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Attaching corals

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When you are finally ready to start creating a reef, you will begin to research your corals. By now, most know that corals should not be added immediately after your cycle is done. This is the most unstable time in the creation of your marine tank. By taking the time to learn your corals, you will have a good handle on where to place them, how much room they need for growth, how to avoid coral 'warfare', what their level of preference is, and, their lighting and water circulation needs. Right now is a great time to read. Assuming this is done, and, you know how to peform at least two methods of acclimatizing your corals, how do you physically and securely put them in the tank?


It's good to know a couple of terms:

  • propagation: the method by which corals grow or extend, or, how WE get them to grow and extend. For example, Ricordea florida propagates by fission.
  • fragging: physically splitting, cutting or dividing a coral into more than one piece in order to propagate more
  • frag: pieces of coral, usually adherent to liverock or segments of coral polyps with their skeleton

Fragging and propagation of corals is an entire post (or 2 or 3) in itself, but, let's just look at some basic methods for attaching corals that you buy to your live rock aquascape.




1) Epoxy putty: this is an all-in-one two part epoxy that comes in a small tube. You can cut off small pieces and when you knead it in your hands, the epoxy is 'activated' and will harden shortly after. It is slightly difficult to work with under water, but, when it holds, it works well. It's good for corals on solid pieces of live rock and also for the bottom of a coral skeleton. BE CAREFUL: if you push too hard you can injure the coral, fracture it's skeleton or, if not wearing gloves, get a reaction to the epoxy (not common)




2) Glue: There are several brans out there which can be used to glue coral skeletons to your rockwork. They are basically cyanoacrylate, or, super glue.




3) Rubber bands: Tough to use, but, if you get a frag of a softie that is not attached to a piece of live rock, it can be rubber banded to the aquascape, or, to a piece of live rock first.


4) Plastic toothpicks: If you have a loose mushroom or other coral that is slimy and hard to affix, you can surround it with plastic toothpics with their tips placed in epoxy putty. Sorta a plastic fence. Takes work. DO NOT USE WOOD TOOTHPICKS. Another way is to stick the plastic toothpick into the tentacle of a frag, place epoxy on the tip of the toothpick and adhere that to the aquascape. Sometimes a rubber band is needed to hold the tentacle onto the toothpick.


5) Rest on the substrate: This is usually used for open brains, closed brains, plate corals. Simply lay them on the substrate.


6) Interlock: Sometimes the frag you buy may have a wedge shape and might fit nicely and securely into a crevice in your rockwork. Be careful that both the positioning and your aquascape are stable. If a rockslide occurs and damages the tisse on the coral, infection and death could set in.


7) Other:

  • rings of plastic one liter soda bottles to keep softies from moving
  • women's nylons or wedding lace wrapped around frags



The following soft coral arrives from your lfs:




1) Acclimate the coral carefully, both to temp and s.g.

2) Find a temporary place to allow the coral to safely recuperate from it's shipping and open up. In this case the coral was acclimated by drip method and rested on the substrate




3) Select an area on your aquascape that will maximize the coral's survivability

4) In this case, epoxy was used. Apply gloves. Cut off a satisfactory amount of epoxy that will seat the coral frag (in the photo above, it was tennis racket-shaped)

5) Keeping the coral submerged, either apply the epoxy to the bottom of the frag or, if easier, to the area of the rockwork that will hold the coral

6) CAREFULLY press the frag in place and hold it for a few minutes. You'll feel the epoxy warm up.

7) When stable, you can release.



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Thanks, but, N-R is not big on stickies. I can't recall any even being stickied. SH

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move and stickie on Aquaculture forum!

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Thanks, this will be very very helpful when i buy my corals!

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Can someone elaborate on or point me to a thread on the supergluing process using the gel superglue. I've used similar "zap a gap" supergule in modeling efforts and noticed that A. it doesn't seem to work wet and B. it seems like pretty hostile stuff.

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do you have to take the live rock out of the aquarium and glue it on or do it underwater? because it seems the superglue would hurt the water chem

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