Every week we are getting reports from people all over the world who have started coral farms and are now selling tank raised corals in their areas. We are more certain than ever that captive reef farming WILL make a great difference in our hobby. More and more people are writing us from the tropics for advice on reef aquaculture. We will be visiting many of the most successful farms in the world this year so we can learn how this type of aquaculture is done in different regions.
Before I start with the information on my three tanks I have to take some time and express my feelings about a few other issues.
First it is with the deepest regret that I inform you that the March Seminar has had to be postponed. We have decided to have it in October during our fourth annual reef tour. We have had continual scheduling headaches and some personal health problems have come into play that we have no control over. We are happy to announce that Mr. Jerry Heslinga and Mr. Albert Thiel will still be our two guest speakers in October and we will have more than six different home aquariums on display for this event.
LeRoy and I were also privileged enough to be invited as guest speakers at the Portland Marine Society and the Marine Society in Vancouver, B.C. in Canada. We shared many of our propagation techniques as well as information on how to make your own rock. We explained how we maintain a simple yet successful reef system. The members of both of these clubs where so kind, and I was humbled by being asked for my first autograph. We can never thank everyone enough for their support of our Foundation and the commitment they share with us.
|We have a great marketing and business plan because of the three years
we have documented our results. This information alone is invaluable
to those who are considering starting their own business and trying to figure
out what their expenses and projected income could be.
We also went on an extensive reef research trip. We came away with a deeper understanding of what the ocean conditions do at this time of year. You might find it quite amazing that the part of the ocean we research is covered with carpets of macro algae and mirco algae at this time of year. When looking closely at these mats you can see the baby snails everywhere. In six weeks time all the noticeable algae will be gone and the snails will be big. The ocean goes through its own Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter underwater gardens. This is something we do not allow our closed systems to do.
I personally have been concerned and continue to be concerned about questions that I can not find answers for. I have been working and researching very hard to find the answer to what coral bleaching really is, and how we as a team can work on resolving that problem. I want to make sure that we keep it out of our closed systems and at the same time I want to work on getting the ocean back into balance as well. I am scared about what is dumping into the oceans because of all the flooding that is taking place around the World. With the warming of the temperatures, how much more destructive are the chemical reactions on the plants that lives within the animals?
What I am most proud of and most at home with is my office and the love that is shared with the animals that I surround myself with. It is hard for me to leave for any length of time without missing these guys and knowing that they are missing me. You must realize that I have my hands in my tank every day moving things around and providing them the nurturing they all need. Also, what I miss is talking to all of you who write us and share your results as well as your questions with us . We are extremely sorry that some of you have had to wait so long for the responses. We have been so busy and out of town so much that we have had to get behind on answering some e-mails. However we are back now and ready for more E-mail. Please keep them coming you have no idea how much we learn from your feedback.
and strength to keep going. You, our customer or avid reader
give us the marketing information we need to be successful.
Your letters, your support, and your feedback give us the reason and strength to keep going. You, our customer or avid reader give us the marketing information we need to be successful. We know what corals are the most in demand, and guess what, it is because of all of you, that more and more people are asking maybe even demanding to buy only propagated corals!!!!! We can not even begin to keep up with your orders for these animals and we know that they are going to good homes. This is the best result we could have ever hoped for with all of our hearts. We thank you. With your questions we are able to find the most frequently asked questions and get that information out to even more people. I guess what I am really trying to convey is THAT YOU ARE THE FOUNDATION AND WE WOULD NOT BE HERE IF IT WERE NOT FOR YOU!
We have made some big staff changes and are working harder then ever to meet your needs and to grow along with you. We now have a new staff member in the office from early morning until late afternoon to assist us with answering the phone and making sure we get your messages as well as your orders. We hope this makes it easier for us to serve you and keep you inspired and excited about our Foundation. We have had to change our freight company and are really working hard on making those adjustments easier on you as well as the animals that we are shipping. It is our goal to get back with Fed - Ex as soon as we can solve the packaging size problem. We will soon have our merchant account set up with the bank so we can meet your credit card needs.
