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Reef Aquarium Farming News
Online Newsletter for Reef Aquarium Propagation Research

ISSUE # 7 page 1

TURNING GRAVEL INTO MONEY - The AragocreteTM and Super glue Reef Aquarium method

LeRoy Headlee

This month I will continue to explain how you can produce and market several new types of reef aquarium products. During the first year of the foundations retail market research project I confirmed what I had learned when I owned several marine tropical fish stores. The retail research showed that certain shapes and sizes of live rocks are the most popular. Any live rock that has a large hole in it that fish can swim through will always sell first. Flat long rocks that can be used as ledges are very popular. Live rocks that have interesting shapes and surface textures are always picked out before plain rocks.

This week I need 600 lbs. + of 'TONGA' type branch rock that is light weight and each piece has to be over 16 inches long. I want two to three branches on each one that are six inches long. Each branch will have a hole in one end so I can tie them together before I drop them in the sea.

Last month I needed 600+ lbs. of eight inch long cave rocks with a hole in both ends. These rocks are shaped like hollow eggs and they are now growing coralline algae in several of our systems.

I am planning to have a batch of large, medium, and small arches made out a new mix AragocreteTM that is very porous. These arches will be used to make the new 'small footprint reefs' that everyone is going to want. These small footprint reefs can be made so that only twenty percent of the live sand is covered with rock.

Reef Aquarium
To build a stable reef aquarium Farming company you need to be able to control your supply of quality live rock.

This month I am going to answer several questions that we have received. The entire subject of AragocreteTM has generated more e-mail from around the world than anything we have shared. I am also going to tell you how I have been able to make the best bioactive live rocks I have ever made.

AragocreteTM fillers

The standard AragocreteTM mix is one part Portland cement and five parts CaribSeaTM gravel. This basic mix makes very strong and beautiful live rocks. Part of our research here at GARF includes sending Idaho AragocreteTM to live rock farmers in Hawaii, Florida, Mexico, and several other places. We will continue to visit these sites and harvest our Idaho rock. We are bringing this rock to Boise for research. We are also purchasing Aquaculture live rock from as many sources as possible. We will compare these types of Aquaculture live rocks and report our findings. We have our students in several areas purchase the live rock and other tanks raised reef products at retail so we can assess the products and services offered.

When we started paying freight on dry rock to places like Koror, Palau I started thinking of ways to make the same rock much lighter.


popcorn - it melts inside of the rock before it forms holes
dogfood - it swells up and breaks the rock
Top Ramen noodles - it costs too much
dirt clods - it makes the AragocreteTM weak


Tufa gravel - there are some grades from Nevada that float
Lava ash - some good reef safe purple gravel that floats
Plastic sawdust - coralline loves plastic
Plastic scraps - small spirals are best

The last two plastic products are the most promising because they are available in many countries. I will explain how I am using them to make AragocreteTM here at the Live Rock Lab.


The simple way to use the plastic is to replace 1/4 of the Gravel with the plastic. I add the plastic to the AragocreteTM just before I pour it into the mold holes. This method leaves much of the plastic on the surface of the live rock for coralline to attach to.

The other method I use is the slurry method. I add the plastic to the mix before I add the gravel. I slowly add the water to mix until the plastic, cement and water form a gray slurry. I then add the gravel until the AragocreteTM is ready. This method works best if you need to hide the shape of the plastic scrap. I have one type of plastic that has one inch circles in it.



The best filler I have ever used is made out six parts floating purple lava ash and four parts Lexan drill press spirals.

This filler is mixed into AragocreteTM as a replacement for 1/5 of the CaribSeaTM gravel. The way the Plastic is formed into spirals and the way the cells in the Lava hold air makes the the finished AragocreteTM about 1/2 as heavy.


Can I use type 1-2 portland cement to make AragocreteTM?
YES, you can make a very good live rock from #1-2 portland cement - I mix it a bit more and let it dry longer.

Why do you say to soak the AragocreteTM in vinegar?
The acid in vingar will help reduce the surface Ph. of the rocks. We cure all of our rocks in running water or in the ocean. You can use Muratic acid if you are careful. You can also get some great surface affects with this acid.

