Elkhorn coralPhoto Credit: Coral Restoration Foundation

July 17th marks the beginning of Coral Reef Awareness Week which is set aside for recognizing coral reefs around the world and is used to spread awareness of the incredible value these reefs hold. As reef aquarists, the natural coral reefs are so close to our hearts and without knowing it, your tank and participation in the hobby are one of the most effective ways you can help spread this awareness. We can also take pride in being stewards of the reef by supporting sustainable and responsible reef-keeping practices. 

Just like zoos and public aquariums, captivating people's hearts and minds with your aquarium display will not only help create future generations of reef aquarists and defacto ocean lovers but also serves as a springboard to a broader discussion about ocean science, conservation, and the efforts to restore and rebuild the future of coral reefs. 

Staghorn CoralPhoto Credit: Coral Restoration Foundation

Did You Know?

  • The world's reefs' annual net worth is estimated to be $29.8 Billion according to epa.org.
    • Tourism & Recreation $9.6 Billion
    • Coastal Protection $9.0 Billion
    • Fisheries $5.7 Billion
    • Biodiversity (value of organisms that rely on the reef) $5.5 Billion
  • In the US alone, the combined reef-based commercial and recreational fisheries generate over $200 million in revenue annually.
  • Reefs are among the biodiverse habitats on the planet with over 25% of all ocean life depending on reefs at some point in their life cycle.
  • Corals are incredibly resilient and prolific when given stability and necessary environmental protections to thrive in their natural habitat. 
  • A healthy coral reef can dissipate as much as 97% of wave energy, helping to protect coastal communities.
Coral Restoration Foundation divers working with coral treesPhoto Credit: Coral Restoration Foundation
Spawning Staghorn CoralPhoto Credit: Coral Restoration Foundation

Reefing in Research

The science of coral propagation is somewhat new and if you include captive coral spawning, it is very new. This area of research is incredibly important for not only rebuilding reefs but also sorting out the effects of ocean acidification and climate change, advancements in medicine, and continuing to understand the final frontier that lies beneath the waves.

Many of the techniques and equipment we have pioneered in the reef aquarium hobby carry over into this valuable research and have paved the way for some pretty incredible advancements in ocean science.

  • Jaime Craggs, Aquarium Curator at the Horniman Museum & Gardens in London, used a Neptune Systems Apex Aquarium Controller and EcoTech Marine Radion XR30 LEDs to recreate natural environmental conditions that trigger coral spawning events in captivity. Using known coral husbandry techniques, they were then able to grow these sexually reproduced Acropora corals in captivity for the first time. This Project Coral opened up an incredible door for coral research and aims to further develop these captive coral reproduction techniques.  
  • The University of Hawaii actually included our very own Reef Chili in their study of coral farming techniques, specifically the effects of lightwater motion, and artificial foods.  Reef Chilli proved to be the most effective artificial coral food used in the study which measured the relative growth rates of a few different stony coral species. 
  • Scientists working at the Mote Marine Lab are growing over 30,000 coral frags representing 17 species and 1,120 unique genotypes. Through genetic sequencing and reproduction of these corals in captivity, they can assess particular corals' resilience to known stressors caused by climate change to increase the effectiveness of their coral restoration efforts in the ocean. 

These are just a few examples of the flow of information between hobbyists and scientists and as reef aquarists, we have this unique opportunity to participate by constantly refining equipment and perfecting techniques used to grow coral in captivity. 

Divers working on restored coralsPhoto Credit: Coral Restoration Foundation

Get Involved - Reef Restoration Benefits Everyone!  

While using your aquarium to passively support the future vitality of wild coral reefs is effective, there is certainly more you can do! Organizations around the globe work in harmony with the aquarists to not only protect but also proactively rebuild precious reef ecosystems. One such organization, Coral Restoration Foundation, is a 501(c) non-profit that utilizes science-based coral propagation techniques pioneered by aquarists to help rebuild the reefs in our own backyard.

CRF focuses its efforts on the threatened barrier reef off Florida's southern coast and maintains one of the world's largest coral restoration efforts. To this day, CRF has replanted more than 170,000 coral frags and restored more than 25,000 square meters of Florida's historic reef sites.  These coral restoration sites have proven to be incredibly successful with natural spawning events now taking place among these replanted corals giving them the opportunity to rebuild themselves as they are naturally evolved to do. 

With each passing year, the impact of coral restoration is growing and there are a variety of ways you can help make that impact more profound.   

Coral Restoration Foundation collaborates with scientists, universities, federal and state agencies, and a variety of other organizations to share their wealth of information and experience in the field of coral restoration and conservation. Their initiatives not only point toward building a better future for Florida's coral, but also building a better tomorrow for coral reefs around the globe. 

Coral reef


While peering into your reef tank today, take just a moment to reflect upon how incredible it is to be able to grow coral in your own home. Be proud of your tank and what the hobby, as a whole, has accomplished. The future of our world's reefs is bright and we can all do our part in helping ensure that future generations carry this appreciation so that our children's children not only have the opportunity to own a reef tank but also experience the wealth of benefits a wild reef provides.