Rich Ross

No matter where you go, there you are

Coral Spawning Resources

This page is under construction and will be added to as time permits

Spawning during covid CORAL Magazine article (see this issue for additional spawning articles by Keri Oneil and Jamie Craggs

The first paper by Jamie Craggs – Inducing broadcast coral spawning ex situ: Closed system mesocosom design and husbandry protocol

Some additional resources availabe here


Table of contents:

Making a synchronus spawn –  ‘generic’ season table data
Programming APEX – season table,
Programming APEX – lunar code, Daylight code
Programming APEX – temp code
Programming Apex – Profiles
Programming APEX – lighting code

Shifting the time of day and light blocking

Predicting the spawn and what to look for

Code to make life easy – Red light viewing, flow control
Collecting the spawn
Embryos – The first 12-20 hours
Culturing babies – From embryons to planula
Preparing settlement substrates
Culturing babies – settlement
Culturing babies – after settlement.

Making a synchronus spawn –  ‘generic’ season table data

The trick is to get your corals to spawn at the same time so you can move to the next step, fertilization. You can put a version on your dispaly right now and see if you can just get corals to spawn before you move onto the next step. Pretty regularly, for me since 2018, the corals controlled by APEX have spawned 12-15 days after the full moon in Nov and Dec with the below schedule. 

Set up your APEX season table to a spawning cycle. Access the season table in APEX local and then adjust to your needs. Below is the schedule I am using in the Secret Home Lab and on my display system. 

Gravid corals or long term corals?

Traditionally researchers have collected or obtained gravid corals or likely to be gravid corals 2-3 months before the projected spawn. This allows for faster results, which are often necessary when you have been given grants or funding. However, now that we understand spawning better, you can simply put a spawning schedule on your tank and see what happens, or invest in corals a year or so in advance of the projected spawn. 

Data for season table

This is the 2022 season table for near Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef. This makes a good general season table to use because there are no double new moons in a month, which means no mid year seasonal work arounds need to be implimented. This schedule produced a spawn in November and December, approximately 12-15 days after the full moon for those months. If you want to spawn to occur in a different month, just move the months around in the 12 month period – if you want a spawn in May, put the December data in for May, the Novermber data for April, and so on. Always check the APEX season table programming in January, because it resets the new moon dates, though all the rest seems to stay. 

The season table is available on through APEX local, not APEX fusion. You have to be on the same network as the APEX to access APEX local, so you can’t really edit it when you are on the road. The easiest way to get to APEX local is look at the upper left of APEX fusion for the name of your APEX, click it, and you will get a drop down menu. Scroll to, the selcect ‘network’. Find your IP address in the list, copy it, then paste it into a new browser window. You will be asked to log in (it should be the default APEX login info, or the same login info you use for fusion. Then, click the gears, then click the wrench, then click the sun and you will be able to adjust the settings for sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, temp, and the date of the new moon for the year. 

Month Sunrise Sunset Moonrise Moonset New Moon Temp Temp2 Full Moon
January 5:46 18:53 5:52 19:34 22 82.9 80 7
February 6:05 18:55 5:42 19:10 20 82.9 80 6
March 6:16 18:41 6:29 19:15 22 81.8 81.8 7
April 6:22 18:18 6:06 18:27 20 80.4 80.4 6
May 6:29 17:58 6:33 18:16 20 76.8 76.8 6
June 6:39 17:50 6:44 17:55 18 74.4 74.4 4
July 6:46 17:54 7:05 18:28 18 72.9 74 3
August 6:42 18:04 6:25 18:06 16 73.8 74 2/31
September 6:23 18:10 6:14 18:32 15 74.8 74.8 29
October 5:59 18:14 5:24 18:09 15 76.5 76.5 29
November 5:39 18:22 5:27 18:55 13 79 79 27
December 5:33 18:37 5:01 18:47 13 82.1 81 27

RICH FIGURE OUT A BETTER WAY TO SAY THIS – Was just checking the moon schedule for May, June. Looks like the new moon in May is set for 13th, and in June it is also 13th. Then jumps to 22 in July. That is because ‘June’ is December and ‘July’ is January – the year is ‘restarting’ as we are not following the real calendar – the new moon this year was the 11th (our ‘year’ is 2023. Since that jump is after the spawning, it shouldn’t impact anything much at all.