How can I make my rocks valuable sooner?

 grow live rocks

learn to grow your own live rocks

Glue some invertebrates to each rock before you grow the coralline algae. The Zooanthids and soft corals are good ones to be growing while the rock is aging. Sea Mat rock and Green Star rock will sell for more than regular live rock. Two or three types of sps coral heads will add to the value of your rock:)

More next time! the only way to start - is to just start.



by: Sally Jo Headlee

I have spent a lot of time this month practicing in my head what I want to say in this article. As many times as I've written this in my head I hope I do not loose all the thoughts that came to me now that I am sitting here with my computer. We at GARF are dedicated to making a difference, and to leaving this World a much better place. I thank each and everyone of you who have shared your experiences as well as your insights with us. TOGETHER WE ARE MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE AND MIRACLES ARE UNFOLDING. .

We need to show the Universities that are doing the research
how to grow these animals in captivity so that they can continue
on with their life saving research.

One day perhaps you will need a bone graft and it very well could
be they will use a sps coral as a bone fragment.

I named this article secrets for three reasons. I will reflect on each one of these. The three reasons are: what we know that is not a secret, what we should know, but might still be a secret and lastly why GARF is dedicated to not keeping any secrets.

I asked LeRoy to help me find the dictionary on this computer. This is the edited version of the American Heritage Dictionary definition of secrets.

  • Kept hidden from knowledge or view; concealed.
  • Dependably discreet.
  • Operating in a hidden or confidential manner.
  • Known or shared only by the initiated.
  • Something kept hidden from others or known only to oneself or to a few.
  • A method or formula on which success is based.

I have heard all of these brief definitions over and over again in regards to reef keeping. We can not stray from our compassion to save, and research the coral reefs. We must remember that change comes from education. Yet so many people are out to get their profits and in the process forget about why they started what they did in the first place. Thus the reason for my desire to write this article.


1997 is the first International Year of the Reef! Simply stated the goal is to educate people from around the World about the conditions of our reefs as well as what they can do to make a difference. The hobbyist are leading as far as the vast amount of research and propagating is going on. We know that corals are animals and not plants. We know they come from the ocean and it is our responsibility to protect and care for them.


When one looks clearly at the facts our wetlands are almost completely lost, yet it is the wetlands that filter out all the pollutants before they hit the Worlds oceans. The earth's coral reefs are under attack. Pollution, over fishing, and development threatens to destroy this fragile, beautiful ecosystem of marine life. Man himself is sometimes the greatest enemy of natural wonders in our environment.

On a personal level, individuals can act responsibly by not contaminating the oceans, rivers and lakes. If you visit a reef, follow instructions not to touch or stand on the coral. Don't take or buy souvenirs. If we continue to heighten public awareness of the threat of losing a major ecosystem, then maybe we can change things.

(editors note, We believe, that as our hobby grows and more people worldwide are exposed to reef aquariums they will learn to understand and care for the natural reefs. )


The most dramatic thing we do to promote education
and get the word out that this is the
International Year of the Reef
is our Reef Tour.

This is our third annual reef tour.
We have picked nine different homes
in our Community to highlight as
part of our genetic bank.

After considerable research it has been reported that 5 to 10 percent of our coral reefs have been destroyed directly or indirectly by man. Another 60 percent could be lost in the next 20 to 40 years.

Coral reefs normally thrive in seawater temperatures between 77 - 82 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on their location. But the narrow temperature range for healthy coral is very close to the lethal temperature. The Worlds coral reefs are fighting coral bleaching, algae blooms, red tides, and of course our own needs for recreation.

The reef hobby is making tremendous strides in keeping corals alive in captivity. We are finding new ways to breed them in captivity. Our shipping methods are getting better and more and more people are becoming involved with salt water. Some day, together as a team we are hopeful that we can seed back some of the corals that could be lost to some form of destruction.

So many of these corals are being used for medical research. As a matter of fact I have read that the leading pharmaceutical medicines will come from the oceans sponges. They are studying these animals for a cure for cancer, AIDS and herpes. We need to show the Universities that are doing the research how to grow these animals in captivity so that they can continue on with their life saving research. One day perhaps you will need a bone graft and it very well could be they will use a sps coral as a bone fragment.

The uses are as unlimited as the excuses we have in regards to whose to blame for the condition of our oceans.

Now unto the third and final thought for this article.