I will say that this last month has really opened my eyes to not only how much work is involved with this project but also in having to slow down and realize that I can not do all things. No matter how solid your business plan is you should always have backup ideas ready to be implemented at any given time. I will stress this point again anyone considering starting their own business either coral farming or any other business must not quit their day job - YET. You need to sit down and put your plans down on paper. It is only because I have done this that I can let my Board or staff know how far we have come and how fast it has happened.
We have a great marketing and business plan because of the three years we have documented our results. This information alone is invaluable to those who are considering starting their own business and trying to figure out what their expenses and projected income could be.
LeRoy through his tremendous insight as well as commitment to getting as much information on our site as possible has made our Foundation grow. One thing to remember is that when you grow you will need to delegate responsibilities as well as hire staff to allow you to continue to grow. We are so excited about the progress we have made and a little overwhelmed because there is always more to do and never enough time to do it all. Training staff takes time, effort and a great coach. Finding good staff members who are dedicated is not easy, but having solid descriptions of their responsibilities will go along way in getting the right person and keeping them focused on their job.
NOW ONTO REPORTING ABOUT MY SYSTEMS
| This first picture is of my now 2 year old show tank that is becoming famous around the WORLD. You must realize this is the very first aquarium I have ever done with my own hands. I am humbled by this experience because everything I know and everything I've learned I learned from someone else who I have been fortunate enough to be involved with. Not only have I learned an incredible amount from LeRoy he has also learned a lot from me. If I could not find a reason why I could not do something I would try it.
You are looking at a 55 gallon system that is two years old and has over 175 different species of corals living, thriving and now outgrowing their surroundings. This tank alone has inspired many to start a reef, it has mothered many hundreds perhaps thousands of babies. More important, at least to me, it has given me so much enjoyment. No amount of money in the World could bring me this much joy, and I so desperately want everyones life to be touched at least partly by the beauty and enrichment these systems provide.
Out of all the corals that you see in this system only about 5 came directly from the ocean. I will also state that this tank is now closed to any new corals. I only propagate from this tank but do not put any other corals in it.
LeRoy is trying to talk me into my fourth aquarium and guess what, someone from Utah came by the Foundation while we where gone on our research trip and donated a whole 55 gallon reef system. Thank you so much Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Guess whose office this new tank will probably end up in. Yet I am excited about the prospect of setting up my fourth system. I still have so much to learn and so much I want to experiment with. I will let you know if I agree to this next challenge and I will share the results with you.
|As you can see by the next picture my office is already full of aquariums and it is a matter of finding enough room in my heart to care for yet another tank full of animals that require my attention and care. I honestly thought the older my tank would get the less time I would spend with it. Well it didn't work that way. I love it the most and spend the most time on it. The middle tank which is my youngest tank, now about 7 months old, gets the least attention.|
My new hoods that I have had custom made will be placed on the top of all of them as soon as the Ice Cap ballasts show up. This has been a difficult month trying to get any Ice Cap ballast from any lighting Company, I wonder if that means they are finally getting the attention I think they should have from the hobbyist.
|This next picture shows you that not only I enjoy these reef tanks but so do the neighbors, the school children and of course our members who stop by from time to time. People stand in front of my tanks sometimes for hours at a time. I am just as guilty as the next person. I have one fish who actually hides now because every time he came out people would point at him. Now, any movement causes him to flee under the arches LeRoy made for me.|
This next picture is of a young child sitting in front of our 29 gallon reef tank. It has been one of the most fun aquariums to watch. It is made strictly from tank raised sand, rock and animals. It has no skimmer, no plenum, one powerhead - yet so much beauty. It is about one year old now, and many many people have watched this tank because it was started with nothing from the ocean. It even has one clown fish in it that was also tank raised. This is not an expensive way to set up a reef system. It is also very easy to maintain. It surprised me as to how much you can fit into a 29 gallon tank.
|The next picture is of my cutting tank this tank is now one year old. Many of you have babies that were grown in this system. It holds over 200 + cuttings at any given time. I try to keep it full all the time yet with the demand we have for the babies it is becoming harder and harder to meet your requests especially since the coral needs sometime to secure itself to the plug before allowing it to find a new home. |
We are now going to be asking you to call us up and ask for LeRoy or myself to make sure we have some corals that are ready for sale. We will not send them out before they are ready to go. We are looking at sending out our sps corals just fragged and not attached to any rock so that you can simply glue the cutting anywhere in your system. That is the way LeRoy buys all of the new rare corals.