Here are the season tables directly from APEX local for the above schedule, but with the Jan and Feb Temp lowered by 1 degree F 

Below is the schedule Rich is using to make his display tank spawn in Sept/Oct instead of Nov/Dec

Temp code

I use this code:

Fallback OFF
If SP1tmp < RT+-0.2 Then ON
If SP1tmp > RT+0.2 Then OFF

But this should work just fine and is more reasonable

Fallback OFF
If SP1tmp < RT+-0.5 Then ON
If SP1tmp > RT+0.5 Then OFF

Programming APEX –  lunar code

Lunar code

Fallback OFF
If Moon 000/000 Then ON

The lunar code is pretty straightforward. Put it in the LSM, The moon slider for sky, or the moon/lunar slider for Raidon (you need a MXM module for the APEX to control Raidons)


Programming APEX –  Daylight Profiles

Profiles are key for the daylight and season tables. The code tells the light (SKY or Radion) come on, turn off, how to ramp up and down, and what lighting profile to use at each step. So you need to create profiles for each step of your daylight code.

The profile tells the light the intensity of each channel to use and can ramp up or down the overall intensity of the light for sunup or sunset.

 Here are the three profiles I have been using on APEX SKY. Sunup, Sundown, and Midday


Programming APEX –  Daylight code, 3 steps

This is the code you put in to the Advnaced tab for each light, or each Group of lights, you are using to create a synchronous spawn. The code MUST be in this order to work correctly, so even though it makes sense in our brains to have the code call for profiles in the oder they actually happen during the day, Sunup, Midday, Sunset, if you put them in that order they won’t work correctly, so use the code below in the order it is in. 
The ‘if sun’ command and the numbers that follow it have reason to them and if you are interested in how and why they work, or if you want to tweak them, I suggest you do some reading in the APEX comprehensive reference manual or this tutorial. That said, this code works and the APEX code can get tricky, so if you change the code really check that it does what you think it does. 


Fallback OFF
If Sun 000/-360 Then Sunup
If Sun 360/000 Then Sunset
If Sun 180/-180 Then Midday

Programming APEX –  Daylight code, 5 steps

This is the code you put in to the Advnaced tab for each light, or each Group of lights, you are using to create a synchronous spawn. The code MUST be in this order to work correctly, so even though it makes sense in our brains to have the code call for profiles in the oder they actually happen during the day, Sunup1, sunup2, Midday, Afternoon, Sunset, if you put them in that order they won’t work correctly, so use the code below in the order it is in. 
The ‘if sun’ command and the numbers that follow it have reason to them and if you are interested in how and why they work, or if you want to tweak them, I suggest you do some reading in the APEX comprehensive reference manual or this tutorial. That said, this code works and the APEX code can get tricky, so if you change the code really check that it does what you think it does. 

Lighting code 5 steps

Fallback OFF
If Sun 000/-360 Then Sunup1
If Sun 060/-360 Then Sunup2
If Sun 360/000 Then Sunset
If Sun 360/-060 Then Afternoon
If Sun 120/-120 Then Midday

Richard Ross’s Home Coral Breeding Video is a Recipe for All Reefers

Captive coral spawning is a big deal right now and represents the cutting edge of decades of trial and error when we learned first how to keep them alive, then how to frag them, and now, most importantly, how to breed them.

The successes of pioneering individuals and institutions couldn’t have come at a more noteworthy time either, as we not only face the threat of potential collection bans which could affect our hobby, but the world’s wild corals face new, increased threats of localized extinction and need to be at least preserved until we can fix the oceans on a much bigger scale. 

That’s why when we just watched Richard Ross breeding hard corals at home it flicked an internal switch that made us think about the bigger picture. About not just dozens of people breeding their own corals at home in the future, but the potential for thousands of people to spawn and raise corals in captivity, supplying not just their own domestic aquarium markets but unlocking the key to wild coral conservation at the same time.

Home coral spawning and rearing is a landmark moment in the evolution (and sustainability,) of our hobby.

Thanks to people like Jamie Craggs, Keri O’Neil, Richard Ross, and the coral suppliers who are investing in captive spawning, for the first time, the future of our hobby (and reef conservation in general,) looks really, really bright, and It makes us want to fast forward another ten or twenty years to see where it takes us. 

For the first time, there is a scalable, repeatable recipe for spawning and raising corals, and it’s one that skilled hobbyists can even do from home. Please watch and remember this video, as it represents something that is nothing short of remarkable.

