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View Full Version : Is a frag tank worth it?


brad
07/23/2017, 09:34 AM
I was reading a few similar threads, but all a decade old.

I've been in the hobby 17 years. I have made and spent lots of money on coral. Right now I have a 48"x48"x30" display. I make about $300 a frag swap on fresh cut $5-$20 frags, mostly to free up space in my display. I've never had a dedicated frag tank, at least not one that ran successfully any length of time.

I am temped to add a frag tank, possibly a large one. This gets any coral taking up too much space or recovering out of my display. It gives me the chance to keep both very small fish and fish that eat small fish. It lets me bring nicer grown out frags to swaps.

But if I do this, I expect it to at least pay for itself. I don't expect to break even on the hobby as a whole, but to recover the additional flow, lighting, heating, salt, coral plugs, etc.

How large should I go? Before you say to start small, the work is the same for a 12 gallon vs a 120 gallon. And if I start with 12 and upgrade to 120, I have to redo all the plumbing and probably lighting.

Wazzel
07/24/2017, 12:39 PM
I had a 20 long that shared a sump with my 60 cube. I made money on it so it was well worth the investment. I picked up a 45 long (half height 90) that I am going to make a frag tank out of. Can not decide if I want to tie it into my 120 or make it stand alone. I am leaning towards stand alone. Not only would it be a place to grow frags, but it would also be my back up incase something happened in my tank. Considering I had some sort of hiccup that cost me a few nice sized colonies this summer, I am leaning to the separate system. Also, I only trim from my display when necessary to settle turf wars, so I get lots of frags sporadically. If I had a separate frag system I could frag all the time.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Other-2/Reef-1May16/i-jZSxZHR/0/a16eb0fa/L/image-L.jpg

Kremis
07/24/2017, 04:38 PM
i have a 20 in my garage, perfect for the amount of frags I make, and frees up a ton of space in my main tank

ca1ore
07/25/2017, 02:58 PM
Before you say to start small, the work is the same for a 12 gallon vs a 120 gallon.

If you mean the time to set it up, that may be; to maintain, no. Trouble with small is that it gets full too fast. I'm running one of those deep blue 48x24x12 jobbies and its fantastic.

lingwendil
07/29/2017, 10:46 PM
Where do you intend to keep it, and how presentable do you want it to be? If going in a spare room, outbuilding, insulated garage/basement etc the aesthetics may not matter, and opens up a ton of options as far as setup. A frag tank that doesnt have to be wife approved is a ton easier (and cheaper!!!!) to set up. A used tank and stand, a livestock tub or half-barrel, all sorts of enclosures and ideas become feasable. A popular way to go is a big used livestock water tub (from a ranching or farm type supply house) and a few pumps, a skimmer, and a used light fixture. Done. Eggcrate for racks, PVC plumbing bits, etc.

My old setup was an 4 foot 80 gallon rubbermaid livestock water tub ($20 at a yard sale) A huge craigslist skimmer ($30) and an old 6-bulb T5HO fixture that I got for $50 at a hydroponics store when they rebuilt the front of the store. I built eggcrate racks, threw it all together, and added a few spare pumps and a heater to it. Had it up on a small rack just to get it off the floor by 16" and have some basic storage. Had it set up in the back room of my house by the back door (that nobody ever used, just occasionally cracked it open for air in summer) and let it go to town. this cheapo setup would grow LPS (Acans, Blastos, Duncans mostly) and Montipora like you wouldn't believe! I eventually took out the skimmer, and pumbed in another (15 gallon or so) tub full of chaeto, and then I was getting so much growth out of that tank that I was having a hard time selling it all... In the two years I had it going, I was constantly having to call around and get buyers because I was running out of room so fast.

Trying to do one that looks good is much more expensive, but still not too bad. In my honest opinion the majority of the frag tanks for sale (deep blue professional, and similar) are way more expensive than they need to be, and a bit too nice for a working frag system that isn't in a retail environment. If all you are trying to do is have a working setup any tank will do, but shallow is definitely better, and that's where the purpose-made tanks shine.

chopper320
08/09/2017, 02:46 PM
How did you handle top offs and dosing? That's where it seems like the expense is hard to avoid in setting up a separate frag system. I really want to set one up but those things keep holding me back.

