What is a Coral Frag?

by: Michael Phife

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many newcomers to the saltwater aquarium hobby usually ask the question, “What the heck is a coral frag?” If you have seen a coral frag in an aquatic store, then you also probably wondered how they got the coral on a piece of rock. In this brief article, I will not only explain what a coral frag is, but also how to do one yourself.

A coral frag is simply a cut off piece of any type of coral, latched onto a rock or a place holder. Usually the coral will be cut from the very bottom of its branch, then gently tied to a rock with some type of nylon fishing line or reef glue, and finally placed back into the aquarium to regrow. The rock you use is completely optional as it is your call what you would like its base to be. It takes anywhere from 7-14 days (sometimes even longer) for it to fully heal and “stick” onto the rock, but once it does then the coral looks just like new… without anyone ever knowing you cut it off its original host.

After it has been attached/stuck to the rock and opens its polyps back up, it is now what is considered a coral frag. Some corals are a little more complex on how to frag out, so research is definitely needed when doing them yourself. It is highly recommended that you keep a cleaner shrimp in the tank that you’re cutting your coral branches off of, so that way the shrimp can help heal the coral’s base.

This video will help show you a demonstration on how to frag your own coral:

 

Is Fragging Out Coral Worth It?

Many people frag their own corals after they become too large, and sell it back to stores or online for vast amounts of money. Depending on the coral you are fragging, you can get anywhere from $10 on up per frag; the average being around $30-40. However, the harder the coral is to frag out, the more expensive it becomes. Chalice corals are typically the ones that go for the most amount of money, ranging from $70 on up.

The most expensive coral that I have ever seen in this category would be a new hybrid of Chalice called Rainbow Inferno Flamethrower Chalice (Yes, people name them weird things if they have not been founded yet…). Either way, not many people are distributing them right now, and they’re selling for a whopping $900 per frag. Here is what one looks like:
$_35

 

Popular Types of Coral

Another phrase that comes up quite often is the term LPS and SPS. This is a very confusing abbreviation because even knowing the terms do not help out a beginner much. LPS stands for large stony polyp coral, and SPS is soft polyp stony coral. This simply defines corals into two different categories based on how long their branches are. These types do not necessarily mean that one is easier to care for than another. It all depends on the specific type of coral you are looking to purchase for your tank and what you deem is aesthetically pleasing. Below, I will list some of the more popular corals by these two categories to look out for:

SPS:

bluered654408

  • Pink Birdnest
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Vivid Tricolor Acropora
  • Frogskin Acropora
  • Green Apple Cap
  • Purple Tip Nasuta
  • Red Montipora Palawanesis
  • Orange Setosa
  • Blue Chalice
  • Blue-Green Polyp
  • Mint Pavona
  • Pink Stylophora

LPS:

frogspawn_01_2005-0227

  • Brain Coral
  • Elegance Coral
  • Trumpet Coral
  • Candy Cane Coral
  • Hammer Coral
  • Frogspawn Coral
  • Torch Coral
  • Plate Coral
  • Bubble Coral
  • Button Coral
  • Tube Coral
  • Cup Coral

This is just a small list of both types of corals you can get, with hundreds more to choose from. Also as you probably noticed, SPS corals have much more elaborate names than the LPS corals! There are so many different varieties of each type, that it is nearly impossible to list every single one. I even had to condense down the LPS list because there are many subspecies of the ones that I listed. Even if we did manage to list them all, hobbyists are still finding new hybrids of coral, like the Rainbow Inferno Flamethrower Coral that I mentioned previously.

 

The coral industry is constantly expanding, with Reef Expo’s going on yearly by people who do coral fragging for a living. It is a very interesting approach to keeping coral not only a hobby, but also a relevant topic for those wanting to learn more about coral reef beds in the ocean. Approximately 33% of our ocean life lives on reef beds, so it’s no wonder that people are so enthralled by it.

 

 

References:

http://www.garf.org/-2010/bluered654408.jpg

http://www.jumboag.com/images/frogspawn_01_2005-0227.jpg

http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NzIwWDExNTI=/z/GPkAAOSwqu9U5SnZ/$_35.JPG