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COVER AND INDEX
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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.
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.
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.
GORGONIAN PROPAGATION USING SUPER REEF GLUE
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.
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.
-pair of scissors, scalpel, or razor blade
STEP 1 - Drilling the Holes
STEP 2 - Making the First Cuts
STEP 4 - Attaching the Cutting
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 simple process of taking notes -
ONE MISTAKE MANY AQUARISTS MAKE
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.
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.
LEARN ABOUT OUR WETLAND RESEARCH
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