[Coral-List] Methods for nubbinising tabular corals?

capman at augsburg.edu capman at augsburg.edu
Sat Mar 13 00:54:19 EST 2004

I honestly can't say one way or another whether superglues are 
absolutely non-toxic in an aquarium, but I can say that superglues 
have been in widespread use in closed system coral reef aquaria for 
*at least* 10 years (maybe more like 20?), by both hobbyists as well 
as people who make their living propagating corals for the aquarium 
trade.  These aquaria typically house not only many species of 
thriving corals, but also a diversity of fish and invertebrates 
(including sponges, worms, echinoderms, molluscs, crustaceans, etc.) 
I have never heard anyone expressing concerns over the safety of such 
glues in an aquarium (not even in the online reef aquarium forums 
where people obsess excessively about the minutia of reef aquarium 
husbandry...debating the pros and cons of different salt mixes, 
debating the pros and cons of trace element additions, worrying about 
the buildup of toxic metals in reef systems over time, etc...). My 
personal experience has been that zooanthids do not like to be glued 
using superglue (I'm not sure this is a toxicity issue...I'd bet that 
any adhesive attached to the soft tissues of zooanthids might cause 
problems???), and I don't think this technique is going to work at 
all well for soft corals (e.g. Xenia),  but I have never seen any 
problem with stony corals.

In fact, for very small fragments superglue is greatly preferable to 
epoxy putty because coral fragments need to be embedded more deeply 
into the epoxy putty, and any living tissue covered by the epoxy dies 
of course.  With superglue, just a drop of glue between the coral 
fragment and substrate is sometimes all you need if the coral 
fragment is small, thus little if any live tissue needs to be covered 
by the glue.  Superglue does not work all that well underwater 
though.  I have managed to use it to glue onto underwater surfaces at 
times, but it is really much better to do the gluing above the water 
when using superglue.  Epoxy putty can be used underwater of course.

Literally thousands or many hundreds of thousands (actually, probably 
a whole lot more than that) of stony coral colonies have been started 
using superglues to attach small fragments to surfaces.  I myself 
have started hundreds, with no obvious problems of tissue recession 
at the interface between the glue and live tissue.  This is a 
well-established, very standard, and very successful  method.

My impression regarding the skin hazard has always been just that it 
can be very easy to accidentally glue your fingers together with 
superglue, and detaching your fingers could then damage your skin. 
And I would think that having anything (spilled glue, or whatever) 
stuck firmly to your skin is possibly going to cause some skin 

Incidentally, it is my understanding that certain types of superglues 
are now used routinely instead of sutures in some human surgeries.


>I do have some questions about using superglue....(I prefer using 
>epoxy putty or clay cementing substances)....
>How safe are these superglues?....
>Most of the superglues I have come across have been labelled as 
>harmful/toxic to skin.  When using superglue has your student seen 
>any reaction in corals ? if not the whole fragment...at least near 
>the area of superglue application......
>The lab in which I work, has a previous aquarium manager as 
>caretaker and he recomended me to use epoxy putty or clay as they 
>are more safer and are better cementing substances.
>Thanks for the information.
>"the role of infinitely small in nature is infinitely large"-Louis Pasteur
>Keshavmurthy Shashank
>Kochi University, Faculty of Agriculture
>Lab. of AQUa. Environ. Sci. (LAQUES)
>Otsu 200, Monobe, Nankoku-shi
>783-8502, Kochi, Japan
>alt. id: shashank at cc.kochi-u.ac.jp
>phone: 81 090 8285 9012

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