Small polyp stony corals are renowned for their stunning colors and growth patterns. While they are generally considered some of the most challenging corals to keep in a reef aquarium, fragging most of them can be relatively easy. We will explore tips and tricks that make fragging SPS corals a breeze.
Why to Frag SPS Corals
Coral fragging is a significant evolution in any reefer’s enjoyment of the aquarium hobby, but what is the valid reason for doing it? There are three main reasons a hobbyist would want to frag an SPS 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.
Salvage & Protection: It is no secret that SPS corals are typically more sensitive than other corals. With that in mind, many hobbyists will frag their SPS corals and place them in different tanks to have an “insurance” policy should anything happen to the main colony.
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?
Having the proper tools to conduct a successful fragging session is essential. Not only can fragging corals be challenging, but it can also be hazardous if you don’t take the proper precautions. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Safety Equipment: Rubber gloves, dust mask, and sealed safety goggles.
- Fragging Tools: Two sizes of bone cutters, a razor blade or scalpel, fragging scissors, and a rag.
- Mounting: Glue, frag putty, frag plugs, frag tiles, and a container or rack for holding the frags.
Tips for Fragging Different SPS Corals
Acropora: Despite their sensitivity, most Acropora corals are easy to frag. A good pair of bone cutters are needed. Mount the cutting to a frag plug using putty and glue. Once mounted, dip the Acro frags to help the healing and growth process.
Encrusting Montipora & Cyphastrea: Fragging Encrusting Montipora & Cyphastrea is more complicated than Acropora since they grow over the rock’s surface. If the coral is encrusting over the rock, frag it using a coral band saw. If the coral isn’t encrusting over hard surfaces, you can easily snap a piece off using a bone cutter. These frags can be extremely brittle, so handle them carefully when mounting them to a plug or plate.
Plating Montipora, Pocillopora, Stylophora, Birds Nest: The skeletal structure of plating Montipora, Pocillopora, Stylophora, & Birds Nest corals make them easy to frag using a bone cutter. Cutting them as close to the base as possible allows the colony to continue to grow out evenly. Be extremely careful throughout the process; they are all very fragile and can break easily. Mounting putty is your best friend when mounting most of these corals to ensure they are safely secured to a plug.
How to Prepare
The more thought you put into the preparation, the better your frags will turn out.
- Put on gloves, eye protection, and a mask.
- Clear off the working area and organize fragging and mounting equipment, so the cutting and mounting process is logical.
- Pre-glue frag plugs if possible.
SPS Fragging Steps
- Fill three 32+ ounce containers with either tank water or freshly mixed saltwater and place the coral colony to frag in the first container.
- For plating SPS, separate the different branches using a bone cutter. For encrusting SPS, use a band saw to portion the colony into frags. Place them in the second container.
- Repeat this process to create as many frags as you would like.
- Secure the frags to the plug with glue, epoxy, or both, and allow the glue to cure for at least five minutes.
- Dip the frags and the original colony in the third container following the instructions on your coral dip of choice.
- Place the frags into either a frag tank or a quarantine tank. You shouldn’t purchase, sell, or trade a frag that looks freshly cut; wait until new tissue is growing over the plug.
Additional SPS Fragging Tips
- Don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on your previous fragging experiences.
- Never try to frag more than one SPS coral colony at a time.
- SPS frags can be very fragile, so handle them carefully when mounting them.
- Dipping a freshly cut SPS 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 thoroughly before storing them.
- Place SPS frags in a low-flow area to allow the glue/epoxy to cure.
- Cutting tiny frags can reduce the survival rate of SPS corals.
We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of how to frag different small 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 other aquarium topics, our support team would be happy to assist you.