[Coral-List] Methods for nubbinising tabular corals?

Eric Borneman eborneman at uh.edu
Mon Mar 15 00:38:18 EST 2004

Superglue is extremely coral-friendly and is my principle glue for 
small fragments in tanks.  However, it is a brittle bond that doesn't 
stand up well in the ocean, especially shallow exposed sites, in my 
experience.  Epoxy putty is very good for field use.  I do not like the 
two part epoxies like Z-spar as they are a mess to work with.  Same for 
clays and cements.  Putties are easy as you can take them in a goody 
bag, knead them easily underwater, and they are cured in 5-20 minutes. 
Very neat, very workable.

For small nubbins, I can think of nothing better than cyanoacrylate.  
However, in my experience there are very distinct differences in the 
effectiveness of different glues...some skin very quickly in water and 
are hard to get to stick....the cheap .99 cent ones tend to fall into 
that category.  Loctite quicktite gel is my favorite. Thinset 
cyanoacylates will work, but you have to handle them delicately and 
generally outside the tank until they cure (which isn't long).  The 
best thing about superglue  is that you can easily mount experimental 
nubbins consisting of fragments 2-3mm - very small! For me, this means 
a larger sample size in less space and many more replicates possible 
out of a colony.

Also, you can get larger tubes, including caulk style tubes, from 
industrial suppliers like McMaster Carr.  They have a few high density 
gels in larger tubes that work quite well...also by Loctite.  The caulk 
sized tubes might be useful for field use, although it is an expensive 
way to attach corals to a reef, and again is less ideal in terms of the 
shear bond strength compared to epoxies, ties, or cements. The 
Reinforced Black Max, for example in case you see that type, does not 
work very well.  One problem with larger tubes of super glues is that 
they tend to get blocked and it is hard to use the glue past a set 
number of applications.  One solution I find that works is to load the 
glue into a syringe and use a large bore needle that you can dispose of 
prior to a new application.

Another glue that works very well but is rather hard to obtain is 
Surgical Simplex (used in orthopedic surgery) or various non-fluorine 
containing dental cements.  These have a very hot cure after a certain 
working time..usually about 5-10 minutes. The bond is stronger than the 
coral skeleton itself.  Obviously, these have very low toxicity.  Some 
are available as point UV cured, which might be handy in a lab setting.


Eric Borneman

Department of Biology
University of Houston
Science and Research Bldg II
4800 Calhoun
Houston TX, 77204

eborneman at uh.edu

On Mar 12, 2004, at 10:06 PM, shashank Keshavmurthy wrote:

> Greetings!!!
> 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.
> Regards
> Shashank
> "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
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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