Why do you think corals are so expensive?

VintageReefer

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Plenty of cheap corals around, the really nice ones cost money. You gotta pay to play if you want stuff that is the upper echelon simple as that. Same thing with any industry, do you want the Toyota Corolla or the Ferrari? Both are cars that get you from point A to point B

Absolutely true. You can get very nice and healthy coral for good prices. And. If you want nicer stuff, you need to have patience and buy affordable pieces and grow it out

25$ - started as single polyp
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70$ - started as two heads
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25$ Duncan on arrival - this is now 20 heads
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60$ frogspawn
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Every coral on this shelf started as a frag 20-25$
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You want the Ferrari - something unique, crazy, rare, whatever…going to have to spend a lot more
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Nano_Man

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This might be a little off subject
But I watched a documentary and it was about when hard coral on the reef spawn they had figured out when the lighting I mean the moon is correct and they gather the spawn in big nets Here in the uk they are doing it with artificial lighting and they make the spawn happen . So the story carry’s on to USA we’re a company is producing big concrete blocks but the have small holes all over the top of them and they inject the holes with spawn but how do they feed it when in the sea well it is covered with a algae bubble casing and that’s what feeds it until proper growth starts . Most of there use of theses blocks are getting used in places were there have been losses of reef. They carried out sound tests over healthy reefs and poor reef and the spawn placed its self free floating every time in the good reef . So there are a lot of things we don’t know about coral’s behaviour . Just thought I would share sorry for been a bit off topic
 
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AydenLincoln

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Plenty of cheap corals around, the really nice ones cost money. You gotta pay to play if you want stuff that is the upper echelon simple as that. Same thing with any industry, do you want the Toyota Corolla or the Ferrari? Both are cars that get you from point A to point B
Would like to say there is a big difference between a coral and a car for numerous reasons. I just don’t understand or get the price gouging/ridiculous prices for things in our hobby and that people are willing to pay and businesses continue to profit from it.
 

Nano_Man

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Would like to say there is a big difference between a coral and a car for numerous reasons. I just don’t understand or get the price gouging/ridiculous prices for things in our hobby and that people are willing to pay and businesses continue to profit from it.
Money people get greedy for money
Until all of us reefers take a stand and say no we are not paying these prices then the money men would have to lower prices get us to come through there door. But I will win the lottery before everyone gets together if people are paying big money they are making it harder for the little man. As soon as you say salt water the price triples . And another thing one dealer is growing these frags on and that doesn’t mean they go straight too you then a vendor buys them and adds his bit iof price on so you’re filling two peoples pockets before you take it home. Fragging corals I don’t like the idea because you’re paying the price of a full colony. Fragging is like feeding your scraps of the bone of chicken to your dog they don’t get much . Who says a vendor gets a big colony of Zoas and he frags them to two heads per plug he is going to be ripping plenty of people off. I feel sorry for the next generation of reefers they best have plenty of money if they want to replicate a reef
 

tgcreef

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Would like to say there is a big difference between a coral and a car for numerous reasons. I just don’t understand or get the price gouging/ridiculous prices for things in our hobby and that people are willing to pay and businesses continue to profit from it.

Well I would say cars was the easy one, do you wanna buy your clothes at Walmart or Zara? Do you want an off brand purse or a Louis? High and low end transfers to any industry. Businesses are meant to profit, if you don’t profit there is no reason to have one and if our local stores didn’t profit we wouldn’t have any.
Last I checked TSA, WWC, BSA arnt listed on the stock exchange so I can’t imagine they are profiting as much as Amazon which if you’re like me purchase from frequently without issue.

Now if we want to dig in to why some of these high end pieces cost so much let’s consider the following:

For frags of the high end pieces:

What is the volume of coral they have to purchase/import until these prime specimens are found.

Wholesalers require purchasers to take less desireable coral to receive the nicer pieces. How long does it take to move the less desireable coral?

What is the cost of housing the less desireable coral until it is sold? Rent/electricity/additives/dips/maintenance/labor (the tanks don’t clean themselves)/etc

How much of the volume ends up being a loss due to DOA or other means?

Once found, how long does it take to acclimate frag and culture? What are the incurred costs of this process? Rent/electricity/additives/dips/maintenance/labor/etc

For one-off non fraggable pieces there is maybe an argument a smaller margin could seem reasonable but how do you know the wholesale cost of this piece, how much shipping from indo/pacific cost and any duties or taxes charged to import these items?

Once again what’s the expected turn over and the housing costs?


