Advances in captive husbandry and propagation: An easily utilized reef replenishment means from the private sector?
Over the past decade, advances in the husbandry of captive marine habitats in private aquaria has allowed for the breeding and propagation of marine invertebrates to become commonplace. The vegetative propagation of Scleractinia, Octocorallia, Zoantharia, Corallimorpharia and Porifera are accomplished by simple and effective means, and provide for a significant amount of organisms within the private sector. These techniques can be easily utilized for large-scale grow-out facilities, and many such facilities currently exist to provide for the reef aquarium trade. Local efforts commonly include 'coral fragment trading' from within the populace. More recently, the cultivation of small benthic and pelagic fauna and macroalgae has also begun. To date, over 150 species of Scleractinia, 100 species of symbiotic Octocorallia, and virtually all available Zoantharia are being propagated regularly by asexual means, with few limitations as to the potential number of species which could be grown. Sexual reproduction of corals in captivity, while once extremely rare and although still not completely predictable, is being reported regularly by aquarists of all levels of expertise. Growth rates easily match or exceed those found in the wild, and organisms can be raised in areas free of storm damage, predation, encroachment, and the resultant economic and time losses inherent to in situ propagation efforts. The use of coral transplantation efforts, by which some amount of both habitat and organism loss results from the transplantation, could be largely overcome by utilizing the simple and inexpensive means already available. A lack of communication between the scientific community, public aquaria, and the private sector may be responsible for under-exploitation of a largely unrecognized, accessible, and non-destructive partial solution to repopulating damaged natural reef communities.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2001-09-01
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