We also now have the glue in stock so that you can order glue at the same time as the coral frag. Doing the sps corals this way will also give us a better turn around time and make shipping that much easier on the animals.
|This next picture is of a coral that came in with one of Steve Tryee's shipments. He sells propagated animals as well and this coral has incredible color. It also grows pretty fast. It does not like intense lighting nor really strong water movement.
One of my on-going jobs is paying attention to the animals and making sure they are happy in what ever location I give them. It is kind of hard to tell the true color of this coral but it is deep purple with green polyps. If you look closely you can see that I attached this coral with the super reef glue and it has grown over the glue and unto the rock.
You must keep in mind that these animals may look small when you get them, but they do grow. You must give them plenty of room to do so. You will also need to consider another tank or a person to trade animals with because they do grow fast. In the past two years my 55 gallon systems produced many many animals.
|You can get great colors by adding more than one animal to a rock. There is no place in my tanks that does not have a coral attached to it. I am not saying that this is the way you want to setup your system. Perhaps you want more space and less corals. |
I just wanted one of everything I could get my hands on and then I could spread them around to others. I honestly can not think of a coral that was impossible to keep in my system. I am prepared to grow with my tank and keep it healthy.
|This white soft coral has become one of the most popular at the Foundation. I, as yet have not propagated it. This soft coral came from Glen Hackwell, who is one of our staff members. Each coral in my tank represents something and has much meaning to me. I know where everyone of them came from and have plans for all of them. :)
My ending statement for this issue has to be I hope you have at least half the fun that LeRoy and I continue to share. With these systems we learn something new everyday. We love these animals and want to safeguard them for future generations.
I hope to hear from many of you again and I thank you beyond written words for your kindness and support of our mission.
I feel very privileged to share our recent research and new techniques with the rest of the hobbyist who have helped make tremendous strides in captive propagation. I will start this article by sharing facts on how I became involved in this incredible field of research. I will also share the motivation that led me to write this story.
My name is Sally Jo Headlee. In my previous employment I was the Executive Director of the Idaho Botanical Garden. The most important role I played there was to teach the future generations to take responsibility for the environment that sustains us all. I then met LeRoy who is the Director of research at the Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation, Inc. Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation,Inc. online tour - Learn why we call it Geothermal In this article I will refer to the Foundation as (GARF). My first visit to the Foundation left me in awe. I could not believe the beauty of these corals. I soon learned that the fight to stop live rock harvesting was going hot and heavy.
Shortly after this LeRoy asked me if I would be interested in helping him make his dream come true. His vision was to share as much knowledge, with as many people in this industry as possible, so we would no longer take these incredible corals from the ocean. After I accepted this new career I read book after book to try to get in step so I would have the knowledge to help with our goals. I learn so much quicker by doing projects hands on. So I am frequently found playing in the reefs that surround us in our lab. Learn to set up your own fantastic reef aquarium like Sally Jo's - Learn how you can grow a wonderful reef aquarium like the one we visit in this May 1997 special feature
It was not until Feb. 14, 1996 that LeRoy bought me my first aquarium. It is from this experience that I feel the need to share our accomplishments so it can be done by others. Cook Book Method for faster coralline algae growth
I had watched other people involved with the Foundation rubber band cuttings of mushrooms and other soft corals. So often these mushrooms or other soft corals would not hold. The cuttings would simply slip away from the rubber band and fall to the bottom of the reef. MUSHROOM PROPAGATION I also saw several shipments come into the Foundation with epoxy used as the method for attachment. Often the epoxy was larger than the cutting. Coralline algae was very slow to cover the epoxy. Sally Jo's 55 gallon reef is starting to mature into a small polyp stony coral aquariumYou can learn how a reef aquarium grows into a mature sps coral reef.
