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How Fast Do Coral Frags Grow in a Reef Tank? Answered

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When people see corals in different animal documentaries, they wonder how this fascinating and colorful animal grew into different shapes and sizes. Coral frag is the short term for coral fragment, which refers to a part that’s cut off from a coral colony. The frag then grows to form another beautiful colony. 

Coral frags don’t grow fast in a reef tank. Rather, the growth can be quite slow. For instance, massive corals tend to grow at a very slow rate of about 0.5 – 2 cm (0.2 – 0.8 in) per annum. It takes a few weeks for a coral frag to establish itself, and specific growth rates depend on the species.

With this being established, the rest of this article will discuss the factors that are directly related to coral frag growth. It’ll also explain the difference between coral frags and reefs, what reef tanks are, how coral reefs grow, and what coral frags eat to establish their growth. 

Factors Responsible for the Growth of the Coral Frags

Coral frags grow at different rates due to their species. To get the coral fragments to grow, you must consider the following crucial factors in making the reef tank conducive.

Water Temperature

Corals grow best in a humid environment. The reason is that their natural habitat is in the ocean. For optimal growth of the coral, you must keep the temperature of the reef tank between 73° and 84°F (23°– 29°C). However, some species can withstand higher or lower temperatures. 

According to a study, the temperature is the most important factor that affects the growth of corals. Coral frags and algae depend on each other for survival. Corals provide shelter for algae, while the algae provide food for corals and give them their beautiful color. Therefore, a very high water temperature leads to the death of the algae or its expulsion from the coral, resulting in coral bleaching.

Salt Concentration 

Corals grow best in marine or salty water. This factor is essential in constructing the reef tank, as a replica of the coral habitat must be created, and this is why you don’t find corals near areas where freshwater drains.

Water Turbidity 

Turbidity of the water affects the growth of the coral frags. Corals depend on algae which need sunlight for photosynthesis. Turbidity determines the amount of sunlight that reaches the algae, and this is why corals grow better in clear water than in turbid water. 

If you’re looking for more information on growing coral, check out my full guide that’ll tell you everything to get you started!

How to Frag Corals

The process of fragging corals is a very delicate process that mostly requires patience. The development of coral frag can be slow and might not take the pace you want. In addition, fragging corals can be very stressful, especially as a beginner, but over time, you’ll learn more about it and how it works, and the process becomes less intimidating.  

Some corals are easier to frag than others. I’ve compiled a list of 10 corals that I would recommend if you want to get into fragging. You can find that list here.

Before you begin, you’ll need some tools to help you cut off a coral frag without doing any harm to the host. These tools include:  

  • Bone cutters 
  • Tweezers 
  • Scalpel 
  • Razor blade 
  • Stainless steel scissors 
  • Glue 
  • Rubber bands 

To frag corals, follow these basic steps: 

  1. Condition and prepare the coral host: Essentially, this is to verify that the coral is in good condition and well-positioned to recover after the frag has been cut off.
  2. Create the coral frag: The frag itself snaps off the coral host. The fragments can naturally be created, but you might have to initiate it if you don’t want to wait until the fragments are created themselves. 
  3. Attach the coral frag in the reef tank: Attaching the fragment to its typical habitat allows for adequate growth and gives way for appropriate reproduction. 

Keep in mind that corals naturally live in water where the environment is quite chilled. After removing them from water, you must put them in a humid environment with a temperature between 70 to 72°F (21.1 to 22.2°C). 

3 Common Methods of Fragmentation

Here are the common removal methods to use to begin the fragmentation process: 

  • Shearing: Use a razor blade or scalpel to cut and separate the fragment from the host.  Soft-bodied coral species can be fragmented using this method. 
  • Chipping method: Use a simple tap hammer and chisel to remove the fragment from the coral host. 
  • Snapping method: Use bone cutters or wire cutters to snap off the fragment of the branch of the mother colony. 

The Difference Between Coral Frags and Reefs Explained

I perceive this question might pop up in the corners of your mind at the beginning of this article. Is there a difference between coral frags and coral reefs? Keep reading to learn about the difference. 

Coral Frags Are Fragments of Corals

The coral frag is just a piece of coral cut off from a massive amount of coral. Just like how a farmer cuts off a fragment of a plant and cultivates it to grow into a new plant, a coral frag can also undergo the same process. It can be planted on another rock and begin to grow after sufficient nutrients have been absorbed, growing independently into another full massive coral in the aquatic environment. 

Coral Reefs Are the Habitats of Corals

Reefs, on the other hand, are the natural habitats where a coral lives and grows. These locations have been created over time by the secretion of polyps, which generally happens over thousands or millions of years. 

Reef Tanks Replicate a Suitable Environment for Corals

According to Wikipedia and Tetra-fish, Reef tanks are a kind of setup that replicates a marine environment suitable for the growth and livelihood of coral frags, fishes, and other aquatic invertebrates. 


Coral frags grow slowly, but you’ll surely get the results you desire if patience is applied. Growing Corals can be very intimidating at first, but you’ll see that the effort (and waiting) is worth it when all is said and done. Corals create a wonderful scene, perfect for commercial and business purposes as well as personal recreation.


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