Build Up: Frag Farming, High-Rise City Style

18 Apr, 2019

Build up!

Build up!

via Coral Morphologic/Aquascapers

viewpoint, by Colin Foord

One of the best things about the reef aquarium hobby, in my opinion, is the DIY nature of it, and how, from earliest days of the Internet, computers have empowered people from across the planet to connect with each other in a collective effort to figure out the best ways to grow coral in a closed system. In that spirit of not-for-profit sharing, I thought I’d share how I’ve managed to take egg crate coral farming from 2D to 3D, cheaply and easily.

Colin Foord found a creative solution to over-crowded frag racks, lofting coral frags over their neighbors in easy-to-make coral high-rises!

Colin Foord found a creative solution to overcrowded frag racks, lofting coral frags over their neighbors in easy-to-make coral high-rises!

This past year, I started to run out of space on the egg crate for more plugs. As my existing corals grew to the point where they started beefing with each other by extending their sweeper tentacles, I realized I could maximize my coral growth while limiting inter-species warfare by going up! Getting your frags up off the frag rack and into the water column will also give them more light and water flow, which will speed growth.

The foundation of Colin Foord's Frag City, emulating an unmistakable south-Florida glow!

The foundation of Colin Foord’s Frag City, emulating an unmistakable South Florida glow!

I put all my fancy Acropora frags on the pipes first to get them growing and ensure they didn’t kill each other in turf warfare. Alternating the heights of these pipes ensures they are separate. Put low-light encrusters down low on the rack, and put high-light/high-flow corals up high, just as they are on the reef.

I found that standard 1/2” PVC pipe could be cut crosswise to fit snugly in the egg crate. The blade on my cheap Home Depot tile saw (with safety cover over the blade removed 😬) made the perfectly-sized cut to accommodate the egg crate [Editor’s note: we don’t endorse this particular method of cutting PVC, and encourage you to creatively find a potentially safer method! We’re not sure, but the band saws popularized for coral cutting *might* work?].

Kids, don't try this at home. Actually, no one should try this at home! Play safe with your power tools!

Kids, don’t try this at home. Actually, no one should try this at home! Play safe with your power tools!

Standard coral frag plugs will sit perfectly in the 1/2″ pipe. I use a tiny dab of super glue to ensure the frag plug doesn’t pop out, but even without glue, the plugs are pretty secure 95% of the time. Eventually, your coral will encrust down onto the outside of the PVC pipe itself, which creates further fragging opportunities.

Two cuts, perpendicular, are all that is needed to help the frag high-rises lock into place on egg crate.

Two perpendicular cuts are all that are needed to help the frag high-rises lock into place on egg crate.

The only tricky part is making sure you make two nice perpendicular cross-wise cuts on the end of the pipe to ensure it aligns with the egg crate squares.

A skyline of coral skyscrapers, under construction. If these cuts are not quite right, note how easy it would be to make the cuts on the other end of the PVC (or even just cut off the bad end and try again, now on a slightly shorter tower).

A skyline of coral skyscrapers, under construction. If these cuts are not quite right, note how easy it would be to make the cuts on the other end of the PVC (or even just cut off the bad end and try again, now on a slightly shorter tower).

If you screw up one end of the pipe, just flip it over and try again on the other side. Be careful, wear eye protection while cutting, and watch your fingers around the exposed blade! 😎

Happy Reefing!

Colin Foord

Colin Foord

Colin Foord is a marine biologist, coral aquaculturist, artist, and filmmaker educated at the University of Miami and James Cook University in Australia. He is co-founder of marine biological art duo Coral Morphologic, through which he operates the world’s first multi-media coral aquaculture studio, located in the heart of Miami.

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About the author

Reef To Rainforest
Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL Magazine and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.

1 Comment

  1. James Lawrence
    April 19, 2019

    One Editor’s Note about the video: When cutting plastic pipe on a table saw, always use a push block to secure the end of the pipe being cut off. People have been hurt by flying pipe that can be launched by the rotating saw blade at the moment that the cut is completed.

    Here’s a typical set of push blocks: https://www.amazon.com/Big-Horn-10228-Woodworkers-Safety/dp/B01GJ85I1M/ref=asc_df_B01GJ85I1M/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=310828259700&hvpos=1o12&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16694124485070670522&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9012238&hvtargid=pla-569148368320&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=65583250281&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=310828259700&hvpos=1o12&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16694124485070670522&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvc

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