Reef Aquarium Farming News
Online Newsletter for Reef Aquarium Propagation Research

ISSUE # 15 MARCH, 1998 PAGE 1

Hello, Welcome to the 15th issue of our newsletter.

We have been very busy during the past month. We are certain you will find several things in this issue that will help you. We have been researching new ways to produce Xenia. On page two you will find a new method that will allow you to produce dozens of these corals at one time. We are happy to feature an article on making a new type of reef plug. These plugs can be made very well by anyone using this detailed article. We have a great article on books you can use to build your skills in business and reef keeping. This article is on page three.

We want to thank you again for taking the time to read our newsletter. We have already started next months issue. We are receiving more and more E-mail from the tropics, and I hope that if you are doing a coral farm anywhere you will take the time to write us. We would love to help.



This article will be linked to many of the past articles we have posted during the last year. You can print this article so you have the complete set of directions for starting an aragocrete project. The links will take you to the original articles so you can see the pictures.

The Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation has been making sand molded live rock for several years. We want to share with you one of the first 'New' reef products that has been introduced to the hobby in several years. There have been new skimmers, pumps, and filters, but we have had skimmers, pumps, and filters. The AragocreteTM and Glue reef project is new way to make reefs from scratch using nothing from the wild ocean. Making sand molded AragocreteTM live rocks

This is a new product that can be started with very little money. You can market dry rock in your area while your brood stock is growing. This product is a great one to trade for Ice Caps and Gemini pumps, a chiller, and the other new equipment you want for improving your reef aquariums. You are only limited by the size of your local market.

rocks I am frequently receiving data sharing new ways that people are making these rocks. If you think of some new ideas please share them with us so we can get others growing their own reefs. It is very important that this hobby does as much as possible to limit the amount of things we need to take from the wild. If we can produce most the reef products we consume there will be less demand to limit collecting with new laws. This project can be done as a small scale at home aquaculture project. The same methods can be used on a much larger scale to produce quality dry base rock for an ocean based live rock farm.

Several live rock farmers are now using our method to produce light weight, interesting live rock.During the last thee years we studied the available types of rock that could be used for live rock farming. This type of rock grows coralline algae faster than any natural base rock we tested It is very fun to draw a reef aquarium, and then build the shapes of rock you need to make the design you want. This article will show you how to form many beautiful live rocks that can be as porous and light weight as you want to make them.


Everyone at GARF is dedicated to teaching as many people as possible to - SAVE A REEF , GROW YOUR OWN. We also promote worldwide reef farming so the native people can earn a good living that depends on a healthy protected reef environment. People will make the needed changes if the healthy reef can produce a steady source of income now and long into the future. It is important to the future of our hobby that we all support this effort by buying aquacultured reef products anytime we can. Ask your local aquarium dealer to purchase and promote aquacultured reef products.

§Carib SeaTM aragonite sand in Styrofoam fish shipping box for making mold.
§Carib SeaTM aragonite sand for making AragocreteTM
§Portland cement - We use grade #1-2 , it is the most available concrete
§Plastic buckets
§Small shovel
§Fresh Water for mixing AragocreteTM
§Fresh Water for washing equipment

1. Fill the fish box 1/2 full of Carib SeaTM aragonite sand and dampen with fresh water - the sand needs to be only moist.

2. Dig a hole in the sand that will be the shape of the finished

rock. 3. Mix 5 parts Carib SeaTM aragonite sand with 1 part Portland cement.

4. Pour the Aragocrete into each hole in the mold.

We will describe several types of live rock that you can make. These shapes can be combined to make many different reefs. We use the three legged reef tables to make the bottom layer and then stack the other rocks on top of the tables. This Small Footprint Reef allows you to have a very open structure that only touches the bottom of the tank in a few places. This allows the sand to be exposed to the water flow or the bare bottom to be siphoned.


STEP 1. Dig out the sand in your box to form the basic shape you want. Be careful not to expose the bottom of the box or your rock will have an unnatural flat spot.
STEP 2. Place the AragocreteTM mix into the mold hole and insert any sea shells or rocks you want to use 1/2 way into wet Aragocrete.

STEP 3. Cover the rock with sand - a very natural looking rock is made by using a different sand on the top of the rock. This will look like the rock was formed in the ocean.
STEP 4. Allow the rock to dry 48 hours and wash it in fresh water. Your rocks will be

much stronger if you cure them in cold fresh water for 1 week.

shrimp on rock


The sand molded rock is washed in hot white vinegar and rinsed in fresh water. The rock is placed in a grow out system with good light and water flow.

STEP 1. Treat the system water with extra SeaChem Reef Builder and Reef Calcium to start the coralline algae.

STEP 2. Before the rock starts to grow coralline algae you can glue several small cuttings to the rock with super glue gel.

