Propagating And Displaying Small Polyp Stony Corals

GARF.ORG SPS CORAL FARMING VIDEOS

TEACHING BY DOING - STUDENTS REMEMBER WHAT THEY DO - SO THIS IS HANDS ON

The research we have been doing at Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation Inc. GARF during the last sixteen years has produced several new methods of propagating and displaying small polyp stony corals. The types of sps corals we are working with are all from captive grown stock.

reef aquaium video acropora

These corals come from all parts of the World and are all being data banked and numbers will be attached to each animal so we will be able to tell you what generation of coral comes from us as well as the species and origin. We have not added any wild corals for over eighteen months.

We keep these corals in several types of systems with many types of lighting. There are many ways to do coral propagation, and the methods and products discussed in this article have worked the best for us. We will be very careful to not say that one way will work in every situation. These methods are listed so researchers can duplicate this research.

reef corals
SMALL POLYP STONY CORAL MONTIPORA - POCILLOPORA - SERATOPHORA - HYDNOPHORA -- PORITES - PAVONA -STYLOPHORA - ACROPORA - ANACROPORA -

People who have seen captive reefs can finally understand that reefs are made up of living animals. Our hobby has the potential to educate children and adults. People can understand and care for wild reefs better when they have seen our living captive reefs.

YOU CAN HELP THE WILD REEF'S BY SHOWING YOUR AQUARIUM TO CHILDREN. We have made 304 new videos that explain and teach coral farming to children and adults.

YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN LIVE ROCK, AND YOU CAN PURCHASE CAPTIVE GROWN CORALS

THE WILD REEFS ARE NOT WINNING THE BATTLE

THREE QUARTERS OF THE WORLD IS COVERED BY THE OCEAN but only one percent of that is actual reef and as much as thirty percent of the wild reefs are dead today.

We are loosing fish, coral, habitat, and miles of reef structure every year. This is not just in the United States this is in all parts of the World.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

WE BEIEVE IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE MAKE OUR REEF AQUARIUMS
HAVE ZERO IMPACT ON WILD REEFS

When first starting this process of growing sps corals we were concerned about the survival rate when propagating these delicate corals. Also we began to research better and safer ways to transport these corals for shipping. I must say that our success and that of others who have studied these methods are very impressive.

This article will explain the Super glue method we use to attach sps corals, new display methods for creating coral aquascapes, and several ways to produce sps corals for sale. We will explain how to increase the growth rate and sustain their incredible colors. Polyp extension is one way of telling how healthy the animal is and whether or not it is happy in its new environment. We will also explain how we grow these corals in an inexpensive system using VHO lighting. Water quality and flow will be discussed. The most recent research we are embarking on has to do with the feeding of these animals and the zooxanthellae that lives within them.

THIS PICTURE SHOWS HOW WE MOUNT THE CORALS
USING SUPER REEF GLUE. WE HAVE CORALS GLUED TO
THE BACK GLASS.
reef corals

People who have seen captive reefs can finally understand that reefs are made up of living animals. Our hobby has the potential to educate children and adults. People can understand and care for wild reefs better when they have seen our living captive reefs.

YOU CAN HELP THE WILD REEF'S BY SHOWING YOUR AQUARIUM TO CHILDREN The present facts are not only alarming but the simple truth rests on all of our shoulders. If we do not get involved we could loose most of our natural wild reefs in our lifetime. YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN LIVE ROCK, AND YOU CAN PURCHASE CAPTIVE GROWN CORALS
BASIC SPS CORAL PROPAGATION

The corals we are working with are listed below starting with the ones that we have found to be the most hardy. These corals need to be kept in an aged, well established system. We tell our students that their reef aquarium is ready for the first sps corals when the coralline algae spots on the power heads are the size of dimes. We have found that by the time the reef aquarium is growing coralline algae of this size most of the other invertebrates are doing well. We have them start this project by gluing several small fragments of Montipora and Pocillapora to the live rock in the center of the reef. We place these frags about one half way down in the aquarium.

