Jeremy Gay shows you how to shrink a classic reefkeeper's coral aid to suit the smaller tank.
This month’s project highlights key aspects of the modern marine hobby — the facts that our tanks are getting smaller and that many more of us are now propagating our own coral frags, which is great for the environment.
The concept of a coral rack made from plastic egg crate isn’t new. TMC distributes a wonderful acrylic and egg crate rack made by Schuran but, only being offered in one size, it won’t fit all tanks and is typically best used in aquaria of 0.9m/3’ or more long and 0.6m/2’ front to back.
I bought a 120 x 60cm/4 x 2’ piece of egg crate from TMC and decided to set about making my own four-tier version that will fit inside a nano marine tank just 40cm/16” long.
This simple plastic staging enables you to place corals so they all receive adequate light and water flow, and won’t sting each other by touching.
Unlike live rock the racking is stable and level, so you can place coral frags on an even surface and they won’t fall over.
Better still, you can also get special fragging plugs to poke into or clip on top of the egg crate, giving you an even firmer fixing.
A powerhead can be placed in the racking to stop dead spots forming underneath and, if a fan of sloping rock wall formations, you can cover the whole rack in live rock so you won’t need base rock. Again a powerhead can be placed in the pile to prevent dead spots. All in all, this is a very useful bit of kit.
What you’ll need
Some egg crate, in this case about 60 x 60cm/2 x 2’
Pliers to cut it
About an hour
Cost at a glance:
I bought a large sheet costing £39.95, but only needed half of it. Smaller sheets are available, so budget for around £20. Cable ties cost £2 and I already had the pliers and pen.
Aesthetics aside, the rack is a great invention and a big help when culturing corals.
Egg crate is brittle. When cutting it you’ll want to wear goggles to stop pieces snapping off and hitting you in the eyes.
Here's how to make your own
1. Mark it out
Indicate your uprights. I’m counting 16 squares across and 16 high. I create steps at four square intervals on the diagonal edge.
2. Snip with pliers
Poke through and start snipping. You have to squeeze quite hard but will soon get the hang of it. I want three uprights for strength.
3. Cut your platforms
Snip again, this time to make the platforms. This is when you determine the length of the racking, making it as long or short as you like.
4. Cut and fit back support
For extra strength I cut out another strip of crate to be strapped to the back. This will easily support the weight of any rocks.
5. Secure with cable ties
Cable ties fasten the support to the vertical uprights and the whole structure becomes sturdy and strong.
6. Place the platforms
Position the horizontal platforms on the racking. Again these can be cable tied or just placed on to the structure for easy removal.
This side view shows the sturdiness of a plastic-framed four-level structure that offers enough level space to prevent frags falling and stop them stinging by touching each other.
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