STEP 3. Allow the live rock to finish growing. Watch for unwanted algae and AIptasia anemones. We use Copper Band Butterfly fish and Reef Janitors in our grow - out systems to control these pests.

We will explain this part of the project in greater detail later in this article.


This type of rock is very easy to make so we will start with them. TURNING GRAVEL INTO MONEY

We hope to have reef tanks set up in every classroom for every age level. Now that is no longer legal to collect live rock in the US oceans this method of making your own rock needs to be shared. You can seed this rock with some of our coralline algae eggs and within a months time you will notice the coralline algae growing on all your aragacrete rocks. This will not only take the burden off the ocean it will teach us all to take responsibility and appreciate our systems far into the future.


We have designed some tables that work really well when people are concerned about placing their rock right on the sand. The tables look very natural once they have animals growing on them. They give the fish more hiding places and places to swim through. It also allows a more stable structure on which to place your heavier corals. One problem I have continually fought is the falling over of live rock. Often the corals become too heavy and won't stay where I put them. The tables are a very good permanent foundation for your reef system.


Place a layer of AragocreteTM on the sand that is about ten inches long and five inches wide. Press this down until it is only one inch thick in most places. Make three balls of AragocreteTM that are about the size of a tennis ball, and roll them in your hands like you are making a clay snake. When they are about an inch thick and six inches long stand each leg up on a corner of your new table top. Add Sand around each leg as you place it to keep the leg from sagging into a lump. We like to put one or two holes in the table top by poking a finger though and then pouring in sand to keep the hole open. Cover the entire table with sand and wait 24 hours before digging it up.


These tables work really well when people are concerned about placing their rock right on the sand. The tables look really nice once they have animals growing on them and allow the fish more hiding places and places to swim through. It also allows a more stable structure for your heavier corals to be placed. One of the problems I have continually fought is the falling over of rock or the corals become to heavy and won't stay where I put them. The tables are a very good permanent foundation for your reef system.

We have made many of these reef tables and they sell very well. The ones we are making with plastic and lava filler are growing coralline algae very fast. These tables are placed on the gravel in the bottom of our new reefs so only the legs touch the gravel. We have several reefs that only have 9 points of contact. The entire reef structure sets on these tables. These reefs are very strong because tripods are a very stable platform.

We are very interested in any ideas you have on this project. We would like you to send us some pictures of your creative ideas and we in turn will share them with the rest of the World.

SAND MOLDED CAVES - hand formed and rubber glove caves

Hand formed caves can be any size. They are very natural looking, and they make very good additions to any reef aquarium.

You start this project with a ball of AragocreteTM about the size of a soft ball. Place it on a bed of gravel and hollow out a hole in the middle of the rock and pour in some Carib SeaTM aragonite sand. This sand will form the inside of the cave. You can increase the size of the hole by pushing the sand up against the sides until they are quite thin.

Add more sand until the rock is full and the sand covers the sides of it. Cover the rock with Carib SeaTM aragonite sand and tap on the side of the box about 20 times with your hands. The vibrations will settle the sand into the AragocreteTM . The sand on the outside of the rock will keep it from sagging while it dries. Let the box set for 24 hours before you remove the rock from the sand. Soak the rocks in white vinegar for 12 hours and rinse them in fresh water before you use them.

2 holw cave


two caves


This project is going to be fun. I am going to show you how to make some great cave rocks using rubber gloves to make the hollow caves. I have been making these rocks all semester and I enjoy digging them up more than any other type of AragocreteTM live rock that I have made. Last Summer as we were finishing the 600 lbs. of 'TONGA BRANCHES' and starting the 600 lbs. of Arches I made my first Glove Caves. These rock weigh from 4 lbs. to 7 lbs. and they are 7 inches to 12 inches wide. They are very thin walled with 1 large hole and 3 to 5 small holes. No one who has seen the finished caves in the lab has been able to figure out how we made them.

You start this project by blowing up the rubber glove. You can make some very interesting flat Glove Caves by only blowing the glove up with a small amount of air. We use rubber bands to tie the glove closed, and we have reused several gloves. We make a round pancake shaped base of AragocreteTM in the beach box about 1/2 inch thick and place the inflated glove on it to start each cave. It is important to make this base as thin as possible because the desired final effect is a cave with as thin of walls as possible. We often put broken shells and small aragonite rocks in the beach box before we put in the AragocreteTM for the base. These shells and rocks will then be on the surface of the cave base when it is dug up. We then add some AragocreteTM around each finger keeping the end of the finger free of AragocreteTM .