Most corals have a much easier time adapting to lower light. We will explain how to glue the frags underwater in the next section of this article. Underwater gluing allows us to place the frags anywhere in the reef aquarium. The glue allows us to move the frags up toward the light as they start to grow. Most sps corals are heavy and the glue allows them to stay in place until you decide it is time for them to move up closer to the light or once they have grown out of the water to cut the top off and reattach them in your system.

reef corals
Before placing the sps corals in your established reef system you must make sure to make room for them. Although most sps coral frags are small they will grow fast if given the right conditions and an all out fight will take place between your soft corals and your sps corals if you do not take into consideration the amount of room they will need for future growth. We have found out the hard way that it is best to place these sps corals on a rock all by themselves. We have attached them to live rocks with other animals such as mushrooms or zoanthids and found out these animals will sting and cause die back in your sps corals.

project #1 - gluing frags to dry base rock

This is a very good way to treat a small head of coral that you have just purchased. We have many reports from people who have brought home very healthy coral heads from the local pet shop only to have these corals start to die from the bottom up. We had this happen several times when we imported these corals. We would try to place the heads so they received good lighting and strong water flow, but often the shaded part of the head would turn white and die. Several times the entire coral would then slowly do the same. We noticed that if we took frags from this coral and attached them to rocks they would often start to grow. Corals grow to fit their environment and there is no way to match this set of ocean conditions in an aquarium. By starting frags in our reef aquariums we allow the new coral heads to grow to match these conditions. We have been bringing in some large heads of captive grown sps corals from the members of our unconnected genetic bank, and we have not had the same problems.

reef corals
We often receive sps corals that look brown and once they are placed in our systems for a month the color changes to green, pinks and even purple. We use VHO's over most of our systems. We end up with at least 10 watts per gallon of light, doing this gradually so as not to shock any of the tank mates. We have worked with some wonderful people in this hobby who provide incredible propagated animals to our genetic bank. Some of our prized corals come from Steve Tyree, Mike Paletta, Dick Perin, , and many individuals who trade their propagated coral for a new one that they do not have yet.

Before using the super reef glue we did our homework and tested the different glues on the market and found out that the Army was using glue on humans when they were wounded during the War. Note when you glue your fingers together it doesn1t hurt it just sticks. Since then we have over used way over 1100 grams of glue in our systems. Sometime it is found to be on my cloths or on my hands. I even accidentally glued my dog to the floor (some glue had dripped on the floor and my dog is always under foot and she stepped on it and could not figure out why she could not move).

Fragments of sps corals do extremely well when glued with thick super glue. These corals look like they are almost floating above the base rock. Only the center skeleton is attached at first. These cuttings have been very strong even before the tissue grows down onto the base rock. In a very short period of time you will notice that the animal begins to grow right over the glue and unto the rock itself. We learned that when we use this method for attaching corals the cut heals right away, and this allows the animal to recover from the propagation immediately. Several fragments have fallen in the aquarium. Very few cuttings have broken loose, but one fragment broke in half and the glue held it on the base. We have taught several of the larger coral farmers this method of attaching sps corals. They have reported that they can now propagate these corals with a savings of two thirds on labor. These farmers had been using epoxy to attach the corals before.

THE GREEN ACROPORA IS KILLING THE MONTIPORA
SO IT CAN OVERGROW THE CORAL. WE ARE ALLOWING
SEVERAL CORALS IN THIS REEF TO COMPETE FOR SPACE.
WE MOVE ALL OF THE OTHER CORALS BEFORE THIS HAPPENS
green acropora "

We have noticed that once the animal has grown over the super reef glue and unto the rock you can pop off the original frag and place it on a new rock with the glue and have the old one that attached to the first rock continue to grow and develop into branches and soon be ready for fragging in the future.

One of the reasons we did not like the epoxy is that it took a very long time for coralline algae to grow on it. It also takes a long time for the epoxy to set, and what we can do in a short period time takes hours with the epoxy method. The sps coral covers the super glue in a few weeks in our systems. We are now buying many of our new frags unmounted so we can glue them in our systems. This way of purchasing sps corals can often save money because the grower does not have any time in the grow - out. If you purchase frags this way be certain that each type is bagged in a separate bag. We only put corals together that came from the same colony. We often receive three to five frags in one bag and they all do fine. We float the bag until the water is the same temperature as the reef aquarium. These corals can be mounted the same way as the freshly harvested ones from your aquarium.

THE ORANGE MONTIPORA IS GROWING OVER THE
GREEN MONTIPORA. THIS IS A COMMON TYPE
OF AGGRESSION ALLOWING THE ORANGE
CORAL TO SHADE THE GREEN ONE.
war

The most interesting thing is that none of the polyps around the base die. When we use epoxy some tissue always dies. I love to watch the polyps grow down onto the base rock. They form a circle of polyps around the fragment, and then new branches start up from this base. Some of the bases are now over four inches wide. We have removed the original cuttings, and the bases are growing several new branches. Some of the colonies have been cut four times and they now have over sixty branches. It seems the more attention you pay to these sps corals the better results you will see. We tend to propagate them often and spread the risk to different systems in the Foundation to make sure that one animal will survive. We honestly have loss more animals due to freight than any other reason.

