Adding Coral

Last weekend we finally decided to add some new corals to the aquarium.  I had stalled because I didn’t want to add new live stuff until we had moved the aquarium to the new aquarium stand.  Yes, the aquarium stand I “finished” on January 2nd is still not being used – more on that in a future post though.  But, since coral is fairly safe out of the water for short periods of time we decided it was as good a time as any to add some more color to the aquarium.

Blue Mushrom

New Blue Mushroom

This lovely blue mushroom is about an inch and a half in diameter most of the time.  Like most mushrooms, and a some other soft corals, it changes size during the day.  This mushroom, along with two smaller siblings, came on a small piece of live rock.  For this live rock and mushroom I simply placed it in the aquarium in a nice place with plenty of light.

Feather Dusters

Feather Dusters on a Plug

Most of the corals we got didn’t come on live rock, though.  Instead, they came on small porcelain plugs.  The plugs, seen to the right under a small clump of feather dusters, must be fastened to the live rock in some way so that the snails and hermit crabs don’t come and knock them over.

Fastening the plugs was easier than I expected.  The local fish store that sold me the coral also sold me some epoxy putty.  As it turns out I could have purchased the same thing from a hardware store, which is what I will do next time.  The epoxy putty comes in a roll that’s about 10 inches long and an inch in diameter.

I prepared to mount the corals by first making about 4 gallons of fresh salt water at the same salinity as my aquarium water.  I divided the water between two buckets.  Then, I got the live rock that I planned to mount corals on, and dried them off a little.

One by one, I trimmed up the plugs a little using a pair of pliers, and made sure the plug fit in the place I planned it to go into.  Then, I cut off about half an inch of the epoxy putty and started kneading it.  When it was thoroughly mixed up, I stuck the epoxy putty glob to the bottom of the plug, and stuck both together to the live rock.  I let this clump dry for 4 or 5 minutes out of the water.

Red Polyp

Red Polyp on a Plug

The epoxy is safe in the salt water, but it does have some interesting chemicals.  I used the buckets of salt water I prepared earlier as a mini detox center.  I put the live rocks in the two buckets of water for about 5 minutes each, one after the other.  The idea is, the epoxy chemicals will get diluted some in the first bucket, and a bit more in the second bucket.  I don’t think this is strictly required, but since I was doing 7 corals at once I figured a little detox time wouldn’t hurt.

As you can see, a big clump of blue epoxy putty under a perfectly round plug doesn’t look particularly natural.  But, as the corals grow and multiply the plug and epoxy will get covered and blend in with the live rock.  Especially when the pink coralline algae grows all over it, I expect it will be difficult to tell plug from putty from rock.

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