[Coral-List] Acropora transport and thermal shock

Charles Delbeek delbeek at waquarium.org
Mon Feb 7 15:34:48 EST 2005

At 05:08 AM 2/4/2005, you wrote:
>Just a word of addition to what Tom wrote.  I can think of no quicker way 
>to ensure the death of shipping Acropora than to wrap or even include 
>strips of plastic or bubble wrap. The plastic forms a tight adherence to 
>the tissue where it touches and basically "suffocates" the coral.  It will 
>die quickly where there is prolonged contact - and this is despite the 
>propensity of many shippers to use this method. Every wet plastic attempt 
>we have used with many species of coral has resulted in stress and slower 
>acclimation (at best) to bleaching (usually) to complete tissue death (too 
>often to count) - often within 2-6 hours with a good plastic/tissue contact.

Not to dispute the experiences detailed above but having shipped over 2,000 
fragments over the years of Acropora, Montipora, Caulastrea, Pavona, 
Stylophora, Seriatopora, Anacropora, zoanthids, and anemones using the 
"dry" method as outlined by Bronikowski and in Delbeek and Sprung (1994), I 
would have to say there are a number of factors involved in its success or 
failure. Things such as container size and shape, pre-handling of 
fragments, size and type of plastic used and species variation in tolerance 
of this method, all play a role in its success or failure.

>OTOH, if done damp shipped or as Tom described, you could potentially go 
>up to 48 hours, though I would suggest an oxygen cap in the bag for this 
>long and not just air. Generally, I would try to get a properly packed 
>colony to its final destination in less than 12 hours if possible.

The submerged method works best for larger fragments or small colonies of 
branching corals. It is also less prone to rapid chilling during shipping, 
but longer shipping times do require the use of heat packs. When I ship 
larger fragments I send them in bags with 1/3 water and 2/3 oxygen, some 
plastics strips included for cushioning and the frags wrapped in plastic.

>Bronikowski EJ (1982) The collection, transportation, and maintenance of 
>living corals. AAZPA Annual Proceedings: 65-70 (old but still true and 
>still not widely used)

Delbeek, J.C. and J. Sprung. 1994. The Reef Aquarium. volume one. Ricordea 
Publishing, Coconut Grove, FL.


J. Charles Delbeek M.Sc.
Aquarium Biologist
Waikiki Aquarium
2777 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI, USA 96815

808-923-1771 FAX

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