Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Coral farming: effects of light, water motion and artificial foods

  • Zac H. Forsman (a1), Bethany K. Kimokeo (a1), Christopher E. Bird (a1), Cynthia L. Hunter (a2) and Robert J. Toonen (a1)...

Improved coral cultivation will facilitate the reduction of wild harvesting, reef restoration, preservation of biodiversity, and the use of corals as model experimental organisms. In this study, we examine species-specific responses in growth and survival of corals from the effects of light, water motion and artificial (i.e. non-living aquarium trade) food supplements. Three species representing distinct, diverse and abundant coral genera were chosen (Montipora capitata(Mc), Porites compressa (Pc) and Pocillopora damicornis (Pd)) for three experiments to examine: (1) the interaction of water flow and light on growth and survival of Mc and Pc; (2) the effects of artificial foods on Mc, Pc and Pd; and (3) the effects of increasing dosage of artificial foods in an open system on Mc and Pc. Pc thrived at the highest light levels with low flow, while Mc exhibited bleaching and reduced growth in the same conditions and grew best in shaded treatments. High constant flow (~11 cm s-1) resulted in slightly less overall growth than low constant flow (~4 cm s-1). Some artificial foods resulted in a significant increase in growth in Mc and Pd, but not in Pc. These combined results suggest that Mc may be more heterotrophic than Pc. This study illustrates that each species has unique requirements for optimal growth conditions that can be determined by relatively simple and low cost experiments, but that ideal conditions for one species might not be generalized to others.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: Z.H. Forsman, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, PO Box 1346, Kaneohe HI 96744 email:
Hide All
Anthony K.R.N. (1999) Coral suspension feeding on fine particulate matter. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 232, 85106.
Anthony K.R.N. and Connolly S.R. (2004) Environmental limits to growth: physiological niche boundaries of corals along turbidity–light gradients. Oecologia 141, 373384.
Anthony K.R.N and Fabricius K. E. (2000) Shifting roles of heterotrophy and autotrophy in coral energetics under varying turbidity. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 252, 221253.
Bak R.P.M., Joenje M., de Jong I., Lambrechts D.Y.M. and Nieuwaland G. (1998) Bacterial suspension feeding by coral reef benthic organisms. Marine Ecology Progress Series 175, 285288.
Buddemeir R.W. and Kinzie R.A. (1976) Coral growth. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review 14, 183225.
Clark S. and Edwards A.J. (1995) Coral transplantation as an aid to reef rehabilitation: evaluation of a case study in the Maldive Islands. Coral Reefs 14, 201213.
Delbeek J.C. (2001) Coral farming: past, present and future trends. Aquarium Sciences and Conservation 3, 171181.
Dennison W.C. and Barns D.J. (1988) Effect of water motion on coral photosynthesis and calcification. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 155, 6777.
Edwards A.J. and Clark S. (1998) Coral transplantation: a useful management tool or misguided meddling? Marine Pollution Bulletin 37, 474487.
Fabricius K.E. (2006) Effects of irradiance, flow, and colony pigmentation on the temperature microenvironment around corals: implications for coral bleaching? Limnology and Oceanography 51, 3037.
Ferrier-Pagès C., Witting J., Tambutté E. and Sebens K.P. (2003) Effect of natural zooplankton feeding on the tissue and skeletal growth of the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata. Coral Reefs 22, 229240.
Finelli C.M., Helmuth B.S., Pentcheff N.D. and Wethey D.S. (2005) Water flow influences oxygen transport and photosynthetic efficiency in corals. Coral Reefs 25, 4757.
Forsman Z., Rinkevich B. and Hunter C. (2006) Investigating fragment size for culturing reef-building corals (Porites Lobata and P. Compressa) in ex situ nurseries. Aquaculture 261, 8997.
Gochfeld D.J. and Aeby G.S. (1997) Control of populations of the coral feeding nudibranch Phestilla sibogae by fish and crustacean predators. Marine Biology 130, 6369.
Goldman L. (2007) Evaluation of live food versus artificial food on the growth of juvenile Pocillopora damicornis cultured from planulae. Advanced Aquarist Online Magazine VI.
Goreau T.F., Goreau N.I. and Yonge C.M. (1971) Reef corals: autotrophs or heterotrophs. Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole 141, 247260.
