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Last updated on November 17th, 2023


Wall to Wall Reef Tanks

Coral are Getting More Expensive...

We both know that coral are expensive. But compared to about 10 years ago, prices seem to have skyrocketed. While that is true of many coral, many others have declined in price. I remember when a single polyp of the Utter Chaos Zoa was over $50! Now, that zoa is easy to find, but others have shot up!

Since I started selling coral, I've heard a few comments about coral pricing that I really want to talk about. The first comment that really stands out was:

"I used to get these torches for $10-$20!" (Talking about in the early 2010's)

Referring to a Dragon Soul Torch that I had offered to sell for $125

I'm not calling that person, or you a liar by any means. Back then, I'm quite sure torches were cheaper. But now, especially the Dragon Soul or other collector name torches, can go for between $250 and $2,000!

Another comment I got was:

"Are you on CRACK!? $20 for a zoa is INSANE!"

And while I would typically agree that for a single polyp of a common zoa like the Bam Bam Zoa; I still see the going rate is above that per polyp!

So that makes you and me ask the question...


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1) You Pay for the Name

First and foremost, a lot of the cost for these coral is in the name. I know it seems silly, but the Dragon Soul Torch is typically more expensive that an Indo Gold Torch. When you look at the two, you will most likely have a hard time knowing the difference. That's because the Dragon Soul Torch is a strain of indonesian gold torch.

Think of it as name brand, boxed cereal verses the HUGE bag of the exact same food. You are paying to own the name brand. This name game is especially big in Zoanthids. Each one has a different name and a price that goes with the name. Yet, you will find some that are very similar, and you can often save a little by picking the cheaper name. But you don't have that status symbol that comes with the name.

There is nothing wrong with collecting the rare names and paying for the "status" symbol. There is also NOTHING wrong with saving some money and getting a lesser name that is also a beautiful coral! It's like picking your brand of shoes, or tee shirts. It all comes down to if you care to have a specific name/pattern, or something close enough.

2) Coral Popularity

Some coral, like zoanthids, use to be the most popular coral around. SPS were amazing, but both expensive and very difficult to keep. LPS coral such as Hammer and Torch Coral were not as popular because there were only a few types and they were a bit more difficult to keep alive. Now, there are more variations than ever before, and its VERY EASY to keep these coral. With that, now these coral are more popular, making them more expensive.

This explains some of the prices for coral like the previously expensive zoanthids being much cheaper, but previously cheap coral such as the Hammers and Torch coral shooting up like Amazon's stock prices in the 2010s! Unfortunately, like anything else, once there is demand, prices increase.

3) Import and Collection Laws and Regulations

Do you remember when Yellow Tangs used to cost $30-$50? So do I... Then Hawaii shut down the collection of these fish, and the ones available shot up in price. To help combat the price, aquaculture/breeding facilities such as Biota have done a great job breeding these fish in captivity! This leads to healthier fish and lower environmental impact. Sadly, there is a combination of prices staying about the same because there is a lot of cost raising these fish, and some price from the fish stores knowing that you'll pay it.

Regardless, coral is impacted the same way. Between Hawaii, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, and the other coral collection locations making laws and regulations around collecting and exporting coral, prices are immediately affected. This all comes from the simple supply/demand where the prices have to go up because suddenly, that coral isn't available at all.

While many aquaculture facilities help keep these coral available in the hobby, they can't grow all of these coral nearly at the scale that the ocean does. Plus, there are costs tied to growing these coral, and that affects the cost as well.

How do we get Cheaper Coral?

All of that being said, there are still ways to get lower cost coral. The cheapest coral will come from other local hobbyists and local fish stores. Anyone growing their own coral can set their own prices. This doesn't mean you should low-ball them. It means you should be able to get coral much cheaper than large online facilities. The biggest reason is because they don't have overhead. They don't have to pay for employees, building costs, mortgage/rental fees, etc.

Not to be a self-serving advertisement, but that is why the coral from Reef Stable is so cheap compared to similar online stores. At the time of writing this, my coral is grown in my home, and I have no employees. So my costs are much lower and I can pass that on to you. Even saying that though, the Web Store coral is still more expensive than if you buy from me locally. Since I have to pay for additional shipping fees outside of the shipping itself, like heating/cooling, insulated containers, and everything else that goes into this, I have to charge more online than in person.

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Coral are expensive. I know it hurts to pay hundreds of dollars for coral that you really want. Remember what goes into that coral. Someone likely had to grow it, maintain their tanks, cut the coral, and care for it in general. Then they had to ship it to you and often pay people to help in this process. So while it may seem like a lot up front, remember that you are getting a quality piece of coral in exchange! And when the coral grows, you can sell some of that coral from your tank and make that money back, growing the hobby even more!

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About the Author

Reef Stable Founder John Krenzer

John is a Software Engineer with a passion for saltwater aquariums, as well as the founder and president of Reef Stable. He started in the aquarium hobby as a child with a 20 gallon freshwater aquarium. His interest in aquarium life grew and in 2008, John set up his first saltwater aquarium.

Today, John maintains an over 300 gallon reef tank system, consisting of a 120g reef and a 210g reef. These large tanks are contained within the same system, sharing a sump as a means to reduce total maintenance and increase total water volume.

John writes articles for the blog as a means to learn about more reef aquarium topics. These articles act as a reference for the readers as well as himself. John updates these articles frequently to provide additional information or make corrections as new information becomes available.

If you would like to request an article, tank tour article, or to collaborate, let me know via the Contact Me Page!

About Reef Stable

Reef Stable was initially founded in 2019 as a reef tank parameter log to fill a need. Reef Stable quickly grew, becoming a location to solve all of your reef tank problems as well as a place to learn.

Reef Stable now provides a Reef Blog, Reef Aquarium Guides, Coral Care Guides, Identification and Solutions for Pests and Algae, and Reef Dosing Calculators, in addition to the original Reef Parameter Log.

Reef Stable continues to grow, striving to provide a single location for all your reef tank needs!

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