§CaribSea Aragonite Sand for Beach Box
§CaribSea Aragonite gravel for AragocreteTM
§# 1 - 2 Portland cement
§Several old sea shells to put in base of cave
§One rubber glove for each cave

The hardest thing to do in this project is keeping the AragocreteTM you use for the walls of the cave from flowing down into a pile on the base. You can solve this problem by pushing dry gravel from the beach box up against the side of the cave as you build the walls. When you have added enough AragocreteTM to cover the sides of the cave rock it will be 3/4 buried in gravel. We have been leaving a hole about 3 inches wide on the top of the cave. This opening looks natural because you can make the walls very thin around it. These caves make a great place to hide power heads. We use CaribSea Aruba shells on the surface of some caves and it makes them very bright and interesting. The finished rocks look like fossil sea shells have formed them in the ocean.


1. Mix 5 parts - by volume - of CaribSea Aragonite gravel with 1 part Portland cement to make the AragocreteTM 2. Make a thin base of AragocreteTM in the sand by pressing the AragocreteTM with your hand.
3. Place the inflated glove on the base.
4. Put some AragocreteTM around each finger leaving the ends exposed.
5. Build the walls of the cave by adding AragocreteTM and push the sand up around the cave to hold the walls up.
6. Leave a small hole in the top of the cave, and cover the cave with gravel.
7. Let the cave set for 48 hrs.
8. Dig up the cave and wash it.
9. Amaze your friends, and have fun!!


We have been placing small Mushroom rocks inside these caves in our grow - out systems. We will move the rocks to new caves when the Mushrooms start to grow inside the caves. I am certain that there is a market for 4 lb. caves full of purple, blue, and red Mushrooms. I soak all my AragocreteTM Living Sculptures in fresh water for 4 weeks and I have not had any problems with pH. Be sure to soak the rocks in vinegar or cure them in fresh water before adding them to your systems.

We invented the socket rock and reef plug method of invertebrate culture so we could plug the sps corals into a coralline covered rock that would hold it up as it grew. Many sps coral die because they fall onto other corals. This method can prevent that from happening as often. It is very exciting now that we have many finished reef sockets. I remove the reef plug from them and the colony of inverts has grown onto the rock. It is most fun when a sps coral does this. Then you have a cave with coral growing around it. You then move the plug into the next rock.


Then reef plugs are made by drilling several one inch wide tapered holes in a piece of lumber and then filling the hole with AragocreteTM. Soak the board overnight before you make the plugs and they will be easy to remove.



STEP 1. Take the plug you are making the socket hole for and cover it with three layers of plastic. Tie the plastic with a twist tie.
STEP 2. Each socket rock is made by placing one hand full of AragocreteTM on the damp CaribSea gravel.
STEP 3. Insert the covered plug into the wet and then cover the rock with CaribSea Aruba Shell or fine aragonite sand.
STEP 4. Wait one half day and then remove the covered plugs from the firm AragocreteTM socket rock.
STEP 5. Push your finger all the way into the socket hole and finish making a tunnel. Having a hole that goes all the way through the rock allows you to push the reef plug out after the invertebrate has moved on to the socket rock.

We grow the coralline algae on the socket rocks in 300 water tanks with Tritons and Blue Moon bulbs. After the rocks are covered we add the plugs to some. We also sell of the rocks with no plug so the customer can pick their own corals.

We often put 3 or 4 colors of Zoanthids on the same plug so the finished product will sell faster. You can invent any new type of rock using these plans. People like the fact that they can have a reef and be certain that it is tank grown.

I am very interested in any feedback about this project. I have helped several people set up small production sites. This product is very good for the local market because the finished rocks are heavy and they cost extra to ship. You can save the stores the hassle of waiting until 4:00 in the morning for a lost rock shipment.


This project comes from Karen Holt in Salt Lake City, Utah

Aragonite lace rocks


§White Riverside cement
§oyster shell
§crushed coral sand
§Styrofoam box

Aragonite lace rocks are an interesting and esthetics variation of the AragocreteTM base. I have been using variety of substrates to create AragocreteTM rocks that LOOK like the coral skeletons we recognize. These forms are delicate, light, porous and work well in the aquarium.

ryans reefAmong the ecological functions of live rock chemically in the reef are to sustain coralline algae, micro-fauna, and micro-flora. Logically the greater the surface area available the greater availability for micro-colonization. Using the rougher, larger crushed coral, oyster shell and a higher ratio of cement and decreasing the amount of water enables a greater surface area. I have been using a ration of about 4 to 5 of crushed substrate to 1 part cement. The consistency should be as large curd cottage cheese and be heavy enough to hold a form in your hand as you mix it. Use a Styrofoam beach box inside a cardboard box as described in GARF's web site. Http://

Begin with three to four inches of coarse crushed coral / oyster shell in the bottom of the beach box. Moisten the substrate with enough to allow the crushed coral/clam shell to stick together and make mounds easily. Then irregular mounds of three inches high are made of the moist crushed coral and a form is lightly sketched (optional) to make a Tonga Branch form. There should be a slight curve in the form stalk and it should have a couple of branches. The base of the stalk should be heavier and broader while the top tapers to a point. Think of a tree branch and how it flows away from the trunk of the tree.

mts rock

Scoop a handful of the slurry in your hand and allow about a teaspoonful to plop about an inch to one half inch from your hand onto the moist coral. Working slowly allow the form to develop as you go. Go back over the form and make it thicker here and heavier there. The form should be about and inch or more high and about an inch to two inches wide. Do not touch the slurry after it has fallen from your hand the moist material.

