The rise of coral pricing and facebook auctions

Aquatic Nerd

(Formerly SeventyTimes7) Yung Jacques Cousteu
BRS Member
Officer
#21
Most people don't realize this
It's a learning experience that's for damn sure. :confused:
Had a nice little collection of torches a few years ago, alk swing, everything bailed.
I managed to keep one torch polyp alive without a skeleton for a year until it went missing from the low flow area, doh.
 

One Eye

former vp of pr
BRS Member
#22
Personally I think it has a lot to do with named corals and chasing lineage.

When I started in this hobby we were still trying to figure out how to keep leather corals alive long term. Later with better lighting Acros and Montis caught on.

Corals were named “teal / blue Acro”, “it is blue and has yellow coralites and might be a tenuis”, orange Montipora digitata, green monti cap, “some kind of leather” and Zoas got special names like “those green Zoas or those Zoas with the blue rings.

Lineage was “ that’s the one I got from Greg Hiller” or “I think I got that one from aqua addicts”

Then came the purple people eater Zoas,the Oregon blue tort, proof of lineage and much higher prices.

Now the longer the name the more you pay. “Tubs blue Zoas” are cheap while “Danny discos shades of the midnight sun while doing the bump to Donna summer blue Zoas” get at least $50 a polyp more.
 

dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
#23
In the old days, coral names are more elegant and actually reflects some quality of the coral. Such as Purple Monster is purple and Purple People Eater is purple too.




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BiGGiePauls33

YT/GreatBeardedReef IG/GreatBeardedReef
BRS Member
Officer
#25
Facebook auction are no longer allowed, but I do agree about the crazy prices of coral frags. I remember years ago buying frags that were actually colonies from a member in Fall River and another member right down the street from him ha the same frags but a 1/16th the size and double the money. Supply and Demand I guess.
Myself personally, I try not to get caught up in the fancy designer names or what its fluorescence looks like under all blues but to see things like WD, Homewrecker, honey cocaine and such make me go goo goo.
 

CrypticLifeStyle

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#26
A lot of those people in those FB groups are surprisingly not on forums, just FB. A lot of them don't even know about forums, oddly.
It has it's own price/value culture, like CL always has in comparison to our own marketplace.

While the asking prices are absurd, if someone does pay out, it validates the value. If not, the price drops, as always with capitalism, and supply & demand. There will always be greed, and those in need.
 
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frank180reef

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#27
Growth rate is also a huge factor. The time and space you devote to grow a torch you could have grown many times more high end acros. For their growth rate torches are not high priced at all. Current prices on these corals are supported by harvesting from nature, not by what makes sense economically for aquaculture.


You're right, it does, but having a name does add real value. There are tons of zoas, acans, acros, etc out there, and I don't find all of them equally appealing. If I want a specific color morph, it's very easy to search for it by name. If I'm buying a tiny acro frag, I want to know how it will look when it will grow to a colony. If the seller has it labeled by a common industry name, I can search pictures and see if I like its color, growth pattern, light requirements, etc. Otherwise I would have to hope that after being in my tank for months or even years, it will grow into something I like.

Most aren't common industry names, they are fictional to drive there other up
 

dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
#28
If a coral is named by well known frag farmers, stores etc, it can be considered ok to me.
Also many old coral are getting new names, that is very confusing.

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Andy V

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#29
In response to those arguing coral prices are moving higher because some corals are named, I would counter that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of branding. If I literally took a crap and bagged it in saltwater and gave it some name, do you think I could auction it off for $500? Almost certainly not. Maybe Dong could!

The reason that named (i.e. branded) corals often command higher prices is because they have attributes desirable to people willing to pay for them. Typically they have unique color morphs, growth patterns, shapes, etc. And usually there is limited supply. This commands a higher price, typically.

Forget price for a moment. I would bet that 99 of 100 people would say that a Jason Fox Homewrecker is a more desirable tank inhabitant than Green Star Polyps. And that opinion isn't because Jason Fox named the coral - it's because almost every person on earth thinks it's a more beautiful coral. This coral would sell for more money than GSP regardless of the name, or availability - because you usually can't even give away GSP for free.

Which brings up another point. Naming corals is actually a wonderful thing for the hobby, in my view. Imagine wanting to buy a Homewrecker, but instead of searching by name, you have to search for:

"Acropora Tenius, consisting of a branching growth pattern, with a skeleton of vivid hot pink at the base that transitions to fluorescent purple tips and fluorescent green polyps."

Yeah, that would work well.

