Goniopora And Get It To Extend!

The easiest way to revive a goniopora and get it to start extending is to make sure all water parameters are within expected levels and make sure the coral has low to medium water flow and moderate light intensity.

Although goniopora can work well in tanks with a wide range of light intensity, they do tend to do slightly better with a moderate light intensity helping to grow and extend even if there are other problems in their tank.

If any tank mates are nipping or eating your goniopora then it is unlikely that your goniopora will start to extend or even open up until the tank mate that is nipping it has been removed from the tank.

Unlike the less sensitive types of coral, in some situations, something as little and insignificant as a snail or shrimp moving over a goniopora can be enough to cause it to retract and not extend for a couple of days.

This is commonly overlooked, even by experienced coral keepers who stress over what could be wrong in their aquarium as everything checks out.

In actual fact, their goniopora refuses to open due to the shrimp or snails in their tank just going about their business and they often won’t even have to nip the coral, simply moving over it can be enough to cause it to retract and close in some situations.

What To Do If My Goniopora Is Still Not Extending?

If you have tried everything you can think of to make sure that your goniopora is in optimal conditions then the final thing that you are able to try is to move the goniopora into a separate tank to soft quarantine it.

The goal of this is to absolutely rule out that the tank mates in your main tank are not harassing your goniopora while you are sleeping causing it to not extend.

We know that not everyone will have access to a secondary tank never mind an empty spare tank that they can use for this but many experienced fish keepers will.

One more thing that may be causing the problem is that you just got a weak goniopora coral frag when you purchased it and this has become increasingly popular with many types of coral over the last couple of years.

Some coral producers will intentionally sell their corals too early or separate them to levels that are too small to really work for a stand alone colony.

This was done to try and maximise profits in the surge of popularity of coral keeping a couple of years back but some people are still doing it today but it is usually done with the entry level corals due to their popularity rather than corals like goniopora.


That brings our article going over why your goniopora is not extending to an end and we hope that that we have been able to help you better understand the potential problems that may be causing your goniopora not to extend. If you have the time available then you can usually find the issue and correct it in most cases but it can take a long period of time to narrow everything down due to how sensitive goniopora corals can be meaning that they can have problems with a while range of things.