By James Passantino
We have all done it at one time or another… stuffed that extra frag into our tank just because we could. But there is a certain breed of reefer who does not… nay, CANNOT stop. Doesn’t matter if their tank is a pico or a 220, either way the frag hoarder overdoes it. It starts out innocently enough, a frag or 2 on a regular basis. Before you know it you are on a first name basis with every employee at your LFS (although you only will speak to the ones who own reef tanks). But the LFS doesn’t have a great reef; you need to find more. You frantically scour the Internet looking for reefers in your area. At this point you start to have more in common with a junkie looking for his next fix than a productive member of society with an admittedly esoteric hobby. Pretty soon you know every “coral hook up” within a 100 mile radius of your tank and for this dubious knowledge, your family and non-reef friends think you are batshit crazy. Once in full frag hoarder mode, you know the schedules, addresses, home, work and cell numbers of all your favorite generous reefers, you might even know their families, pets and favorite colors. And we haven’t even begun to broach the topic of your tank yet.
All these coral connections you have made all end up with the same thing… frags, and lots of them. You just can’t say no can you? Frag swaps, lfs trips, fellow reefers, ebay, craigslist, vendors…. Frags, frags and more frags. But where do you put them? Well, it goes like this… you are fine until you run out of space on your rockwork… so you start moving the frags that can survive in less light down to the sand bed. From there it is a slippery slope, you may justify it by saying you have a zoa and/or acan garden down there, but the cold hard reality is that you have the will power of a heroin addict in an Afghan poppy field. Now you accommodate your lower light corals on the sand bed which ends up looking like a Coney Island beach on a hot Saturday afternoon, but what about your light lovers? Do you just up and neglect them? Couldn’t do that, so enter in the frag rack.
Now, before I go off, I need to preface this by saying that there are some tasteful, almost rock-like frag racks out there, they are expensive and usually don’t hold a ton of frags, but I am not talking about those here. I am talking about the homemade ones…egg crate + cleaner magnet + lots of zip-tie racks. You know the ones; they look like a 4th grade science fair project gone horribly awry. And what do you do with these plastic monstrosities? You stick them in your beautiful tank and fill them with all the frags we cannot help but collect. Sometimes people stop at just one overflowing frag rack, and sometimes, in those sad situations where the crew from A&E’s “Hoarders” should be called in, they get more. And more. And more, until their tank looks like the ill-conceived love child of the clearance racks at Wal-Mart and the aftermath of a tsunami on the Great Barrier Reef.
I can’t tell you what to do because everyone has their own reasons for loving this hobby, but I follow this simple rule—if I don’t have room for a frag to grow out on my rockwork (or on my sand bed, which resembles a nice private beach somewhere with a few choice topless women) then I don’t get it. I’ve turned down nice free frags before because I knew my tank would start to look like a frag tank, which is not what I am shooting for. It is a sad sight to see a potentially beautiful tank fouled by cubic miles of egg crate and frags, but it is the reality for many hobbyists out there. Don’t get sucked in to the hype… you don’t need 156 frags in a 30 gallon tank.