Glowing corals are cultivated in the Primorsky Aquarium.

Glowing corals are cultivated in the Primorsky Aquarium.

The first corals grown in the Primorsky Aquarium can be seen at the “Evolution of Life in the Ocean” exhibit. A soft leather coral, Sinularia, has been added to the tank with the cuttlefish. Gradually the live corals will be placed in some tanks of the other exhibits.

“In the Scientific Building for Adaptation of the Aquarium corals are now being cultivated in 15 tanks, the new aquaria system enables us to use up to 50 tanks for this purpose: the increase in growing capacity is scheduled for next year,” said Vitaliy Sukhinin, Lead Specialist of the Exotic Animals Sector. “We grow both soft corals having no calcium-based skeletons and hard madrepore corals - the very ones that are reef-builders. Corals need good living conditions to grow well in captivity; lighting and water treatment systems together with appropriate microbiological and hydrochemical environments are of particular importance. We managed to meet all these requirements due to the new aquaria system. The success is evidenced by fairly rapid growth rates of our corals ranging from 2 to 15 mm per month, depending on the species.”

A lot of corals live in symbiosis with single-celled algae, zooxanthellae, providing the coral colony with food through photosynthesis.   Zooxanthellae have a fluorescent effect because of which the corals glow when illuminated with ultraviolet light. Being populated with the algae, the Sinularia specimen living in the Aquarium exhibit can glow too.

At present, several dozens of coral species are being grown in the aquaria system, and soon the Aquarium’s collection will be enriched. In addition, an Australian endemic, reef-building Australomussa coral, is planned to be purchased in the near future.

The new aquaria system for invertebrates came into operation in the Primorsky Aquarium 4 months ago. The system has been bought with assistance from the Konstantinovsky International Charitable Foundation. The modern equipment allows to create the most suitable conditions for tropical mollusks, sea urchins, starfish and corals kept in captivity.