Beginners guide to fragging corals

Discussion in 'Fragging Corals' started by Mekaeel, 20 Apr 2009.

  1. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Hey guys, I came across this article and found i to be pretty good. Hope it helps :)
    Time to think Green, Coral propagation for beginners.


    Normally when one thinks green in regards to their fish tank it is a bad thing. It usually means there is an algae outbreak in their tank and they have a battle upcoming with this green invader of their tank. With Earth Day fast approaching (April 22nd) it is time to think green in a good way about our tanks. It is a time to think about what you can do to help lessen your impact on the wild reefs and the environment as a whole. Not only can you make a difference by recycling items from your tank (for example your bulbs should be recycled due to the mercury found in them) but you can also help by propagating corals to trade with fellow hobbyist and lessening the impact on collection of corals in the wild. The best part is you don't have to be an "expert" aquarist to propagate corals.

    I would like to go over a "how to" in fragmenting three different corals that many hobbyists both beginner to expert may have in their tank. The first one is a green finger leather corals (Sinularia sp.), the second one is a branching hammer coral (Euphyllia sp.) and finally an Acropora (pink milli). Please keep in mind there are different ways to actually frag the corals as well as different methods of mounting the corals. What I have listed has worked well for me over the years and I have stuck with them but don't think this is the only way.


    1) Propagating leather "finger" corals

    These are a great coral for beginners in both propagating as well as for beginners in the hobby. They are hardy, don't require high intensity lighting (but will do fine if acclimated to it) and are fairly tolerant to different water parameters. The tools needed for this include a razor blade/scalpel or sharp pair of scissors, rubber bands and some pieces of live rock rubble. I also like to have a small container of tank water for rinsing the coral in as well no matter what type of coral I am fragging.

    Once you have all your tools in place, take the coral out of your tank and lay it on the table you are going to use. I generally will put the coral on a plastic bag to help keep it moist and to avoid direct contact with the table. Find a nice "branch" that will be easy to remove without damaging other areas of the coral (don't try to remove part of the middle of the coral, try to find a branch on the outer part of the coral).

    With your scalpel/razor or sharp scissor cut off the section you have chosen.

    [​IMG] Give the original piece of coral a quick dip in the water set aside and put back into the display tank. It will be fairly normal for the coral to stay retracted for a few hours to even a few days after it has been fragged.

    Now it is time to attach the new frag to a piece of live rock rubble. Find a little hole or notch in the piece of rubble for the frag to sit in. Wrap the rubber band around the rock and coral to help keep it in place.

    [​IMG] You can now put your new frag in your display tank or frag tank. Don't put it in an area of high flow until it attaches itself to the rock. This usually will take around 1-2 weeks to happen. Don't worry about trying to use glue to hold the coral to the rock. Leather coral slime up too much for any type of glue to work properly.

    [​IMG] Congratulations...you have now successfully made a frag that will be ready to trade or sell within a few weeks.


    2) Propagating Branching LPS corals such as frogspawn, torch, hammer, candy cane, etc...

    These can be one of the easiest corals to frag. The individual heads are on their own skeleton, so it is just a matter of cutting the heads off below the living tissue on the coral skeleton. Depending on the thickness of the skeleton you may be able to simply snap off a piece, use coral shears or use a saw or Dremel to cut through the skeleton. For thicker skeletons like on the hammer corals I will be using I prefer to use a Dremel with a diamond bit cutting tool. I also tend to shy away from the snapping methods as it can sometimes damage the coral polyps.

    Tools required include a dremel with cutting tool or coral shears, protective eyewear if using a dremel, some live rock rubble and two part epoxy for mounting. The mounting is optional though as some people will just find notches in their live rock to put the branching skeleton into instead.

    Once you are ready to start fragging the branching coral, get it ready to bring to the table by getting the coral to retract its polyps in the tank (don't lift it out of the tank with polyps fully extended). You can swish water towards the polyps to help them retract.

    [​IMG] Bring the coral to the table, put on your protective eyewear and get ready to start cutting. Make sure when cutting you are keeping the blade and the dremel itself away from the living tissue on the skeleton.

    [​IMG] Try not to cut all the way through with the dremel so the fragmented piece doesn't drop to the table. You want to leave a little bit behind so all you will have to do is apply a little bit of pressure and the skeleton will fully separate.

    Now that you have successfully cut off the head to be mounted, you can put the mother colony back into your display tank and set the fragmented piece aside (in some water).

    [​IMG] Start kneading your two part epoxy together getting it ready for mounting the new frag. Apply it first to the piece of live rock rubble to secure it there, and then push the skeleton part of your frag into the epoxy. You will then want to mold the epoxy into the skeleton for a secure hold. I also like to carve out a little hole in the epoxy to put the frag skeleton into.

