Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fragging Mushrooms!

I've been trying to fill up real estate towards the sides and bottom of my reef, so I decided to frag some of my Red Mushrooms. I had about six heads on a single frag plug, which was making it hard to put in a lot of places in the tank, so I had no problem removing these. Not only will they attach to smaller pieces of rock rubble, but by cutting them, I will also have multiple new frags. I could potentially turn my six mushrooms into 24 mushrooms (best case scenario).


First, get your Coral Propagation Tools. For cutting mushrooms, you will really only need a scalpel, but a razor blade will work well, too. Some tweezers or tongs may also be helpful. Here's a full list of items I used today:
  • Boston Aqua Farms Soft Coral Scalpel.
  • Dissekt-Rite Specimen Forceps, 10 inch (optional, but helpful for moving small pieces).
  • Lee`s Aquarium Specimen Container Small or other container for holding water and coral. Tupperware or other miscellaneous containers will work.
  • Plastic container to put frags in. Nothing special: I used a cheese container (use what's available).
  • Netting or bridal veil. I used some netting that came with some base rock I just bought.
  • Rubber bands.
  • Crushed coral or coral rubble (for the coral to attach to). I smashed a small piece of dry base rock.
  • Safety gear: Eye protection, latex gloves, and a face mask. Remember, when fragging soft coral there are liquids that can (and will) be squirted, splashed, etc. Some soft corals can contain toxins, so it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Now to the propagation. Before I got started, I smashed a piece of dry base rock into rubble pieces. If you don't feel like smashing good rock, you can also use crushed coral media. Next, I got all of my propagation tools and supplies together. I removed the frag plug with my parent corals from the main tank and put them into a specimen container. I decided to work in my kitchen, as there is more lighting, a sink, and sturdy surfaces to work on (the floor next to my tank wouldn't due today).
  I put on the PPE (personal protective equipment), and I was now ready to work. Using the scalpel, I cut the mushrooms off the plug. Then I cut the disks (mushrooms) into quarters (four pieces) with clean, smooth cuts. When cutting mushrooms, you want to get a little bit of the mouth for each piece. I did this to all of the mushrooms on the frag. After cutting each mushroom, I put the pieces into the plastic container (in my case, a cheese container) with the rubble rock. I covered the container with the netting, and secured it with two rubber bands. I carefully submerged the whole container into my aquarium, taking caution not to drop it in so quickly that the new pieces would float out. I don't have a frag tank set up, so they're in my display aquarium. Now it's time to play the waiting game...
The pieces will eventually attach to the rubble pieces, forming many new mushrooms. Once they have attached, I can glue the small rocks to frag plugs to trade with friends, or glue the rubble to live rock to take up some of that vacant real estate.