There’s nothing like a weekend fragging adventure, and I love nothing more than cutting into something new and interesting. This time I’ve decided to cut something that I’ve only seen one of, an Acanthastrea bowerbanki. It seems similar enough to common acans, but there’s no gap between the fleshy mouths to cut it. This difference is what makes it the perfect challenge for my Saturday afternoon. Let’s get started.
The first thing I always do is get everything set up and ready on the fragging table. For rare, sensitive species such as this one, I like to go overkill on the dipping procedures, so for this one I’ll have three containers of dip.
1. Standard Iodine Dip (Any time I remove a hard coral from a tank I dip it in this)
2. Rinse bucket (Clean salt water)
3. Post-cut Dip (Coral RX to help revitalize damaged tissues)
I also get my handy Dremel tool set up with a carbon cut-off wheel, and a few extras on hand in the toolbox. The toolbox also holds various tools that come in handy, so I always keep it within reach. Things like razors, cutters, chisels… I of course am ready to attach the new frags to plugs, so I also have my plugs and Ecotech glue at the ready. Last but not least comes safety goggles. Most types of coral flesh can do extreme damage to eyes, so DO NOT FRAG WITHOUT THEM. I also have a couple of observers today, and they are also required to wear eye protection.
OK, so I’m set up and ready to do some cutting. Before getting started it’s important to go over the plan, and be sure you can move quickly from step to step. This is the plan I’ve come up with for this one:
1. Place mother colony in dip container 1
2. Score back of colony along cut lines with Dremel
3. Shake in rinse bucket to remove slime
4. Place back in dip container 1
5. Cut flesh from top of colony with razor
6. Shake in rinse bucket to remove slime
7. Break frags along scoring lines
8. Shake in rinse bucket to remove slime
9. Place mother and frags in dip bucket 3 to begin healing
10. Attach frags to frag plugs
Now that we have our plan, it’s time to get started. As I said before, I pull the colony out of my SPS display and place it in the iodine dip. This is a really great time to check it out for any problems or pests because there is no water movement and nice, even lighting. I like to use white buckets for this reason. The scoring cuts on the back side with dremel go easily. Bowerbanki skeletons seem to be even softer than standard acans. Cutting the flesh from the top is where things start to get tricky, because the flesh goes deep into the skeleton. Normal acans don’t go as deep between mouths, so this part is usually pretty straightforward. For the bowerbanki, cutting with the Dremel from the top as well seems to be the best way to get it done quickly. After getting that done and giving the colony a quick rinse, the new frags popped off easily with a slight twist of a small chisel. All that’s left to do is dip them in the Coral RX and attach the new frags to plugs.
As I admire my work, I realize that the bowerbanki was built up in my mind by both its price tag and its rarity, but really it isn’t much harder than a normal acan to frag.