I’ve only ever been hobbyist but I can clearly see that there are many reasons why corals can be expensive. There are also many corals that arnt because of the immense ease of their proliferation.
 

VintageReefer

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If you bought hundreds of shipments of corals and got something one of a kind, that nobody else has, and was attractive and desirable, what would you charge for it? Knowing you would never get it again?

Maybe the vendor feels it’s worth a few thousand. And maybe some collectors feel it’s worth it. Or maybe the vendor decides to take the risk of putting it under a bandsaw to frag it, and both the parent and the frags take months to heal. Maybe the parent colony died in the process but the frags lived. What are those frags worth to you as a seller? Or To a collector? Why charge the same as anything else when you have something truly unique that no other seller has

That is why some corals are much much more expensive than others.

Tell me, if you wanted this, where can you get it?
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Only one place has it. You can show this pic to your local LFS, coral websites, and ask them to get one for you, and they won’t be able to. There’s only one place, they know it, and they aren’t going to charge the same price as a regular lobophyllia.

Or acanthophyllia - the coral itself in regular form isnt that common or cheap, and patterns and colors like these are extremely rare to find. They truly are one of a kind, and the vendor will never get one again. Maybe they personally like it and DONT want to sell it. Well everything has a price and maybe they think, I love this coral, I’m proud my company has it, I would never sell it unless someone made me a ridiculous offer like…5,000 or 10,000.

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Something’s are marked up for no reason but a name, but something’s rely are viewed as living art by people and they want to collect and display them and be proud of its rarity and beauty
 

ronsonb

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I’ve definitely bought my fair share of expensive corals so guilty for propping up the absurdity.

I personally have zero desire to sell corals, would love to trade but it seems everyone wants the money. For me this is a hobby not an avenue for profit, but to each their own.

Greed is what it comes down to. I see some plate corals on here going for $300 for a frag when other people on here have same exact piece for $40-50. People just don’t do enough research and fall for pretty pictures.

OG Bounce is a classic example of lack of price adjustment… there are TONS of these being sold on here and on eBay, I myself have two, but yet people still want crazy prices for something that’s over saturated with options.
 

p1u5h13r4m24

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Facebook Coral Auctions (Aquariums Wholesale out of Olathe, KS is a pretty good one, they have auctions 2-3 times per week)

I also shop at SaltCritters a fair amount, their prices are reasonable, but they don't have a huge variety all the time, lots of frags of the same 30-40 corals, and a few other one-offs from time to time.

Other than those two, I tend to just sniff for deals around the internet willy nilly...
I’ve bought from aquariums wholesale over the years. The prices are great and the people are too. However I found 90% of their stuff is fresh out of the ocean mariculture. The stuff or miss.
 

ronsonb

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If you bought hundreds of shipments of corals and got something one of a kind, that nobody else has, and was attractive and desirable, what would you charge for it? Knowing you would never get it again?

Maybe the vendor feels it’s worth a few thousand. And maybe some collectors feel it’s worth it. Or maybe the vendor decides to take the risk of putting it under a bandsaw to frag it, and both the parent and the frags take months to heal. Maybe the parent colony died in the process but the frags lived. What are those frags worth to you as a seller? Or To a collector? Why charge the same as anything else when you have something truly unique that no other seller has

That is why some corals are much much more expensive than others.

Tell me, if you wanted this, where can you get it?
25CB3873-1673-40A9-A475-D4D5608B3F01.png

BD1B80F6-AC5F-4930-A6DA-B050CFC6CA06.png


Only one place has it. You can show this pic to your local LFS, coral websites, and ask them to get one for you, and they won’t be able to. There’s only one place, they know it, and they aren’t going to charge the same price as a regular lobophyllia.

Or acanthophyllia - the coral itself in regular form isnt that common or cheap, and patterns and colors like these are extremely rare to find. They truly are one of a kind, and the vendor will never get one again. Maybe they personally like it and DONT want to sell it. Well everything has a price and maybe they think, I love this coral, I’m proud my company has it, I would never sell it unless someone made me a ridiculous offer like…5,000 or 10,000.

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Something’s are marked up for no reason but a name, but something’s rely are viewed as living art by people and they want to collect and display them and be proud of its rarity and beauty
Truly rare and unique pieces are a different situation imo. Only a certain number of people will buy/can afford truly unique pieces.

The real issue are the common easily fragged pieces that companies/hobby folk still want premium money for.
 

VintageReefer

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Truly rare and unique pieces are a different situation imo. Only a certain number of people will buy/can afford truly unique pieces.

