Studies have shown that aquaculture can play an important role in restoring reefs and encouraging biodiversity. Most reefers are familiar with the fragmenting, or “fragging” process, in which 3 square centimeters or more are removed from live coral to be used as growing stock. While traditional fragging has been used for years, micro-fragging is a relatively new aquaculture practice that has shown exciting and dramatic results. Here, we share details on this method of aquaculture and outline how it’s done.

What is Micro-Fragging?

Aquaculture techniques continue to evolve, and micro-fragging is an exciting and relatively new method of live coral propagation. Micro-fragging is the process of removing a small segment from live coral, which is defined as less than or equal to one square centimeter. The harvested fragment is then attached to an artificial base, such as travertine tiles. Micro-fragging can result in an impressive boost in tissue growth for multiple species of live coral, and the highest success rates occur in branching species, including Acropora and Montipora. However, slow-growing stony corals such as Orbicella faveolata and Montastrea cavernosa also benefit from this aquaculture technique. Recent studies have demonstrated a tenfold increase in tissue growth when micro-fragging is used in comparison with larger fragmentation, which indicates that this practice will continue to grow in popularity. A 2013 study conducted on reefs located in the Florida Keys showed that micro-fragging yielded better results than the traditional method of transplanting larger fragments. In fact, this 31-month study demonstrated excellent results even after the reefs weathered two bleaching events. In addition to the dramatic increase in tissue growth when micro-fragging is implemented, the rate of growth is also expedited.

The Impact of Micro-Fragging

Asexual propagation of coral, including micro-fragging, has the potential to improve the outcome of reef restoration efforts. Although micro-fragging is a relatively new aquaculture technique, it may offer exciting opportunities for those interested in ornamental trade or reef restoration. In addition to conservation benefits, this method may also promote the cultivation of genetically superior livestock. Through micro-fragging, aquaculturists can select and transplant phenotypes that have demonstrated advanced growth rates and disease resistance. These traits are highly desirable in live coral, as they’ll have a better chance of resisting the effects of climate change.

Improved aquaculture techniques will continue to have a positive effect on the health of the world’s reefs. If you’re interested in trying your hand at micro-fragging or other methods of coral propagation, top-quality equipment is a must. Cultivating live coral requires a delicate balance of light, and our advanced reef lighting system will help you achieve the results you’re looking for. We offer two generations of lighting systems, and each of our products is designed with durability and user-friendliness in mind. The accompanying mobile app makes it simple to program your lighting system from any location, so you can feel confident that your corals are receiving the ideal blend of light. To learn more about our products, please browse our inventory online.