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GRAVEL BOWL PROPAGATION | GORGONIAN PROPAGATION | $49.00 MUSHROOM ROCK PROJECT

REEF AQUARIUM FARMING NEWS
ONLINE NEWSLETTER FOR REEF AQUARIUM PROPAGATION RESEARCH

ISSUE # 2
FEBRUARY 1997
WELCOME TO THE SECOND REEF AQUARIUM FARMING NEWS.
This newsletter is part of the Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation, Inc. free online coral farming school. This newsletter will be used to present our most current research data.

CORAL REEF HOME BASED AQUACULTURE PROJECT #1

The plans that we will be making available are for a small scale coral farm that you can build one tank at a time.

THIS FARM WILL CONSIST OF 16 - 55 GALLON REEF AQUARIUMS

  • This farm will fit in a 18 ft. by 18 ft. room
  • The 16 - 55 gallon aquariums will be on 8 wood stands
  • Each aquarium will have 4 - 4' lights
  • Skimmers and power heads will be used in each aquarium
  • Three electrical lines with GFI plug-ins will be installed for lights, wave makers, and pumps
  • Decorator Live rocks will be grown in the bottom of each aquarium
  • Each aquarium will have 4 - racks with 240 holes for reef plugs
We will be adding more information about this project in each issue of this newsletter.

Most of the people building this type of reef farm need to pay for it from profits they make with the aquariums they have. This months issue will help you grow better products that will sell for a higher price. Please do not think you have to wait to start reef farming untill you get a full room of equipment.

THE ONLY WAY TO START IS TO START

RACK FARMING -SPS CORAL MARKETING - PART #2 of many

You can Produce 240 Acropora cuttings in each 55 gallon reef aquarium. This tank has 4 stacked rows of plastic shelves with 62 - 1" holes drilled in them to hold tapered concrete plugs with corals attached to them. small coral head
THIS IS THE TYPE OF SPS CORAL HEAD THAT YOU WILL LEARN TO GROW
Making frags more valuable at the retail store
starts with how you make the cuttings.
Small Polyp Stony Corals sell best as
small branched heads.

You can do several things
to get this valuable look.

Your corals will sell best if you take the
time to grow only quality products

Rack farming works very well for sps corals. We grow several hundred corals in each 55 gallon reef aquarium. The cuttings are moved up one level each week, this gives them the brightest colors. We harvest the top rack for sale and start the frags on the bottom rack.

3ACROPORA PLUGS These frags have been attached
using regular thin super glue.
It will make your frags
more valuable if you
include a small branch
on each plug. If the frags
do not have branches
attach several frags to
each plug. This method
will give your cuttings
an added value.

Rack frames made from 3/8" Plexi -glass.

We are working on several different methods of building the supports that hold up the racks. This stye can be bent or glued.

THIS 60 GALLON SPS GROW-OUT TANK HAS 6 RACKS WITH OVER 200 CORAL FRAGS

small jay

Types of sps corals we grow using this method

SMALL POLYP STONY CORAL - ACROPORA - MONTIPORA - POCILLOPORA - STYLOPHORA - HYDNOPHORA - PAVONA - ANACROPORA - SERATOPHORA - PORITES - FAVITES - FAVIA -

Fragments of these corals do extremely well when glued to plugs with thin super glue. These corals look like they are almost floating above the plugs. The center skeleton is attached at first. These cuttings have been very strong even before the tissue grows down onto the plugs.

small jay

small jay

Prepare the fragments by breaking a small branch from the parent colony. This can be done by using a small pair of pliers. We use side cutting pliers to snap the frags from the colony. The coral will break rather than cut. Grip the branch firmly and twist it gently. These frags are placed in a plastic pan of reef water.

Choose the plugs and prepare the attachment sites. If the rock is very absorbent treat the site with liquid glue. When the coatings of liquid glue have dried select the newly made cutting.

Place the fresh cut on the paper towel for 10 seconds. Apply the thin super glue to the prepared site on the base rock. Two drops are usually sufficient. Pick up the cutting and press the newly cut fragment to the prepared site.

Place the cutting and base rock into the bowl of aquarium water for 2 minutes. Place the new fragments in the reef aquarium on the bottom rack. The rack method will not allow the frags to fall over.

- Research update -


We have been doing tests to determine the best size of frags to use to produce cuttings for sale. It seems that with many of the species of Acropora the smaller cuttings grow faster than larger ones.
Use more than one small frag per plug to increase the value of the frag.
Smaller cuttings are often less than 1/4 inch long. The larger cuttings are over 1 inch long. Many of the small cuttings have grown much faster.