The real issue are the common easily fragged pieces that companies/hobby folk still want premium money for.

I read your posts and I understand your point now. The bounce mushrooms are a prime example. I can get them literally anywhere. Any day of the week. For 200-300$ a piece lol

Many sps are like this and they are super easy to frag.

I’ve seen on this forum, plate corals for 300$ each, and when I searched I found other people selling 3 packs with the first one and two other varieties, for 250

Sellers tend to sell for as much as the market allows.
600$ No buyers
500$ no buyers
400$ no buyers
300$ people are buying. Let’s sell these for 300$

These prices exist because large amounts of people are paying it.

I just sold a dry goods item on here, to a newer reefer getting started, and as a bonus surprise I threw in a $90 frag. For free. Because that’s how I was treated when I started this hobby and it’s a dying culture I want to keep alive.
 

Bitis Botanical

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It seems to be a similar situation to what happened with houseplants during COVID. Every hobbyist became an investor and a business spending absurd amounts of money often on plants that were mass cloned and readily available before the supply chain disruptions. Very few people grew large mother plants, instead chopping them up constantly into single node cuttings to resell and get their money back from the next round of "investors". This wasn't sustainable of course and many people lost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars when life started getting back to normal and the bubble burst. I don't know the coral market well enough to predict whether there will be a similarly severe crash but the parallels are clear.
 

Alexraptor

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Plenty of cheap corals around, the really nice ones cost money. You gotta pay to play if you want stuff that is the upper echelon simple as that. Same thing with any industry, do you want the Toyota Corolla or the Ferrari? Both are cars that get you from point A to point B
Would like to say there is a big difference between a coral and a car for numerous reasons. I just don’t understand or get the price gouging/ridiculous prices for things in our hobby and that people are willing to pay and businesses continue to profit from it.

Agreed, the comparison is completely invalid IMHO. A Ferrari is a high end vehicle built with precision engineering, representing an enormous monetary, manpower and material investment, to produce.

A coral is a living organism, nobody invented it, nobody created it. All you do is provide an appropriate environment and feed it, if need be. The inflated prices for so-called "high end" corals, is, 9 times out of 10, entirely artificial.

Hell, I'm even seeing plain old branching frogspawns that I paid $5 a head for, back in the day, selling for 5-10x the price. It's ludicrous.
 

VintageReefer

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Hell, I'm even seeing plain old branching frogspawns that I paid $5 a head for, back in the day, selling for 5-10x the price. It's ludicrous.

Preach! look at this and these dates aren’t 15-20 years ago. 4-5 years tops

Highlighter torch 20$ per head
Duncan 6-10 heads - 15$ total! They gave me 15 heads btw

This was not that long ago!
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Bitis Botanical

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Agreed, the comparison is completely invalid IMHO. A Ferrari is a high end vehicle built with precision engineering, representing an enormous monetary, manpower and material investment, to produce.

A coral is a living organism, nobody invented it, nobody created it. All you do is provide an appropriate environment and feed it, if need be. The inflated prices for so-called "high end" corals, is, 9 times out of 10, entirely artificial.

Hell, I'm even seeing plain old branching frogspawns that I paid $5 a head for, back in the day, selling for 5-10x the price. It's ludicrous.

You also can't break a wheel off a Ferrari to grow a new one
 

Dom

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With the amount of vendors that exist and the amount competition it always surprises me how much coral cost varies for the same or similar pieces. I know some reasons may be a bit more obvious but to spend thousands or even a few hundred on a single coral is kind of crazy to me. Especially for meat or scoly corals which are a whole other level of expensive. I get some colors may be rare and they don’t frag but hundreds to thousands on a single piece is mind boggling. Why do you think corals are so expensive and what is your most expensive coral?

As hobbyists, WE drive the prices. Zoas are a perfect example. Vendors buy them, give them fancy names, grow them out, frag them and charge ridiculous prices.

As hobbyists, if we would start saying "NO" to some of the pricing we see, those prices will start coming down to earth.
 

Solo McReefer

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Truly rare and unique pieces are a different situation imo. Only a certain number of people will buy/can afford truly unique pieces.

