Frag Farming - is there a standard \"yield\"?

Frag Farming - is there a standard \"yield\"?

Postby mpedersen » Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:58 am

So, for the layperson who doesn't frag corals, is there a base formula used by professionals and hobbyists to calculate the potential yield in a given setup (i.e. considering water volume, available illumination)? On the fish breeding side, we know that there are limits to how many fish we can grow out in a given tank and filtration system (i.e. a standalone 10 gallon tank can really only support 50 clownfish to "retail" size).

So, along the same lines, is it known that typically 4 square feet of horizontal space illuminated with 250 watts of light can yield 48 1" frags every 6 months? Are there some tricks to maximize the physical space constraints in a rearing facility (i.e. tanks are only 12 inches high and are stacked 4-5 high with flourescent lighting vs. MH)?

I've seen some pretty ingenious basement setups over the last year...I'm definitely curious to hear what it takes.

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Re: Frag Farming - is there a standard \"yield\"?

Postby Spracklcat » Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:06 pm

Well, before you start calculating minimum space/light requirements, you have to consider the species you are choosing to propagate. How large is a colony? Perhaps more importantly, what is the cycle of harvest--ie, doubling time. So for example, an Acropora would require high light, shallow water, and a long-ish cycle of harvest (time to grow a small frag into a saleable colony is in months). Contrast that with a soft coral like some Xenids or "colt corals", and you have a lower light requirement and a much faster cycle of harvest, calculated in weeks. So for each coral you will have a different calculation of gallons/colony, but yes, you can ask someone who has grown a particular animal what their cycle of harvest is, and how much space in gallons it will take.

I think, Matt, when you start talking about stacking tanks, you're thinking like fish breeder :). Fish you can grow with little light, in stacked tanks using fluorescents. Frag tanks can be maintained that way, and are done so in some public aquaria, but with fewer "layers": the metal halide lamps, because of their heat generation, require much more vertical space. However, if you want to make a profit, you have to start thinking in terms of sunlight, which relegates you to a horizontal layout rather than vertical. You can grow corals well with MH, but your profits will be shot.
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Postby TheCoralShoppe » Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:05 am

LOL...Wow Matt....I'm impressed that you think i actually put that much thought into our fish room!!! ROFL......

I'm sure there are formulas, but most corals all grow at different rates, and so you end up with uneven amounts. And then for some reason colonies will slow down. Now you have a hard time filling the space you have. We are of the opinon now that the future is with sexual reproduction, not with ASEXUAL. It is just to slow of a process, with too few numbers of frags being able to be made regularly.
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Postby Alti » Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:24 pm

I think its a great question that needs to be answered. Everyones results will be different, but if the numbers are out there it could be very helpful.

These are rough estimates, but here it goes.

Xenia elongata: 500 watts of light, 32 sq feet of growing area = 200-300 stalks per week harvest. 16 sq ft used for mother colonies, 8 for settling and attatching and 8 sq ft for growout.

Zoanthids: 2000 watts of light, 164 sq ft of growing area= 600-800 frags harvested per month. 100 sq ft for mother colonies, 16 sq ft fits 800 frags. 4, 16 sq ft tanks used to allow 4 months of growout. (These numbers are from the old facility and will be changed in the new one. too much space was used holding mother colonies. New fragging techniques allow much less space in mother colony tanks)

Kenya tree: 375 watts, 24 sq ft= 60-100 frags per month harvest. 16 sq ft for mother colonies and 8 sq feet for growout. Need 2-3 months to achieve sellable size.

Anthellia: 375 watts, 24 sq ft= 60-100 frags per month. 16 sq ft for mother colonies and 8 sq feet for growout. Need 2-3 months to achieve sellable size.

Toadstools: 375 watts, 24 sq ft= 60-100 frags per month. 16 sq ft for mother colonies and 8 sq feet for growout. Need 2-3 months to achieve sellable size.

colt corals: 250 watts, 16 sq ft=40-60 frags per month. 10 sq ft for mothers and 6 for frags. 2-3 month growout time.

Acanthastrea: 500 watts, 32 sq ft= 40-60 frags per month. 16 ft for mothers and 16 for growout. 4-6 month cycle of harvest. (numbers are estimated since brood stock has not been fully developed yet)

fast growing sps species(monti cap, monti digi, elkhorn, etc): 500 watts, 32 sq ft, 16 for mothers and 16 for frags. harvest depends on size desired. 1"-2" frags =2-4 month cycle, larger can exceed 6 months. Appx harvest for this sq footage is 40-100 frags per month.
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Postby Spracklcat » Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:03 pm

Thanks for that--now, imagine if you didn't have to count watts :)
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Postby David M » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:17 pm

I am playing around with a tank for culturing the pink pom-pom xenia. It's 72 X 18 X 12 deep so 18 sq ft. A single 175 halide with Lumenarc reflector mounted on a light rail. A wholesaler has offered me $8-10 per stalk mounted. If I got 100 a month out of the system I'd be thrilled. I think I can burn a 175 watt halide 12 hours a day for ~$800 a month :wink:
Last edited by David M on Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Spracklcat » Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:40 pm

Interesting you mention that David--I was in a LFS today speaking with one of the owners, and he said they'd buy all the Xenia theycould get their hands on. Unfortunately for me, my huge colony that had been overtaking my tank and supplying most of the schools and non-profits around here got a disease, which wiped the entire colony in a month :(. I know of more than one person who has paid for their tank upgrades and then some with Xenia. it is a good choice because it usually doesn't ship well, so retailers can't get it easily from their typical suppliers.
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Postby KathyL » Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:39 pm

It grew like a weed in my late reef tank under cheap to run PC lights. It was growing up the walls when the power outage hit, and it never grew for me again....RIP.
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Postby David M » Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:59 pm

Xenia is the ocellaris of the coral trade :lol: To seasoned vets it's a weed, a giveaway at best and something to avoid like aptasia at it's worst. However it is one of the first and most popular starter corals purchased by noobs and it is noobs that drive the industry. They don't have freinds with tanks or belong to reef clubs, they buy xenia. It can be easy to culture and as said above doesn't ship well. It also has a nasty reptation for crashing out after ~18 months or so of flourishing. Culturing xenia could be a nice little side venture for any hatchery. That and gsp, probably the next easiest and popular starter coral.
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Re: Frag Farming - is there a standard \"yield\"?

Postby r33fking » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:15 pm

i have two 60 gals that have had a massive colony going and growing healthy for 5-6 years with no disease or rapid die off. am i just lucky?
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