Sexual reproduction of scleractinian corals in public aquariums: current status and future perspectives



A multiple-choice questionnaire was distributed, mainly via the list servers of the EUAC (European Union of Aquarium Curators) Coral ASP (Animal Sustainability Program) and AquaticInfo, to evaluate the potential of today's aquariums for the captive breeding of scleractinian corals. Sixteen (including the temperate coral Astroides calycularis) of, in total, 24 species (nine families) were recorded as showing reproductive behaviour that could establish an F1 generation. Broadcast spawners (13 species) reproduced mainly in open systems under natural light conditions (in all cases natural moonlight exposure), whereas brooders (11 species) showed less sensitivity towards certain environmental factors known to trigger reproduction in field populations (here moonlight and temperature fluctuations). Except for a few recruits of Galaxea fascicularis and Echinopora lamellosa maintained in a 750 000 litre system, recruits of broadcast spawners could be exclusively obtained by manipulating fertilization and settlement. Brooding corals established generally less than 100 recruits if settlement was not enhanced experimentally. When reproduction was manipulated, it enhanced reproductive success, in most cases to above 100 recruits. We assume that more species, especially brooders, might reproduce in public aquariums without being noticed by the staff owing to the lack of recruitment and of experimental design (larval collection). This study illustrates the great potential for public aquariums to reproduce corals sexually. However, more investigation is necessary to optimize reproductive success and possibly to broaden the spectrum of species reproduced in public aquariums.