How To Frag LPS Corals Safely

Keeping a reef aquarium is all about maintaining a safe and stable environment for your inhabitants. This allows them to thrive and grow. However, as they grow we have to consider how we are going to keep that harmonious environment from becoming an overgrown warzone. LPS corals, and SPS corals, have a tendency of attacking any neighbour they consider unfriendly. That would include any coral not of their species. The nature of a mixed reef aquarium means that we keep a mixture of corals in a confined environment, and the easiest way to maintain peace is to prune corals back every now and again. In this article, we discuss how to frag LPS corals in a manner that causes them the least amount of stress, and ensures they can be safely introduced to another part of your tank, or sold as a bit of a side hustle to support your reefing hobby.

how to frag lps coral

What do I need to frag LPS corals?

Some LPS corals can be some of the most challenging corals to frag, but not all. LPS corals develop stoney support structures as they grow. On some corals such as the Candy Cane and branching Hammer corals, you can see the branching structure beneath the heads. On other LPS, the stoney skeleton is hidden under folds of colorful tissue. It is only ever seen when the coral starts receding due to stress or injury. These corals, such as Goniopora and Chalice corals are far more difficult to frag without causing unnecessary damage, if you do not have the right equipment.

Superglue Gel – This is one item you should never be without when fragging corals.

Coral Epoxy Putty– Putty is especially helpful in securing branching coral to frag plugs or tiles.

Frag Plugs – Another item you should always have available in your fragging arsenal.

Frag Tiles – A variation on frag plugs, but larger at 3 x 3 inches for LPS corals

Pair of Coral Cutters – Helpful in removing a piece of branching coral from a colony.

Inland DB-100 Coral Bandsaw – Cannot say enough good things about this Aqua Saw. Read my review by clicking on the link!

Safety Eyewear – Protect those eyes. They are the only ones you have!

Gloves – The choice is yours, get stung by bristleworms or not?

Iodine Coral Dip – An important and necessary item in your fragging kit for the ongoing health of your frags.

The assumption is that you will be using protective eyewear whenever you are fragging corals to protect your eyes from damage. The choice to wear gloves is an individuals’ choice. If you have to handle a coral frequented by bristleworms it might be a good idea.

How to frag a Candy Cane Coral

Candy Cane, also known as the Trumpet or Bulls Eye coral is one of the easiest LPS corals to frag. As they grow, their heads split. While the new heads are developing, the stoney skeletal structure also grows to support the newly established heads. To frag a Candy Cane coral you simply snip off a branch below the fleshy section with a pair of Coral Cutters while in the tank.

Once you have removed it from your tank, you can separate the heads with the coral cutters. Again being sure to cut below the fleshy section. Clean off the bottom of each branch to make them easier to mount on a frag plug (if you wish) with coral putty. Make sure both surfaces are relatively dry before applying the putty. They are also easy to place directly in a frag rack without the need for a frag plug, depending on the diameter of the branch. This is one of the easiest examples of how to frag LPS corals.

how to frag candy can coral

How to frag Torch Corals and other Euphyllia

Euphillia is the name given to Torch corals, Hammer corals and Frogspawn corals. The most colorful of the Euphyllia is usually the Torch coral, which can be quite expensive to purchase. When considering fragging Euphillia, the group can be broken down into two distinct kinds: branching and wall. Branching Euphyllia grow by in a similar way to the Candy Cane. New heads will appear, or split from an existing head. As the heads develop, so too will the branching structure supporting it from beneath. Wall Euphyllia grow from a base, therefore in order to frag heads you need to cut through the base, not a branch.

Fragging branch Euphyllia: Once the new branch has grown sufficiently in your tank, you can cut off the section you want using coral cutters below the fleshy section. Encourage the heads to withdraw by giving it a gentle shake. This will make it easier to see where you need to saw. Once you have it out of the tank, you will need to use a DB-100 Coral Saw to separate the heads safely and accurately.

Fragging wall Euphyllia: A wall Hammer or Torch needs to be removed from the tank in its entirety. You will not be able to snip off a piece while in your aquarium. Lift the Euphyllia from its position and gently shake it to encourage the heads to withdraw. You will clearly see the division of heads around which you need to cut. With the Coral Saw it makes it very easy to frag LPS corals.

With the heads successfully cut, drop them into an iodine dip for 5 to 10 mins to help fight off any infection that may occur. Both branching and wall frags can be mounted on 3 x 3 inch frag discs using superglue gel to secure it. You may also wish to use coral putty. Make sure both surfaces are as dry as you can get them before applying the superglue gel. Hold them under water to secure the bond.

