LPS corals are known for their vibrant color and movement within a reef aquarium. The LPS family includes corals on many reef keepers’ wishlists, including Torch corals, Hammer corals, Duncans, Acans, Frogspawn, and many others. In this article, we will discuss the fragging process as it relates to LPS corals. Many LPS corals can be challenging to frag; however, with some of these tips and tricks, you will be fragging like a pro in no time.
Why to Frag
There are two primary reasons for fragging a coral:
- Overgrown: Like a tree or plant, a coral can outgrow its space and need a trim. Often, fragging must occur to prevent different corals from coming into contact with one another.
- Sell or Trade: The other common reason to frag is to capitalize on the growth your coral has experienced. Whether you want to place some of the frags in different tanks as a failsafe, trade them with friends, or sell them to recoup some of your investment, coral fragging gives hobbyists plenty of options.
What Do I Need?
Fragging corals can be challenging and potentially dangerous to one’s health if you are not taking the proper precautions. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Medical-grade rubber gloves
- Tight-fitting dust mask
- Safety goggles or glasses to protect from bandsaw dust
- Coral Band Saw
- Small & Large Bone Cutters for powerful and accurate cutting
- Fragging scissors
- Razor blade or scalpel
- Rag (For drying hands)
- Glue for attaching coral tissue or frag putty directly to the plug or disc
- Frag putty for securing hard-skeleton corals or rock rubble to the plug or disc
- Frag plugs or tiles
- 32+ ounce container for holding the frags
- A place in a display aquarium or frag tank to put the frags
Tips for Fragging Different LPS Corals
Torches, Hammers, & Frogspawn: Although generally considered challenging to frag, Torches, Hammers, & Frogspawn can be fragged using a coral band saw. Separate the individual heads of the coral using a coral band saw. Ensure that the cut to the base is straight and well below the white base of the coral to prevent any damage to the internal tissue. After cutting, dip the frags in iodine before mounting them to a plug using putty and glue.
Acans & Favia: Also considered tough, fragging Acans and Favia is possible using a band saw. To damage as little coral tissue as possible, it is essential to cut the corals along the natural ridges that separate the unique heads of the corals. Dip the frags in iodine to promote tissue healing before gluing them to a plug or plate.
Duncans: Duncans fall into a similar category as Torches, Hammers, and Frogspawn in that they can only be fragged using a band saw or possibly a Dremel. Cut an inch or two below the bottom of the white skeleton and cut evenly to make the frag easy to mount. Most reefers don’t frag their Duncans as they are relatively slow growing and look significantly better as a colony.
Trumpets: Trumpet corals have a similar skeletal structure to Duncans, Torches, Hammers, and Frogspawn and should be fragged similarly. The skeleton of trumpet corals is brittle, so be extremely careful when fragging them. Once again, you will want to cut the trumpet coral well below the bottom of the white skeleton to make sure you don’t damage any internal coral tissue.
Goniopora: Although possible, we don’t recommend fragging Goniopora as it requires cutting directly through the coral skeleton. As such, the success rate is relatively low, and it takes quite a while for them to heal.
Elegance, Fungia, Brains, Lobos, Bubbles: We don’t recommend fragging Elegance, Fungia, Brains, Lobos & Bubble corals under any circumstances. These corals do not respond well to fragging; most attempts to frag them will result in damage or death.
How to Prepare
Here are our three tips for a successful LPS fragging session:
- Gather and lay out your equipment so the cutting and mounting process is streamlined. If needed, pre-glue any frag plugs.
- Always wear gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask for your fragging session. In our opinion, this equipment is not optional.
- Envision cutting, mounting, and placing the frags.
LPS Fragging Steps
- Make sure your eyes and hands are covered.
- Fill three 32+ ounce containers with salt water and place the coral colony you want to frag in one of them.
- Score the coral along where you want to cut it. Try to follow the natural grooves of the coral to cut as little tissue as possible and then use either bone cutters or a band saw to separate the frag from the colony. Deciding which cutting tool to use depends on the density of the skeleton or rock the coral is attached to. Repeat for additional frags.
- Secure the frags to the plug with glue, coral putty, or both, and allow the glue to cure for at least five minutes.
- Dip your LPS frags in a coral dip or iodine to promote tissue regeneration.
Additional LPS Fragging Tips
- Don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on your previous fragging experiences.
- Never try to frag more than one LPS coral colony at a time.
- As much as possible, avoid cutting coral tissue when fragging.
- Be sure to cut LPS corals well below where their skeleton appears to end, as oftentimes, the coral tissue goes further down into the skeleton than most fraggers would anticipate.
- Dipping a freshly cut soft coral frag in a dip before mounting it is a great way to revive it and promote tissue healing and growth. It can also help you remove any lingering pests.
- Use as little glue and epoxy as possible.
- Rinse your tools in RO water before and after the fragging session, and dry them before storing them.
- Ensure the LPS coral you want to frag can be fragged.
- A band saw is a popular tool that can make cutting LPS corals much easier.
- Cut the bottom or base of the rock as flat as possible to make mounting easier.
We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of how to frag different large polyp stony corals. Following the above steps will ensure that you can accomplish the task of fragging safely and efficiently.
If you have any additional questions about fragging or any additional aquarium topics, our support team would be more than happy to assist you.