Hempel's Gorgonian

leslie hempel

7 May 2007
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Gonubie East London
I have had such an overwhelming request for this species name that I thought id be a little vain and claim it.

So, I introduce “Hampel’s Gorgonian”


GSP Grafted to Gorgonian Skeleton

Its actually really simple to replicate and I’ve had some noteworthy reefers wanting to copy the effect, so let me talk you through it in case you would like to do the same.

· You will need a dead gorgonian skeleton ( aka black sea fan)

· Some green star polyps (GSP) or any colour you prefer.

· Some nylon or a small cable tie


Dead Gorgonian Skeletal structure cable tied to rock

I personally first adhere the grog skeleton to a rock, its easy and robust enough to drill through should you get one with a thick enough stem. I usually collect the gorgonian skeletons after a ruff sea, they seem to wash out sometimes in the thousands.

They are often encrusted with dried out dead tissue from when the organism was still alive evident as red or white, this needs to be removed and can be done so by briefly vinegar bathing the skeletal structure. The skeleton itself is inert and will not contaminate if prepared properly, adding the skeleton prior to bathing will definitely create an ammonia and nutrient spike which can be dangerous. The thinner branches on the black sea fan usually fall off and become brittle for the purpose of this “gorgonian replica” I remove these smaller thinner branches.

The stripping of the dead tissue is a must!

Then its up to you to get creative!

You can select a single colour of GSP or multiple colours, lumo green, brown and pale green! Attach the GSP at the base of the skeletal structure fastening it with the cable tie or nylon, the reason for this is that it grows upward to the light and in a few months will engulf the skeletal structure, the GSP is usually a very invasive coral introduced by beginners because of it being so hardy and successful and confident boosting giving the aquarist a sense of achievement, but as time progresses and your knowledge grows you start realising it is invasive and overgrows slower growing more delicate corals, usually the ones you’ve paid a few more bucks for.

The grafting to the skeletal structure isolates this species and it will continue to overgrow itself until the branches eventually thicken. The growth is an ongoing process, in if isolated as explained here can create a very nifty show piece

I have two types in my system one is light Green star polyp encrusted the other a plain brown, but diversity of the species in the same system often makes it appear as if you are having success with the harder Caribbean gorgonian which it is often mistaken as!


Caribbean Gorgonian Species

I have also in the past grafted Xenia (wich can also become extremely invasive) in the same manner but eventually as the system becomes more nutrient poor it withers,

So there you go, 3 simple steps, easy as pie, and an effective nice-looking controlled show piece. Get creative and start grafting your corals and creating your own version of a gorgonian!

GSP need not be a problem in your system again!

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