How to frag a Lobophyllia Coral

The Lobo coral shares much of the same characteristics as the branching Euphyllia. The heads grow out on branches, although slightly closer together. This is the ideal coral to use the DB-100 Coral Saw to frag it. The blade will pass between each head, cutting through the skeletal branching structure, without harming the them.

Always dip newly fragged coral in an iodine dip for 5 – 10 mins to prevent infection from occurring.

Choose your method of mounting, ensuring both surfaces are dry when applying the superglue gel, and coral putty if you wish.

How to frag Favia corals and Acan corals

Both Favia and Acan corals have similar structures when considering them for fragging. When their polyps have withdrawn, you can clearly see the division between each polyp. Using the DB-100 Coral Saw allows you to cut effortlessly around each polyp without harming the polyps themselves, making it extremely simple to frag LPS corals.

Always dip newly fragged coral in an iodine dip for 5 – 10 mins to prevent infection from occurring.

Choose your method of mounting, ensuring both surfaces are dry when applying the superglue gel.

how to frag an acan coral

How to frag Goniopora corals and Alveopora corals

Goniopora and Alveopora corals come in a variety of colors and lengths of tenticles. Unlike fragging larger polyp LPS, it is very difficult miss Goniopora and Alveopora polyps when sawing as they are far smaller and more compact. To start with, you need to encourage them to withdraw their tenticles. With the longer tenticled variety such as the Glitter Bomb Goniopora it is not always entirely possible to get every tentacle retracted. Offer the coral up to the DB-100 Coral Saw and cut a section from the colony. Take the cut section and cut it down further into 0.75 x 0.75 inches (20mm x 20mm).

Always dip newly fragged coral in an iodine dip for 5 – 10 mins to prevent infection from occurring.

Mount your newly fragged coral on coral plugs. Ensure both surfaces are as dry as possible when applying the superglue gel and hold them under water for the adhesive to cure.

How to frag goniopora corals

How to frag chalice coral

Chalice coral are arguably one of the most expensive corals you can buy, depending on if it is a ‘rainbow’ or not. Unlike most LPS corals that have a clear division or pattern between polyps, Chalice corals have a random distribution of polyps. Chalice corals grow outwards from a central point, following the contours of the rock structure or mount they are on. For this reason, if you have a Chalice coral growing on a piece of live rock, the entire rock will need to be removed and cut along with the Chalice coral.

In my system, I have ‘display’ chalices that I have placed on live rock to compliment the tank. I also keep ‘grow-out’ chalices mounted on ceramic discs. The grow-out chalices are the ones that are fragged and sold.

To frag a Chalice coral, I always ensure that one part of the resulting frag is uncut. For example, if I cut centrally through the coral, and then cut those in half (like a pizza cut into four), then the outer skirt is still intact. Try to ensure that you can include a few eyes in each frag, as this will help the Chalice to feed and grow that bit quicker. Do not frag a Chalice so that the entire perimeter of the coral is sawn.

Fragging is a simple case of offering the Chalice up to the DB-100 Coral Saw, passing the coral through once, and then again. Using the saw makes it a breeze fragging LPS corals like the Chalice.

Always dip newly fragged coral in an iodine dip for 5 – 10 mins to prevent infection from occurring.

Mount the fragged Chalice on a frag disc. This will allow you to lay your frag in the sand bed to heal.

how to frag a rainbow chalice coral

Can I use a Dremel to frag LPS coral?

A Dremel is a hand-held powered tool used for DIY projects. It has a rotating fitting on the tip that can accommodate a vast choice of adaptions that spin. Some reefers have used the Dremel with a cutting disc to power through stoney skeletal structure, and although this can work, it does have its drawbacks.

The constantly rotating blade is thicker than the diamond blade of the DB-100 Coral Saw, and as soon as you begin cutting be prepared for coral bits and fragments to be liberally catapulted everywhere, including your face. The blade will get hot as it cuts through the skeleton, which in turn burns the coral and may have an impact on the corals survival after fragging. The depth of the rotating cutting disc is quite shallow, so you cannot complete the task in one smooth cut. You will need to cut from the opposite side of the cut too and hope that you can break the fragged bit away.

In short, I would not recommend using a Dremel.

Conclusion

I haven’t mentioned every LPS coral available, but those that I have should cover all bases when it comes to fragging LPS corals.

I have tried most methods of fragging LPS corals, and always felt I was a bit of a hack trying to use bone cutters, razors and a Dremel once. Everything changed when I purchased my Inland DB-100 Coral Saw. My LPS are cut perfectly with minimum damage to the coral, and very little stress felt by me. If you are looking for a professional way of how to frag LPS corals, I could not recommend this Coral Saw enough.

For information on fragging soft corals, click here.

For information on fragging SPS corals, click here.

How to Frag LPS Corals Safely

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