Saltwater Corals Growing in Wisconsin!

by DFS-Pet-Blog on March 23, 2011

One of the fun parts about my job at Drs. Foster & Smith is getting to talk to folks about the company and tell them that we grow saltwater corals right here in northern Wisconsin, the land of the frozen tundra—which is my yard by the way, not Lambeau Field like you might have been thinking.

Drs. Foster & Smith grows saltwater coral in the most unlikely place you can imagine, a northern Midwestern state nearly 1500 miles in any direction from an ocean. We do it with an ocean next door—next door to our office building—in our aquaculture facility, one of the largest, if not the largest in the country. The “ocean” is a series of saltwater tanks with special moving halide lights hovering above. Back and forth those lights go, making sure that light is spread evenly to all the little corals. Inside the tanks are special underwater spigots, the business end of small pumps that move water first this way and then that, simulating the tide, or so I have imagined.


Main Coral Systems

Main Coral Systems

In some tanks, there are colorful saltwater fish swimming around fulfilling their end of a symbiotic relationship between them and the coral. Put the wrong fish in a tank though and you may not have any coral left! Some fish eat coral! Did you know that? I didn’t! And not every coral is brick hard as we perhaps imagine them to be. Some corals are quite soft, and, as you expect, most are beautifully colored.

Every day, summer and winter, we can walk into our aquaculture facility and see these cool looking coral “frags” as they are called, and coral in reef tanks that are kept for display. And what we see is not what an uninformed person might expect.

Coral Frags

Coral Frags

Corals are not plants but “animals”; fascinating, beautiful animals. Do not be fooled by the beauty and the fascinating shapes of coral though. Did you know that one coral would intentionally kill another coral,”fighting” for space to populate and grow? They do! A coral may sting another coral next to it, killing it to create space for them to grow. Nasty little creatures they can be to each other, but great in a tank and beautiful to look at.

You might ask what we do with the coral once they have grown enough to be able to be sold. Well you won’t believe this perhaps, but we sell them online and mail them to customers. Yes, we mail live coral across the country. Does that work? Can you really ship live coral (and live saltwater fish) through the mail? You bet! Our team does this so well that for our aquaculture-raised coral, we have a 30 day Arrive Alive, Stay Alive®, Risk-Free Guarantee. Other coral and saltwater fish have a 14 day Arrive Alive, Stay Alive®, Risk-Free Guarantee. (Read more about how we ship live goods safely.)

LiveAquaria Open Houses have been created to give all area reef clubs and other interested hobbyists an opportunity to visit our facility, and take advantage of buying directly from the source! If you want a tour right now of this remarkable place, check out our video center.

The snow is melting outside my door. I wonder if our “ocean next door” is affecting the climate, changing northern Wisconsin into the tropics. I can only hope.

Aquaculture Coral Marine Life


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rita M March 24, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Do you give tours? That would be a fun thing next time we’re visiting my mom in Rhinelander!

Melissa R. March 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Hi Rita – We provide 4 Open Houses each year. They are FREE and really fun! Go here to find out when they are and how to sign up: http://www.liveaquaria.com/general/general.cfm?general_pagesid=468

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