We are a non-profit organization dedicated to this mission statement:


With this mission in mind it is our goal to educate people to enhance a healthier future. We opened our doors, our hearts and our research to all people who want to be a part of this project. We have lost friends along the way. They decided that they wanted us to keep secrets, not tell anyone anything else after we had taught them what we were learning. They wanted us to keep secrets so that they could patent our ideas and they could make a million.

We have lost a lot because our doors have been opened. We were robbed a couple of times. Yet, we have never given up on the sharing part. ( we did hire a live in guard and we did get a large dog, LeRoy : ) We will continue to share all the information you are willing to read about.You are invited to call us and come for a visit when you are in Boise. We see so many exciting developments everyday. Most importantly LeRoy and I want to thank all of you who share with us through this incredible resource the internet!

The most dramatic thing we do to promote education and get the word out that this is the International Year of the Reef is our Reef Tour.

This is our third annual reef tour. We have picked nine different homes in our Community to highlight as part of our genetic bank. The tour starts at 10am ends at 6 pm. The cost is $5.00 per person and children under 12 are free.


Because it is the
International Year of the Reef
we decided to invite Dana Riddle , Steve Tyree
and other speakers to do a
Coral Farming seminar the
day before the reef tour.

People start at whatever location is most convenient for them and go at their own pace. I design a ticket booklet that has a map and also a description of the reefs they will be seeing that day.

Because it is the International Year of the Reef we decided to invite Dana Riddle, Steve Tyree and other speakers to do a Coral Farming seminar the day before the reef tour. They have generously agreed to share their vast knowledge and experience with all who attend. The cost of the seminar is $50.00. This seminar will start at 11 am on Oct 25, 1997 and go until 8 pm. The Reef tour is on Oct 26, 1997 and it is featuring some of the best reef tanks we have ever seen. You can also meet the homeowners and ask them questions.

We are hoping that we will spread the word about the International Year of the Reef as well as consider attending our seminar and reef tour. If you are interested in putting together your own reef tour for your area. I will be more than happy to share our formula for success.

Sometimes I believe that their are three types of people in the World.

The runners,
the spectators
the participators

The runners, run away from everything each day brings, the spectators sit and watch the day unfold and the most difficult person to be is the participator, the person responsible for rolling up their sleeves, working hard to help make change, develop understanding and research new and better ways.


with a solid voice,
a strong mission,
and a desire to make the World
a better place we can't go wrong.

We do realize that everything
good takes time

We at GARF are proud to be part of the participating World. We firmly believe that with a solid voice, a strong mission, and a desire to make the World a better place we can't go wrong. We do realize that everything good takes time, takes hard work, commitment and surely, doesn't happen over night. We hope that you will continue to spread the positive word and share in our cause.

It is up to each and every one us to get as much going as we can this year. Share our results and not to forget to pat ourselves on the back for the tremendous strides we've made.

Now unto my aquarium. I have recently added a new Red Sea Sail Fin Tang (his name is Max a Million), (thats about how much he cost). I haven't really added any thing new to my system, but have done a little over 100 cuttings. Some of these new babies were placed in LeRoy's 150 gallon aquarium. The rest of them are for sale.

I have seen tremendous growth as well as color increasing in my tank. I believe this is credited to increasing my lights as well as feeding my tank live brine shrimp. I will be increasing my lights one more time in the next month, but that will be my last for this system. My tank has really taken on a beauty all of its own. Which gets me the time to concentrate on my other two system that now need my attention.

I have several Xenias that I have been propagating as well as some sps corals. As a matter of fact my cutting tank is as full as it can get. We have been selling a lot of our magic reef dust, please remember to share your results with us.

I am in the first phase of setting up my third aquarium in my office. This aquarium is another 55 gallon tank and has all tank raised rock and man made rock. It has a plenum and tons of grunge. This tank is only 1 &1/2 weeks old. I am having so much fun it's hard to believe it's work !!!!!!!

Thanks again to all of you who have shared with me throughout this past month. If there is anything we can do or secrets we can share contact us through our web site.

We are hoping that we will spread the word about the International Year of the Reef as well as consider attending our seminar and reef tour. If you are interested in putting together your own reef tour for your area. I will be more than happy to share our formula for success.


