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been taken (0.028 cm per day versus 0.041 cm per day).
By contrast, during the second phase ( 90–129 days after
cuttings were taken) there was no difference in growth
rate. From this it can be concluded that there was an
enhanced growth rate in the donor coral branches in the
intermediate phase (days 40–90) after an initial phase of
reduced growth. The initial reduced growth rate can be
explained by the need to heal the damage.
None of the donor corals died during the research
period or exhibited any further tissue loss in the area
around the severed arms. The damage caused by the fragmentation healed rapidly and new apical polyps were
seen only three weeks later.
Relevance foR the Reef-aquaRium
As far as the reef-aquarium hobby is concerned, the results of Lirman et al. signify mainly that:
1) 1. 75 inches ( 4. 5 cm) is a good size for a stony
coral fragment. This will result in an adequate growth
rate and a very low mortality rate compared to smaller
2) Fragments with a length of 1. 75 inches ( 4. 5 cm)
or more can be glued in place out of water with only a
minimal risk of loss. If you want to avoid this risk, then
it is advisable to perform the procedure underwater.
3) In the case of small donor corals and very slow-growing species, it may be necessary to take smaller cuttings, and these should always be glued in place underwater.
4) There is no likelihood of losing the donor coral.
The study discussed here leaves a number of questions
still unanswered—for example, whether the results of
Lirman et al. can be applied to other small-polyp stony
corals. I assume that they will apply to the majority of
species. Nevertheless, there may be exceptions—for example, in the Acropora speciosa complex, whose cuttings
react very badly to fragmentation, growing exceptionally
slowly and exhibiting high mortality rates. Another interesting open question is how many fragments can be
harvested from a donor coral at a time and how long the
subsequent rest phase should be. However, the authors
mention relevant ongoing research in the paper cited
here, and we can eagerly await further findings.
Lirman, D. et al. 2010. Propagation of the threatened staghorn
coral Acropora cervicornis: methods to minimize the impacts of
fragment collection and maximize production. Coral Reefs 29:
Wabnitz, C., M. Taylor, E. Green, and T. Razak. 2003. From Ocean
to Aquarium: The Global Trade in Marine Ornamental Species.
UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK.