Tubastrea farming at the Steinhart Aquarium
A rock wall of approximately 8 square feet in area is covered in Tubastrea colonies in this exhibit. Settled juvenile polyps appear on the sand at a frequency of approximately 1-2 per day. Although this number may seem fairly low, no effort is currently made to maximize settlement or collect the planulae as they are released from the parent colonies. Simple steps could be taken to maximize the collection of larvae--determining the timing of larvae release and turning off the pumps during this time to allow better settlement, caging adult colonies in breeder baskets, and building fine mesh traps to prevent the planulae from being sucked into the filtration system, for instance.
The corals are fed throughout the day with a mix of live enriched Artemia nauplii (in Reed Mariculture’s Shellfish Diet and Nannochloropsis) and Cyclop-eeze. These are mixed with saltwater and added to the tank every few minutes over an 8 hour period with a peristaltic pump. The benefit of this feeding strategy (vs. target feeding once or twice per day with larger foods) is that it is a lot less work than feeding several hundred polyps, and also assures food getting to the smallest polyps in the tank.