In 2010 we started working with coral farmers in Indonesia to enable us to set up the wholesale part of our business Reefworks-Trade. Over the last decade coral farming in the tropics has come on in leaps and bounds and the variety and quality of corals available just keeps getting better and better. Our partners only deal in sustainably farmed corals so whether you are purchasing one of our coral frags cultured here in the UK by us or maricultured colonies from one of the many retailers we supply throughout the UK you can be sure that the coral you are receiving has had no detrimental impact on natural reefs.
In 2010 Clayton, the owner of Reefworks made several trips to S.E. Sulawesi to help set up coral farming projects in the region. We will continue to make trips to the tropics to work closely with our partners, helping develop new coral farming techniques and selecting the most stunning corals for sustainable farming.
Here are some of the pictures of the early coral farm set up in S.E. Sulawesi with Clayton setting and tending new coral frags. Parent colonies are chosen and fragments taken and set on plugs which are mounted on platforms. These colonies are then tended regularly to keep them free of algae. Some of the initial frags taken are grown on into a larger stock of parent colonies to produce more frags in the future. This particular project also included the production of corals for coral reef restoration projects.
Indonesia has a vast diversity of corals – the greatest in the world and we hope to be able to seek out new species of coral for farming that as yet, are not regularly seen for sale in the aquarium industry. Our partners around the world have been specifically chosen for the sustainable way the corals are farmed and their quality and colour. We work closely with them helping develop new species of coral to farm and ensuring that the stock that you receive is in a prime and healthy condition.
Coral cuttings are first taken and set into their mounts, in this photo you can see larger Acropora cuttings being set to grow out into larger colonies. After setting the corals are left to settle in raceways that have seawater pumped through them before returning them to platforms in the sea.
The length of time that the corals are grown in the sea depends on the species, growth rates and the intended size of the corals for shipping. The depth that the platforms are set at is usually between 5m and 10m depth on the reef. However light intensities at these depths vary greatly due to changing weather and turbidity of the water. Under direct sunlight when the water is very clear the corals can receive as much as 1000 micro mols PAR, however on cloudy days or when the sea is turbid this can drop to as little as 100 mico mols. Two of the biggest problems with coral farming in the sea are nuisance algae and predatory fish, in particular Parrotfish. Various techniques including removal of algae by hand, grazing invertebrates and netting is employed to help protect the corals.
Once the corals have reached the appropriate size for export they are removed from the growing platforms and prepped for shipping. In the photo below you can see one of the raceways used for preparing the corals.
The corals are placed in these raceways for a couple of days before shipping. During this time they are stripped of mucus to prevent them fouling the shipping bags and carefully checked over for health and parasites. Over the coming years we will be increasing the diversity of coral species that are being farmed and keep you posted on new projects that are developing.