by Sapphire Littler, Yorkshire Reefs
As reef aquaria become more and more popular, there has been a big drive to ensure that livestock is ethically sourced and sustainable. Luckily, when it comes to corals, the most common practices already are. In today’s article, we’ll introduce you to the two main ways we grow and source the corals we sell here at Yorkshire Reefs.
One of the most popular ways to buy a coral is to buy a frag – which is short for fragment. With a majority of corals, a small piece can be cut off without harming the coral. We do this in-house using a specialised bandsaw, which has a diamond coated blade and drips salt water on the corals to prevent them from being damaged. Over time, these frags will grow into a full sized coral! We call this method of coral propagation ‘aquaculture’, and we’re in the process of setting up our own aquaculture facility here at Yorkshire Reefs.
Another popular way to grow corals for aquaria is through mariculture. This has the same starting point as aquaculture, where a frag from a coral is taken. In this case, a frag is taken off a wild coral on the reef. After this, the frag is grown in the sea on an artificial reef, where 70% of the maricultured corals are sold to the aquarium trade, and 30% are returned to natural coral reefs.
How do corals reproduce in the wild?
A majority of the corals we find growing in the ocean reproduce through mass spawning events. Once per year, taking cues from the moon, all the colonies of corals on the reef will broadcast spawn, creating a blizzard of colourful flakes. These turn into larvae, which eventually settle on the sea floor and become corals. This is near on impossible for a hobbyist to replicate, but Project Coral at the Horniman Museum in London have succeeded. Using probes in the sea on the Great Barrier Reef, their tank equipment mimics lighting, temperature, and flow conditions to trick the corals into believing they’re in the sea!
Yorkshire Reefs, Unit 3 (Red Zone), 9 Cherry Farm Close, Malton Enterprise Park, Malton, YO17 6AH | Tel: 01653 531166
Facebook/Instagram @YorkshireReefs | www.yorkshirereefs.com
Opening Times: Tuesday – Friday 9.30 – 5, Saturday 10 – 5, Sunday 10.30 – 4