Hints ‘n’ Tips on Using Reef Scientific, Reef Gel.
This information sheet contains a few brief tips, aimed mostly at beginners, on how to use Reef Scientific Reef Gel for coral propagation.
Reef Gel is a very useful, simple tool for attaching corals to rock when propagating corals. It’s worth pointing out that whenever we attach corals we’re not really permanently gluing them in position, we’re merely holding the coral fragment in position until the coral grows onto the rock. Reef Gel is not suitable for attaching all corals. It’ll give best results when gluing “stone to stone” i.e. when working with stony corals. Good results are possible with Gorgonia and Stolonifera, and will sometimes work well with soft corals composed of large/coarse sclerites.
Why use Reef Gel?
We spent a long time testing and researching cyanoacrylate adhesives before coming up with Reef Gel. It’s a thixotropic (very thick) cyanoacrylate used in industry and has by far the best characteristics for coral retention of any adhesive in its class. Although we don’t state it on the packaging it will attach under water.
The added bonus of this product over others is that it comes with a disposable applicator tip – commonly, when using standard tubes of super glue gel, you only get a couple of uses out of the tube before it goes solid because of contamination. With the contamination issue out of the way the 20 g and 50 g bottles last until you’ve drained every drop from the bottle.
Basic Method of Using Reef Gel for Coral Attachment.
To get fragging you’ll need the following items:
- A bottle of Reef Gel.
- Reef Gel applicator tip.
- Two food safe containers, such as ice cream tubs (it’s best to eat the ice cream first),
- A suitable work surface (I use an old plastic kitchen chopping board).
- Paper towels or old terry towel.
- Suitable small pieces of live rock or frag plugs.
Prepare by choosing the frags you wish to attach and the pieces of rock you wish to attach them to, hold these in one of your containers filled with water from their tank of origin. Select your first victim and its new home, putting them down on your work surface, don’t worry over much about the time out of water and try not to hurry the process, if you do you’re more likely make a mess/mess it up. Using paper towel/terry towel dab dry your chosen point of attachment on the rock and dab dry the surface of the coral you wish to attach. You may have to repeat the last step depending on the moisture retaining characteristics of the rock or the propensity of the coral to produce mucous. When you’re satisfied the surfaces are as dry as can be reasonably expected apply one drop of Reef Gel to the coral, gently push the frag against the rock while rotating it a quarter turn, and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer the mounted frag to a second holding tank to rest, then go on to victim number two.
When the second frag’s been transferred to the holding tank return your attention to the first frag you did. Now it’s time to clean off any excess glue, this will show up as a white film which you can just peel off being careful not to dislodge the frag, and rinse off any excess mucous with a quick swish about in the holding tank prior to returning it to its parent tank.
The best way of preparing a gorgonian is to treat the frag you want to attach as though it was a piece of wire that you were stripping the insulation from. Just strip off 1 to 2 cms of “flesh” to expose the skeleton, find a bit of rock with a hole of suitable diameter and depth, dry the hole and exposed skeleton, apply drop of Reef Gel to the end of the frag, insert into the hole with a slight twisting motion, then return to the holding tank to rest.
N.B. with gorgonians it’s probably best to insert fairly deeply into your rock ‘cos the animal is going to need to be positioned in a high flow area of your tank, the deeper it’s anchored the less chance of it detaching.
With animals such as Briarium species, Star Polyps, that form a mat, it’s easy to just glue direct to rock, it’s worthwhile nicking the edge of the mat, with a knife or scissors, in between polyps as this seems to encourage new growth.
Clavularia – Clove polyps, the creeping stolon of this animal glues well, you can economically attach a small number of individual polyps evenly around a rock and find that it soon spreads to fill in the gaps.
The best candidate for attaching using Reef Gel is probably Sinularia dura; I’ve glued this coral successfully many times. Don’t bother trying to glue slimy corals, only those that have a rough texture and plenty of spiculite (fused sclerites) around the base.
Additionally, soft corals that have attached themselves to sand can be glued. This can come in very handy for corallimorpharia, mushroom corals, and for polyps. Just take a little more care drying off the sand and take care to minimise contact between the coral and the adhesive.
These are just a few ideas for using Reef Gel, if you have success with any corals that I haven’t mentioned, or come up with different ways of using the glue please get in touch so they can be added to this info sheet.
Reef Gel contains cyanoacrylate. Bonds skin and eyes in seconds. Mild irritant. Use in well ventilated conditions. Do not breathe vapour. Keep out of the reach of children. In case of eye contact or in case of allergic reaction, contact a doctor immediately. Never store near valuables in case of spillage. Always store below 10°c.
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