Posted by TFH Magazine in Tropical Fish Hobbyist Blog on March 9, 2012 at 10:14 am
By Phil Hunt
In his April 2012 article “Great Minds: Keeping Brain Corals in the Reef Aquarium,” Phil Hunt reviews various types of brain corals and the care requirements they have in an aquarium setting. If you are already keeping them successfully, then you might be interested in propagating your brains.
Propagating faviid brain corals is, in theory, relatively simple: Each coral consists of many polyps, and cutting pieces from mother colonies should enable small colonies to be grown on. This needs sharp tools, but if done with care can work well. Once cut, faviid frags, and the mother colony, should be placed in strong water currents and good lighting with excellent water quality. This is to minimize the chances of infections or tissue recession starting from the areas of mechanical damage caused by the cutting process.
Another method that can be used is to carefully break away pieces from the very edge of the colony; when faviid corals are growing well, the skeleton in these areas is often very thin and it is easy to snap pieces off. These fragments can then be attached to pieces of rock and grown on, under good conditions they will fuse onto the substrate quickly. Alternatively, the mother colony can be allowed to extend onto an adjacent rock, then carefully broken away to leave a new small colony behind.
Propagating LPS brain corals can be much easier or much more difficult, depending on the coral in question. Lobophyllia with phaceloid skeletons are very easy to propagate: Individual columns can be broken out of the colony, with no harm done to either the frag or the rest of the coral, due to the lack of damage to soft tissues. For Trachyphyllia, Symphyllia, and those Lobophyllia with more solid skeletons, things are much more difficult. While some hobbyists have successfully propagated such corals by simply cutting up the colonies, cutting through skeleton and soft tissue alike, just like propagating faviid corals, this is a risky procedure that can lead to the loss of the whole colony. Occasionally, corals that have recovered from tissue recession will have areas of tissue isolated by areas of bare skeleton, and these can be divided into new colonies.
Photograph by Phil Hunt.