If you have just bought your saltwater aquarium and are interested in adding colour and texture to the tank, you might well be thinking about purchasing coral. However, when you start to do your research, what you’ll see come up time and time again are results for coral frag. But what exactly is it, and how can you take up the exciting and rewarding hobby of coral fragging yourself?
To put it simply, coral frag is a piece of coral that has been cut from another, usually much more substantial piece. Rather like how a gardener might take clippings from a plant and begin to cultivate and grow new plants from it, coral frags can be removed from any type of coral and then latched onto a rock or other form of place holder and begin to regrow independently.
It’s called a frag as this is simply short for a fragment, i.e., the piece of rock you are removing. Reefers (what the hobbyists call themselves) enjoy the process of cultivating a much larger coral from only a small section of polyps. The process is also popular as it’s an inexpensive way of growing a much larger, vibrant, and impressive colony.
So how do you go about fragging coral
Fragging coral is a delicate process and requires some patience, but the rewards can be great!
To start with it’s always better to cut the frag from the bottom of the host branch. Remember that there are different techniques and ways of doing this depending on the coral type, and you’ll most likely need to invest in appropriate tools to help you as well as take care not to harm the host. Keeping a cleaner shrimp in the tank can help the main coral to heal.
Once you have your frag you need to secure it to a placeholder which would usually be a rock – the rock you choose doesn’t have to be anything special. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a rock. It’s entirely up to you what you choose to be the base for your coral to grow, though do bear in mind that some objects and materials will be more effective than others when placed in a tank of water!
Using reef glue or something else like nylon fishing line, for example, you can then gently secure the coral frag onto your placeholder, place this in your aquarium and…wait. If you are using reef glue make sure you soak the placeholder for a couple of minutes in water before trying to attach the coral as this will prevent bubbles forming inside the glue which could make it harder to stick the frag down and will ensure that you don’t have to keep going back into your tank to re-glue corals on.
It can take anything from a few hours to 1-2 weeks for the coral frag to secure itself properly to the placeholder, and for the polyps to open back up. Once they do, the coral should look plump and healthy. From there, the coral frag will continue to grow – albeit slowly. It can take over a year for it to grow beyond the frag stage, however slowly but surely it will settle in, eventually achieving the mini-colony stage in the second year.
Is fragging out coral worth the effort?
Once your frag is well-established, the great news is that you can start fragging the frag and go on to sell your frags to others who are keen to start the hobby. This is a great way of ensuring that the coral remains sustainable and is ethically sourced, rather than those who buy from bigger companies who can often frag large chunks of coral, leaving the host in trouble. Once you have perfected your fragging skills, you can experiment with fragging more tricky coral types, and the general rule is, the harder the coral is to frag, the more you’ll get for it!
Coral frags usually sell for anything from £10 to around £70 for rarer types. However, some new hybrids can be extremely coveted and if you are able to frag those you could be looking at selling them on for hundreds of pounds!
Popular types of coral to frag
LPS (large stony polyp), and SPS (soft polyp stony) are the two coral types. Some of the most popular types of coral frags from each of these categories include:
Bird of Paradise
Green Apple Cap
Purple Tip Nasuta
Red Montipora Palawanesis
Vivid Tricolor Acropora
Candy Cane Coral
Of course, there are so many more to choose from, and if you get into the coral fragging hobby you’ll no doubt become fascinated with the vast range of different types- all with unique and arresting qualities, you could even try creating hybrids of your own!
If you want to get started and give coral fragging a try, the team at Fraggle Reef can help give you advice as well as provide you with our very own home-grown frags to get you started. Browse our shop or get in touch via the contact form today!