Reef Ball

Making an Oyster Reef Ball
• A level site and space for storage
• Access to water and electricity
• Plastic tarp to protect floor
• Concrete mixing basin
• Two hoes
• Several shovels
• Several buckets
• Air compressor and extension cord
• Hammer
• Vegetable oil and small brushes
• Sand
• Screwdriver
• Rubber gloves
• Masking tape and duct tape
• 4 pencils (or long nails)
• Wooden dowel
• Wire hanger
• 120 lbs. concrete mix(with stone), 5 lbs. cement (mortar mix),
film canister of Advo-Flo, micrasilicate (black powder substance)
• Mold with hardware, wooden base, bladder, 4 balls with tabs, 8
small balls, metal rod
• Mr. Bill Huppert
• Mr. Joe Zinner
• Mr. Bob Hall
Step 1: Brush the inside of all sections of the
mold with a coating of vegetable oil to keep
concrete from sticking to the surface.
Step 2. Then assemble the mold and attach it to
the base with the with the bolts and wedges .
Step 3: Spread sand (a couple of small buckets’ worth)
around the inside bottom edge of the mold to prevent the
concrete from leaking out.
Step 4: Place the 4 large balls with tabs around the
outside of the mold. Secure them by inserting the tabs
through the holes in the mold. Place a pencil or long nail
through the hole in each of the tabs.
Step5: Insert the metal rod through one hole in the top of the mold,
thread the rod through the inflatable bladder, and then pass the rod
through the other hole in the top of the mold to secure the bladder in
place. Then partially inflate the bladder, just until the playground
balls feel secure.
Step 6: Place 6-8 of the smaller balls around the inside of
mold as shown, making sure that none of the small balls touch
each other. All balls should be placed below the neck of the
Step 7: Now inflate the bladder until the small
balls are secure by attaching the air compressor to
the valve near the top of the bladder. When you’ve
completed the inflation, cover the valve with tape.
Valve with tape
Step 8: Check your
setup. Use the
wooden dowel to
gently poke around in
the mold. Make
sure that no two
balls are too close to
each other and that
the reef ball walls
are about the same
thickness all around.
If anything needs to
be repositioned,
deflate the bladder,
make adjustments
and inflate again.
Step 9: Prepare the concrete. Empty the
contents of two 60-lb. bags of concrete mix,
approx. 5-lb. of cement, and one package of
micrasilicate into the mixing basin. Pour low to
the basin to avoid creating dust and spills.
Step 10: Add two
gallons of water
and mix thoroughly
using hoes. The
concrete should be
moist throughout,
but not watery. If
it is too dry, add
small amounts of
water slowly and in
Step 11: Add one film canister’s worth of Aqua Flo to
the concrete mixture. This helps to create a softer,
smoother mixture..
Step 12: Break up the fiberglass threads and add
them to the concrete mixture. Mix thoroughly. The
fiberglass helps to strengthen the concrete and is
recommended but not critical.
Step 13: Shovel the concrete mix into small buckets and
pour the concrete into the mold. While pouring the
concrete, tap around the outside of the mold with the
rubber hammer to help the concrete settle in place.
Step 14: Fill the mold to right below the neck, making sure not
to cover the valve in the bladder. About an hours later, you
should release air from the bladder for ten seconds to reduce
pressure. This is because the heat buildup in the concrete
causes the bladder to expand further.
Step 15: Setup and Curing
The concrete will need to cure in the mold for at least 24 to 48 hours
or more before the mold can be removed. The time will depend on how
much moisture was in the concrete, the temperature, humidity, and
other factors. Do not remove the mold if the concrete is still soft.
To remove the mold, release the air pressure from the bladder. Then
remove the largest of the three sections of the mold. At this point,
you will be able to separate the mold from the reef ball. Remove all
plastic balls.
Lightly dab the surfaces of the reef ball with a coarse brush to
roughen up the surface. This makes it easier for plant and animal life
to adhere.
Do not move the reef ball to storage for another 24 to 36 hours.
After this time, the reef balls can be stacked two high for storage
Congratulations! You are helping to restore the oyster population of
the Chesapeake Bay. Your efforts are vital to the restoration of this
natural treasure.
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