TOMLOV DM602 is the Perfect All-Around Microscope for Reefkeeping

From ReefBuilders

Microscopes are cool and have lots of uses for reefkeeping: looking at the critters in the sand, looking at the details of a coral’s surface, trying to ID pests, and more. But picking a microscope can be daunting. There are a million microscopes available that cost anywhere from about 70 dollars and into the thousands of dollars. So, what do you pick? A compound microscope? A dissecting microscope? Stereo or monocular? Built-in camera? Digital screen? It all depends on what you are going to use the microscope for.

But, what if you want to do everything from look at Acro Eating Flatworms and their eggs, examine gill and fin clips or skin scrapes, identify strains of dinoflagellates, see what is living in your sand, or care for baby corals? Well, I just got a new microscope that changed my world, and it may change yours as well for viewing, photographing, filming, and working on reef tank life – at $260 (USD), it won’t break the bank. 

AEFW bites on an Acropora
But can you spot the flatworm?

The issues

For the Acropora spawning work I do, I use a microscope constantly. For the first few days after the spawn and the fertilization of embryos, folks spawning corals use microscopes to see if fertilization has occurred and to track how well the embryonic corals are developing. After the embryos become larvae and then settle onto a substrate, the real work with the microscope begins. Basically, everything wants to kill baby corals. Algae and coralline algae can smother baby corals in a matter of days, while evil stuff like hydroids can pop up and sting the babies into sadness overnight. Not only do you need to be able to visualize what is happening in the vicinity of a single coral polyp less than a millimeter in diameter, but you also need to be able to use tiny tools to scrape, pull, and pluck baby coral killers while keeping the coral alive.

Dissecting scopes are used to visualize the surface features of an object, while compound microscopes are used to look at objects on a cellular level. For most live coral work, we are interested in the surface features, and we don’t want to destroy what we are looking at by preparing it to go on a microscope slide with a cover slip as we are essentially using a dissecting scope as a macro lens. I have been using a dissecting scope for this work for years, but the staging areas are small and cramped because they are made for visualization, not scraping algae with dental tools.


Four month old Acropora millepora.

Part of the problem with the small staging area of a traditional microscope is that living coral can’t be put on a microscope slide and be expected to stay alive. The living coral needs to stay submerged in saltwater while we examine its skin, structure, and whatever is living on the coral. Aquarium people are clever folks and find or build containers that can ‘make it work’, but even then, the size of the coral that can be examined is extremely limited, as well as the angles the microscope can be used to visualize the animal.

Staring into the eyepieces of a microscope while working for hours can get frustrating fast. Even more annoying, taking pictures on these scopes is often harder than we want it to be with many budget digital microscopes having very low-quality imaging output. I have taken to using a scope mount for my iPhone over a microscope-based photography solution that produces great results but is a bit cumbersome to set up and use. 

Newly settled P. damicornis.

I bought an affordable dissecting scope for last year’s spawn and still ended up chopping it up with a Dremel tool so the staging area was big enough for me to do the work I needed to do, and even then, it was still cramped. I also had to buy a set of microscope lights to light up the baby coral from different angles, because the built-in top and bottom lights don’t effectively light up larger items under the scope. The scope, lights, and iPhone mount together cost me about 200 dollars and it was still sub-optimal. There has got to be a better way!

The Better Way

The TOMLOV DM602 HDMI Digital soldering microscope is used primarily for soldering electronics and by coin collectors to inspect coins. Instead of eyepieces, this baby has a 10.1-inch digital screen that has a sharp picture and is positionally adjustable, making long microscope work sessions so much easier on the neck and back. It also has built-in dimmable lights on flexible stalks to make side lighting easier and more effective.  Even better, the staging area has no built-in under-lighting or slide clips so there is so much more room to work (included in the box is a removable stage with built-in under-lighting for slide work). TOMLOV even makes an arm bracket that mounts to a desk, eliminating the stage altogether so there is nothing at all under the scope to interfere with the workspace. All in all, it’s just perfect for the work I am doing with baby coral. 


A prepared fish gill clip.

The scope comes with a three-lens kit that is easy and fast to swap out, so this scope is good for anything you might want to look at from your reef tank. If you want to look at gill clippings, try to ID dinos, look at tiny critters in the sand or water, or visualize coral polyps, you are all set. Video and photo quality is amazing for the price of ($)269 USD, so for most of us, this scope is an all-around win.

