Sinularia are one of my favorite soft corals. There
are several different kinds of Sinularia commonly
available, and each is colorful with an interesting
shape. The most familiar kind of Sinularia is
probably Sinularia dura, commonly known as the cabbage
This Sinularia grows in a shape much like
a pinkish cabbage. The flesh is translucent and may
have a greenish tint. Often there will be a row of
polyps on the very edges of the "leaf."
Other types of Sinularia grow in finger shapes or even
in a shape like a cauliflower head. The shapes and
colors can be highly variable, but in this genus, they
are always beautiful.
I have recently propagated a lot of a gorgeous and
rare kind of Sinularia. This green Sinularia grows in
a shape like a weeping willow tree. The color is an
unearthly, glowing green.
These Sinularia grow very quickly, and are pretty
adaptable; I have them in several different systems
here, and each one is doing fine. This particular
species tends to prefer fairly strong current and
light, and will look best in a combination of white
and blue actinic VHO lights.
These corals have specialized cells called Amebocytes,
which produce calcium carbonate spicules. A spicule
is like a little spine that grows in the inside of the
coral lending it support. Calcium carbonate is the
same material that SPS corals use to produce
skeletons, although Sinularia are not directly related
Because of these spicules, Sinularia are easy to
propagate. The spicules make the coral tougher than
most other soft corals. They can be sewed onto
plugs, or the bridal veil netting method can be used.
However, the method that I have found easiest is
simply to rubber band them onto GARF plugs.
First procure a handful of these thin, black rubber
Next, cut a Sinularia into small pieces. Each piece
should be big enough to have at least 1 "fork" and 2
branches. Put these pieces in a dish of water, and
the parent colony can go back into the tank.
Attach each piece to a plug with a thin rubber band.
You should choose plugs that are flat on top (but
textured enough to make it easy for the coral to hold
onto). Other material, like pieces of rubble, could
conceivably be used for attachment sites.
These plugs should be placed into an area with limited
current until they attach; otherwise they might get
blown off the plug. In about a month, the green
sinularia will be attached firmly to the plug.
You can either take the rubber band off then or wait until
the rubber band dissolves in the seawater .
These Sinularia grow so quickly, that in no time you
should be able to cut your cuttings again, producing
Colt coral is one of my favorite corals. It is fast,
easy to grow and pretty hardy. This coral is also a
coral that has been in the hobby for a while. All of
GARF's colt coral came from a schoolteacher in a
nearby town. Every couple of months he would send us
several huge pieces of his coral.
We have many different stories for origins of coral
here at GARF. There is a kind of unique Pavona, the
only one of its kind that Leroy has ever seen, that
was picked up on the beach growing on a dolphin's
jawbone. However, this colt coral story is one of my
favorites. It represents the ultimate goals of coral
aquaculture: propagation of corals that are twice
removed from the wild ocean, and hobbyists who are
willing to work together and trade corals.
Unfortunately, colt coral has proven to be a fairly
difficult corals to propagate. With many soft corals,
all you have to do is cut several pieces off, put them
over a gravel bed and in no time you'll have many soft
corals ready to glue to plugs. Colt coral pieces have
a much harder time attaching themselves. They'll
drift around in an aquarium and eventually get sucked
up by a powerhead and shredded into tiny bits.
Other conventional propagation techniques don't work
either. Colt coral is too slimy to glue down, and it
can't be sewed on to a plug. Even the tried-and-true
bridal veil netting method doesn't always work for
However, after several months of research, I have
found a pretty foolproof way to grow colt coral.
Plugs with a hole
SallyJo's Reef Gel
After the coral has grown pretty big, take a sharp
pair of scissors and cut it into many pieces. Each
piece should be about the width of a nickel, and an
inch high. If you have a colt coral that is thick,
be sure that there is a section of the outer skin,
which contains polyps, on the piece.
Before you cut the colt coral, ready some plugs. At
Garf, we make special plugs that have holes drilled in
Take a plastic sword, and use reef glue to glue the
blunt end inside the hole so the sharp end is sticking
straight up. I use the swords that are used to spear
sandwiches or as toothpicks in restaurants. Other
sharp plastic objects could be used, such as
toothpicks; however most toothpicks are made of wood
and are not suitable.
At this point, I must give a huge thanks to my mother.
She has driven down to the restaurant supply store
and bought these swords for my experiments many times,
without asking why I needed hundreds of tiny plastic
I would never have had the time to go down
to the supply store myself, so without my mother this
new colt coral propagation technique would not exist.
Leave the swords and the plugs in a container of water
for a couple of hours. This will ensure that the
sword is stuck firm.
Now, take the pieces of coral and stake them onto the
swords. Push each piece all the way down, so it is in
contact with the base of the plug. Then, place a dab
of glue where the top of the colt coral touches the
sword. This glue will harden on the plastic of the
sword, and prevent the colt coral from floating up off
Cut the top of the sword off for aesthetic reasons.
That's the entire process! The finished colt coral
plugs should be initially put in a place of the tank
with pretty low current.
After a couple of weeks they
will be established enough to withstand higher
current, although colt corals generally prefer medium
light and low current.
In a couple of months your colt coral plug will be
ready to be cut again, producing more of these