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    ORA Ice Tortuosa, Questions Answered with Dustin Dorton

    Oceans Reefs and Aquariums has just released the ORA Ice Tortuosa, their newest aquacultured coral. As word has spread, the coral has already caught some flack–Another Tort…and another blue and green coral?! We spoke with ORA wizard Dustin Dorton to get more information on this coral, what makes it different, and the recent spawning events […]

    ORA Ice Tortuosa Acropora

    Oceans Reefs and Aquariums has just released the ORA Ice Tortuosa, their newest aquacultured coral. As word has spread, the coral has already caught some flack–Another Tort…and another blue and green coral?! We spoke with ORA wizard Dustin Dorton to get more information on this coral, what makes it different, and the recent spawning events that have taken place at ORA.

    ORA’s description of the Ice Tortuosa:

    The ORA™ Ice Tort has the typical Tortuosa branching growth form with a deep sea green base and glowing baby blue branch tips. This coral may look similar to the standard Tortuosa that we sell, but rest assured it is not the same thing. In addition to a different color pattern, this slow growing variety has thicker and considerably longer branches than its more common counterpart. The contrast of the dark base, blue polyps with green rims and almost white tips is stunning. Interestingly, all of the Ice Torts in the ORA greenhouse spawned 2 weeks ago.

    ORA typically does not uses scientific names with their corals, except for those that hobby has turned common such a Millepora or in this case Tort–which is reefer jargon for what the hobby believes to be Acropora tortuosa. This is now the third Tortuosa to be offered from ORA. The first being the original Oregon Tort that was first offered back in 2003, which was then followed by the Cali Tort–a coral the hobby has since labeled as the ORA Tort. Yes, the Cali Tort and ORA Tort are one in the same.

    Dustin informed GBD that the new ORA Ice Tort is closest in coloration to the Cali / ORA Tort, but features much larger corallite tips that range from white to baby blue on the upper most 1/2″ to 1″ of the coral. This contrasts with the blue polyps and green pigmentation on the axial corallites. ORA was not happy with the initial photo shown above. In fact, they almost released the coral without providing any photo at all. For aquarists looking at ORA “official photos” be cognizant that these are taken under natural sunlight. We went ahead and photoshopped the ORA Ice Tort photo to show what this coral may look like under bluer 20K aquarium lights.

    ORA-Ice-Tortuosa-Acropora-20K

    Dustin informed GBD what really differentiates  the Ice Tort is its growth and physical structure. The branching pattern in this strain is much less frequent than the other Torts, giving an open, robust Staghorn shape with larger branches. Based on his description and the photos we’ve seen the Ice Tort shares some characteristics with a personal favorite,  Acropora exquisita. Here’s what Dustin had to say,

    “The Ice Tort grows much thicker… at least 50% thicker, if not twice as thick as the Cali tort. It also has noticeably longer  and more distinct corallites with a much more open and free staghorn look. Side by side their is no mistaking that it is different than the Cali and Oregon.”

    As the original description mentioned, just two weeks ago numerous colonies of the ORA Ice Tort spawned. ORA sees plenty of asexual reproduction through the always ‘bailing Pocillopora and occasionally from their Seriatopora and Stylophora species that they propagate. That said, sexual reproduction (spawning) is an entirely different beast. Dustin admitted that spawning events could have happened in the past, but they are rarely in the greenhouse at night to observe.

    Over the past 4 weeks the crew has been working later in the greenhouse and witnessed these events–which occurred with multiple species. The first to spawn were ORA’s Roscoes, Joe the Coral, Borealis, and Blue Iris Acroporas. These corals all spawned during the same week. The events were not system specific as the same strain in different systems would still manage to spawn during the same night. Roughly one week later the Ice Tort spawned, releasing 1mm egg packets and coinciding with the new moon that occurred just over two weeks ago.

    Typically when we think of Acroporas spawning in captivity we immediately think of large mature colonies. Most spawning events observed in captivity share this common trait. But what if a coral is fragmented from a large mature colony, is it still a mature coral or does it start over fresh and young? I think our concept of human growth, from infant to adult, makes us think that a small coral fragment couldn’t possibly be old. ORA’s string of spawning events brings the concept of “mature corals” under further scrutiny. Not just large mature brood-stock colonies spawned, but their small 1-2″ coral fragments that a hobbyist would normally purchase were also observed releasing gametes!

    A special thanks to Dustin for taking the time to discuss the new ORA Ice Tort and his observations from the spawns. For more information on ORA, check out ORAfarm.com

    6 Comments

    1. November 4, 2009 at 7:06 AM | Permalink

      This is a great post and insight into ORA corals in general – nice work Eric. I think ORA should sort themselves out for international trading. Any takers?

    2. Matt
      November 4, 2009 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

      The ORA Greenhouse is an semi-open system, so its not really a ‘captive’ system. That’s great though that they are getting spawning activity, did Dustin mention whether they are getting actual settlement happening, with Acropora sp. that is?

      IMO, yet another boring release from ORA….

    3. November 4, 2009 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

      I think they should get pink corals like their pink stylophora script millepora etc

    4. george
      November 4, 2009 at 3:45 PM | Permalink

      torts are always great, but i kind of agree with matt and arnaldo. some additional variety would be nice

    5. November 4, 2009 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

      Seeing that their small coral frags spawned, leads me to believe that the moon phases had a big role in this. If the entire species of coral reacted the same way, it would mean that a coral specific factor would be the causing agent.

    6. Brian
      November 5, 2009 at 1:08 AM | Permalink

      I might be wrong but ORA release the cali before the original Oregon Tort.

    One Trackback

    1. November 4, 2009 at 6:58 AM

      […] ORA corals) and the spawning events that have taken place at their greenhouse. Check it out here: ORA Ice Tort From ORA: […]

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