|This image shows a small blue tip Acropora in the center. In the front right hand corner there is an Acropora that we call the green hairy monster. This Acropora grows very rapidly, and the thick green polyps are extended every day. This Acropora is in a group of small branching stag horn type Acropora that also includes the famous Green Slimer.
Corals in this group form arborescent clumps with tree like branches. In nature these colonies can be over 6 ft. across and they form extensive stands that contain only one species. They have dominant axial corallites (growt tips) and the radial corallites are often tubular. Both this coral and the Green Slimer were sent to GARF and years ago with the name Acropora yongei.
We have found an interesting way to produce large numbers of fragments from these types of corals. When we cut the branches that are over 1 in. long we removed the growing tip the (axial corallite) and we mount the fragment upside-down.
When these branches are broken you will notice a thick slime. In nature when these branches are knocked loose this thick mucus layer often prevents the fragment from falling to the bottom. At GARF we have experiment done dozens of experiments to learn how different corals land when they are broken from the colony. Many of the small branch Acropora land with the random pattern, but these small stag horn like corals often fall upside-down pointed toward the bottom. When we break these corals by tapping on them the slime holds them in place for a few seconds. As this slime stretches the fragment is left with a tale of mucus that is very sticky. If this falling fragment touches the substrate or other corals its fall is again slowed down.
By watching how these corals naturally reproduce on a wild reefs and in our reef aquariums we can discover how we can utilize their natural growth strategies . One of these growth strategies is Ecsape Size (very small pieces of coral seemed to have a trader that causes them to grow very rapidly at first) and by studying our corals we can produce or fragments.
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