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GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION
GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

GORGONIAN PROPAGATION USING SUPER REEF GLUE

These first two pictures show one of our oldest gorgonians. We received this gorgonians and 1995 and has grown very well. The first picture shows a great combination of Parazoanthids, Zoanthids, SPS corals and gorgonians. this combination of corals is growing in a 120 gal. reef that has four-110 watt VHO Bulbs. the second picture was taken eight weeks after the first picture and you can see the growth. This gorgonian is in a group that is often called the candelabra gorgonians. when we propagate these gorgonians we attach three different types of gorgonians to one Reef Plugtm. we have found that these types of gorgonians can grow close together without causing each other any damage.

THIS PICTURE SHOWS THE GORGONIAN COMBINATION IN JUNE
GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

THIS PICTURE SHOWS THE SAME COMBINATION ONLY 8 WEEKS LATER
GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Gorgonians are very hardy and they make a great coral for new reef systems. many people have been able to grow gorgonians, and it is often the first coral that people learn to propagate.

Out of all the soft corals we propagate here at GARF, the group we have had the most success with are the Gorgonians. We do our work with two families of the order Gorgonacea. Genus such as Eunicia, Swiftia, and Plexaurella are found in the family Anthothelidae. The family Gorgoniidae is represented by various genus including Gorgonia, Pseudopterogorgia, and Ptergorgia. Some Gorgonians, such as Swiftia, require feeding, but most are photosynthetic making them a beautiful, easy to keep soft coral.

Not only are these corals a wonderful addition to a reef system, but they are also being researched for their anti-inflammitory and anti-tumor properties. Many Gorgonians are being used now for medical and cosmetic products.

This article will go through the basic steps of gorgonian propagation. The gorgonian being propagated in this article is a member of the Genus Plexaurella.

One thing to keep in mind is that Gorgonians need strong current. These corals tend to "slime" quite a bit and if this layer is not washed away periodically, the tissue will be affected.

Feeding will increase the growth of these corals. We use Rotifers and Brine shrimp to feed the systems that contain our Gorgonian brood stock and cuttings.

THIS PHOTO SHOWS THE GORGONIANS SALLY JO GREW FROM SMALL CUTTINGS - they are over two years old.
Sally Jo's gorgonians


These Gorgonians were some of the first captive grown corals we purchased. They have been very hardy and they all grew into large show corals. I have been watching these Gorgonians for several months and I have wondered where they came from. I moved several small cuttings into my new reef aquariums and they have all grown much better than any of the wild gorgonians we have purchased. Last month I asked Sally Jo where they came from and she told me they were in one of the shipments we received in 1995.

These gorgonians are great for decorating a reef because they have a nice purple color and they are thin enough that they move with the currents. All of these gorgonians thrive in bright light without feeding. We have made many cuttings from these gorgonians.

MATERIALS

-pair of scissors, scalpel, or razor blade
-two large bowls of tank water (-remember to change the water periodically because of the temperature change)
-Aragocrete? TM plugs or small reef safe rocks
-drill press or hand held drill
-1/4 inch cement drill bit
-GARF reef glue or Styrofoam*

STEP 1 - Drilling the Holes


Use a drill press or hand held drill with a 1/4 in. cement bit to make a hole in the plug or rock. The depth of the hole should range from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch maximum. Wash plugs in tap water to remove excess dust and particles.



STEP 2 - Making the First Cuts

In a large bowl with tank water, cut off pieces of your mother colony. The size of the cutting does not matter, but if you are planning to ship these cuttings, larger ones require more water and are therefore more expensive to ship. Scissors work the best for this step, but a scalpel or razor will work just fine.

We always cut collected Gorgonians so that there are several short branches left on the base. These bases are glued into our brood stock systems. Each of the branches we left on the base soon grow new stalks that can cut later.

STEP 3 - Removal of Tissue


Using your scissors or razor remove 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of the coenchyme (tissue) leaving the hard central axis.

This exposed axis offers a stronger bond with the reef gel than the tissue would. We have also seen that some Genus such as Plexaurella will develop an infection if the reef gel is covering the coenchyme.

The small pieces of left over tissue can be scattered over the substrate in your tank. We have observed some of these pieces attach and begin to grow.

We have been using wire stripping pliers this semester and they work very well for this job. The pliers seem to do less damage to the tissue we remove and more of them start to grow in the gravel.


STEP 4 - Attaching the Cutting

Using the reef glue, fill in the hole of your plug or rock completely. Next place the exposed axis of your cutting into the glue filled hole. Dip the cutting and plug into your second bowl of tank water and hold under water for 10 seconds or until there is a firm bond.

Your first gorgonian cutting is now complete. Remember to place the plug in an area with strong current and moderate light. If the cutting is not doing well in one spot, and this goes for all corals, move it each week until it finds a place it likes.


IMPORTANT NOTE

It is very important to dip any glued cutting in reef water as soon as possible. Reef glue heats as it cures and the tissue can be burned. We dip all cuttings in bowls of reef water as soon as we attach the coral.

The glue also seals the cuttings so very few of them get any type of infection. Notice the branches we left on this cutting. These branches make it very easy to tell the top of the coral. When you have many non-branching cuttings it can be hard to tell which end should go up. You can run the cutting lightly through your fingers. The polyps point upward, so the coral will feel smooth when you are pulling the base of the coral down. Glue the end down that feels like it is easy to pull through your fingers.


 
*Note - You can substitute the reef glue with Styrofoam Cut a small piece of foam and wedge it in the hole against the exposed axis of your cutting. Although this is an inexpensive method, we have had much better long term success using the reef glue.

Some people still use epoxy to attach cuttings. We have found that we can complete many more cuttings with super glue in the same time.


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