When first setting up my aquarium it was my goal to try to put mostly corals that were captive grown or propagated from our lab. After putting in the base rock and live rock I went around the lab and found little pieces and parts of coral. I used Super Reef Glue to attach these animals where I wanted them in my tank. Sally Jo's 55 gallon reef update with pictures from July Learn about whats new for the summer on Sally Jo's reefs
Several of GARF's members where experimenting with cuttings and attaching them to dry base rock with super glue. I decided to try super gluing these corals underwater and attaching the corals to live rock. Amazingly, it works! I was able to place each animal where I wanted it and could even glue rock to rock. I have been using super glue for attaching soft and hard corals for one and a half years. SALLY JO'S REEFS UPDATE - August 1997
We have used this method in all of our 40 reef tanks in the lab. Several people from around the world are now using this method for propagation with GREAT results. I personally have used super glue on at least 175 different species of both soft and hard corals. In my 55 gallon reef aquarium I have over 400 grams of glue holding all of my animals in place. I have never lost an animal to this method of attachment. Even with the heavier sps corals this method holds them in place so they don't fall over and die or sting another animal. SALLY JO'S SEPTEMBER REEF UPDATE
By accident my clown fish, who has to check out every new animal I put in my aquarium, has had his little mouth glued more than once. No one has ever reported any negative results from this form of attachment. It has saved a lot of time and money for the people who grow corals for a living.
Before we actually tried the super glue on the corals, we researched it's use extensively. During the war they actually used it to hold cuts together instead of stitching the soldier up. We tested several brands of super glue and have found the one that we like the best. Super Glue evaluation page. Our researchers rate many brands of super glue.
This super reef gel comes out of the tube really thick so it gives you time to adjust the coral right where you want it. We have witnessed tremendous growth of our corals and the animals grow right over the super glue in less than a month.
I have taken a Merulina sps coral that Mike Paletta gave me and attached it to a rock. I later popped it off so a piece of the animal was still attached to the rock. I did this two more times. I have since shared the Merulina with other members. I propagate this coral by breaking pieces off but I keep the pieces that are still growing and attached to my live rock. I have seen these corals grow over the super glue, down onto the rock. Another great benefit is if you don't like the rock that the coral is growing on you can just pop it off and place it in different part of your system. Stony Coral Propagation Page
Pictures and details of small polyp stony corals.
The super glue method also gives you flexibility to change the position of your corals if they are not getting enough light or enough current. You can simply pop them off and glue them to a better spot. My tank is completely full of corals attached with super glue, and all animals are growing and thriving.
COMBINATION ROCK PROPAGATION
I remember when I first started reading all the reef books. I not only became scared, but I was sure I would never be successful in reef keeping. As you can see by the pictures, I proved myself wrong. It seems that the more I read the more questions I ask. If someone can't provide me with a reasonable answer I, at least try to do what they say can't be done. I believe that is the true meaning of research.
I thank all the wonderful people who contributed to this hobby and the people who will come after us. There have been so many positive advancements in this hobby. With so many people writing about their systems, it is hard to know who to believe and where to go for information. I have found that by combining several methods I can create thriving reefs with many kinds of equipment. We are excited because we see more and more people demanding captive raised livestock. Many of these people are learning how to farm there own corals. Can captive reef propagation be done profitably?.
I would like to take the time to share with you how we glue these animals. I will explain products that you will need and the different techniques we use for the different animals.
THIS PHOTO SHOWS THE SOFT CORALS BEFORE WE CUT THEM. THE BRANCHING SOFT CORAL ON THE RIGHT WILL BE ONE OF THE CORALS WE PUT ON THE REEF PLUGS. WE USED THE BASTER TO CATCH THE BRANCHES AS WE CUT THEM OFF.
THE SARCOPHYTON ON THE LEFT HAS BEEN CUT SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE. WE REMOVED IT AND CUT IT INTO SEVEN SLICES . WE DROPPED THESE IN SALLY JO'S CUTTING TANK. THE SLICES WERE GLUED TO ROCKS AFTER ONE WEEK.
The branching soft coral stayed closed up like this for 3 days. It is healing very well and it will be ready to cut again next month. The Sarcophyton slices were open in 4 days in the cutting tank.
Most leather corals, such as the Sarcophyton, are easy to attach with super glue. You simply cut a piece of the coral off the mother and place it in a bowl of reef water to get the slime off of it. Then you get a piece of dry rock and place a dab of glue on it. Place the cutting on the glue and then dip it back into the salt water. Leave this cutting in the bowl for about 1 minute than it is ready to go into your reef tank. Soft Coral Propagation Page Pictures and details of soft coral propagation.
