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XENIA MASS PRODUCTION RESEARCH
AQUACULTURED CORAL IN 150 GALLON ARAGOCRETETM AND GLUE REEF
WATER TREATMENT for a HEALTHY PLANET
ISSUE # 15 page 2 MARCH 1998
This article will explain a new production method we are using to make dozens of Xenia cuttings at the same time. This method of production makes use of two layers bridal veil netting. The cuttings are trapped between these layers and they are allowed to attach to the netting. The netting is then cut into small tags with a Xenia attached to it. The tags are then glued to rocks for grow - out.
|THIS FIJI XENIA IS GROWING ON A REEF PLUG. THIS IS THE TYPE OF CUTTING WE WILL BE PRODUCING.
The most interesting thing about this method is we are able to use single polyps to produce the cuttings. We have been able to trim the polyps off of the parent Xenia without cutting into the body of the coral. We made the plastic rings we used in this project by cutting the top off of a wide mouth plastic jar. We glued the netting to the inner ring with super glue gel.
The first batch of Xenia we grew this way came from the bowl of extra polyps we had left over after we had made 30 reef plugs. These single polyps were poured through the netting so that they were spread out over the surface.
After the polyps were stuck on the bottom netting we put the second layer of netting over the top of them. We positioned the second layer so we could push the outer ring over it to hold it in place. We cut this layer off around the edge of the rings. We left a piece of the netting one half inch wide and six inches long on the top of the rings. This piece of netting was used to hang the rings in the reef aquarium.
It is very important that there is strong water flow directed at the ring. If the ring is not moving in the current so it can not come to rest the water flow is NOT strong enough.
Many of the polyps settled to the bottom of the ring. This did not cause any trouble. When we opened the rings several weeks later the polyps had all stuck to the netting.
The netting was then cut into small pieces. We tried to make each piece of netting about one inch long.
This is one of the Xenias that we grew using this method. You can see the bridal veil between the cutting and the rock. This tag was glued in place underwater using Reef Glue. The netting is VERY east to glue to any type of live rock. We just put a small ball of glue on the extra netting. When the tag is where we want it we rub the glue onto the live rock. The glue holds the netting because it pushes through the netting.
These cuttings have grown very well because the water can flow all around them. Several of the tags only had one small polyp attached. These have grown into small colonies of a dozen polyps in three weeks.
None of the net tags have come off of the rocks. A few of the smallest single polyps did come off of the netting because they were not very well attached.
These are some of our new cuttings growing on AragocreteTM eggs. The net tags were easy to glue to these before we put them into the systems. We will soon produce hundreds of these EGGS with all types of coral and coralline algae on them. We are using this product as a teaching project. We will develop a demand for coral EGGS by promoting them as a new aquaculture product.
One of the most important things we all need to do during the next several years is to promote new and interesting reef aquaculture products. Everyone knows that eggs of all kinds start life. We will use this natural shape to give a line of reef products a distinct marketing appeal.
We will be very open about how we promote this product so you can learn how to promote and develop your own products. We have had some people question how a nonprofit foundation can market products. Every nonprofit corporation must support itself some way. Many public aquariums have gift shops and snack bars. All museums charge admittance or have a membership drive. We grow and produce reef products so we can teach others how to do the same.
|NET PRODUCTION OF XENIAS|
1. FIND OR MAKE A RING - We used a table saw to make our rings from the tops of Beef Jerky jars. We set the rip fence at 1/4" and sawed the top off of the jar. We then cut the neck off of the jar.
2. GLUE NETTING TO INSIDE RING
3. POUR XENIA CUTTINGS ONTO NET - BE certain to spread them out.
4. PLACE SECOND NET OVER THE CUTTINGS
5. HANG RING IN HIGH WATER FLOW WELL LIT PART OF REEF AQUARIUM
6. WAIT 21 DAYS - We removed one ring and let the two nets slowly pull apart.
7. CUT NETTING APART AND GLUE TAGS TO ROCKS.
We use SeaChem Reef Plus as our only source of Iodine and it WORKS very well. I have told the people at SeaChem that I think they should call this product Xenia Plus. :)
We are working on several new ways to mass produce these corals and we will be reporting on them soon.
what mixes that you are using and what you are producing.
We are all in this together and we can all learn from one another.
I began the test on 1/31/98 with three batches of rocks made with Portland #3 cement and oyster shell as I believed that the oyster shell might be the slower to cure because of the large amounts of calcium in the shells and also free as a powder. I use quite a bit of oyster shell in making my rocks as I like the effect of the visible shells in the completed rocks. I made one batch of cement and oyster shell and divided it into three equal numbers of rocks, 'mini-plugs' cast in refrigerator ice cube trays and 4-5" cookies, each made with the same number of spoon fulls of mix. The curing containers were one gallon plastic milk jugs with the tops removed and hold water to the same level at the top.
After two days of curing on the kitchen counter with a damp towel over them to keep them from curing too fast I put the separate test groups into containers marked 1,2 and 3. each jug got an equal number of mini-plugs and cookies.
Container 1 was filled with lukewarm water only, and put on the counter to cure.
Container 2 was filled with lukewarm water and one cup of white vinegar,
and container 3 was filled with hot water and one cup of heated white vinegar.
Each jug was allowed to cure for six days and the water changed. After 24 hours in the new water pH tests are taken using a Tetra and a Hach pH test kit. Other test kits are available, I had these.
It is noted that after the first week a heavy calcium skim or crust was visible on the surface of each jug of water after 1-2 days of adding fresh water. This crust covers the entire surface of the jug and did not lessen until the 4th week of water changes but is still evident after the 4th week. All jugs have been kept at room temperature within my kitchen the duration of the test.
The PH readings to date have been as follows:
Week one 2/8/98
jug 1 at 9+, jug 2 at 9+,
jug 3 at 9+.
Week two, 2/15/98
jug 1at 9+,
jug 2 at 9+,
jug 3 at 9+.
Week 3 on 2/22/98
jug 1 at 9+,
jug 2 at 9+
jug 3 at 9+.
showed noticeably lower levels on 3/1/98
jug 1 at 9+,
jug 2 at 8.9,
and jug 3 at 9.
I am sure that more frequent water changes may have sped up the cure process, but, I cure our rocks with weekly water changes, and, because I also use ziti type pasta in the mix to give irregular holes and 'tunneling' in the rocks I give the rocks a longer cure to dissolve the pasta which after 4-6 weeks easily rinses off under a spray hose. This gives a very natural looking rock to mount cuttings on. But, I do believe that a slightly faster cure rate can be achieved with more frequent water changes. I did not use any pasta in this mix as I felt that fewer of our readers would be apt to be using it. I think that the best approach in curing our rocks would be to immerse the rocks in a container in running water such as a stream, or, ideally, the ocean. Lacking these resources I use Rubbermaid tubs and livestock watering tanks.
The testing will continue until the rocks show a pH of 8.4 or less. One correspondent has advised me that he uses a FEW new rocks in his tanks purposely to buffer the pH to replace the use of kalkwasser or other calcium additives. This could be a reason why I have not had to use any of these as my tanks all have a sizable amount of these manufactured rocks, and several are 100% made rocks. But I also have plenums with Carib Sea aragonite gravel for a substrate and this also buffers ph. That these make attractive natural looking rocks is evidenced by the example I cited a month ago when I did not notice one of my rocks in a local dealers tank amid the natural coral rocks. After becoming coralline encrusted in Caribbean Forests sales tanks the manufactured rock was identical in appearance to the natural coral.
I would very much like to hear from any of you making your own rocks , how you are doing them, what mixes that you are using and what you are producing. Any photos that you can send to LeRoy I am sure he would like to share them with other readers. We are all in this together and we can all learn from one another.
I have been much interested in the replies I have received on this subject and the different styles of making cement rocks. I have heard from some using regular #1 Portland cement and sand and river grade gravel, Type 1-2 Portland cement with crushed coral and various combinations using #3 and sand, crushed coral and oyster shell. All seem to be working . Karen Holt has been producing beautiful rocks using white riverside and also oyster shell. Your imagination is your only limits on this and whatever you can learn from sources such as this. Use them all!
frequent water changes, a longer cure of at least a month is safest,
and therefore best.
My feelings on the curing rates at this time is that even using very frequent water changes, a longer cure of at least a month is safest, and therefore best. This needs to be looked at in how many rocks of what size are added to what volume of water. A couple of several ounce plugs added to a 75 or 90 gallon tank will have much less impact and effect on elevating the pH then 30-40 lbs of rock added to a 30 gallon tank. You need very much to consider the whole environment, how much new rock you are adding and to what volume of water. new rock CAN be used to buffer the pH and there are enough reports from different sources to support this, but, caution is the best guide, begin slowly and gradually and test as you go.
Next month I will complete this test series, and would like to include input from readers on their test results of their own rocks. If you just have comments, or questions they are welcomed and I will do my best to get back to you in between tending my own tanks and buying groceries! I know LeRoy and Sally Jo welcome your Email to them with your questions and comments Until next month enjoy, and save a reef, grow your own!!
The first two pictures show the center arch as it is filling in with sps corals.
The left picture shows the purple Acropora and several other types of sps corals. The yellow coral on the bottom is Porites. The pink coral above it is a Stylopora. Note the purple sponge that is growing on the arch.
The right picture shows the same arch from a different view. The Lace rock arch from Karen Holt is now 80 percent covered with coralline algae.
These two pictures show details of the reef aquarium. All of these corals are captive grown in Boise, Idaho. Captive grown corals are much better for reef aquariums because they are very hardy. We have had many small cuttings catch up to and out grow much larger imported corals.
We now try to purchase as many corals as we can unmounted because they ship very well this way. We have been purchasing many of our corals as frags that are shipped loose in the bottom of fish bags. We often receive 3 or 4 of the same types from the same colony in each bag. The bright purple frags were only 3/4 of an inch long three months ago.
These pictures show our newest prize. The bright green coral in the pictures is a Briareum asbestinum that is a rare bright green color. This is an encrusting Gorgonian. This coral is growing very fast and it will soon be released to our members. We have many rare corals that we make available to members for a year or two before there are enough to sell. We are building an unconnected genetic bank of commercially valuable corals. Several times we have been able to restock our systems with rare animals we had lost. It is VERY important that the hobby starts to grow many of the invertebrates we use. Many of the most valuable bright colored reef animals are getting harder and harder for the collectors to find.
It is very easy to see in our own aquariums that the bright colored invertebrates such as Green Stars do not compete well with the common brown types of the same species. Many of the bright colored invertebrates developed in special niches on the reef. Some were able to use light that was not the best for other colors. Some may have avoided common predators because they were a different color than the common type. As people collect the bright colored invertebrates the special nich in reef may be filled with a different species. Many of us do not want to think that our hobby could damage the reef we love but I have seen the damage over collecting can do. SAVE A REEF - GROW YOUR OWN.
SMALL POLYP STONY CORAL BROOD STOCK AQUARIUMThis is the 150 reef in the front office at the foundation. This reef has been featured in all of the past 7 issues. This reef was set up using 2 Eco-Sand plenums. This reef has 8 - four foot VHO bulbs. The aquarium has 2 Gemini pumps and 4 Maxi-Jet 1000 power heads. It has a skimmer and a heater in the sump. This tank has about 20 pieces of AragocreteTM reef rocks and only about 3 live rocks.
Most of the sps corals are glued to rubble Acropora branches that are standing up. We stand these rubble branches up and we often glue several together to make a structure for the sps corals to grow on. This is a great way to save space in a brood stock aquarium so you can produce many more parent colonies. These large coral heads are the ones we remove frags from. We often mount the frags sticking out from the branches instead of sticking up. We have started to test these sps corals by mounting them in several positions. Many of the corals we have mounted pointing out from the branch have produced more branches. We will be showing pictures of our tests in upcoming issues.
This is a great new plate shaped coral called the BLUE CHALICE. This coral grows into a bright blue bowl shaped coral.
This coral grows very fast.
The remarkably low-tech system, developed by the creators of the Biosphere 2 facility and being constructed at 15 sites in Mexico's Yucatan, was presented last week to scientists at the Third International Conference on Life Support and Biosphere Science.
"We are shooting for and getting far better cleanup than conventional treatment would give, and we're doing it with very little use of natural resources or fossil fuels," says Mark Nelson, researcher with the Institute of Ecotechnics, London, and the Center for Wetlands, University of Florida, Gainesville.
building the low-tech wastewater treatment systems at coastal regions
worldwide would provide at least one step toward reversing the damage,
Using only plants, microbes, limestone gravel, cement, plastic pipe and gravity, the system removes 99.9% of fecal coliform bacteria and more than 80% of environmentally harmful phosphorous and nitrogen from sewage ordinarily dumped into the ground or ocean, Nelson says. The water left over can be reused for irrigating gardens or fields and for flushing toilets. The system will work with either fresh or brackish water.
Nelson collected the new findings from the first test sites, which were built in 1996 and are located at the resort town of Akumal about 60 miles south of Cancun. He says the treatment and recycling wastewater system functions like a natural wetland, purifying water and attracting wildlife. If used on a broader scale, the systems could restore habitat lost from the development of mangrove colonies, or natural tropical wetlands.
"Creating these systems as wetlands gives us a dual opportunity to clean up human wastewater and build new wildlife habitats," Nelson says. To the uninitiated passer-by, the wastewater treatment system looks like a beautiful tropical garden, a far cry from the exposed septic tanks and black ponds commonly seen in economically strapped countries.
In many underdeveloped countries, sewage is dumped untreated into the ground, nearby rivers or into the ocean. In Mexico, resort hotels and restaurants are permitted to drill holes into the bedrock and pump human waste from septic tanks into the holes, says Abigail Alling, director of the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation, Bonsall, Calif. The bedrock along the Yucatan coast consists of porous limestone that allows the sewage to seep out into the water along its once-pristine beaches. The sewage pollutes the coastal water, and its high content of phosphorous and nitrogen damages the coral reefs.
"The problem in Yucatan is that just a few decades ago, you had a population under 30,000 people. Now there are 3 million additional visitors per year, and sewage is being pumped nonstop down the holes," Alling says. "The local people who depend on tourism and who like to use their own beaches realize what has been done and know that it is not only bad for them, but disgusting."
Resort hotels, restaurants and private homeowners in the Yucatan are all constructing the new systems, according to Gonzalo Arcila of the Ecological Center of Akumal and Planetary Coral Reef Foundation in Mexico. Arcila is overseeing the construction. In six months, more than 10 have been built, and seven more have been contracted for building.
"It has been a total success with the results of the water analysis," says Arcila, who is also a professional scuba diver. "There is a huge development here in the region, so we are trying to create a showcase for the recovery of wastewater to prevent the contamination of the ocean, which is our main attraction."
Nelson says 20 to 30 square feet of space is needed to treat the waste of one person. Locally available plants are used for the system. In Mexico those include oleander, banana trees, wetland palms, elephant ear and canna lilly. The systems at Akumel contain 70 species of plants. Bananas or any fruit grown on plants that filter sewage can be eaten with no potential harm, he says.
Plants and limestone
In a nutshell, the system works by letting wastewater from toilets, showers and kitchens flow by gravity through two specially constructed concrete containers. The concrete seals the system from the ground below. The bottoms of the pools are filled with limestone gravel, which interacts chemically to remove phosphorous. Added to the gravel are a cache of microbes, including simple protozoa, which feed on the waste and break it down into nutrients that are absorbed by plant roots.
Typically, the sewage moves through the system in about a week. The level of the wastewater is kept at least two inches below the top of the gravel, which eliminates odor and prevents accidental human contact with sewage. Nelson says the system becomes more efficient over time as the plant community and root systems develop. It probably has a life span of at least several decades.
Alling says the governments of Egypt, Maldives, Kenya, Australia, Bali and Israel also are planning to construct the systems. She says the foundation's interest in promoting the system is in preserving coral reefs. It is using money made from sales of the systems to fund the nonprofit group's other scientific projects. Coral reef clues
Nelson and Alling combined their interests after the Biosphere 2 project, in which they and six other people lived in a closed ecological environment for two years. Biosphere 2 operated from 1991 to 1994 as an experiment to demonstrate the sustainability of humans in a closed environment. The facility, located in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, is now being used for global warming studies. Nelson operated the Biosphere's waste recycling system, which included an enclosed wastewater treatment system similar in principle to the systems built in Mexico. The Biosphere's system was originally designed with NASA scientists for space life-support systems.
Alling, who was scientific director of the Biosphere project, managed a living coral reef inside one of the Biosphere's domes. During the two-year stay, Alling says, the coral reef became the canary of the coal mine. "It was first to reflect any negative changes in the integrity of the closed environment, including the loss of oxygen." While coral reefs face a wide range of assaults from humans and diseases, building the low-tech wastewater treatment systems at coastal regions worldwide would provide at least one step toward reversing the damage, Nelson says. "This is ecological engineering - an emerging synthesis of the best of engineering approaches but working with nature to do the job," Nelson says. "Here we are harnessing the ability of wetlands, and the beauty of this type of approach is it can be done anywhere."
We are happy to announce that Tim L. Weidauer has purchased the famous GREEN WATER AND ROTIFER SOURCE Wasatch Aquaculture in Salt Lake City. His green water may be the most hardy culture in the hobby. We have frozen and thawed these cultures over 30 times during the past month, and the green water is still thriving. We have just thawed his Rotifer cultures and they are now producing strong populations. These strains allow us to freeze 1/2 of the orders we receive every two weeks. Please visit Tim's web sites.
Tim L. Weidauer OWNER- Wasatch Aquaculture -http://www.rotifer.com - "Live Plankton!"
President - Wasatch Marine Aquarium Society - Salt Lake, Utah
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Research page for Xenia and related soft coral propagation Learn to propagate xenia. Please enter any data you have about these corals.
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