Allow the slurry to form irregular and rough forms as it joins the rest of the slurry and the moist coral. Look for and allow unexpected and unplanned forms in the branch. Allow the slurry to help direct the form and direction of the form. When you are finished sprinkle with dry crushed substrate, be very careful not to flatten or bruise the wet slurry form. Allow to cure for 48 hours before carefully digging up.

After two days of having my hands in AragocreteTM without gloves I had a chemical burn on my hands and coral fragments under my finger nails. Both are more than annoying. Please wear rubber gloves.


Plates and shelves can be made in the same way over irregular hills of moist crushed coral. Allow natural openings to remain in the slurry. Build up the surrounding area to strengthen the entire structure about an inch to an inch and a half in depth. The irregular surface under the plate as it is made should enable the display of the plate or shelf from both sides. These should be large enough and heavy enough to support themselves horizontally in the aquarium.

Honey comb rocks may be the best answer so far for micro-colonization. It is very porous and has a large comparative surface area. Use a deep beach box, and lots of moist crushed coral to support the form. Build a tall irregular AragocreteTM tower surrounded by supportive moist crushed coral. About 6 inches wide and 10 inches tall.

Cover lightly with cry crushed coral/oyster shells. Use drinking straws with the end taped tightly to make the channels in the material. Begin in the center and push the straws into the tower all the way to the bottom of the beach box. Push the straws in every half inch all the way around the irregular tower. Remove the straws when the slurry is slightly set up, about 12 hours. The most interesting honey comb rock I have seen was broken to show the patterns and tunnels inside the rock. This also will give a larger surface area. I dig my honey comb up at about 18 hours and purposely break it. These forms not take heavy physical abuse without breaking but they will go through the curing process with care and will do beautifully in an aquarium.

A word of warning, I am used to getting into clay with my bare hands, getting to know it's texture and personality. After two days of having my hands in AragocreteTM without gloves I had a chemical burn on my hands and coral fragments under my finger nails. Both are more than annoying. Please wear rubber gloves. Another thought, mix the dry cement with the dry crushed coral or crushed clam shell before adding the warm water. (the temperature is easier on your hands) This enables a more consistent mix of cement and crushed material and decreases the mix time. I mix a small amount of slurry at a time about a gallon to two gallons. I feel that this smaller batch gives greater control of the quality and consistency of the slurry.

AragocreteTM Lace Rocks

AragocreteTM fillers

The standard AragocreteTM mix is one part Portland cement and five parts CaribSeaTM gravel. This basic mix makes very strong and beautiful live rocks. Part of our research here at GARF includes sending Idaho AragocreteTM to live rock farmers in Hawaii, Florida, Mexico, and several other places. We will continue to visit these sites and harvest our Idaho rock. We are bringing this rock to Boise for research. We are also purchasing Aquaculture live rock from as many sources as possible.

We will compare these types of Aquaculture live rocks and report our findings. We have our students in several areas purchase the live rock and other tanks raised reef products at retail. We are doing this so we can learn about the products and services being offered. When we started paying freight on dry rock to places like Koror, Palau I started thinking of ways to make the same rock much lighter.


popcorn - it melts inside the rock before it forms holes
dog food - it swells up and breaks the rock
Top Ramen noodles - it costs too much
dirt clods - it makes the AragocreteTM weak


Tufa gravel - there are some grades from Nevada that float
Lava ash - some good reef safe purple gravel that floats
Plastic sawdust - coralline loves plastic
Plastic scraps - small spirals are best

The last two plastic products are the most promising because they are available in many countries. I will explain how I am using them to make AragocreteTM here at the Live Rock Lab.


The simple way to use the plastic is to replace 1/4 of the Gravel with the plastic. I add the plastic to the AragocreteTM just before I pour it into the mold holes. This method leaves much of the plastic on the surface of the live rock for coralline to attach to. The other method I use is the slurry method. I add the plastic to the mix before I add the gravel. I slowly add the water to mix until the plastic, cement and water form a gray slurry. I then add the gravel until the AragocreteTM is ready. This method works best if you need to hide the shape of the plastic scrap. I have one type of plastic that has one inch circles in it.


