Coral and Tidalgarden Farming For Fun Or Income
Coral Farming Is A Great Hobby
Many of us, at one time or another, have had an aquarium, or at least a fishbowl with a goldfish or two in it. Then, there are some who have ventured in to the world of salt-water aquariums. This is certainly a whole different world from the little fishbowl, and involves quite a learning curve to achieve a thriving environment. Once a stable tank is achieved, this is one of the most rewarding hobbies you will ever come across.
Those who do have a salt-water aquarium more than likely have at least a couple corals in their tank. These may be soft corals from the large family of mushrooms, or the beautiful flowing Xenia; or the SPS hard corals, which include the Acropora, and the Montipora. A quick search for "SPS Corals" will show you how varied and enormous the list for these beauties is.
An important reason for considering coral farming is that it hugely benefits the coral reefs that are being depleted due to the demand of corals for sales to the public.
Tidal Gardens Corals
Coral Propagation Is The Easy Part
If you have a healthy, thriving environment for your salt-water tank, most all the work is done already. And, if you happen to have a few established soft corals in that tank, you are ready to start farming!
The beauty of coral farming is that you can have a small corner in your existing aquarium set aside for your "starts" to increase your own array of corals, or you can set up a separate aquarium to transfer your starts to and begin making some money from selling them. I will warn you that initially it is hard to separate yourself from the baby starts as you tend to become attached to each one (emotionally, not literally) and will root them on as they grow.
Reef Gardening Book
Frags, Frags and more Frags
Basic Coral Propagation
There are several ways to propagate corals and all are fine; practice the various ways and read on the techniques to find what works best for you.
It is a good idea to start with the soft corals as they are much more forgiving. Most are propagated by taking cuttings with sharp scissors or a razor blade and attaching the cutting to a piece of "live" rock or a reef plug. You attach them with gel super glue, which surprisingly they don't mind. Using bridal netting wrapped loosely around them will help them stay in place until they begin to attach themselves securely.
An easy way to get started is to work with Ricordia or Zoanthids, as they will spread fairly quickly to a rock set right up against the one they are living on. Simply ease the newly placed rock away from the mother group and set it where you like, and continue on with the process. These are easy little guys to sell as they come in many bright colors and look nice as they begin to cover the little rock. "Live" rock is not cheap, so you'll want to work with some of the smaller chunks you have laying around your tank or break one in to smaller pieces. If you do use a larger piece, simply charge accordingly.
As with all salt water corals, it is important to keep a close watch on your tanks water conditions, temperature and lighting. Water flow is a huge consideration for corals, as they are stationary and rely on water movement to deliver the nutrients they need.
There are many books and videos available to help you expand your hobby, or to help you begin your new coral farming business. It isn't an overnight endeavor, but, it is certainly a rewarding one.