Best Corals for Fragging for Beginners
Coral grows. And when coral grows, it can be beautiful, but sometimes it can also grow too much and can overwhelm your tank. When this happens, many people like to “frag” their corals. But what exactly is coral fragging, what tools do you need to do it, how do you do it, and what corals are best for beginners? Today we will answer each of these questions and more.
Coral Fragging 101: What exactly is coral fragging?
To keep things simple, Coral fragging is basically the process of taking a large colony of coral and breaking it down into smaller components. In some ways, you can look at it as a form of marine gardening. But it’s important that you don’t confuse the breeding of coral with the fragging of coral – they are two different things. Unlike breeding, fragging is a form of genetic cloning. Fragging coral is much easier than breeding coral, mostly because coral is already genetically programmed to clone itself – and it can do so from almost any surviving piece – pretty amazing right?!
Fragging sounds pretty cool, but what is the purpose? The truth is, people frag their coral for a variety of different reasons. Many marine aquarists use fragging to clone coral, or in more scientific terms, for “coral propagation”. Regular tank owners, on the other hand, may have different purposes for fragging corals. Some enjoy doing it to clean up their tank, while others like to frag their corals to limit growth or achieve a desired shape within the tank. Many others engage in fragging as an enjoyable hobby by which they can trade frags with other hobbyists. You can even frag corals and sell them to recoup the money spent on the hobby.
What do you need to become a fragger?
The process of Coral Fragging can be broken down into two simple stages: creating the frag and attaching the frag. Here are some of the materials you will need for each:
Materials required for creating the Frag:
- A Razor Blade
A razor blade is a great tool for cutting specific kinds of coral. More specifically, razor blades can be used for cutting soft corals like Corallimorphs (mushrooms).
- A good pair of scissors
A good pair of stainless steel scissors is essential for cutting soft corals, and helps to make the process very simple. Keep in mind, however, that scissors can sometime damage very delicate corals. For very delicate varieties, razors or scalpels are recommended.
Scalpels were originally designed for doctors and surgical procedures, but can also be an excellent tool for fragging. Scalpels hold all of the same benefits as razor blades, but have a sturdier handle for cleaner cuts.
- Bone cutters
As the name suggests, bone cutters are originally designed for cutting bones. But because bones and corals have so much in common, these can also be a great tool for fragging. They come in especially handy when cutting branchy corals.
- Wire cutters
Wire cutters were originally designed for, yep, you guessed it – cutting wires. With that being said, they can also be a great tool for cutting branchy corals.
If you want to bust a coral into pieces, a chisel is the way to do it. Just place your coral on a hard rock, place the chisel in between the polyps, and hit it with a hard hammer.
Screwdrivers come in handy for prying loose small pieces of rock that may be stuck under a coral.
A bandsaw definitely isn’t necessary for cutting corals but is used by some of those who are deep into the hobby. If you really want to zip through colonies, a bandsaw is a great way to do it.
- Dremmel tool
A dremmel tool can be very helpful in cutting the bone or frag plugs. Great for making smooth and clean cuts.
You can also purchase an all in one coral propagation fragging kit which includes everything you need to get started and is great for beginners.
Materials required for attaching the Frag:
- Krazy Glue
Who would have thought that krazy glue could be used in your aquarium? Sometimes referred to by Fragging specialists as “cyanoacrylate glue”, Krazy Glue or Super Glue can be found in almost any store, and is easy to use. And yes, it is reef safe! Just dab a small portion onto your frag, and hold the coral where you want it placed for a few seconds. Leave to sit for a few minutes to set. If you don’t like the idea of using Krazy Glue, you can alternatively use a two-part epoxy.
You can also purchase coral glue from your local store or online if you prefer. Cyanoacrylate glue is what you are looking for. Here is a great coral glue.
- Rubber Bands
Rubber bands are necessary for placement when working with leather corals. Leather corals have a slimy coat that prevents glue from sticking to them, so krazy glue won’t work. As an alternative to, you can use rubber bands to hold them in place.
- Rubble Rock
Rubble rock is basically small pieces of rock. These can range in size anywhere from the size of a dime to the size of a tennis ball. Live rubble rock is a cousin of live rock, and looks very natural within your aquarium. It can also be a good tool for attaching frags. If you prefer, frag plugs can also be another stony looking alternative.
- Frag Plugs or Discs
These are very common to use when attaching your frags. You can use plastic or ceramic ones. A plug will normally have a stem attached to it so you can place it in a frag rack. A frag disc will be a flat piece either square or circle that you can place anywhere on a flat surface in your tank. Frag plugs and frag discs are not expensive and keep things looking neat and tidy.
- Frag Rack
Frag racks are great for holding your newly cut frags. They come in a variety of sizes and styles. The most common ones are made out of acrylic and attach to the glass of your tank using magnets. Here is a great frag rack that I use in my tanks.
Safety Tools you will need to Frag Coral:
- Rubber gloves
- Safety goggles
How do you Frag Coral?
Okay, now that we have all of our materials handy, how exactly do we go about fragging coral? Fragging Coral is really quite simple, here is how to do it:
Step 1: Pull out the coral, along with the entire rock that it is attached to. Pulling out the entire rock will prevent you from accidentally fragging the coral within your aquarium.
Step 2: Place rock and coral on a paper towel, bath towel or container to minimize the mess (it will be very wet)
Step 3: Choose which technique you will use to frag your coral. Here are a few different methods you can choose from:
- Chipping technique
In this technique, you can use a chisel and hammer to break apart pieces of your coral. This technique is commonly used with large polyped corals such as Mushroom Corals or Capnella Corals.
- Snapping technique
In this technique, you can use your wire or bone cutters to twist off branches or plates. This method is best recommended for branching corals.
- Shearing technique
In this technique, you can use a pair of sharp scissors to shear off branches or lobes of soft coral species. This technique is commonly used for leather corals with soft bodies such as Finger coral or cabbage leather.
- Slicing technique
With the slicing technique, you can use scissors, scalpels, or razor blades to slice off coral pieces. This technique is best used for more difficult to cut corals.
Note: You can use one, or a combination of any of these techniques to cut your coral – get creative!
Step 4: Clean your coral by placing it in a small bowl of aquarium water
Step 5: Use one of the methods listed above to attach the coral to your aquarium
Fragging your coral is that fun and simple!
What are the easiest corals to frag?
If you are new to the world of coral fragging, you may want to start with some of the easier corals. Here are some corals that are beginner-friendly:
Capnella (Kenya Tree) Nepthea, and Cladiella Corals (Colt coral, finger leather)
These corals look like tiny trees and will clone easily simply by dropping their branches. All it takes is a simple chip off the live rock, and soon you will have an instant frag.
Image credit Derek Keats. Link
These corals are both vibrant and fluorescent and will grow over almost anything. In return, fragging them is extremely easy.
- Mushroom corals
Mushroom corals are some of the easiest to care for, as well as some of the easiest to frag. These are great for starter fraggers and can be cut with a razor, blade, or scalpel.
Here is a great video from Vivid Aquariums on mushroom fragging.
- Toadstool leather coral
A type of leather coral, these corals come in several different varieties and are known to be a hardy and fast-growing perk. In return, they make an excellent choice for first-time fraggers.
If you love coral, have your own aquarium, and are looking for a new hobby to enjoy, you might want to consider the hobby of fragging. Fragging is a very easy hobby, and watching your new coral grow and spread can be extremely rewarding. For an added perk, look for other fragger hobbyists and trade corals for a colorful, more vibrant aquarium setting.
Thanks for reading!
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