How to Frag and Mount Coral
Fragging corals is so widespread and mainstream now that even novice reefers are doing it. It is a great practice when needing to replant them, saving a dying colony, trading with others, or creating a side hustle from it for an extra dose of income. Whatever you decide to do with them, we'll discuss some methods on how to frag and mount coral, so get your fragging tools ready.
Often, by accident while cleaning the tank, we break a bit of a coral off, thus creating a frag "by hand". Many types of hard coral can be broken which includes plating and branching Monitpora, Turbinaria, Seriatopora, and Echinophyllia chalice coral. All that it usually takes is to hold a piece between your thumb and forefinger, then gently apply leverage and it should break off in your hand fairly easily.
A sharp razor blade, X-Acto knife or soft coral propagation kit can come in handy for taking frags of soft coral like mushrooms, Toadstools, Finger coral, Pulsing Xenia, Green Star Polyps or anemones. Take them out of the water, place them on a hard surface and make a clean slice in one smooth motion.
Coral cutters or even garden pruners will cut through branching corals such as Torch, Hammers and Duncan corals. How to frag corals such as these is to first make the polyps retract, then take the coral out of the water, move the cutters down the stem to the hard skeletal structure and snip. It should come off with a good squeeze, giving you a whole separate coral frag to mount. Coral cutters also give a cleaner cut doing less damage to the flesh of SPS than breaking pieces off by hand.
A coral bandsaw is best for coral species where you have to cut through a thick wall or plate as well as coral flesh. This is good for Catalaphyllia, walling hammers, Goniopora, and chalice, Goniastrea and Favites where you want to cut a circular frag around the eyes. A bandsaw offers a neat, controlled cut so is also better for cutting any of the above hard corals and also tidying up and removing any spare rock around the coral base. Saws are quick and precise, and that’s why they’re the choice of professionals.
Most hobbyists use Cyanoacrylate gel (a superglue gel) or an epoxy to stick and mount frags. Glue gel, like BSI IC-Gel, offers an instant bond and can be used to mount all hard and soft corals to frag plugs. It can also be used to adhere frags directly to your aquascape.
Epoxy works great for attaching an uneven hard coral frag's base to a frag plug, or a frag plug to an uneven rock surface by filling in the gaps. It can also be made into a mound or a ball on the plug and thin branching frags like Acropora just pushed into it. Although epoxy can be used underwater it struggles to stick to some surfaces.
In combination, cyanoacrylate can be used to stick a coral base to a mound of epoxy or be used to bond epoxy to rock surface in the main display for quicker sticking power. For a better bond, frag mounting can be done out of the water to setup and cure, before placing back into the water.