The best filler I have ever used is made out six parts floating purple lava ash and four parts Lexan drill press spirals. This filler is mixed into AragocreteTM as a replacement for 1/5 of the CaribSeaTM gravel. The way the Plastic is formed into spirals and the way the cells in the Lava hold air makes the finished AragocreteTM about 1/2 as heavy.

Part two



sps fragsGlue some invertebrates to each rock before you grow the coralline algae. The Zoanthids and soft corals are good ones to be growing while the rock is aging. Sea Mat rock and Green Star rock will sell for more than regular live rock. Two or three types of sps coral heads will add to the value of your rock.

The Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation in Boise, Idaho has been working on a cookbook method for rapid coralline algae production. This method is just one of the many ways you can produce thick multi-colored coralline in your reef aquariums. This way, using the products from Aquarium Systems, Aquarium Products, and SeaChem, has worked for everyone who has tried it! People from all over the world have been sending me e-mail telling me how well this method works. At GARF we do not ask much from a product - it just has to do what they say it will do every time we use it. We do NOT sell any of the hardware or chemicals we list in this article. We use them because they work.

Coralline algae is one of the most important things to grow on tank raised live rocks. Coralline algae cannot grow in a system until you introduce it by adding live rocks. The more types of Coralline that you introduce the more types you will find growing on your tank raised live rocks.


Ask a friend or your reef store if you can help by scraping the front glass on their coralline covered show tank. You can hold a small siphon made from an airline below the razor and collect the coralline that you remove. This coralline sediment is then added to your reef tank so it falls on all your aquaculture tank raised live rocks. I am very pleased with how fast coralline spreads if you plant it. The way most people try to grow coralline - by waiting for it to appear - is like tilling your garden and waiting for seeds to fall from the sky. They will fall but they will be Dandelions most of the time. When you plant coralline algae then you will grow coralline algae.

Coralline algae is one of the most important things to grow on tank raised live rocks. Coralline algae cannot grow in a system until you introduce it by adding live rocks or scraped algae. The more types of Coralline that you introduce the more types you will find growing on your tank raised live rocks. In our research lab we have experimented with several different methods to aid the advancement of coralline growth. We have noticed that new coralline algae starts to seed itself in the first month. It usually is found on the bottom base rock where the lighting is not so bright. This may be because all of our tanks are started by adding GARF Grunge, which has an abundant mixture of small pieces of coralline algae. The algae seems to spread up from the live sand activator.

Coralline algae adds color

CORALLINE ALGAE is a very important thing to have growing on your combination tank grown live rock.

§Coralline algae prevents other algae from growing
§The bright colors add value to tank raised live rock
§Coralline covered rocks will seed reef aquariums
§Mixed colors of coralline algae are rare in nature
§Coralline algae sells the live rock


§Use Ocean PureTM
§Use 2 - Triton And 1 - Blue Moon 40 watt bulb per 55 gallons
§Use a phosphate removing filter
§Use carbon
§Use pickling lime - Hydrated Lime from grocery store at $1.23 lb. in make up water we use one tablespoon per gallon.
§Treat tank with Sea Chem - Reef Plus - 2 times usual dose three times a week- Reef Complete, and Reef Calcium, These are liquids that we add to the reef water.
§Use Sea Chem Reef Builder in make up water every 4th time - skip Calcium hydroxide this time. We use two teaspoons per gallon.
§Use Sea Chem Reef Advantage in make up water every 8th time - skip Calcium hydroxide this time. We use two teaspoons per gallon
§Add lots of types of coralline to start - Just like putting seeds in the garden

Cook Book Method for faster coralline algae growth

Calcium is one of the most important things to add to your live rock growing tanks. Calcium levels in your live rock grow out tanks should be kept above 400 mg/L at a specific gravity of 1.024. We have found that by using SeaChems Reef Builder, Reef Advantage and Calcium hydroxide in alternating doses in our make-up water we have no trouble keeping both the calcium and alkalinity at the proper levels for rapid coralline growth. This simple method of treating our make-up water also keeps the Strontium and Magnesium level in our grow out tanks high enough for the coralline algae to thrive. We are certain other products will work fine, but these products are inexpensive and they work the best in Boise, Idaho.

You must keep the Phosphate level in the live rock grow out tank very low. Protein skimming is important in the grow out tanks because it controls phosphate. Make-up water can be a source of phosphate. You may need a reverse osmosis or deionization system if your water source is high in Phosphates. Feeding is the most common source of high phosphate levels. We use a phosphate removing filter in tanks that are not producing coralline algae fast enough.

