GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION
GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

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. GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

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 Sally Jo's reef gel

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.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION
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.


  GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Out of all the soft corals we propagate here at GARF, one of the groups 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 teach you how to grow Gorgonians and we will give you the basic steps of gorgonian propagation. The gorgonian being propagated in this article are all members of the Order Gorgonacea. The species that we are writing about are in the species Diodogorgia - Red Finger gorgonian and Yellow Finger Gorgonian - Pterogorgia- Purple ribbon Gorgonian and Pseudoplexaura - Bushy Sea Rod.

One thing to keep in mind is that Gorgonians need moderate to strong current. The Purple ribbon Gorgonian tend to "wax over" and this wax layer will shed on it's own and the surface of the Gorgonian will be bright and clean.

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 THAT WE GROW FOR THEIR BRIGHT COLORS
GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION


Gorgonians were some of the first captive grown corals we purchased in 1994. 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 six years ago.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATIONThe first three Gorgonians that we will look at are # 1.Pterogorgia- Purple ribbon Gorgonian Diodogorgia - #2. Red Finger gorgonian and #3. Yellow Finger Gorgonian -

#1. Pterogorgia- Purple Ribbon Gorgonian
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. The presence of brown polyps on Gorgonians often show that they thrive in bright light without feeding. The Purple ribbon is one of the easy Gorgoniands to keep because they can make most their own food. This is one of the Gorgonians that sheds it's skin regularly. This coral needs bright light to thrive, but many people have had great growth with 40 watt lights.

#2.Diodogorgia - #2. Red Finger gorgonian

#3.Diodogorgia - #2. Yellow Finger gorgonian
This is one of two easy to grow predatory Gorgonians. This coral needs to be fed at least twice each week, but it has such large polyps that feeding them is not difficult. We use a simple to make food for all of our new research on predatory corals.

INGREDIENTS:
Flake fish food - 1 tablespoon
SeaChem Reef Plus - 4 tablespoons
Fresh water - 1/4 cup

Soak the flake food in the Reef Plus for one hour and then add the fresh water. Puree the mixture in a blender for several minutes.
After you allow the mixture to set for several minutes you can pour the smallest particles off with the water. The larger particles will settle to the bottom of the glass and they can be used to feed the Gorgonians.

THIS PICTURE SHOWS TWO MORE SPECIES OF GORGONIANS THAT WE PROPAGATE.

Muricea sulphurea - Spiny Gorgonian
The small Gorgonian on the left is called the Spiny Gorgonian; it is Muricea sulphurea from Florida. The Muricea are very hardy and they often survive to grow into colonies. This Gorgonian feels very rough and it can sting other corals. This coral is easy to propagate and it is popular in the reef hobby.

Plexaurella grandiflora - Slit-pore sea rod
The fuzzy Gorgonian in the middle is Plexaurella grandiflora and it is called the Slit-pore sea rod. This Gorgonian has wonderful polyps and cuttings look like small Pacific Ocean soft corals from the species Sinnularia. This species is soft to the touch like Pseudoplexaura ssp. and it grows very fast. This species has been at GARF for several years and it is the only Gorgonian that we have trim because it is shading other corals.

We often mount several species of Gorgonians on one Reef PlugTM and each coral can be seperated from the others after they start to grow. We have grown many of these mixed Reef PlugsTM for several semesters with no indication of damage to the corals.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION
GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATIONThese corals are growing very well in one of our 10 gallon tanks This tank includes a 22 watt power compact light that works very well for keeping any species of soft coral.

There is an unexpected bonus that we did not plan on. The plastic racks do not cover the entire bottom of the tank. The front portion of the bottom of the reef farm makes a great place to drop cuttings so they can attach to gravel before they are glued to Reef PlugsTM.


Muriceopsis flavida - Spiny Gorgonian
These spiny Gorgonians are very hardy and they come in several colors. We are growing both pink and yellow. You can see in the detail disk that these Gorgonians have sharp spines that point up and it is easy to tell the proper direction to mount cuttings because you can easily pull the cuttings through your finger and thumb when you are pulling it from the bottom of the cutting.

These corals do best when they are placed in strong water flow. They can catch food as it is swept past them in the current. They are easy to feed on crushed flake food and frozen brine shrimp. It is important to supply good illumination to all of the photosynthetic Gorgonians.

This group of Gorgonians is very easy to propagate and they do not need to have any of the tissue removed before they are glued to the rock. Several colors of this genus can be grown together with no damage to them. These corals are often damaged by storms and fragmentation is a natural method of reproduction.

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION
GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION Eunicea succinea - Candelabrum Gorgonian
These corals tend to be brown with knobby projections when they are closed. These are some of the most common Gorgonians that are sold in pet shops. The problem with ocean collected specimens is that they are often damaged, and that damage can cause an infection that kills the entire coral in less than 24 hours. Captive raised Candelabrums are very hardy because they are not as likely to be damaged when they are shipped.

We have grown some of this genus for over 5 years and like many corals they become more hardy as they are cloned in captivity. Much of our future research will include DNA studies of the internal symbionts that are so important to the growth of photosynthetic corals.

This group of Gorgonians do not need to be fed, but they grow much better when there is some food for them to consume. This is often fish waste that is swept up in the strong water current that these corals thrive in. In our grow out tanks we often add one extra power head that is on a lamp timer so that it is on for 30 minutes and then off for 30 minutes.


GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

Hello,
Each of these links show you one half of the 30 gallon color reef that we use to grow predatory Gorgonians and other soft corals that need to be fed. Please e-mail us if you like these larger pictures so we can make our site more enjoyable and educational.
LeRoy

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

SEE A LARGE PICTURES OF THE LEFT END
OF THE COLOR REEF FOR YOUR DESKTOP WALLPAPER :)

GEOTHERMAL AQUACULTURE RESEARCH FOUNDATION

SEE A LARGE PICTURES OF THE RIGHT END
OF THE COLOR REEF FOR YOUR DESKTOP WALLPAPER :)

REMEMBER - SAVE A REEF - GROW YOUR OWN