The real issue are the common easily fragged pieces that companies/hobby folk still want premium money for.
Supply and demand

If they are as common as you say, they would be 15 buck frags
 

ca1ore

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Would like to say there is a big difference between a coral and a car for numerous reasons. I just don’t understand or get the price gouging/ridiculous prices for things in our hobby and that people are willing to pay and businesses continue to profit from it.
I think in terms of this discussion, the analogy with a car is a fair one. You’ve pretty much summed things up with the simple term ‘willingness to pay’. As long as hobbyists are willing to pay $200 for a coral frag, vendors (and hobbyists) will continue to charge them. I’ve no practical sense of what it costs to maintain a coral farm, and the degree to which prices are cost based rather than opportunity based. It may be, for example, that in a world where folks are only willing to pay $50 for that $200 frag that many of the vendors would conclude that their business is not viable. Then supply demand mismatch might drive prices back up …..

I’ve long been reluctant to pay what I would deem as foolish amounts for ‘rare’ corals, favoring trades with other hobbyists. I did pay $100 for a a Fiji yellow leather (It was 5” rather than 5 mm ), but that is an outlier for me; the majority of the corals in my tank started out as frags either traded or given.
 
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Kodock

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The most expensive coral I have is a banana holy grail and I paid around 375 for it a year ago. But. I spent 2-3 years wanting one and got to a point where prices fell and I decided I’ve dreamed and wished long enough and I bought one. Its splitting into 7 heads and it makes me happy every day and is one of my favorite pieces.

I have other very expensive corals but I have been lucky and found some vendors are willing to negotiate or trade.

My 24k acantho is 7” and was over $1000. I wanted it. I worked with a vendor and we arranged a trade for it. I don’t want to give out the details but I’ll say, I showed him pics of my tank. I had some things that stood out and he wanted. He asked me what I wanted for them. I said I’ll trade for the 24k acantho. And they agreed. Mailed me the acantho and shipping supplies and I mailed back two corals.

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Just recently I acquired a ring of fire lobo. These are 1300$ for 2x2 and over $3000 for a 3x3. I messaged the vendor and asked if they have something smaller for better pricing. They said they have a smaller frag about 1.25” they could do for $400. I asked for pics. They provided pics and measured and said they were wrong and it’s grown and bigger than they remembered. 2x1.75 exactly. This is easily 1000+ but they would honor their offer of $400 for it. I thanked them and said, it’s really nice but out of budget. I’m looking to spend 200-250 tops. They didn’t respond for 3 days then wrote me and said they have excess coral stock at the moment and would give me a heavy discount and sell for 250 shipped. I took it

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People pay the prices but that doesn’t mean you ALWAYS have to. I have found vendors are sometimes willing to work with you or negotiate. Or maybe I just have good luck. $2300 in coral for $250 + a trade

I have money, but I still can’t fathom spending that much on a coral, especially with no guarantee or high probability of survival. I mean you could compare it to people who spend $1,000-$3,000 on a dog, but at least a dog can be thoroughly inspected by a vet for issues that may affect lifespan. Could they die from an accident or unforeseen issue? Sure, but it’s arguably worse odds for coral survival, or at least inability to react to issues and they progress quickly. Other hobbies have people buying expensive things that people spend, just not as perishable and fragile.

Maybe you’ve got the process locked down and your not just confident but certain of your tanks stability and acclimation process.

I think the most I could spend on 1 coral would be $200-$250, and it would be the only one I’d spend that much on, maybe annually or bi-annual. It would have to be chunky, tank grown and basically a colony. I’d have to have confidence in its likelihood of growing and me fragging it to recoup the original buy. I’d practically give it away after I recouped my original purchase and trade it for equipment or other corals. $300+..$1,000+.. is nuts to me. I would spend a lot on a fish though, maybe.. like a black tang.. one day.. so maybe I’m biased and it’s perspective.

To each their own though, your tank looks great and it makes you happy. Life is short and you can’t take the money with you win you go. (Just don’t imply that mentality too many times and run out). I just hate to see people buying things they can’t afford as a risky investment to resell, it die, and send them further in a hole.
 
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ChrisfromBrick

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This used to be the way, but to be honest, it just doesn't seem to work this way anymore.

Other hobbyists are asking retail pricing for their frags now. It seems to be a "hustle". I had a guy almost cry the other day when I gave him some Xenia for free with his $10 CAD chalice frag...like that was some kind of really nice thing I did...but it's really just how we used to all operate.

My first ever corals were a 2 headed frogpsawn and a beautiful toadstool I got a club meeting for $20 combined. If I go on marketplace now, the frogspawn will cost $30/head and the toadstool will be $30-50 on its own.
i have people nearby give me free frags to this day. It doesn’t get cheaper than that. It’s about helping out your fellow reefer
 

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