Lighting the live rock grow out tank with 2 Triton 40 watt bulbs to each Blue Moon 40 watt bulb has produced the fastest growth of Coralline algae. We keep the lights on for 14 hours and the Coralline algae grows on every part of the rock that is exposed to the light. We have found many types of coralline algae that thrive in different types of light. Some colors of coralline grow best in the top section of the grow out tanks while others always grow best in the lowest part of the system. The coralline then spreads to all the other rocks in the system. Several colors of Coralline algae can be grown on the same tank raised live rock.



kona rock


The best way to add value to your product is to grow several types of colored colonial invertebrates on each rock. You can start with very small cuttings if you use super glue. Combination tank grown live rock is a piece of reef safe rock that has two or more invertebrates growing on it. The best combination tank grown live rocks have a heavy growth of coralline algae. Color is the most important single thing that sells reef rocks. The animals that you put on the rocks should be able to live close together. It is best if at least one of these cuttings has bright colors.






reef table




As always in my articles I am the last to write and the one who tends to have the most to say:)
I want to take the time to pat so many of you on the back for the support you have given us, the positive feedback, and the letters you continue to send. They mean a great deal to us.

In this busy World of our research foundation we take on the responsibly of caring for so much that if we hear one negative comment we tend think the World is coming to an end. This is due to the fact that we care and care very deeply not only about what we are doing in Boise, Idaho but what you are doing as well. We did not decide to share our research or write because we simply love to put words on paper we care!

We have school children visit our foundation to learn hands on about the wetlands
and coral reefs and how important they both are to the health of one another.
We rely heavily on YOU our customers for our success.
You do not have to drive far to see where Wetlands were, but are no more,
you do not have to read the paper often to learn that many of the
reefs are rapidly dying.

The goals of the Foundation, put in simple words, is to develop the appreciation for, the understanding of the Coral reefs and their possible future. We hope to provide information to all people in regards to natural algae control, not only for the reefs, but also for our rivers and streams. We also want to educate people about the miracle filter the natural wetlands provide for the Ocean. Finally we want to share our research World wide, keep no secrets, share the vision, and most importantly to inspire you to become involved. This is no easy task and it is one that LeRoy and I are not only committed to but consumed with. We research every detail before it is passed unto you, and as I have always stated our way is not the only way but it works.

As a growing Non Profit Organization this Foundation works very hard on providing information freely to all people. We put on Seminars that tend to cost us money and take an incredible amount of staff time to make them work. Why we do this is so that you can learn and share in the resources of the knowledgeable people who have pioneered the successes we all share in the reef hobby today.We are constantly on the phone assisting people with their problems. We do this to help and guide you to find the answers that will work best for the system, money and time you have to share with these animals.

We have school children visit our site to learn hands on about the wetlands and coral reefs and how important they both are to the health of one another. We rely heavily on YOU our customers for our success. You don't have to drive far to see where Wetlands were, but are no more, you don't have to read the paper often to learn that many of the reefs are rapidly dying. We spend countless hours on this web site. We answer many E-mail questions daily when we are in the Country. I guess what I am trying to convey is it really really hurts our feelings to hear and acknowledge we can not please all people. We honestly try.

The Foundation is creating Natural Wetlands projects demonstrating the positive effects
they have on coral reef. Our major educational program consists of explaining to people
how vital this natural filter is in absorbing the chemicals that flow into our rivers which
eventually flow into the oceans.

This Foundation believes that with a solid mission, a stronger voice and a desire to make this World a better place, not just for today, but for the generations that are coming next and far after we are gone we simply can not go wrong. We plan to bring to Idaho the first Public Aquarium in the State. This Public Aquarium will be a research facility for interns from around the World to study about the valuable resource of Geothermal water its uses and the wastes that seems to be on-going.

The Foundation is creating Natural Wetlands projects demonstrating the positive effects they have on coral reef. Our major educational program consists of explaining to people how vital this natural filter is in absorbing the chemicals that flow into our rivers which eventually flow into the oceans. Finally a huge Public Aquarium focusing on corals and invertebrates from around the World will be constructed to teach Zoos and Aquariums around the world how to culture the marine life needed for both research and education.

Why Boise? Why not? We will not get hit by the coral bleaching, we will not get hit by the red tides or the hurricanes. If anything bad happened in our systems it would not have a negative effect in the Ocean. It reminds me of my teacher who explained to me no matter how much love, energy, or time that I put into a landscaping job there absolutely, with out any doubt, is no better teacher than Mother Nature herself. The same is true for the beauty that is unmatched in the underwater gardens of the Coral Reefs. I learn something new each time I visit them and each time I visit I find it harder and harder to leave. You have no idea how hard I try to instill that love in others. Thanks to so many of your comments we know that our work, our devotion is being felt and shared by you. I thank you with a full heart on behalf of all of us at the Foundation and especially LeRoy and Myself.

We have so many dreams so much compassion and have come so far because of you. We often get letters requesting donations, we love to get these letters, but can not simply give everything away and still stay a viable business. It hurts us to have to tell people no, it is hard to tell people no. What we are proud of is the information we freely give and we do everything we can to keep everyone happy. We are working on some solid programs that we hope to have available in the near future in regards to forms to fill out for maintaining a diary on a monthly basis for each system. We are working hard on the genetic bank documenting the corals by popular name, species, genus and origin.

Each time LeRoy and I travel and commit to doing a speech we meet the most incredible people and learn so much from them and we work hard to relay that information back to you. The other program that we are just beginning to try and put together is an educational package that will allow discounts for learning tools. All of our programs will stress using hands on approaches. We are developing different packages for different curriculum guidelines assigned by the schools.

sj reef1

Once the genetic bank is in place we will be able to tell you which corals we have and also just as important which corals we are looking for to add to our genetic bank. When the program for the Home Reef Challenge is approved by our Board of Directors and passed unto you we will use that information and share the results with the World. Our hopes for the educational programs are many. Most schools do not have money just laying around to spend on expanding hands on exhibits. But we will provide them with simple, inexpensive setups at low cost. Most importantly these education aquariums may provide some of the best tool these children will carry on with them for the rest of their lifes. Many of these lessons in how nature works will be passed on to their children as well.

This being our 15th issue of our farming news we understand that people get overwhelmed with the amount of information it holds. LeRoy does index each issue to try and announce what is shared in each issue. The site has grown beyond our dreams and so much of this is because the the tremendous hard work and time that LeRoy puts into this. I can not even begin to count the hours he has given freely to touch your life, to open your hearts, and your home to caring for a reef system and making sure it is done right. All your kind comments go along way to keeping us committed to this end.

See why I said I am the last to write and the one who goes on the longest?
I forgot to write about my tanks:)
It is hard to put aside all the responsibilities that rest on our shoulders and relax except when I go into my office and sit and stare at my reef tanks. This one has passed the two year mark. It is full and I am now found to be propagating and moving things into the cutting tank our into my middle system. This tank continues to produce rapidly, colors are magnificent and variety I have lost count. The only (knock on wood) coral I have been unsuccessful in keeping in this system is the carnation coral. I kept one alive for about six months and this was due to feeding with the Rotifers and green water that come from Tim (who has written articles in our newsletter as well). He has a great product and is a remarkable man.

I have to admit that everything I have learned in this hobby I have learned and harvested from someone else. What I take credit for is coming up with a recipe that works. No matter how you set up your system, no matter the size of your system, by following some simple steps you to can have an aquarium that looks like this.

You must understand this is my very first attempt. I was so scared to start but now I look forward to setting up and decorating a new system. I move things around in this system almost everyday I think the corals like the attention and the pruning that I have to do to make sure they are not growing into one another. I am also proud of the fact that many people are watching this system. A lot of them are the experts, and every month for the past year I have shown you pictures to prove to you it works and to try to inspire those of you who did one in the past to please please pull out that tank and give it just one more try.

feb cutting reef2

This next picture is of my cutting tank. You can see that all the racks are full again. We are still selling these corals, however you need to speak to me or LeRoy directly to confirm availability of propagated coral cuttings for your system. We have decided to provide you with sps coral cuttings that we will not attach to the plugs. These corals will be shipped very carefully in a bag and our new marketing term is BAG-O-FRAGS. They will be very healthy animals and ready to place anywhere in your system. Simply place a dab of glue on the fresh cut and glue it directly on the place underwater that you want it to thrive. We now have the glue in stock in four inch long 20 gram tubes. Please call us at 1-800-600-6163.

As I am looking at the pictures LeRoy has placed here for my story I have to laugh. How many of you were convinced that I had no fish in any of my systems? For the first time in along time he actually got pictures of many of my fish. The Tang is Max a Million, He comes from the Red Sea and eats many of the more difficult algae that some people get plagued with. Below him is Sassy the blue damsel I love these little guys they do great in reef tanks, aren1t a huge bioload and can be kind of mean (thus the name Sassy). If you look really closely below Sassy you will see the six line wrasse these are great in controlling the orange colored flat worms that can show up on your rock or your glass they to live very well in captivity.

Someone asked me today why I had live rock on the bottom of my cutting tank. I explained to him that this tank is doing so well that sometimes I move rock in there to encourage coralline algae growth on that rock and let it be sold when it is completely covered and place another one in each time one is removed. The true reason which I also explained was so that the hermits and snails could reach the racks and continue to pick at algae and do their janitor job. All of the soft corals that we sell will remain on the plugs and be shipped that way and grown out that way as well. We have many in stock and we look forward to your calls and requests for the propagated corals.

Before I start sharing comments about the next photo I must scream at the top of my lungs for you to hear we finally received approval to take credit cards. This truly saves you on the cost of the COD and also makes it easier for you. We are also testing Companies that provide the freight service we have expanded to using Airborne Express and have had no complaints to date. So if you prefer Airborne over UPS just let us know when you call. We have been going through some staff changes as well and training people that you are our business is top priority.


This next picture I really got in trouble for. Noel Curry from Scientific Corals sent us some prize Gorgonians, I thought LeRoy gave me one of each. I kept walking by his tanks and then going back to mine making sure to really check carefully to see if I had one of each one. This particular one I did not get so I decided to get brave and cut off the top thinking LeRoy would not notice.

Needless to say he came in the next day all excited about taking pictures of the fine specimens that Noel sent us and he looked at his aquarium and went around the office asking everyone who cut the top off of my Gorgonian ( I was not in the office yet:). He was not a happy he could not figure out who cut the top off his Christmas tree. All of the staff declared they did not do it.

Shortly after that LeRoy went into my office to look at my tanks to take pictures for this article and there it was right in front of him and his camera. I don1t think I will hear the end of this story for a long long time. :)

I love to spend time decorating my systems and adding texture, filling in the holes and adding corals that move. Its like painting a picture. Although I have began to run out of room. One important note those of you who love your Xenia please be very careful to notice the increasing of temperatures. If you have these animals they are delicate and will die if your tank goes much over 80 degrees. I have seen more Xenia lost to heat or lack of iodine then I wish to count.

This is another picture of my two year old system. You can see that I not only raise the soft corals or the sps corals but the large polyp stonys as well.

I have yet to propagate a large polyp stony yet. Also note how many of the corals are glued higher up in the tank. I place corals that I know will not hurt or sting the other species sometimes on the same rock. I love to watch this tank grow. If any of you who are reading this have questions how I have set this system up you will In the 13th issue of the GARF farming newsletter the exact dosing techniques I use.

Sally Jo tank left

I have met some of the nicest people in marine clubs around the US. This particular animal comes from a man we met in Portland and Dwight actually drove to Boise to bring us this gift. LeRoy has provided you the name of the coral and it is the very first encrusting Gorgonian I have seen this color. It is an extremely fast grower and transplanted very nicely. As you can see if you run out of rock to glue them on you can always use the glass:)


Now we finally have a great picture of freckles he is my clown fish who has a little white freckle on his side. He loves this tank and has made this new animal his friend and actually stays right with it all the time. This is another great photo that LeRoy has taken I love the reflection that is shown through his skill of picture taking. The Sinularia below is being propagated this weekend.

briarian and clown

LeRoy and I decided we wanted to find a simple yet effective way to grow coralline algae eggs so that we could seed not only our tanks but yours as well. When these coralline eggs are covered with several species of coralline algae we will let you know by putting them on our site. What a great way to seed life into your system with eggs just waiting to hatch coralline all over your rock.

coral egg

greenThis again is a picture of my show tank BD which I fondly call my blue damsel has been with me for about two years now. He is a great fish and very very hardy.

You can see in this picture my tank is happy as a clam. The clam was captive raised and is growing pretty fast and until I found a spot he liked I had to continually move him and adjust him. He has stayed in place and loves to be the front center piece.

I think now is a good time to remind you that you should check your clam at least every two weeks for the small white rice snails that tend to come in on soft corals and are very hard to see. If you find any on the mantle of this animal get a tweezer and pry those guys off. I am also very fond of sponges and have quite a few different species I have raised and even shared with others.

As you can see from this picture I love variety. I tend to collect as many different species as I can find. At this time I have seven different species of Gorgonian that came from captivity. Some do need to be fed and some live off the light. I always feel it is important to feed. The use of rotifers and green water tend to keep this animal not only fat and sassy but the polyps extend fully when adding food every other day. I have some really beautiful sps corals. Some grow very fast and some grow really slow. This is not due to anything you do wrong this also happens in nature.


If you look closely at this picture you can see my pink urchin that is really funny to watch. She goes around putting things on her back and actually does do some of the propagating for me.

Sometimes she even carries live hermits or snails and takes them for a ride. She is not one who grows big or fast. She has been in this system for over a year and a half at this time.

The white Sinularia is one I am thinking about propagating in the near future. It is a beautiful animal and looks almost truly white. When propagating many of the soft corals we now do not use the super glue.

We use bridal veil netting. Place the animal on a rock cover it with the bridal veil netting and secure the netting with a rubber band. Believe it or not the animal will be fully attached in one to two weeks. We have now achieve about a 100% success using this method.

feb sj reef


This last picture is of my Ricorida and some of my zoanthids. This is a great color combination. These are two different species that can live side by side and not hurt each other. It is time to say Goodbye for yet another month. Please keep the letters coming and we thank you with a full heart for all the blessings you have passed our way. Make sure you watch your tanks so that they do not get too hot.


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Soft Coral Propagation Page Pictures and details of soft coral propagation
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