People arguing that corals go up in price because they are named seem to be arguing that they are Veblen Goods. These are extremely rare products that have increasing demand as prices increase. This does not fit what is happening with corals.

In summary, some corals are going up in price because there is a combination of strong demand (because they are beautiful and unique), and limited supply (restricted supply, low availability).

Some people make more money than others, and they will pay more for these corals. Ultimately they will grow out, and supply will become more plentiful. And then prices come down. This happens all of the time.
 

dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
#30
Named or not, there is one fundamental difference between a limited edition hand bag vs a “limited edition” coral. The limited edition coral grows and multiply, then the price goes down. Or the coral dies with 0 value in return.

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Andy V

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#31
Named or not, there is one fundamental difference between a limited edition hand bag vs a “limited edition” coral. The limited edition coral grows and multiply, then the price goes down. Or the coral dies with 0 value in return.

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That's true. And that is why people that don't like the price can wait for them to come down! I hear there are people out there that sell nice corals at good prices. If only I knew where to find them :)
 

aresangel

Tim- 2019 BRS President
BRS Member
Officer
#32
Andy, one point others have brought up is the the difference between calling it a pinwheel zoa ($1 pp or less) or a JF Stargazer Zoa (10-20$pp from him or second hand stores). Members have sold them for $3-5pp but still.... it is the same thing. JF didn't get a different variety or morph the google images for both look the same imo.

That is driving up the cost of cheaper corals more than anything. When what used to be cheap is rebranded to "luxury" it drives the cost up. Example... Lexus is the same company as Toyota. But Lexus gets a higher price for their brand and slight upgrades. Inside both are the same hardware. Maybe that is a bad analogy but I feel some of the prices are solely because they are the ones selling it.
 

Jason_charlestown

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#33
Andy, one point others have brought up is the the difference between calling it a pinwheel zoa ($1 pp or less) or a JF Stargazer Zoa (10-20$pp from him or second hand stores). Members have sold them for $3-5pp but still.... it is the same thing. JF didn't get a different variety or morph the google images for both look the same imo.

That is driving up the cost of cheaper corals more than anything. When what used to be cheap is rebranded to "luxury" it drives the cost up. Example... Lexus is the same company as Toyota. But Lexus gets a higher price for their brand and slight upgrades. Inside both are the same hardware. Maybe that is a bad analogy but I feel some of the prices are solely because they are the ones selling it.
Yes, it makes no sense when existing named varieties are re-named just to drive up the price. Having more than one name for the same color morph is counterproductive.

On the other hand, when we're talking about a new color morph, branding does serve its purpose. Jason Fox has a pretty good eye, and he has corals that he personally collected while diving. If I buy a coral named JF something, chances are good it's going to be something that looks good. This is no different than any other business. Brand loyalty is partly driven by good past experiences, and the expectation that new products from the same brand are going to live up to the brand name.
 

Andy V

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#34
Andy, one point others have brought up is the the difference between calling it a pinwheel zoa ($1 pp or less) or a JF Stargazer Zoa (10-20$pp from him or second hand stores). Members have sold them for $3-5pp but still.... it is the same thing. JF didn't get a different variety or morph the google images for both look the same imo.

That is driving up the cost of cheaper corals more than anything. When what used to be cheap is rebranded to "luxury" it drives the cost up. Example... Lexus is the same company as Toyota. But Lexus gets a higher price for their brand and slight upgrades. Inside both are the same hardware. Maybe that is a bad analogy but I feel some of the prices are solely because they are the ones selling it.
Tim,

If someone is willing to pay a higher price for the same exact coral from a vendor they trust, I don't see the problem. And I certainly don't see how this drives overall prices higher. I have corals from Jason Fox. They look exactly the same in person as they do online, contrary to what some people (usually people that later admit to never having seen his corals) claim. I know that some vendors misrepresent what they are selling, so I would rather deal with someone I trust.

But I highly doubt that anyone that sees an amazing Homewrecker from a club member's tank that has the same exact coloration as the Homewrecker direct from JF is going to pay a premium to JF over the club member. The point is that people want to know what they are actually buying, and the appearance and health is what matters, not a brand name.

I would agree that paying 20x for the same coral from JF seems like an egregious difference, but JF is not driving overall coral pricing higher. I would wager any amount of money that the vendor at $1 per polyp is doing much higher volume than Jason. Jason Fox is probably 0.001% market share of the coral market. He cannot drive pricing higher. I realize JF is just an example, but the market is very fragmented...this is not an industry with a dominant player with pricing power. Quite frankly this entire argument is kind of absurd.