On the other hand some of the soft corals and mushrooms are a little more difficult to attach. What I do with the Xenias is cut them from the mother and place the cuttings in a bowl of salt water. Than I cut a piece of bridal veil netting. I dip it back in the salt water bowl, then cover it with the netting and secure it with a rubber band. This new animal will be fully attached in about two weeks. I do place them in pretty strong current so the slime is removed from the new baby. Research page for Xenia and related soft coral propagation
Learn to propagate xenia.
This is the same way that I do the mushrooms and Sinularia's. The only animal that I have not been successful with gluing and having it stay in place is the rock anemone. Mushroom Anemone Propagation Page Pictures and details of mushroom propagation.
THIS SHOWS THE METHOD WE USE TO ATTACH MANY TYPES OF SOFT CORALS.
THE NETTING SIZE CAN BE TESTED TO FIND THE BEST ONE FOR YOUR SYSTEM.
IF IT IS TOO LARGE THE CORALS WILL BE LOST .IF THE NETTING IS TOO SMALL THE
CORALS CAN DIE FROM LACK OF WATER MOVEMENT.
IF YOU USE FINE NETTING INCREASE THE WATER FLOW.
|Materials and Methods|
1.) Mother colony
2.) Tube of thick Super glue
3.) Base rock
4.) Paper towels
7.) Small wood chisel
8.) Two large glass or plastic bowls
9.) Several types of netting
2.) Tube of thick Super glue
3.) Base rock
4.) Paper towels
7.) Small wood chisel
8.) Two large glass or plastic bowls
9.) Several types of netting
|THIS PHOTO SHOWS THE DETAILS OF A REEF PLUG THAT IS
READY TO GO IN THE CUTTING TANK RACK.
DRY BASE ROCK SELECTION
At first you will have more success when you use dry substrate such as aragonite base rock that has not been in a marine aquarium. ( Dry base rock will not have a bio-film. Any bio-film will tend to repel new cuttings.)
Prepare the base by locating the site of attachment. Set the rock on a table and visualize how the piece will look when the cuttings have grown. Place cuttings on opposite ends of rock if they will compete for space. Try to position cuttings so the rock will be balanced in the aquarium. If you are producing the rocks for sale, put easy to grow cuttings on larger rocks, and put more difficult to grow species on smaller rocks. Beginning aquarist tend to purchase rocks with leather corals and zoanthids before their aquariums are filled with specimens. They will choose large rocks with small cuttings if they have the chance. When the aquarist and the aquarium are ready for small polyped stony corals many aquariums are full of live rocks and other specimens. Another small rock with a healthy cutting will fit in the aquarium if something else is moved, cut, or sold. COMBINATION ROCK SPECIES SELECTION Learn about selecting species for combination reef aquarium live rocks.
BASE ROCK PREPARATION
Clean the surface of the rock by washing it in tap water. When the rocks are dry you are ready to attach cuttings.
I will explain this method by discussing each type of cutting individually.
SARCOPHYTON - LOBOPHYTON CORAL (Leather Corals)
Leather corals can be prepared several weeks in advance. This method will increase the success rate to nearly 100%. The selected leather coral is first cut into sections. Do not remove these sections from the parent coral. Visualize the soft coral as a clock face. Starting with a coral that looks like the upright mushroom cut almost one half way thru the cap at 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, 8:00, and 10:00. Do not remove these cuttings from the stalk. Keep this cut coral in clean water and a good current. It will heal in about three weeks. Do not worry because the coral stays closed for many days. When the coral has opened up the cuts will have started healing.
When the cut surfaces have healed you can remove every other section with your scissors. Place these cuttings in a bowl of aquarium water. Choose the base rocks and prepare the attachment sites. 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 thick SuperReef Glue to the prepared site on the base rock. Two drops are usually enough. Pick up the cutting and press the newly cut section on the prepared site. Place the cutting and base rock into the bowl of aquarium water for 2 minutes. Place the new cuttings in the reef aquarium so the cutting receives adequate light and strong current.
SOFT BRANCHING CORAL PROPAGATION
SINNULARIA AND LITOPHYTON - (Soft Branching Coral)
This type of soft coral has been very difficult to attach using rubber bands and fishing line because they are so soft. The Super Glue method has two advantages. The glue seals the cutting and protects it from infection. It is important to note that most of the soft corals are a little more tricky to attach then the hard corals.
