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Bearded Reefer

Fragging Zoanthids

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Fragging Zoanthids


Getting Setup for propagation:

Propagation of zoanthids is the reproduction of Zoas that is achieved by marine aquarists in the process called fragmentation or, is commonly called, fragging. The process of fragging zoanthids is a simple task that can be done by even the beginner reef aquarists. Fragging your favourite zoas allows people to share fragments(frags) of their zoas with friends, club members, and other fellow aquarists, all while holding on to your prized mother colony.


Staring the process/researching:

Zoas are usually fragged out of the water unless snipped off of a larger rock within your aquarium without disrupting your scape. When your zoa is out of water you should not have a problem as long as the zoa is returned to the water within 5-15 minutes. It's also important to research your species before starting the fragging process.

Fun Fact:(Some zoanthids in the wild stay out of water for hours because of where they are located in the tidal pools, piers and shore lines.)


Safety Measures:

When you are fragging the zoa(s) make sure you have the correct safety equipment available to protect yourself. (I.E.) Powder free medical gloves along with a pair of clear safety glasses. Some zoas carry a polytoxin which you can read about here in this quoted article for more information.




The crude ethanol extracts of the Palythoa toxica proved to be so toxic that an accurate LD50 was difficult to determine. More recently, the toxicity has been determined to be 50-100 ng/kg i.p. in mice. The compound is an intense vasoconstrictor; in dogs, it causes death within 5 min at 60 ng/kg. By extrapolation, a toxic dose in a human would be about 4 micrograms. It is the most toxic organic substance known!

Shimizu [27] and Moore [28] published the chemical structure of palytoxin and it was prepared synthetically in 1989 [29,30]. Palytoxin is a fabulously interesting compound, with a bizarre structure and many extraordinary signs (Fig. 6). Palytoxin is a large, very complex molecule with lipophilic and hydrophilic areas. The palytoxin molecule has the longest continuous chain of carbon atoms known to exist in a natural product. In the molecule of palytoxin, C129H223N3O54, 115 of the 129 carbons are in a continuous chain.. There are 54 atoms of oxygen, but only 3 atoms of nitrogen. Another unusual structure of palytoxin is that it contains 64 stereogenic centers, which means that palytoxin can have 264 stereoisomers! Added to this, the double bonds can exhibit cis/trans isomerism, which means that palytoxin can have more than 1021 (one sextilion) stereoisomers! This staggering molecular complexity should indicate the difficult nature of designing a stereocontrolled synthetic strategy that will produce just the one correct (natural) stereocenter out of >1021 possible stereoisomers.

Palytoxin induces powerful membrane depolarization and ionic channeling [31,32]. Palytoxin is a potent hemolysin, histamine releaser, inhibitor of Na/K ATPase, and a cation ionophore [33]. It is also a non-TPA-type tumor promoter [34,35].


Tools Needed:

-Scalpel or Razor Blade

-Tooth Pick


-Scissors (if needed)



-Safety Glasses









To frag a zoa colony, extract the colony to be fragged from the water container and, using a scalpel or razor blade, cut between the polyps on the mat from the mother colony. To remove the mat of polyps that were cut, remove them easily by using a pair of tweezers, tooth pick or small blade and be gentle because you do not want to bruise the polyps as they may not open in days-weeks or die, but in this step it is best to use gloves and safety glasses to protect yourself from the polytoxins. Zoanthids can "squirt" their toxins if pressure is applied.



Glue (GEL):

After you have removed the frag from the colony, you will want to put your mother colony back into the water. Using the gel-type super glue to attach the frag to a rock, plug or disk. If you want a little more time when gluing I would suggest when applying the super glue gel to the rock, plug or disk that you immediately dip it in water to put a film over the glob of super glue gel.



After the fact:

It is in your best interest after fragging your zoas to dip both the mother colony and the your new frag in a coral dip such as Reef Dip after your frag session. The dip solution will help protect your frags from bacteria, fungus, and protozoans. Some hobbyist also use a vitamin C additive following propagation to aid in the healing.

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