- Profit update -


FOR THE REEF FARMING GROWERS GROUP
1. The best selling sps coral cuttings that we have seen were made by gluing four one half inch frags of colored coral in a small group - one inch apart - on a one inch plug. The finished plugs had colonies with four or more branches. The bases grew together making them valuable finished plugs.
2. Coraline algae growing on the plugs is very important. People will often purchase a cutting with heavy coraline growth that has a smaller frag rather than a larger frag with little or no coraline.

GROW YOUR OWN - SAVE A REEF



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The "Gravel Bowl"

A great propagation technique! More exciting than the super bowl!???
Branching Soft Corals and Mushrooms can be propagated using the bowl method

Jay elegans
Propagation of corals can be lots of fun or lots of frustration depending on whether you know the best techniques for the type of coral cuttings you are trying to attach to rock. Of course there are usually a few different techniques that can work well for each coral. New techniques are going to be developed by hobbyist coral gardeners and coral farmers like many of you.

Some techniques are taken from plant and tree nurseries. Many things are used to attach coral cuttings to rock like fishing line, rubber bands, bridal veil or tooth picks for example. And of course super glue gels, like Super Reef Gel (from GARF), always work well for me especially when gluing rock to rock. But of course not so well when gluing slimy rock to slimy rock. Some corals glue directly to rock and others are irritated by super glue. So I guess the trick is to do like you can do with Zoanthids and peal them off the rock with a crust of rock still attached to their base which ensures a good rock to rock bond when using super glue. But not everything peals off the rock with a little bit of rock crust still attached.

Take mushroom or disk anemones (more specifically actinodiscus a type of corallimorpharian) for example. If you chip the base off of the rock that they are attached to in order to glue them to a new rock then you donžt get that nice doubling effect that you do when you cut just the disk off with scissors, leaving the base to grow a new disk. But the problem with the disk anemone that you just snipped off with scissors gets irritated and often refuses to attach when restricted or held in place by any mechanical means to attach. Often they slime out in a gooey protozoan infection or attack when restricted.

Xenia and other soft corals can be started with the bowl method
Jay elegans

So how do we still speed up propagation by cutting them if they're that touchy? Here's what finally worked for me. I make a gravel bowl. I use a Correl-ware bowl with a layer of Idaho aragonite chips. Use a hammer to make them. The flat ones that are 1/4 - inch wide work best. Put this bowl in a quiet corner of your aquarium where current will not blow the cuttings away. Unfortunately, wave makers interfere here. Simply place the cuttings in the bowl on the gravel chips to attach.

It takes mushroom anemones about one day to 2 weeks to attach. I then use a turkey baster to grab the attached ones with their rock chips and remove them to sit on the sand and form an even stronger attachment for another week or so. This just frees up more room to put more fresh cut mushrooms into the gravel bowl to start attaching.

small jay

Once they are firmly attached take them out of the aquarium and onto a Correl-ware plate where you can blot off the underside of the rock chips and then super glue several of them to an aragonite rock exactly where you want them. Just be careful not to get too much glue on the rock chips. If if oozes up around the rock chip and onto the mushroom, the mushroom will often detach within just days because of irritation.

Pieces of mushroom anemones can be cut from larger ones or larger disks can be cut off and then quartered and put in the gravel to attach and regrow a whole disk with new mouth. Elephant ear mushrooms (rhodactis) and even ricordea seem to work best when just the edges are cut off then cut into squares before put in the gravel bowl to attach. When glued carefully and cleanly this method works very well for making beautiful mushroom rocks.

Small Xenia and other soft corals will propagate this way

small jay

While this method seems to work best for mushroom anemones it can also be used for attaching all kinds of small cuttings including pieces of leather corals including leather lettuce/flower/cabbage (lobophytum) which is another touchy coral that often slimes if rubber banded or tied with fishing line to rock.

leather corals can be started with the bowl method
leather coral

Directly super glue this one to rock or use the gravel bowl for good success. Yellow leather mushroom corals (sarcophyton) are another very touchy coral that is best propagated using the gravel bowl. But the yellow leather mushroom bruises easily when handled at all and so you must use a new razor blade or VERY sharp scissors to cut pieces, then handle them VERY carefully each time you transfer them.
Zoanthids can benefit from the gravel bowl too. If you just cut the polyps with stems off of the parent colony rock you can get these polyps to attach to new rock in several ways including the gravel bowl. But now the bare nubs on the parent rock you cut them from will grow new polyps again and again each time you cut them which can be done about monthly under good growing conditions. Coral gardening is a great hobby that can even turn into a great business - coral farming of course. LeRoy puts it best: "If you're willing to just spend part time on this business for 80 hours a week, 7 days a week you can easily break even in just a few years!" I'm not sure if that is just a joke or if it means we all need to share propagation techniques to make the business end of it a little more profitable. The more techniques you become successful with the better you'll do and the more you'll enjoy it.