We have been most successful with taking the mother animal out of the show tank. Make sure that you have a bowl of water, Super Reef Glue, the dry rock for attachment, rubber bands, bridal veil netting, and some dry paper towels. Please DO NOT try to cut these animals in your show tank, they slime up and can poison other animals. We cut the mother pretty drastically, it won't hurt them, I promise. If you have a large healthy Sinnularia you should be able to cut it in about 15 pieces and have a healthy one to return to your tank.
Cut off several of the arms that are coming out from the base. Place the cuttings in the bowl of reef water. Hold the rock that you are going to attach the animal to, then drop a dab of glue on the rock and place the propagated animal on the glue. Because this animal is prone to slime so much, you have to take a few more steps for a successful attachment. Cut a round piece of the bridal veil, place it around the cutting you have just made and secure a rubber band around the netting. It is best if you do not have the rubber band touching any part of the animal.
Put this new baby in the bowl of water with the other cuttings. Leave it in the bowl for about 2 minutes then place it in your grow out tank. Continue this process until you complete all the cuttings you want to make. You never have to glue the Mother because the base and some of the arms should still be attached to the rock from your show tank. I dip the mother one more time before placing it back in my show tank, to be sure that it won't contaminate it's tank mates.
After you finish this task you should not be surprised if the polyps don't come back out for a few days and sometimes it takes a week. The cuttings stay attached until they grow onto the base rock. I have found that these cuttings often attach better if they are glued by putting the glue on the rock and placing the cutting on it's side. This method allows the undamaged portion of the coral to touch the base rock.
SACROPHYTON - GOLD CROWN TYPEŒ
These round ball type soft corals can be split into 4 or 6 equal parts by cutting the coral down to the base rock. Do not detach the pieces from the rock. When the fresh cuts have healed remove every other one. These are attached to the prepared base rock with the thick glue. The remaining sections are cut into several new sections by splitting them and leaving them on the stalk. This is a good way to train the coral away from other specimens. We have some Gold crowns that are almost like bonsai.
PULSE CORALS -(WOODS POLYPS,CLOVE POLYPS ECT.)
WOODS POLYPS - Anthelia glauca
Our research for new and better propagation techniques has allowed us to make this particular animal very easy to attach! All you need for this project is: Super Reef Glue, dry rock, a bowl of salt water and clean hands. You simply take the Mother colony out of your show tank. To make babies all you do is pull at the base of the animal. Make sure you have one or two polyps for each propagated piece. Take your Super Reef Glue and put a drop on the dry base rock. Place the base of the cutting on the reef gel. Then you move this new baby back into your bowl make sure the water covers the glue to harden it. You are ready to place this animal in your grow out tank.
THE LEFT PHOTO SHOWS TWO OF THE MOST PROFITABLE CORALS. THE WOODS POLYP AND THE SARCOPHYTON.
THE RIGHT PHOTO IS THE BALI XENIA ( top center ) AND THE WOODS POLYP. BOTH OF THESE CORALS GROW VERY FAST.
THE OTHER GREAT CORALS IN THIS PHOTO ARE THE MONTIPORA ( brown sps coral ) AND THE GREEN BRANCHING SOFT CORAL.
THESE PHOTOS SHOW THE WOODS POLYPS THAT WE GROW IN ALL OF OUR PRODUCTION TANKS WHEN WE FIRST SET THEM UP.
SMALLER POLYPS - Cespitularia - Waving hands etc.
These soft corals are removed from the base rock with a sharp wood chisel. Start the cut 1/8" from the edge of the colony. Push the chisel into the base rock so you remove a thin slice of the interconnecting base. Glue sections of the polyp colony to the base rock. Use a drop of the thick glue to attach any parts of the colony not glued down. Return the cutting to the reef tank. These types of cuttings have been close to 100% successful.
Setting the Pulse of Propagation: XENIA
PROPAGATING XENIA Xenia sp.
Most of the Xenia that we have in the unconnected genetic bank have large polyps with pinnated tentacles that move in a rhythmic motion. These polyps are connected at the base. The colors we have are white, cream, beige, and light brown. We have just received a new colony from Bali that is cream with pink and brown edges on the polyps. This Xenia is growing very fast. It is the finest looking pulse coral I have ever seen! Xenia's are one of the more difficult animals to propagate.
