Aquaculture of coral

Coral aquaculture , also known as coral farming or coral gardening , is the cultivation of corals for commercial purposes or coral reef restoration. Aquaculture is showing promise as a potential tool for restoring coral reefs , which have been declining around the world. [1] [2] [3] The process bypasses the early growth stages of corals when they are most at risk of dying. Small corals are propagated in nurseries then replanted on the reef. [4] Coral is farmed by coral farmers who live locally in the reefs and farm for reef conservationgold for income. It is also farmed by scientists for research, by businesses for the supply of the live and ornamental coral trade, and by private aquarium hobbyists.


Coral reef farming is the extracting of segments or larvae of live corals from a reef and growing in a nursery until adulthood. It is commonly referred to as “gardening method” as it is analogous to horticulture and has been compared to silviculture as a management practice that mimics natural ecosystems. [3] [5] The technical process involved treating coral as if it was a plant. Small corals, analogous to seeds, are propagated in nurseries , then replanted in their natural habitat – in this case, the sea. [3]

Coral reef farming is predominantly practiced for three reasons, for conservation, to supply aquariums and zoos for public exhibits or to supply the home aquarium hobby industry. Grown corals can be transplanted back into the reef, usually over damaged areas, improving the recovery of coral reefs suffering from degradation. [3] [6] Some areas where coral is farmed in situ for conservation reasons are the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Palau, Fiji, Marshall Islands and Japan. Coral farming ex situ more frequently in public aquariums in North America and Europe. [7]


The decline of reefs, globally has been measured as 1% annually before 1997, increasing to 2% over the period between 1997 and 2003. [3] Adding to this, the reefs of the world are more affected by severe weather events, such as cyclones, [8] from predation from crown of thorns starfish and from competition for habitat with other foundation species Such as seaweeds . Seaweeds can take over the coral’s usual habitat when fishing stocks are too low and the herbivorous fish do not keep the seaweed at bay by eating it. [6] Adding to this, there is also an increased frequency of coral bleachingevents, including “the severe bleaching event” of 1997-1998. [9] It is reported that increased water temperatures and ocean acidification have correlated with an increase in bleaching events. [10] [11]

These natural stressors to the coral reef are further aggravated by the human impact on coral reefs . Anthropogenic stressors such as coastal development , dynamite fishing , cyanide fishing , overexploitation of resources and marine pollution , have left 58% of the world’s reefs under threat. [12] An example is the exploitation of mushroom coral in Indonesia which is harvested for the supply of jewelry and curios trades. [13] [14]The harvesting of live reef organisms, including coral, is increasing around the world, and there is concern about the damage to the marine life of the marine aquarium trade. [2] Coral is often overharvested from the reef to supply this growing demand. Overharvesting is weakening the ability of reefs to replenish after other harmful events.

Coral aquaculture and transplantation have the ability to improve coral cover, biodiversity , and structural heterogeneity of a degraded reef. Success of the technique has been achieved with fire coral , Pocillopora verrucosa and Acropora hemprichii . [15] The restoration of the reef is a restoration of the natural habitat of organisms associated with the reef, such as reef fishes . [4]Coral is an important foundation species . While it covers less than one percent of the ocean surface, it provides habitat for nearly all of a species of fish.[7] Nursery-grown coral might also promote resilience by making contributions to the larval pool. This could have a positive effect on new growth if transplantation of the new coral is made just before a larval release season. [1]

Oceanographer, Baruch Rinkevich [16] coined the term active restoration to describe the method of coral reef farming in contrast with what he describes as passive restoration efforts such as the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs). [3] The active restoration of coral reef farming is so called because it involves human intervention to aid conservation. MPAs or bans on coral harvesting are described as passive because there is a lack of such interference in coral harvesting, fishing and dredging. MPAs are often located around coral reefs in the hope that the coral is left alone it will recover. [6]

Commercial supply for aquarium hobbyists

Many people enjoy the creation of their own home aquarium display. In response to this, there are many businesses that farm coral strictly for profit. Greenhouses instead of artificially lighted aquariums. [17]Corbin reports that the 1999 Honolulu, Hawaii Marine Ornamentals Conference concluded with a recommendation to “give highest priority to projects involving the advancement of marine ornamental aquaculture and reef preservation.” Conferred on the importance of encouraging hobbyists to supply only coral reef farms to help the over-harvesting of corals. They are also considered to be more effective and more effective than alternative approaches to wild-caught live reef organisms. [18]


For conservation

There are three stages in the farming of coral for coral reef restoration: Collecting asexual or sexual material and growing in tanks, further growing in submerged sea nurseries and finally re-transplantation into the reef.

Stage one

Coral can reproduce sexually by spawning or asexually by budding polyps . The current mode of sourcing coral seedlings is to obtain asexual material from gold colonies or stray coral fragments by way of harvesting coral branches, gold fragments or nubbins (pieces of coral pruned from the tips). This fragmentation is by far the most widely practiced method. [7]

Another method currently being pioneered collecting the coral spawn from sexual reproduction and growing up the coral right from the zygote stage. This option has many advantages that are beginning to earn you attention by researchers. Coral colonies on the same day spawn together in one synchronized spawning event. This allows for hundreds of coral eggs to be collected at one time. This method is known as spat stocking . Linden describes a growing device made of Petri dishes with preconditioned Mailer’s paper disks on which the planula of Stylophora pistillataare grown. One-month-old survivors have been transferred to a coral nursery, where the trays have been covered with plastics to prevent predation and detachment. Four months later, more than 89% of the corals had survived. [19]

At the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville, Australia, large mother colonies of Acropora formosa . [20] Small mature colonies are being removed from the reef and shifted into a laboratory tank for spawning. They can then be reattached to the reef with cement.

Using this method, the mother colonies are not affected in any way. It may be possible to cultivate large polyped stony corals , such as Caryophylliina , Euphyllia , Heliofungia , Lobophyllia and Trachyphyllia , it has been broad-scale using sexual reproduction, since they do not reproduce by fragmenting into large numbers. [7] This method has been proven effective on Red Sea soft coral species, Alcyonarians : Clavularia hamra , Nephthea sp ., Litophyton arboreum . [15]

Stage two

The second stage of the coral farming process is when the corals are transported from their indoor tanks, to nurseries in the sea. The nurseries are ideally located at a mid-depth. While they will float in the water column, the coral will be attached to the structure at a point that is submerged. Some authors recommend about 6 meters depth with a consideration to ensure the corals will get the right amount of sunlight. On the nursery, they are affixed to an artificial basis to use as a substrate. This is usually made from string, wire, mesh, monofilament line or epoxy . The colonies will be here for 8 to 24 months to be transplanted back to the reef. [3]

Stage three

When the corals are large enough to be transplanted into the reef, the transplantation process involves the process of transplantation and epoxy glue. [1]

For commercial or exhibition supply

The process involves two steps: First, the larva are harvested from ‘ex situ’ mature broodstock corals. The coral planula , commonly called seedlings , are grown in tanks in an indoor facility. Secondly, when they are juveniles they are transported to a submerged nursery in the sea. They remain there until adulthood, and when they have grown to a marketable size (about fist-sized) they can be sold. [2]

Social benefits

Another benefit of coral aquaculture is that it can offer livelihoods alternative to people living near the reefs. This is especially important for communities where they have become unsustainable, such as Indonesia. [21] It is possible to use the resources in a rural environment. Many coral reefs are in locations of low socio-economic status. Coral reef aquaculture has been championed as a cheap venture. [22]


One of the first serious attempts at propagating coral ex situ occurred at the Noumea Aquarium in 1956. At the time it was common for aquarium hobbyists in Germany to create home “mini-reefs”. Commercial coral spread began in America in the 1960s but the demand in the hobby industry did not really take off until the early 1980s. The trend was attributed to popular articles which appeared in hobby magazines. [7]

Research and development

Coral Aquaculture provides insights into the life histories of a variety of corals. [15] Petersen shown HAS That early sexual recruits will grow larger When fed the nauplii of brine shrimp . This discovery could be a little fragile post settlement in the hatchery. [23]

The Mote Marine Laboratory keeps many broodstock colonies at its Tropical Research Laboratory. The laboratory website reports that its colonies are grown from fragments of groundwater and environmental disturbances. The corals in the stock broodstock provide fragments for restoration research. Studies are made to determine optimal size, shape and season for restoration. [24]