Some questions from the mail box

Delivered-To: leroy@garf.org
Date: Sat, 16 Aug 1997 14:13:15 -0400 (EDT)
To: leroy@garf.org
Subject: Intro

Dear LeRoy and Sally Jo,
After visiting your website and reading you newletters for months, I feel as
if I know you. I am the world's oldest chemistry student (46) and attend
UTPB in Odessa, Texas (used to be the bottom of the gulf). Your beautiful
and informative website has kindled our interest in reef aquariums and while
I am away at graduate school, my husband is considering raising coral. We
both want to be more confident in our knowledge before we start this
project because I don't want to endanger the little critters. We also want
to help your research with a monthly donation. I would rather send it
directly to you rather than use the internet and a credit card.

Thank you for bringing your experience to us.

Dear Connie,

This is the kind of e-mail that makes me shed a tear. We can't thank you enough for your
kindness. We work so hard on researching and sharing the research that sometimes we feel
as if being in Boise is too far away to make a difference.

We are extremely concerned about the welfare of our corals reefs. Just yesterday I was
faxed a Newspaper article that stated the coral reefs in Florida are now bleaching. This is
why we are promoting propagation. So that no one will take from the ocean because it has so
little to give at this time. We hope to seed some of the corals back when we get the
environmental conditions right.

It's hard for us to find the right words to express what is felt in our hearts for your
donation. When you read my article this newsletter, which should be posted in the next day
or two. I am asking for contributions to help secure our on-going research and the sharing of
it. It does little good if we are the only ones who know how to do things. We need to spread
the word and share information.

LeRoy and I will be happy to take you step by step on your first reef. You sound like you have
a solid background which will be very helpful.

Our address is
1726 Merrill St.
Boise, ID 83705
We will send you a thank you letter for your kindness.
Sally Jo Headlee

Delivered-To: leroy@garf.org
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 1997 23:11:52 -0700
From: John Grammer
To: leroy@garf.org

Subject: algae
Enjoying your web site so far. Have question. I am having a growth of
dark green algae which is very coarse. When it started out in small
patches it was ok, but now it is a plague. I have some "red leg" hermit
crabs, but they do not seem to be doing the job. I have tried snails,
but they have a high attrition rate in my tank(?hawk fish, hermit crabs,
large sebae clown). I do have a voltage eliminator. I have tried
pulling this growth off of the rocks, but it is like wire and not easy
to do. Have been reluctant to put in any herbivorous fish because the
clown is quite mean(If necessary, he can go to my office tank).

You have also been touting Blue Moons and Tritons. I have a 75gal reef
with two 50/50 VHO, two Corallife 50/50, and two Actinics. What do you
think about that. Have descent protein skimmer in wetdry without
bioballs. Have ~2 inches of "live Sand"

Corals look ok, but could do better. Help me with my plague, or the
wife or tank will have to go. Have any suggestions? If they seem
helpful, I will be happy to order "grazers" from you. By the way, I
have been told that some of the hermit crabs are too aggressive for the
more beneficial ones: ie. home invasion. Is this so?
John Grammer, MD

Dear John,

It sounds like this reef experience is not being as fun as it should be. I
believe you would benefit by putting in a few small sea urchins. They tend to
munch on some of these more determined algaes.

Our hermits and snails are not going to hurt anything in your tank. I also
have a sebae clown and he thinks he owns the tank, however I have put in
some tangs and they are doing fine. You do need to get rid of this algae as
soon as possible or it will over take your system. You might want to send
us a sample of this algae to identify what type it is.

We also have some bubble algae eating emerald crabs that munch on all of the algae and do
not hurt anything else in the tank. We have them in a holding tank and
place rocks covered with algae in with them and it is gone the next day.

You might want to read about and look at the pictures of my tank. My reef
aquarium has been featured in the past three GARF newsletters. I would
not use any other lights than the VHO's. I have seen tremendous growth
as well as color in my system with the VHO's. The Blue moons and
Tritons are more for the first stage of setting up your tank. They allow the
coralline to grow faster. The more intense the lighting the less coralline
growth until it adjusts to your conditions. I have 4 VHO's and two 40 watt
lights on my 55 gallon tank. I am going to be increasing the lights to 6
VHO's in about a month. I have over 175 different species of corals
growing in my tank. I have about 43 sps corals. If you have a chance browse
through the newsletter and you can see my tank.

Sally Jo Headlee


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