Aquarium Fish

Book of Coral Propagation

Reef Gardening for Aquarists, Volume 1, Edition 2
By Anthony Calfo
Publisher: Reading Trees Publications (2007)

Book of Coral Propagation

The Book of Coral Propagation is pretty popular and if you are a reef tank keeper you've probably already heard about this book. It's been through multiple printings and is now on it's second edition. The first edition was great but lacked some important features. The second edition comes with a hard cover, tons of high quality photos and diagrams. It weighs in at almost 4 pounds! Needless to say we have been itching to get a copy of this book for some time now after reading and hearing glowing reviews from friends and fellow hobbyists. The previous printing was quickly snatched up and the prices for a used copy on quickly soared in the $100 plus price range. I believe that you can now get the new, second edition for about $60 on Amazon. If you're in a hurry I'll save you some time and simply say "Go get this book now if you don't have it".

The author is Anthony Calfo. A well respected author, marine hobbyist and coral farmer that has a unique and to the point writing style. He doesn't try to lose the reader in a flurry of scientific words to impress. It's hard to explain, but it's sort of like a conversational style of writing, kind of like he's talking to you or walking you through the topics being presented. I find this style of writing refreshing and much needed in the growing hobby of reef keeping.

Who is the Book of Coral Propagation for? I'd say that if you have a reef tank setup and you're interested in keeping and growing corals for fun, profit or both then you'd be very interested in the info this books gives you. If you have a regular saltwater aquarium setup and you are a fish only or fowlr type of guy or gal with no interest in corals you can most likely pass over this one, but you don't know what you're missing. Actually, lets show the topics covered in this book:

Topics and Chapters in this book:
  • Concept Aquarium Dynamics - a introduction into contemporary styles of aquarium keeping. The reader is shown some fairly unique system setups such as Multi-Level Gradient Systems. Live rock and some aquascaping tips and techniques are shown along with diagrams showing you how to implement floating reefs. Refugium setups, vegetable filters and mangroves, tidal pool setups, nutrient scrubbing raceways (some with Aiptasia even), how to hide equipment in the tank, phytoplankton cultures, rotifers, brine shrimp live food culturing stations, denitrification filters, central filtration systems and automated water exchangers are topics covered here.

  • Display Versus Aquaculture - the author touches on the consideration you must face when starting out. Do you want to simply keep and grow your corals for yourself or do you want to grow and sell them for profit? The size, layout and general setup of the system will hinge on this decision.

  • Coral Farming in Sunlight - this is a great chapter for those of you interested in setting up a coral business. Everything from business plans, zoning considerations, greenhouse plans and designs, display and culture vessels and other tools of the trade are discussed at length.

  • Systems and Hardware - basically gives in depth info on nearly every available piece of equipment nowadays. Topics such as aquascaping, live rock, live sand, deep sand beds, protein skimmers (along with a DIY skimmer with plans), using ozone, wet/dry trickle filters, fluidized bed filters, UV sterilizers, calcium reactors, aquarium chillers, light meters, refractometers, plumbing components and more.

  • Husbandry - if you are just interested in learning how to take better care of your corals you might consider this chapter the best. Topics you will learn about here are lighting, water movement, water quality and conditioning, nutrient control, saltwater supplements, coral feeding and nutrition. This chapter is jam packed with tons of great info.

  • Choosing Healthy Parent Stock - covers the where and how on purchasing corals, cultured versus wild corals, planning for growth and longevity, moral issues and adaptability.

  • Scleractinia - The Stony Corals - give profiles and care requirements at the family level on the stony corals. About 50 pages of info and loaded with great photos.

  • Nonscleractinians - covers those corals that are often mistaken for stony corals but are not really considered "reef builders". Milleporidae (fire corals) and Stylasteridae (lace corals).

  • Octocorals (Soft Corals) - covers the soft corals in depth with photos and care info such as lighting guides and feeding tips.

  • Zoanthids and Corallimorphs - covers the button polyps, colonial anemones, mushrooms and other zoanthids and corallimorphs. The toxin Palytoxin in zoanthids is discussed too.

  • Tridacnid Clams - gives a lot of nice info on the care and keeping of the tridacnid clams. Feeding, reproduction and lighting requirements.

  • Shipping and Receiving Corals - An enlightening chapter on how many of the corals are shipped to the states and the chain of importers, dealers and wholesalers they go through before they reach retail. Acclimation techniques and tips on improving survivability are given. Shipping topics include sending corals domestically and abroad, transit time and preparation, and accountability such as customer support, follow up practices, etc.

  • Quarantine - serious hobbyists know and understand that proper quarantine procedures are vital to the health and vigor of their investments. Quarantine setups and tips are presented here.

  • Coral Placement and Compatibility - one thing you'll often see when looking at some of the really nice setups out there, they have a mixed coral garden growing in their tanks. They mix soft and stony corals like there is nothing to it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Corals have remarkable ways of waging warfare both physically and chemically and this can cause serious issues in the aquarium. This chapter touches on these topics and provides tips and info on how to increase your chances of success when keeping corals.

  • Propagation Strategies - ok, for those coral reefers that are interested in growing and propagating (how to derive new corals) this chapter is gravy baby. Tools of the trade are presented along with the techniques covered: constricting, severing, tearing, breaking, incising, grafting and shading. How to secure these corals once fragged are covered too: tethering, adhering, capturing, containing, impaling and natural settlement. There is some excellent info here.

  • Pest, Predators and Coral Disease - the pests such as aiptasia, hydroids, algae, planaria, etc and the predators such as mollusks, worms, crabs, shrimp, starfish and urchins are detailed in this chapter.

  • Troubleshooting - another great chapter that you hope you don't have to return to down the road. Issues such as coral and clam bleaching, peeling or receding coral tissue, algae blooms, unexplained losses, overstretched tissue, etc are detailed.

  • The Challenge of Coral Identification - warns readers about the difficult if not impossible task of identifying corals. Attempts to persuade coral keepers to stay away from common names when possible.

  • Documenting and Reporting - really good ideas here too. Keep detailed logs and take pictures of your corals frequently. Digital cameras make this task easy and inexpensive. Share what you learn with fellow hobbyists.

  • The Responsible Aquarist - an important chapter on being a responsible aquarist. Ethics and the future of coral keeping are discussed.

The Book of Coral Propagation is an outstanding guide for marine hobbyists interested in gaining knowledge in the keeping, growing, selling and shipping of corals. This book covers a lot of ground and covers it well. This book is a great resource that should be in every serious reef keepers library, we give this book five stars. 5 stars

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Author : Mike FishLore

Rating Information
Review Title: Book of Coral Propagation
Reviewed by: Mike FishLore
Summary: Reef gardening for aquarists.
Description: The author is Anthony Calfo. A well respected author, marine hobbyist and coral farmer that has a unique and to the point writing style.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Book of Coral Propagation Reviews and Comments

From: Jason K.
A "must have book" sums it up nicely. The coral propagation techniques introduced to the reader in this tome are enlightening and very important for those wanting to grow their own corals for profit or trade with their friends. Although I don't have a coral business at the moment, I can dream, and maybe the business plans presented in this book will be of some use to me in the future. Great book.

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