The saltwater side of the aquarium hobby is growing very well, and corals make up a significant portion of that business. We have learned a great deal about keeping and propagating corals by division—i.e., fragging. Also, LED lighting systems are becoming more available in different sizes and Kelvin temperatures, and the prices have come down and will continue to come down. The combination of these two has led to an explosion of this part of the hobby.
Many stores have customers who are “fraggers” and will take frags in exchange for store merchandise. A number of stores do their own fragging, especially of rare and expensive corals. I know at least three stores who have a parent colony aquarium with corals they take frags from. In one store, we added up the value of the parent corals in the aquarium and it was around $1,500. As you can tell, fragging corals can become a serious business.
There are a number of coral fragging kits and fragging saws available, and they all work for the same process. Cut the coral apart, or cut the frag off, with as little harm to the parent colony possible. Glue the frag onto a mounting piece and give it a rest for a day or so in a relatively calm aquarium. Then, grow the frags out, ensuring they have the conditions of light they require, excellent water movement, and feedings for those that do not rely on algae, but require additional food.
The only problem some stores run into with coral frags is what I like to call the “convict cichlid problem.” Everyone can breed convict cichlids, and there are only so many any one store can keep at any one time. The same is true with coral frags. The market (i.e., the customers of a store) can quickly become saturated with too many frags of the same coral, so it is a good idea to bring in new corals as often as possible.
So far, the reef geeks do not seem to have been hit by hard economic times, and the newer and rarer corals are fetching astronomical prices. Cash in on it while you can.