These are slippery, slimy and delicate animals. However if you are willing to take a few additional steps we have researched the safest ways to accomplish propagating xenia's. You will need to have these items at your finger tips before you begin. Bridal veil (it is important to purchase the wider netting since the xenia needs to breath), scissors, tweezer, Super Reef Glue, a bowl of reef water, rubber bands, dry base rock and a few prayers.
I start by pulling the Mother colony out from my show tank. Then I cut one of the big thick stems and cut that into several slimy pieces. After working with xenia as much as I have, I believe as long as the new cutting has at least one polyp it will grow and thrive.
I then pick up my tweezers grab one of the new cuttings, put a dab of glue on the dry base rock, and place the animal on the glue sideways. I dip this fresh cutting in the salt water bowl to harden the Super reef glue. I cut a circle of netting place it around the animal and attach the netting in place with a rubber band. These animals need strong current and bright light. You should expect to be able to remove the netting in about one to two weeks and the animal will be attached to the rock. I then add an extra dose of iodine to both systems the one the mother is in as well as the grow out tank. I do not do more than one stem at a time because these are rather delicate animals. Once you give them the right conditions they can and do become a weed (although they are mighty pretty)
We have been able to propagate this Xenia by cutting off one polyp and placing it on a reef plug under a piece of fine netting. The best way to remove one polyp is to suck the polyp up into a air line tube and snip it off with a pair of scissors. The embossed type of fine bridal veil has worked very well for this type of production. We hold the netting in place with a rubber band.
This Xenia is much more branched than the other species. It is growing three inch long branches that are connected at the base.
We have been propagating many of our Xenia by placing the rocks we want them to grow on next to them. After they have spread to the new rock, it is moved to a new location. These grow so well that you have to thin out the clusters. (We believe that this is the key to why they have grown so well. )
Fiji Pom Pom - Xenia umbellata
This xenia can be grown using the single polyp method. The safest way to produce this xenia is to place small rocks around the colony and remove the ones that have the Xenia attached.
The soft coral known as "pulsing xenia", which tends to ship very poorly, does amazingly well once settled into the aquarium. This coral can be stimulated to grow and divide rapidly under certain conditions. One must provide them with intense light (a period of adjustment up to high levels is required), a very strong current, and daily iodine additions.
Xenia Growing For The Local Market
As new polyp heads grow off the central stalk, one can simply cut apart the new polyp heads. You can then place them in other areas of the tank. When removed in this manner, the Xenia heals rapidly. Our research suggests that the Xenia actually responds by growing at an even faster pace.
The easiest way I have found to propagate this coral is to use scissors to trim off the taller pom-poms and thin out the colony. We also propagate these corals by cutting a single polyp. These polyps are then placed on a piece of aragonite with a small drop of Super reef Glue. The cutting is held in place by wrapping the cutting in bridal veil.
These small polyps are a good cutting to add to mixed species rocks. With the Super Reef Glue we can glue individual polyps of several types to the base rocks. Pick the polyp up with tweezers and place the base on a drop of glue. Several colors will grow into a mixed colony. We add one or two of these polyps to most of our other rocks. Put the Zoanthids on the end of live rock separated from other cuttings.
ZOANTHID COMBO ROCK PROPAGATION
These anemones require bright light and strong current. Place these cuttings at the top of the reef aquarium. We have had the best growth in tanks with at least 5 watts per gallon of VHO lighting. Most of our production tanks have 3- 4 foot 40 watt bulbs - Two Tritons and one blue Moon.
Green Mexican Palythoa
The polyps on this type of Palythoa can be cut off above the base and the heads can be glued or sewed onto a base. The stalks will grow another head in a few weeks. The colony will spread onto rocks that are placed next to this group of Palythoa. This is an easy way to get more brood stock. We now have 6 colors of this palythoa that keep there colors under many conditions.
Zoanthid and palythoa Anemone Propagation Page
Pictures and details of Sea mat propagation
Image Page for Zoanthids and Palythoa
One important fact I feel is important to share with you is they are very toxic. Do not cut, or propagate this animal inside your show tank. Do not attempt to make any cuttings if you have any kind of cut on your hand. The natives used this animal for there poison darts.