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Gorgonians

"Whipped" at last!

After a couple of years growth in my reef aquarium a nice well branched brown photo synthetic gorgonian was growing too tall for its home. I counted the branches and tried to visualize just how many cuttings I could make from it and still come out with a nice looking but pruned showpiece.

I finally got up the courage to prune it with a sharp pair of scissors. I cut off mostly 3 and 4 inch lengths and then rubber banded them into crevices in pieces of Idaho aragonite rock from GARF so that each would form a pair of rabbit ears to become aesthetically pleasing more quickly. Both ends of each cutting grew despite one half being upside down! Attachment was much slower than expected though. After about two long months a couple of them looked attached but upon removing the rubber bands (or upon them breaking) the gorgonian cuttings would detach before a day was up. Then four months had gone by with some of them and the results were only a little better.

It is now very easy for me to make cuttings
of what was once one of the more difficult cuttings
for me to make. I now cut off shorter pieces of
gorgonian only 1 1/4 - 1 inches long and strip the skin
off the bottom 3/4 inch of the stem with a knife and
imbedded them in super glue gel

This was discouraging. Leather corals and Zoanthids would attach within 7-14 days virtually every time with fishing line or rubber bands. So I next tried using fishing line which worked no better on gorgonians than rubber bands had.

On to super glue gels next. Poor results again. The super glue caused the gorgonian skin to rot.So, next I tried plastic toothpicks shoved into the stem of gorgonians then super glued to rocks. They just rotted off the length of where the tooth pick pieces were inserted, leaving a bare stem with live gorgonian above it. At the same time I tried two other pieces of gorgonian a different way with super glue since the super glue seemed to irritate and kill gorgonian flesh. So I drilled holes into aragonite rocks and glued just one thin strip down one side and a small dot on the bottom of the gorgonian, and I glued them into the holes They rotted out of the holes just like the ones did off the tooth picks. Now I had four specimens with bare stems sticking out their bottoms.

I hate admitting all these embarrassing defeats but now what??? Everything I tried either didn't work or didn't work well enough to satisfy me. It was obvious that gorgonians, at least the thick brown fluffy photo synthetic varieties, didn't like to attach or grow onto new rock when irritated or restricted.

I experienced this same problem of irritation rebellion when making cuttings of mushroom anemones, the more I restricted them the more I lost. That was the logical answer: Don't restrict them, at all!!!

So, I took the four pieces of gorgonian out of water to my kitchen table on a Correl-ware plate and glued just the bare stems to the sides of the rocks they had rotted off of or out of. I just barely let the skin at the top of the bare stems touch the rock and was careful not to get the glue on the live gorgonian skin to irritate it.

I then wanted to make real sure that the stems didn't come unstuck from the rocks so I imbedded them in super glue gel but was still careful not to let any get on the live flesh.

I put them back in the tank and they started
attaching to the rock within only a week!
I hadn't seen this before. Then the real surprise
happened! Over the next few weeks the skin grew
right downward over the stems that were imbedded
in super glue!

I put them back in the tank and they started attaching to the rock within only a week! I hadn't seen this before. Then the real surprise happened! Over the next few weeks the skin grew right downward over the stems that were imbedded in super glue!!! Weird, just like the stem is still alive and not imbedded in glue! I've since done this with many more cutting with the same results. It is now very easy for me to make cuttings of what was once one of the more difficult cuttings for me to make.

I now cut off shorter pieces ofgorgonian only 1 1/4 - 1 inches long and strip the skin off the bottom(it seems that either end can be bottom) - 3/4 inch of the stem with a knife or wire strippers. When using wire strippers only remove 1/8 - 1/4 inch of skin at a time or you'll break the stem off with the skin.

If you are growing specimens for medical research or whatever, keep in mind that dividing up a one foot length of gorgonian stem into eight pieces results in a lot more total new growth between the pieces than just dividing it into just two pieces.

The growth rate of the large fluffy photo synthetic gorgonians in my reef aquariums is usually up to 2 inches per year. I've recently kept some of the small round short pieces of gorgonian skin with polyps that I stripped off the stems with wire strippers and then put them in a bowl of aragonite chips in an aquarium to see if they will grow without the stem It's been about a month and they are just kind of holding on but no growth or attachment yet.