Grotolli A.G., Rodriguez L.J. and Palardy J.E. (2006) Heterotrophic plasticity and resilience in bleached corals. Nature 440, 11861189.
Highsmith R.C. (1982) Reproduction by fragmentation in corals. Marine Ecology Progress Series 7, 207226.
Jokiel P.L. (1978) Effects of water motion on reef corals. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 35, 8797.
Kuffner I.B. (2000) Effects of ultraviolet radiation and water motion on the reef coral Porites compressa Dana: a flume experiment. Marine Biology 138, 467476.
Kuffner I.B. (2002) Effects of ultraviolet radiation and water motion on the reef coral Porites compressa Dana: a transplantation experiment. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 270, 147169.
Larned S.T. (1998) Nitrogen-versus phosphorous-limited growth and sources of nutrients for coral reef macroalgae. Marine Biology 132, 409421.
Lesser M.P., Weis V.M., Patterson M.R. and Jokiel P.L. (1994) Effects of morphology and water motion on carbon delivery and productivity in the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus): diffusion barriers, inorganic carbon limitation, and biochemical plasticity. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 178, 153179.
McManus J.W. and Polsenberg J.F. (2004) Coral–algal phase shifts on coral reefs: ecological and environmental aspects. Progress in Oceanography 60, 263279.
Muscatine L. (1990) The role of symbiotic algae in carbon and energy flux in reef corals. In Dubinsky Z. (ed.) Ecosystems of the world: coral reefs. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 7587.
Nakamura T., van Woesik R. and Yamasaki H. (2005) Photoinhibition of photosynthesis is reduced by water flow in the reef-building coral Acropora digitifera. Marine Ecology Progress Series 301, 109118.
Rinkevich B. (1995) Restoration strategies for coral reefs damaged by recreational activities: the use of sexual and asexual recruits. Restoration Ecology 3, 241251.
Rinkevich B. (2000) Steps towards the evaluation of coral reef restoration by using small branch fragments. Marine Biology 136, 807812.
Rinkevich B. (2005) Conservation of coral reefs through active restoration measures: recent approaches and last decade progress. Environmental Science and Technology 39, 43334342.
Sawall Y., Teichberg M.C., Seemann J., Litaay M., Jompa J. and Richter C. (2011) Nutritional status and metabolism of the coral Stylophora subseriata along a eutrophication gradient in Spermonde Archipelago (Indonesia). Coral Reefs 30, 841853. DOI:10.1007/s00338-011-0764-0.
Sebens K.P., Vandersall K.S., Savina L.A. and Graham K.R. (1996) Zooplankton capture by two scleractinian corals, Madracis mirabilis and Montastrea cavernosa, in a field enclosure. Marine Biology 127, 303317.
Sebens K.P., and Done T.J. (1992) Water flow, growth form and distribution of scleractinian corals: Davies Reef (GBR), Australia. Proceedings of the Seventh International Coral Reef Symposium 1, 557568.
Stambler N., Popper N., Dubinsky Z. and Stimson J. (1991) Effects of nutrient enrichment and water motion on the coral Pocillopora damicornis. Pacific Science 45, 299307.
Titlyanov E.A., Leletkin V.A., Ermak V.D. and Voskoboinikov G.M. (1990) Light adaptation of mass species of reef-building corals. Soviet Journal of Marine Biology 16, 2531.
Titlyanov E.A., Titlyanova T.V., Yamazoto K. and van Woesik R. (2001) Photo-acclimation of the hermatypic coral Stylophra pistillata while subjected to either starvation or food provisioning. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 257, 163181.
Titlyanov E.A. and Titlyanova T.V. (2002) Reef-building corals—symbiotic autotrophic organisms: 1. general structure, feeding pattern, and light-dependent distribution in the shelf. Russian Journal of Marine Biology 28, 51515.
Toonen RJ., Batchelor K. and Mai T. (2002) Planktonic foods for the reef aquarium: if you feed the tank, are these foods for you? Marine Fish & Reef USA Annual 2002 4, 1831.
Wellington G.M. (1982) An experimental analysis of the effects of light and zooplankton on coral zonation. Oecologia 52, 311320.
Vermeij M.J.A. and Bak R.P.M. (2002) How are coral populations structured by light? Marine light regimes and the distribution of Madracis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 233, 105116.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 67 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 327 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.