Small pieces of small polyp stony corals can be glued to larger rocks by breaking off small pieces from the colony. These frags are glued one inch apart. The bases grow together and the coral forms a natural looking head very soon.

TOOL LIST §1/2"wood chisel
§Small wire cutting pliers
§Tweezers
§ two small bowls full of reef water
§ Cutting board
§Small plastic pans

MATERIAL LIST
§glue type Super glue
§Reef aquarium safe rocks - aragonite, lava, tufa
§Coral to be cut

§ Paper towels

Make sure to have a towel in place to wipe your hands and to clean up spills.

THIS IS THE END VIEW OF THE 150 GALLON REEF
SHOWING HOW CLOSE TOGETHER THESE CORALS
ARE PLACED. WE WILL MOVE AND TRIM THEM AS THEY GROW
end view

Prepare the fragments by breaking a small branch from the parent colony. This can be done by using a small pair of pliers. We use side cutting pliers to snap the frags from the colony. The coral will break rather than cut. Grip the branch firmly and twist it gently. These frags are placed in a plastic pan of reef water. If at all possible it is best to make your cutting outside of the reef tank so that the toxic slime released when propagating is not left in your system. I always treat with the Sea Chem Reef Plus after propagating both the sps corals and the soft corals.

Choose the base rocks and prepare the attachment sites. Place the fresh cut on the paper towel for 10 seconds. Apply the thick super glue to the prepared site on the base rock. Two drops are usually sufficient. Pick up the cutting and press the newly cut fragment to the prepared site. Making sure that you pay attention to which side you glue down to the rock. The freshly cut frag should be attached right where you made your cut. It is harder to tell which side you should glue when receiving coral frags from a dealer but usually the side that is widest is the side to place the glue and adhere to the rock.

CORAL FRAGS FROM THE SAME COLONY CAN BE CROWDED
TOGETHER. THESE PHOTOS FROM DIRK'S FARM SHOW HOW
HE GROWS MANY CUTTINGS USING BUD VASES.
coral

You can use many methods to hold your cuttings while they grow. We often use concrete reef plugs and drilled plastic racks. These corals are in plastic boxes and plastic bud vases. Try to control the growth of macro algae so they do not touch your sps corals. We try to keep all macro algae out of our grow out tanks. Place the cutting and base rock into the bowl of aquarium water for 2 minutes. Place the new fragments in the reef aquarium so that the cutting receives adequate light and strong current. Be very certain that the new frags can not fall over.

THESE BRIGHT COLORED SPS CORALS WILL BE FRAGGED
OR MOVED BEFORE THEY GROW LARGE ENOUGH TO TOUCH.
THE SUPER REEF GLUE MAKES IT VERY EASY TO MOVE THESE
CORALS. WE CAN POP THEM OFF AND THEN RETURN THEM TO
THE SAME SPOT AFTER WE CUT FRAGS OFF OF THEM.
purplwe frag

If we have a problem with any algae we place a handful of our Reef Janitors in these grow out systems. Our newest finding is the remarkable bubble algae eating Emerald crab that eats several kinds of algae that the other Janitors won1t touch.

THESE TEST TUBE TRAYS ALLOW DIRK TO GROW A LARGE NUMBER OF SPS FRAGS
IN EACH OF HIS SHOW AQUARIUMS. WHEN HE SENDS US THE FINISHED CORALS
WE REMOVE THE RUBBER LID AND GLUE IT TO OUR ROCKS. THESE SMALL LIDS ARE
VERY EASY TO HIDE, AND THE CORAL GROWS OVER THEM VERY FAST.
coral

- NEW -

We have been gluing many frags to live rocks underwater. When a new colony comes into the lab we break off several of the lower branches. We apply glue type super glue to the broken part of the coral. A ball of glue the size of a pencil eraser will hold most frags in place. We pick a spot in one of the show tanks, and quickly push the frag against the live rock. A slight twist to spread the glue on the surface of the live rock helps. Count to 30 and release the frag. Not only does it hold the new cutting in place it gives you the freedom to move it when you need to. Just pop the animal off by the glue and reglue it to the next location. All of my sps coral frags when I first introduced them to my system where about the size of 1/2 inch. Now I have a sps coral forest and I made over 100 cuttings just last week.

FRAGS THAT DO NOT COME FROM THE SAME COLONY
MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO TOUCH EACH OTHER.
THE TALLER PURPLE FRAGS WILL BE MOVED BEFORE THE
OTHERS GROW MUCH LARGER
coral

- Research update -
We have been doing tests to determine the best size of frags to use to produce cuttings for sale. It seems that with many of the species of Acropora the smaller cuttings grow faster than larger ones. Smaller cuttings are often less than 1/4 inch long. The larger cuttings are over 1 inch long. Many of the small cuttings have grown much faster.

We have noticed that the sps coral will grow right over a snail shell if the shell stays in one place too long. You can notice this in this picture. This coral has been in Sally Jo system almost one year now and has found new homes all around the US.

WE WILL PHOTOGRAPH THIS CORAL OFTEN AS IT COVERS
THIS SHELL WITH TISSUE.
snail coral

THIS CERITH SNAIL IS AN IMPORTANT REEF JANITORTM
THESE ARE ONE OF THE ONLY SNAILS THAT EAT HAIR ALGAE.
ALGAE CONTROL IS VERY IMPORTANT TO THE HEALTH OF SPS CORALS
coral

You need to have a system in place that does not have algae problems. Once an algae gets on your sps corals you will probably loose the coral. If you look closely at all the pictures of my systems you will not see any algae, that is because I place the reef janitors in my system and make them part of my monthly maintenance schedule. These janitors do very well in captivity and are tested by our research Foundation to be the best mixture to provide your system with the perfect balance you need to grow these corals. However some do die off from time to time and need to be replaced. Because of all the skimming we do and the other fish we have in our systems these janitors tend not to reproduce or the larva gets skimmed out.

THIS ACROPORA IS GROWING OVER THE SNAIL SHELL.
WE HAVE NOTICED THAT THESE CORALS GROW OVER
SHELLS VERY FAST.
THE NEW TISSUE IS OFTEN VERY BRIGHT COLORED
snail coral

NERITE SNAILS FROM THE REEF JANITORTM PACKAGES
EAT DIATOMS AND RED SLIME BEFORE THEY
CAN OVERGROW THE YOUNG CORAL FRAGS
nerite

We look at these reef systems as a continually changing life form. The more your corals grow the more water movement you will need to provide. We never start out a new reef system with intense lights so as to enable my newly set up reef to grow coralline algae and once that has taken hold on all the rock then we begin to increase the lighting gradually over a period of time until it is up to over 10 watts per gallon. In our show tanks we use the VHO's and there absolutely has been NO coral that we have not been able to grow. We have a two year old baby flower pot that came from captivity. The mother had thirteen babies in one year.

SOME NOTES FROM SALLY JO

We are a research facility in Boise Idaho and our mission is to - To provide the citizens of Idaho and the World a showcase collection of aquatic plants, fish, reef animals and products. To stimulate interest in, appreciation for and an understanding of these collections. To be implemented through plant records, public displays, collections, applied research, publications, internship programs and sales of quality products.

Having dedicated our Foundation to this mission we are a Non-profit organization that provides all of our research material to everyone. We post this monthly newsletter on our site www.garf.org.

We appreciate any feedback from individuals who practice this new method or any other method. This allows us to provide information and status reports on our site.

When looking at my system you will notice that I tend to have an incredible amount of diversity in my system. This is important. I even tell LeRoy if I can count how many corals I have in my system then I do not have enough.

You must come up with a schedule of chores that need to be completed daily, weekly and monthly for your reef system and stick with it. I have found that by paying attention to the animal itself I have the best results. They need care and a stable environment.

We add supplements to all of our systems and all of our makeup water. We feed our systems rotifers and green water. Strong light, good water movement and room for them to grow is a must for these special animals. I also have found that some of the more brightly colored sps corals do not always like to be right on the top of your system and tend to color up more in lower light so move these corals around until you feel you have given them the best spot in your system. We continue to learn more about the sps corals and are commited to share our knowledge with everyone.

GARF WILL BE PURCHASING MANY MORE AQUACULTURED CORALS
FROM AS MANY GROWERS AS POSSIBLE. WE WILL MAKE THESE STRAINS
OF CORALS AVAILABLE TO AS MANY NEW FARMERS AS WE CAN.
GARF IS MORE CERTAIN THAN EVER THAT THIS HOBBY WILL GROW
TO SUPPORT ANY REEF FARMER WHO PRODUCES A QUALITY PRODUCT.
coral

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION