COVER AND INDEX
LAST MONTHS ISSUE | HOME | SEPTEMBER -OCTOBER ISSUE PAGE 1 | SEPTEMBER -OCTOBER ISSUE PAGE 3

PAQ SYSTEM - PROPAGATED - ACCLIMATED - QUARANTINED
GORGONIAN PROPAGATION USING SUPER REEF GLUE
THE SIMPLE PROCESS OF TAKING NOTES


Reef Aquarium Farming News
Online Newsletter for Reef Aquarium Propagation Research

ISSUE # 21 page 2 SEPTEMBER -OCTOBER 1998



This month we write about cost saving ways to build your own coral farm. Many people are now starting to farm corals for both fun and profit. The project we will describe this month will be built this semester by several High School students in Nampa, Idaho. GARF is providing most of the supplies needed to stock this farm at no cost to the students. This project is part of a Future Farmers of America aquaculture class. We are now working with over 28 new coral farms that are being built around the world. Each week we are contacted by more people who are doing some type of reef farming.

The staff here at GARF is more certain than ever before that the increase in captive raised corals will cause an increase in the reef hobby like we have never seen before. This increase in farming has caused some confusion among some beginners about the ways that corals can be labeled for sale.

PAQ SYSTEM - PROPAGATED - ACCLIMATED - QUARANTINED

We use the PAQ system for describing coral brood stock that is purchased from the collector. During the past two years we have purchased only five heads of small polyp stony corals that were collected in the wild. Two of these corals were bought from local stores here in Boise because they were going to die. Three of the corals were purchased in L.A. because they were very nice.

The cuttings from these heads are called PAQ cuttings. We often purchase new Gorgonians and Zoanthids from Sea Critters in Florida and the cuttings of the wild polyps are recorded in the same manner. The most important thing that we get when we purchase a wild coral is the base of the colony for our aquaculture Program. This base is called a PAQ STUMP because a stump is what a trimmed colony looks like before it starts to regrow.

The first cuttings of the wild coral are mounted on rocks or reef plugs. As the cuttings start to grow new polyps they are listed as PAQ cuttings with a number that tells us how much of the coral cutting is captive grown.

EXAMPLE 1.

When a new Gorgonian is purchased the first thing we do is to trim off all of the branches. We then have a base with the main stalk and several side branches. THIS IS THE PAQ STUMP.

The cuttings are then mounted by gluing the cuttings in holes drilled in the reef plugs. THIS CUTTING IS PAQ 0

As the cutting starts to heal and grow down onto the reef plug the cutting is acclimating to our captive system. At eighty degrees, with feeding, a Gorgonian cutting can add twenty percent new polyps in six weeks. THIS CUTTING IS NOW PAQ 20

After the gorgonian has healed and attached to the plug it has a much better chance of growing when it is sold. The important thing to remember is that during this time the PAQ STUMP Gorgonian is healing and new branches are growing. These branches are CAPTIVE GROWN. When these branches are used for brood stock the cuttings from the Gorgonian that was grown in a closed system will often be much easier to keep alive.

LeRoy

GORGONIAN PROPAGATION USING SUPER REEF GLUE

Matt Swanstrom

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.

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 Styrofoam*

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.

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.


 
*Note - You can substitute the reef glue with Styrofoam Cut a small piece of foam and wedge it in the hole against the exposed axis of your cutting. Although this is an inexpensive method, we have had much better long term success using the reef glue.

Dick Perrin uses epoxy to attach his cuttings to the COmbo - rocks he makes. We have found that we can complete many more cuttings with super glue in the the same time. One good thing about Epoxy is that it will hold the cuttings in place better if you are shipping them a few days after they are glued. The super glue is more brittle and it is better to wait until the Gorgonian starts to grow down onto the rock before you ship it.



DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU
- The simple process of taking notes -

ONE MISTAKE MANY AQUARISTS MAKE
There is one mistake many aquarists make; even experienced aquarists make this mistake. It is probably the most common mistake made in the hobby and possibly the one with the most devastating consequences. The most important piece of equipment used to correct this mistake is an item that you probably already possess, but just haven't put into use.

With this item and a little time you will soon be able to provide clearer, more accurate information about your tank, predict future events in your tank, and it may even allow you, and others, to keep that rare red pocillopora.

taking notes will, in time, allow you to predict the upcoming
cycles of your tank before they happen;
this can help you avoid overreacting
to normal changes such as diatom blooms

The mistake made by so many aquarists is not taking notes. The simple process of taking notes will, in time, allow you to predict the upcoming cycles of your tank before they happen; this can help you avoid overreacting to normal changes such as diatom blooms. After a few years or months, you can look through your notes and notice patterns in your animals behavior and from that predict when they will occur again; snail spawning is an event that can be predicted fairly accurately.

A record of what has or has not worked for you in keeping different animals can be valuable both for you and for friends trying to keep the same animal. Dates and sizes are very important, particularly when it comes to growth rates for corals, without some sort of a record of when fish and corals were purchased, it becomes difficult to remember just how long it has been living in your tank or how much it has grown.

All it takes is a little time to take a few notes on the tank and what you have done to it each week to make a big difference. A pen and a notebook is all that is necessary, but you could use photographs and video tapes as well. With just this small investment, you may well save your tank from unnecessary changes because you won't be overreacting to that next diatom bloom that will disappear within a month without your tearing down the tank.

Michael Holcomb



WETLANDS SAVE THE WORLDS REEFS FROM ALGAE DESTRUCTION
LEARN ABOUT OUR WETLAND RESEARCH





COVER AND INDEX
LAST MONTHS ISSUE | HOME | SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER ISSUE PAGE 1 | SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER ISSUE PAGE 3

PAQ SYSTEM - PROPAGATED - ACCLIMATED - QUARANTINED
GORGONIAN PROPAGATION USING SUPER REEF GLUE
THE SIMPLE PROCESS OF TAKING NOTES


Email:leroy@garf.org


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