Fragging is the term used to describe what is essentially coral propagation…the activity is similar to that which is undertaken by botanists who wish to grow more of a particular plant by dint of managed reproduction.
Many hobbyists frag corals for their own pleasure and so that they may share their stock with friends…it’s a simple procedure but one which should be undertaken with some precautions due to the toxins which corals can sometimes emit as a defensive tool. Because our natural reefs are under constant threat from man, fragging is a good thing; it’s a way to help keep corals going under adverse circumstances so if you’re keen to learn about fragging then rest assured that it’s a great way to promote the beauty of the marine world from the comfort of your own home!
You will need some basic tools for fragging but the good news is that none of them are particularly specialist or expensive, making fragging a very accessible pastime,
- Bone cutters (for use with hard corals)
- Tweezers (ordinary cosmetic ones will be fine)
- Scalpel (for soft corals)
- Plugs and mounts
- Cynoacrylate glue (this is special glue for use under water)
- A few containers
- Safety goggles, latex gloves and mask (some corals are very toxic and others can squirt)
Not all corals are poisonous but some are highly toxic…so toxic that they were once used as an aid to loading poison darts in certain parts of the world! The most toxic corals include Zoanthids and Palythoa. The poison contained within these very attractive corals is called Palytoxin and anyone unfortunate enough to get this in their eye will find out that it’s not a substance to be taken lightly! Palytoxin can seriously maim or even blind you…it causes ulcers in the eye and injuries can take many months to heal…often not without permanent damage.
This however is not the only risk with the toxicity of corals…some people have suffered violent reactions having simply removed a polyp from their aquarium and found that the poison has entered their body through a small open wound on their hands. It is for this reason that latex gloves are necessary whenever you are dealing with corals. A reaction to poison entering your body from an encounter whilst fragging may not show up immediately…often it is hours later that people begin to feel unwell and sometimes they do not connect the symptoms with corals and doctors may struggle to diagnose.
The general rule of thumb to remember when fragging is not to touch with your bare hands and always, but always keep your goggles on! Wash your hands and your equipment thouroughly after fragging, ensure that the exterior of your tank is cleaned with fresh water and that any towels or cloths used during the process are placed in the laundry immediately; throw your gloves away. You simply can’t be too careful with your eyesight or your health and so caution must be used when fragging…both during the process and after!
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