How many of the vendors charging $1 for the zoa will be in business a year from now? History seems to clearly say not many. When I first joined this club years ago, there were dozens of members selling coral from their home - not as a way to help members, but as an attempt at making money. That number today I am pretty sure is zero, or maybe one.

Vendors online disappear all the time.

The car analogy isn't a great one because the lines are far different than they used to be. They are not just re-badged cars - generally speaking.

And besides, if you took a brown Acropora Tenius (same species, like same chassis), but gave it purely a cosmetic upgrade (what you say the automakers do), a Homewrecker is clearly more valuable than the brown acro.

I can't prove this, but my very strong suspicion is that these conversations are driven more by envy and an attitude of entitlement (i.e. I want that coral, so I deserve it) than anything else.

Raising attractive corals is a very hard business. The people with poor looking tanks in this club should know that! And this is not directed at anyone in particular :)
 

dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
#35
Raising attractive corals is a very hard business. The people with poor looking tanks in this club should know that! And this is not directed at anyone in particular :)
Very true, it is a lot of work to raise coral and lots extra cost that is not apparent to many people. And it is time consuming and high risk too. You have to love it in order to stay in business long term.

I have helped many people set up their grow out tanks over the past decade and most of them gave up in a year or less.

As coral price in general (not those designer corals) expect them to go up and up due to declining supply.

Aussie does not look sustainable these days, there are a lot less SPS exported and the death rate after collection is sky rocketed. I guess partly due to the coral were already stressed and dying on the reef before they got collected.

Coral price is more than triple at wholesale level which reflects on higher price at stores.








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dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
#36
Last year a LFS store owner predicted it would take 5 or more years to recovery from Indo and Fiji ban, that looks very true these days.
On the other hand, more and more aquaculture coral become available domestic and over sea.


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Kelly's Reef

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#37
Last year a LFS store owner predicted it would take 5 or more years to recovery from Indo and Fiji ban, that looks very true these days.
On the other hand, more and more aquaculture coral become available domestic and over sea.


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Aquacultured corals do better in tanks, and if you buy from the correct people they will give you information on light and current requirements, and not just "More light, more current" for every sps. The only real advantage to "named corals" is the wealth of care information available.
Scientific names are better for identification, but care for "tenuis", varies greatly if it was collected in different geographical areas, different depths, who propagated it, and the tank conditions etc.
 

Andy V

Well-Known Member
BRS Member
#38
Aquacultured corals do better in tanks, and if you buy from the correct people they will give you information on light and current requirements, and not just "More light, more current" for every sps. The only real advantage to "named corals" is the wealth of care information available.
Scientific names are better for identification, but care for "tenuis", varies greatly if it was collected in different geographical areas, different depths, who propagated it, and the tank conditions etc.
I think one of the most frustrating parts of buying coral is that vendors (people running businesses, not hobbyists) do not tell you specific PAR readings that they keep corals under. Every seller should have a PAR meter and be communicating that to buyers. Quite frankly, it's absurd this is not provided.

As far as flow goes, I'm not sure how you accurately measure flow at a particular coral. This seems more difficult than sticking a PAR meter in the water.

The hobby and industry should be advancing towards more science and less art. That doesn't mean taking the artistic aspect out of the hobby - as that will never go away - it means stop using guesswork when we have the means to use real tools.

This is akin to building a house without ever using a tape measure and just guessing through trial and error. That would be stupid, especially when we have the measurement tools.
 
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Corwyn

I am in Raynham
#39
The Zoa named craze is something I am not a fan of. Zoas are “entry level”. So a 25-50/polyp price tag to me is something I look at and go.... that’s nice. On that part I disagree with Aquatic nerd. On the sps range I think price is justified for the most part. They are faster growers. But what I have seen is frags get smaller and smaller in my 3 years doing this. What I paid 20 bucks for 3 years ago is going for the same price but instead of a 2 inch frag it is now an inch or less.

Never mind the uncertainty of the health of a micro frag of a high end piece....

I have actually watched one guy buy something on one auction site and then sell it for double locally on his auction site.

Yea I have to agree with this. I've been out of the hobby for a few years after tearing down my tank do to space issues in home office. In those days I was paying 5-10$ for mushrooms and 15-20 bucks for rocks of zoes. NOW they all these FANCY names that dont even tell a newbie what the HELL they are, how to find out what the requirements are for keeping them alive, and charge upwards of $10 PER POLYP. for stuff that used to OVERTAKE my tank in like 6 months and I couldn't GIVE AWAY for free 6 years ago.
 

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