The TOMLOV DM602 HDMI Digital Microscope currently sells on Amazon for ($)269. There are many other makes and models of soldering microscopes that have a digital screen and look like they should work well, so if you find one that takes better pics or video, please let me know. I also imagine that it is only a matter of time before these kinds of units become even better and even less expensive.

The TOMLOV DM602 with its 10.1-inch screen is a great all around magnification solution for the reef aquarist, allowing us to examine living coral as well as prepared samples on microscope slides for disease and pest identification at a cellular level. The video quality is excellent, and the photo quality is very good. For $269 USD, it is the perfect all-around microscope solution for the reef hobbyist. 

About the author

Rich Ross is the recipient of the MASNA Aquarist of the Year award, an independent coral spawning and cephalopod researcher, and co-host of the Reef Beef Podcast. See and hear more from him when he appeared as a guest on the Reef Therapy Podcast.

Richard Ross

Richard is known for his “Skeptical Reefkeeping” article series, his one-of-a-kind presentations, his coral spawning and cephalopod research, the Reef Beef Podcast, and for managing the 212,000 gallon reef tank in the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. He has kept saltwater animals and tanks for over 40 years, and has won multiple awards including the 2014 MASNA Aquarist of the Year. His work has been covered by Scientific American, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Penn’s Sunday School, NPR’s Science Friday, Discovery News, Adam Savage, Fox News, and more.

Weight Loss Resources

fatthinBetween April 15 2015 and July 15 2015 I lost 54 pounds
I wasn’t sick (that I know of), didn’t have high blood pressure or anything like that, but I was buying into the idea that I was older, that my body was going downhill and that was just the way things were. Looking at the before and after picture, I am amazed at how unhealthy I looked, how fat I was, and I can’t believe I had convinced myself that everything was fine. Now, my mood is level and good, my knees never hurt, moving is pleasure and I can get my chest to my knees. I went from a 38 jean size to a 32 (which I can now remove without unbuttoning), I wear medium shirts instead of XL, and I am going to have to go from a medium large wet suit to a medium. Turns out, I don’t have a big frame and I’m not big boned – those were among the untruths I had told myself so I could mentally cope with the extra weight. More amazing, I can tie my shoes without contortion, my rings slide off my fingers and I don’t like the feel of baggy clothes. I can now slow dance close up with my wife and my daughter can carry me around. I am looking forward to being in vacation photos instead of hiding behind the camera.
Penn and Michael helped me by supporting me and hooking me up with Ray Cronise. It feels like I have a second life to live. Instead of waiting to slide into worse and worse health, I am now going to martial arts because I enjoy it, not with the ulterior motive to lose weight (which never worked anyway). Thanks so much you guys, it is all different and wonderful.
If you are interested in what I did, read this article about me check out this podcast
and this read this book by Penn Jillette

Want to do it yourself without the nutty stuff? 
Eat food from this book by Joel Fuhrman.
and get the Withings Smart body analyzer is pretty important. Read about them here.

Pygmy Seahorses: Masters of Camouflage

By , KQED Science (some footage by Rich Ross)

Alternate copy of video:

Over the summer, biologists from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco returned from an expedition to the Philippines with some very rare and diminutive guests, a mating pair of pygmy seahorses. The two tiny fish, each shorter than an inch and bright orange, were collected as part of a larger study of the stunning biodiversity found in the “Twilight Zone” of the ocean. It’s a relatively unexplored environment located at depths where the bright tropical sunlight barely penetrates.

Pygmy seahorses live their entire adult lives attached to a type of coral called a Gorgonian sea fan. The seahorses use their long tails to grab on to the delicately branched sea fans. But what’s really amazing is their ability to match the coral’s bright color and knobby texture. They blend in so perfectly that they are barely visible, even to a trained eye.

More people have walked on the moon than have seen a juvenile land on a sea fan.

Pygmy seahorses are nearly impossible to raise in captivity. More people have walked on the moon than have seen a juvenile land on a sea fan. Until recently, there was no record of the seahorses ever living long enough to breed in an aquarium. As a result, very little is known about them, making them extremely attractive to researchers eager to learn about the mysterious species.

One of the biggest hurdles is keeping the host sea fans alive, since the pygmy sea horses cannot live without them. Biologists Matt Wandell and Rich Ross knew this would be tough, but they had been preparing since 2011 when Bart Shepherd, Director of the Steinhart Aquarium, issued them a challenge. They were tasked with keeping the sea fans alive for three years before they could even attempt bring back the seahorses.  (more…)