    [​IMG] It is now ready to go back into the tank and the epoxy should have a good hold of the live rock and frag within 24 hours, so again make sure it is not put in an area of high flow that could knock it over.


    3) Fragging SPS corals like Acropora

    These are another great coral for fragmenting and can actually be easier than some of the beginner corals. With their hard skeleton they can be easily cut with a pair of coral shears or a Dremel or even snapped off by your hands. But again snapping with your hands isn't always the best bet as it can cause more collateral damage than cutting the coral.

    Some of the tools needed include the coral shears or dremel with cutting wheel (again the diamond bit works best), coral mounts, glue and a few paper towels.

    Once your work station is set up and ready to go bring over the coral you want to frag.

    [​IMG] With your shears or dremel cut away a piece of the skeleton about 1-2" in size. You can do multiple cuts if you want to make multiple frags if the colony is large enough. I will be working with a smaller coral, so I am just going to make a single frag. Once you have cut away your frag you can put the mother colony back into the display tank.

    Now you are ready to attach the frag to the coral mount (disc or plug). If you have been presoaking the coral mount (some require this, others don't) you will want to dab dry the section where the coral will be attached to. Add a dab of glue to the area where the coral will be attached (some people will just put a drop while others use a little more, do what works best for you).

    [​IMG] Take the frag you have made and dab the cut end dry with a paper towel. Holding the coral with the cut side facing up will help prevent its slime from moistening the cut area allowing for a better surface for the glue to attach to.

    Put the cut end into the glue on the coral mount and hold it in place for around 10-30 seconds.

    You can now put the mounted frag into your tank, again putting it in a slower flow area to prevent it from getting knocked off its mount. The glue should have a good hold within an hour and within 2-3 weeks you should see the coral itself growing onto the mount.

    [​IMG] In all it took me less than an hour total to frag these three corals and that includes me taking picture after picture trying to get ones that were in focus and not washed out by the flash (and I still have lots to learn about taking pictures). Fragging doesn't take long and anyone of any level within this hobby can do it. It can go a long way in helping to lessen our burden on the reefs in the wild that we are trying to replicate in our home aquariums. Hopefully I have inspired some of you to give this a try in your tanks.

    http://kb.marinedepot.com/article.a...ce=mdnl090417&utm_content=mdnlAtclEarth090417
     
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  3. Kunhardt

    Kunhardt

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    Awesome read! Thanks Mekaeel...i want to go home and start slicing things up :p
     
  4. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    wicked cool!
    going to have to get some nice Acropora to share

    thanks Mek!:peroni:
     
  5. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Thread Starter Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Glad the article helps guys. Lets save the reefs:thumbup:
     
  6. Jaak

    Jaak

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    Nice read Mekaeel!
     
  7. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Thread Starter Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Thanks Jaak, as long as people are benefiting I am happy :)
     
  8. Jaak

    Jaak

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    Dude, this was a nice easy read. See if the same spot has some on fragging mushrooms and Zoo's. I think that could be of some benefit too. Fragging is one of my main passions in this hobby of ours...:thumbup:
     
  9. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    zoo's just add an element of "danger" to it :)

    i set each coral a goal size and everytime it gets there i frag it
     
  10. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Thread Starter Moderator MASA Contributor

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  11. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Thread Starter Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Zoa's are pretty simple to propagate, just scrape them off the rock and strap them to another rock using an elastic band, after a few weeks, they will attach themselves. Alternativley, stick them to a rock using super glue and they will grow from there....
     
  12. lIghty

    lIghty

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    nice info Meks, when can i come over to test it? lol
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  13. Jaak

    Jaak

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  14. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Thread Starter Moderator MASA Contributor

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  15. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Thread Starter Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Thanks lighty, Anytime ;)
     
  16. Jaak

    Jaak

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  17. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

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    i havent had the balls yet to try a nemmie, soon though :)
     
  18. Neil H

    Neil H Moderator MASA Contributor

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  19. Jaak

    Jaak

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    Same here dallasg! But if a nemmie can survive being eaten by a powerhead and survive like we've read on a few threads then I think your nemmie will have a good chance of a speedy recovery if the conditions is right.;)
     
  20. Neil H

    Neil H Moderator MASA Contributor

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    WRT nennies, as with most other propogation,

    it is VITAL that the mother specimen is not in great condition, but in FANTASTIC condition.... then propogation works !
     
  21. Jaak

    Jaak

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    Absolutely Neil! :thumbup:
     
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