Frag mounting: Horizontal vs Vertical

As far as fragging SPS the act is pretty basic. Take a mother colony, break a few branching pieces off, then glue them to a piece of rubble rock or frag plug.  However, does it matter if you mount the newly fragged coral horizontal verses mounting it vertical?

Does it really matter how the frag is mounted?  I personally believe it does matter. I have seen coral colonies which have started horizontal and to me it seems as though this gives the coral a more natural look and a stronger base to grow from.  What I have noticed is that the coral seems to encrust onto the rockwork further, forming a larger base than if the coral frag was mounted vertical.  At this point do I know this for a fact? Unfortunately no I don’t, currently it’s just my opinion that this is true.

Why not just mount it vertical then, most people think it looks better anyways? To me it does not look as natural. With most of the SPS tanks I have viewed the base of vertically mounted SPS normally seems small.  Besides this, when thinking about light touching coral tissue, it’s easy to see that a coral mounted horizontal will receive more direct light upon its body as shown in the diagram below.    Does this mean that a horizontal frag would grow faster than a vertical frag?

If vertical mounting has these points against it, why not just assume that horizontal mounting is the correct way to go?  If a horizontally mounted frag encrusts a larger base, does this mean it’s going to take longer to branch out into your tank?  A horizontally mounted frag looks smaller in your tank since it lays flat against the rock work. A lot of people find this very unappealing.

These questions are why I have set up a small test.

I took two frags of Green Slimer, and mounted one vertical and one horizontal.  Both pieces are 1.25 inches long. Both will be allowed to grow next to each other always under the same lighting with the same flow.  Eventually, once the frags start to encrust over the plugs I will place them onto live rock next to each other in a display tank.  I hope to figure out if the way a frag is mounted actually makes a noticeable difference or not.

It will probably take several months before any type of results start to show but I will keep you updated.



6 thoughts on “Frag mounting: Horizontal vs Vertical

  1. Great test. I have taken frags and played around with actually changing positions to “culture” growth patterns. In EVERY case of horizontal placement I find that I get more vertical branching. In vertical placement I find I get more vertical growth and less branching I actually cultured a bonsai acro over 6 months “rotiserie” style rotations and have beautiful branching because of this.

  2. Thanks for the comment!
    So far i am seeing better branching from the horizontal mount as well.
    Can i ask how you were mounting the bonsai acro so that you could rotate it so much?
    How often did you change the direction it was mounted ?

    1. Hi Albe,
      I’ll get some pictures together soon with an update.
      Im sorry its been so long. They have been growing in the frag tank under a 400w MH.
      They appear to have grown the same amount of “mass” so far however the horizontal frag has many more branches growing off it. The vertical frag has grown one more branch which is much thicker. Overall it appears to be the same amount of growth just in different growth patterns. The horizontal frag though appears to have more “surface” and polyps as opposed to the thicker vertical frag. This might suggest to me that over time the horizontal frag might grow into a multi-branched colony faster.

    1. Hi,
      Well I have no picture proof to prove this because I accidentally told my test pieces during a busy day.
      However gluing the pieces horizontal appears to form a larger and stronger base for the corals to grow from which to me creates a nicer looking mother colony. However the growth rate appears to be about the same overall.

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