See also

  • Artificial reef
  • Biorock
  • Coral reef protection


  1. ^ Jump up to:c Horoszowski-Fridman, YB, Izhaki, I & Rinkevich, B (2011) “Engineering of coral reef larval supply through transplantation of nursery-farmed gravid colonies” Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology , 399 ( 2): 162-166.
  2. ^ Jump up to:c Pomeroy, RS, Parks, JE and Balboa, CM (2006) “Farming the reef: Is aquaculture a solution for reducing fishing pressure on coral reefs?”Marine Policy, 30 (2): 111-130.
  3. ^ Jump up to:g Rinkevich, B (2008) “Management of coral reefs: We-have gone wrong When neglecting active reef restoration” Archived 2013-05-23 at the Wayback Machine . Marine Pollution Bulletin, 56 (11): 1821-1824.
  4. ^ Jump up to:b Ferse, SCA 2010, “Poor Performance of Corals Transplanted onto Substrates of Short Durability” Restoration Ecology, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 399-407.
  5. Jump up^ Levy, G, Shaish, L, Haim, A & Rinkevich, B (2010)”Mid-water rope nursery – Testing design and performance of a novel reef restoration instrument”Ecological Engineering, 36(4): 560- 569.
  6. ^ Jump up to:c Bellwood DR et al. (2004) Confronting the coral reef crisis Nature , Review, 429 (6994): 827-833
  7. ^ Jump up to:e Delbeek, JC (2001) Coral farming: past, present and future trends “Aquarium Sciences and Conservation , 3 (1): 171-81.
  8. Jump up^ Shaish, L, Levy, G, Katzir, G and Rinkevich, B (2010)”Coral Reef Restoration (Bolinao, Philippines) in the Face of Natural Frequency Disasters” Restoration Ecology, 18(3): 285-299.
  9. Jump up^ Lesser, MP (2011)”Coral Bleaching: Causes and Mechanisms” Coral Reefs: An Ecosystem in Transition, part 5, pp. 405-419.
  10. Jump up^ Graham, NAJ, Nash, KL & Kool, JT (2011)”Coral reef recovery dynamics in a changing world” Coral Reefs, 30(2): 283-294. doi:10.1007 / s00338-010-0717-z
  11. Jump up^ Mumby, PJ, Elliott, IA, Eakin, CM, Skirving, W, Paris, BC, Edwards, HJ, Enrect, S, Iglesias Prieto, R, Cherubin, LM & Stevens, JR (2011)”Reserve design for uncertain responses of coral reefs to climate change ” Ecology letters,14(2): 132-140. doi:10.1111 / j.1461-0248.2010.01562.x
  12. Jump up^ Coral statisticsFAO, Rome. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  13. Jump up^ Glaser, M, Baitoningsih, W, Harrow, SCA, Neil, M & Deswandi, R (2010)”Whose sustainability? Top-down participation and emergent rules in marine protected area management in Indonesia” Marine Policy, 34: 1215 -1225.
  14. Jump up^ Knittweis, L & Wolff, M (2010)”Coral trade impacts on the coral mushroomHeliofungia actiniformis in Indonesia: Potential future management approaches” Biological Conservation, 143: 2722-2729.
  15. ^ Jump up to:c Gateno, D, Barki Y & Rinkevich, B (2000) , “Aquarium Maintenance of reef octocorals raised from larvae file Managed field” Aquarium Sciences and Conservation , 2 (4): 227-236.
  16. Jump up^ Baruch Rinkevich Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  17. Jump up^ Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums(ORA). Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  18. Jump up^ Corbin JS (2001)Marine Ornamentals ’99 Conference highlights and priority recommendations Aquarium Sciences and Conservation, 3(1-3): 3-11.
  19. Jump up^ Linden, B & Rinkevich, B (2011)”Creating stocks of young colonies from brooding coral larvae, amenable to active reef restoration” Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 398(1-2): 40-46.
  20. Jump up^ Hough, PD (1996)”The captive breeding of Great Barrier Reef Corals: a new wave of Aussie culture” American Zoo and Aquarium Association,Annual Conference, Hawaii, pp. 151-156.
  21. Jump up^ Bentley, N (1998)”An overview of the exploitation, trade and management of corals in Indonesia” Traffic Bulletin, Cambridge,17: 67-78.
  22. Jump up^ Ellis S (1999)Farming Soft Corals for the Marine Aquarium TradeCenter for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture, Publication 140.
  23. Jump up^ Petersen, D, Wietheger, A & Laterveer, M (2008)” Aquaculture, 277(3-4): 174-8,Influence of different food sources on the initial development of sexual recruits of reefbuilding corals in aquaculture”.
  24. Jump up^ Coral aquacultural research Mote Marine Laboratory. Retrieved 9 September 2011.

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