I'll try it with higher lighting just to make sure before I write the little pieces off. It seems that they really depend on the stem for more than just support.

Some people have had success with drilling holes in rock and using pieces of craft Styrofoam balls (the ones that are crunchy from the craft store to make things with - not packing Styrofoam) to lodge the gorgonian into the hole until it grows around it and onto the rock. I've had only very limited success with this technique recently and have gone back to THE ONLY WAY to do it: Just super glue the bare stem to the side of aragonite rock.

It's quick.
It's easy.
It's sure.

And for the first few weeks you have a specimen that is growing in two directions: upward as well as down the side of the rock.

SUPER GLUE WINS AGAIN!

You just have to find out how to use it right.

I sure like propagating gorgonians a lot more now than I did several months ago. They've gone from one of the more difficult corals for me to propagate to one of the easiest You know, my Mama used to say: "Hair algae today, gorgonian tomorrow." Or something like that?



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PROJECT OF THE WEEK

$49.00 MUSHROOM ROCK

small jay

MUSHROOM ROCKS

MUSHROOM Rocks are one of the best sellers.

small jay

Materials

Always include at least two colors of MUSHROOM S

Tools

Instructions

Drill one hole in Lava to give the Decorator Rock a higher value. Be careful to not break the rock by trying to drill faster than the bit can go. Lava can be hard to drill so go slower than with other types of rocks

Place cuttings on rock so that they will be on top when rockis placed in reef. Secure the netting over the cuttings withseveral rubber bands.

Use netting to secure mushrooms with rubberbands

small jay

The netting should be tight so that it holds the the cuttings on the rock until they attach.

Glue the coralline rocks to the top of the lava rock with the coralline touching the lava.

This Purple Mushroom is held in place with netting

small jay

Place the rock in the bottom of a grow out tank so that the mushroms get light. This rock will grow best if it does not get strong current. We use SeaChem Reef Plus at twice the regular dose on all MUSHROOM S

. MORE SOON LeRoy


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INDEX OF OUR RESEARCH

NEW

1997 WINTER - SPRING NEWSLETTER Our foundation is growing - Please visit our Newslettr
REEF AQUARIUM FARMING NEWS Newest information on reef aquarium farming


CORALLINE ALGAE PROPAGATION Learn to grow coralline algae on your reef aquarium live rocks
COMBINATION ROCK PROPAGATION Learn to grow combination reef aquarium live rocks
COMBINATION ROCK BASE ROCK SELECTION Learn about base rock for combination reef aquarium live rocks
COMBINATION ROCK SPECIES SELECTION Learn about selecting species for combination reef aquarium live rocks

LOW COST BULLET PROOF REEF AQUARIUM Learn to start an inexpensive reef aquarium
55 GALLON INSTA REEF Visit Rachel Read's 12 week old Bullet Proof Reef Aquarium
MORE PICTURES OF THIS REEF AQUARIUM


Geothermal Aquculture Research Foundation,Inc. online tour Learn why we call it Geothermal
GARF RESEARCH HOME PAGE Learn about the other research we are doing
JOIN THE RESEARCH FOUNDATION You can support our research and learn more about reef aquariums and wetlands
Super glue research page We teach you the Super Glue method of invertebrate propagation
Super Glue evaluaton page Our researchers rate many brands of super glue
Geothermal Aquculture Research Foundation Feed Back page E-mail input so we can make these pages better
Natural Algae Control Reef Janitor Order Page - red leg hermits, snails, grunge.

NEW

Research page for Xenia and related soft coral propagation Learn to propagate xenia. Please enter any data you have about these corals.
Soft Coral Propagation Page Pictures and details of soft coral propagation
Stony Coral Propagation Page Pictures and details of small polyp stony corals
Mushroom Anemone Propagation Page Pictures and details of mushroom propagation
Zoanthid and palythoa Anemone Propagation Page Pictures and details of Sea mat propagation
Learn to construct a 140 gallon plywood amd epoxy reef tank

Image Page for Zoanthids and Palythoa


ALGAE CONTROL CENTRAL
REEF JANITORS ALGAE CONTROL CENTRAL
Use this site to solve your reef aquarium algae problems, and help support our research!!!

REEF AQUARIUM FARMING NEWS | REEF AQUARIUM CORAL FARMING SCHOOL | 1997 WINTER - SPRING NEWSLETTER

Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation, Inc
1726 Merrill St.
BOISE, IDAHO 83705 U.S.A.
Email: leroy@garf.org



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Leroy's Old Home page (The one that Scott did not like)