Where do you intend to keep it, and how presentable do you want it to be? If going in a spare room, outbuilding, insulated garage/basement etc the aesthetics may not matter, and opens up a ton of options as far as setup. A frag tank that doesnt have to be wife approved is a ton easier (and cheaper!!!!) to set up. A used tank and stand, a livestock tub or half-barrel, all sorts of enclosures and ideas become feasable. A popular way to go is a big used livestock water tub (from a ranching or farm type supply house) and a few pumps, a skimmer, and a used light fixture. Done. Eggcrate for racks, PVC plumbing bits, etc.

My old setup was an 4 foot 80 gallon rubbermaid livestock water tub ($20 at a yard sale) A huge craigslist skimmer ($30) and an old 6-bulb T5HO fixture that I got for $50 at a hydroponics store when they rebuilt the front of the store. I built eggcrate racks, threw it all together, and added a few spare pumps and a heater to it. Had it up on a small rack just to get it off the floor by 16" and have some basic storage. Had it set up in the back room of my house by the back door (that nobody ever used, just occasionally cracked it open for air in summer) and let it go to town. this cheapo setup would grow LPS (Acans, Blastos, Duncans mostly) and Montipora like you wouldn't believe! I eventually took out the skimmer, and pumbed in another (15 gallon or so) tub full of chaeto, and then I was getting so much growth out of that tank that I was having a hard time selling it all... In the two years I had it going, I was constantly having to call around and get buyers because I was running out of room so fast.

Trying to do one that looks good is much more expensive, but still not too bad. In my honest opinion the majority of the frag tanks for sale (deep blue professional, and similar) are way more expensive than they need to be, and a bit too nice for a working frag system that isn't in a retail environment. If all you are trying to do is have a working setup any tank will do, but shallow is definitely better, and that's where the purpose-made tanks shine.

ca1ore
08/10/2017, 11:53 AM
How did you handle top offs and dosing? That's where it seems like the expense is hard to avoid in setting up a separate frag system. I really want to set one up but those things keep holding me back.

Then don't set it up as a separate system, plumb it into the existing system - that's what I did. You can 'isolate' it from the rest of the system with a UV sterilizer.

chopper320
08/10/2017, 03:38 PM
I don't have anywhere close to my display system to setup a frag tank. I want to put the frag tank at the opposite end of my house.

lingwendil
08/12/2017, 12:26 PM
Plumbing it in to a bigger system is the best really, but I sort of prefer a standalone system for propagation. I was doing biweekly ~30% water changes, and I only dosed BRS kalkwasser mixed with RO water to whatever I needed for topoff every couple days. It depends on how much free time you have, but I make a point to do various aquarium related chores for at least an hour each week, so the upkeep is trivial usually until it comes time to frag everything up. Keep your new water nearby and a 30 or so gallon water change takes all of ten minutes start to finish. Mix up concentrated batches of saturated kalkwasser and make up a chart to know how much to add to your topoff water to make up your systems use. Use a basic sheet of glass as a lid to cut down on evaporation and salt creep.

All pretty easy, once you get it going. I don't have anything big set up anymore, but as soon as I have room I plan to do something in the 125-200 gallon size range again.

Mr.Fish23
08/23/2017, 07:55 PM
I'm interested in this in the future... Do you sell to LFS? And how often can your harvest the coral?

Wazzel
08/28/2017, 08:31 AM
I'm interested in this in the future... Do you sell to LFS? And how often can your harvest the coral?

I have a consignment deal with my LFS. Many LFS will take frags for store credit, if you have a good relationship with them. If you have a local reef club you can sell frags through that. Time between trimming really depends on the corals and how fast they can rebound and grow.

Hope you are not planning on actually making money with a hobby level frag system. I made enough on mine to cover expenses and build a new 120 system, but that took 2 years of saving the proceeds. You can make enough to cover expenses and a little pocket money, but that is about it.