These anemones do best when fed several times each week. The food that has produced the best growth is made up of blended fish and shrimp meat that has been mixed in SeaChem Reef Plus This red mixture has vitamins and iodide. We use four tablespoons of Reef Plus to one tablespoon food.
These soft corals form an encrusting purple or brown mass. The surface feels hard because of calcareous selerites embedded in the mesoglea. These corals are removed from the parent colony with a wood chisel. Place these cuttings in a bowl of reef water. Dry the cuttings on paper towel for 30 seconds. Apply the thick glue to the prepared site and hold the cutting in place for 10 seconds. This method works because it holds the cutting tightly while they attach. Several small cuttings of different strains can be placed on the same rock. All colors will do well together, but large types tend to over grow small types.
Small Polyp Stony (SPS) Corals
Fragments of these corals do extremely well when glued to aragonite with this type of glue. We have been successful in gluing these sps corals to wet live rock, underwater as well as to dry rock to place in our cutting tanks. We use most of our cuttings for grow out and the rest of them are glued back in the mother tank. These corals are by far the easiest corals to propagate. They attach in seconds and grow extremely fast. With the soft corals you see a lot of slime and they do not attach as easily.
REPORT ON THIS YEARS SPECIAL RESEARCH ON SPS CORAL PROPAGATION
We feel that by using the Super Glue method that the cutting heals faster and regenerates without diseases. Another important point is that the sps corals can be quite heavy and the Super Reef Glue molds and holds them in about 40 seconds. Sometimes it takes a little longer depending on the weight of the coral. We have witnessed the sps corals growing right over the Super Reef Glue. It then grows right on the rock you glued it to. You can hardly see there is at least 600 - 800 grams of super reef gel in my 55 gallon sps coral reef aquarium. Once the frag has grown over the Super Reef Glue and grown unto the rock you can simply pop off the frag and the sps coral will continue to grow on the rock.
We have made several cuttings of the sps corals and if done right the polyps come out the very same day. I see them grow faster, healthier, and brighter in color. It is very similar to pruning your roses. If you don't do it right, they won't bloom for you. These corals look like they are almost floating above the base rock. Only the center skeleton is attached at first. These cuttings have been very strong even before the tissue grows down onto the base rock.
The most interesting finding is that none of the polyps around the base die. When we use epoxy some tissue always dies. I love to watch the polyps grow down onto the base rock. They form a circle of polyps around the fragment, and then new branches start up from this base. Small pieces of Porites type corals can be glued to larger rocks by breaking off small pieces from the colony. GROWING SPS CORALS IN PLASTIC BUD VASES
Cutting Bowl Method
We have started to use a bowl of salt water with little pieces of rock placed on the bottom. We add tiny cuttings to the bowl and cover it with netting so nothing can escape. This bowl is placed in the reef aquarium out of the strong current. After the xenia or mushroom attaches to the small rock I pick it out of the bowl and attach it with Super Reef Glue to a bigger rock. This new animal is ready to find a good home. GRAVEL BOWL PROPAGATION
Soft corals are the hardest of propagation but, if you are creative you can find some tricks that work quite well. It takes me about one hour to make 50 cuttings that are ready to set in my cutting tank. They are ready for sale in about two months.
The thing I truly love about it is that I can place 3 - 5 different animals on the same rock. I can put together the most fantastic color combinations that you would never find in nature. I have found the Super Reef Glue to be helpful when my corals grow so fast that they start to grow out of the water. I simply pop them off and glue the animal lower in my system. This method also works when the animals start touching each other. $19.00 COMBO REEF PLUG PROJECT
I believe the coral heals a lot faster with this Super Reef Glue and you can make several babies at once. I hope this article is helpful to all who read it. My hope is that we will continue to go in the direction we are and not limit ourselves to old methods. If we share our knowledge and animals amongst each other we will not have to take so much from the ocean which has given us so much yet, has a limited resource!
Please contact us at the Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation, Inc. if you have any questions about reef aquarium propagation. You can reach Sally Jo and LeRoy Headlee at 208-344-6163.
Sally Jo Headlee
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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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Stony Coral Propagation Page Pictures and details of small polyp stony corals
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