Hey guys i want to talk about a slightly touchy topic, that some of you might have saw me discussing in another post. So not to off track the other post i figured id bring the discussion to here were it can be talked about and debated with out taking away from what the previous posts main purpose was (to sell a frag). So before i get into my theory on this let me first say this post was not meant to discredit or hurt the small scale coral business or bash them in any ways, or point fingers at those of us who can afford high priced exotic coral that spend the money for the sole fact of having that rare gem they can show case in there tank and brag about to there friends. this post is simply to discuss the average cost of corals on the general market that the every day reef keeping enthusiast may call common on the market frags. So here it goes in all hopes that the disclaimer keeps it a civil discussion/debate. Why are we paying so much for common coral! when i first got into this hobby and had big dreams of having amazingly colored beautiful corals of a wide variety my dreams were cut short as i filled my fantasy online shopping cart and looked at the astronomical total (not including the shipping) ... yup i said to my self this aint happening any time soon so i started small with a few cheap purchases and bumming some frags from the great group of people we have in the club and the learning process of coral husbandry began. I learned shortly of the different requirements corals have and the hard learned facts of how painful it can be in the wallet when you make a mistake. Keeping all that in mind the next time i was coral shopping i started thinking about the prices of these corals and going what effects these prices and what makes this frag of the same species of coral worth so much more then another of the same species aside from the looks alone? In this post the corals ill be referring to are Zoa's and Mushrooms so must of my generalizations will be geared towards these. I came up with a pretty simple list of cost factors which i feel are common sense, though i am not in the business of farming and selling large volumes of corals so feel free to add change or discredit as needed lol. The first cost factor i found was the importation cost. considering most new and exotic or rare pieces are new and exotic or rare because they haven't been mass grown and fragged for the market this means that they are still being harvested from the wild by collectors and put out on private auctions for sale to vendors who then purchase these rare gems to bring something to there market that sets them apart from the competition. These Frags have a high price tag for good reason. First someone had to go diving to find these corals then frag them and Market them and ship them internationally which is an added cost to the local vendors not to mention the competition price to buy these frags. The second raise in the cost is the market price in which now the vendor has to recoup his investment plus the cost of keeping the coral alive until sold and still make a profit so now the price has been marked up at least 3 times before we the hobbiest even see the frag. It is my opinion these corals on the market that deserve a some what higher price because of the fact that they are pretty much collected in small numbers at first and haven't had a chanced to be farmed, then shipped halfway across the world to be sold making them quote on quote rare finds. Like the begging of aquarium trade there were only a few common finds regularly available and every thing else was collected straight from the wild and sold to collectors at a higher cost but eventually these collectors domesticated (so to speak) these rare livestock and then breed or farmed them making them common and thus bringing larger numbers to the market at reduced cost because now the livestock didnt have to be collected from the wild in some remote place and sold and shipped. Which brings me to the next factor: Husbandry.. this is a variable that pretains specifically to what type of live stock we are talking about, husbandry in other words the care of and raising of, has a cost factor of its own which equates to housing, feeding, medicating, providing the ideal environment and of course time committed to the particular piece of live stock prior to sale. In the Rare import case husbandry initially is basically what it costs to keep the livestock alive until its sold, but moving further down the chain when the vendor decides to grow/farm the live stock and create an abundance the initial cost is higher because of the time it will take the vendor to care for it until its in large enough numbers and ready for sale. So kinda alot but here is the point after these rare pieces become farmed they become common they no longer carry the cost of the initial import, and they no longer carry the special value of being a hard find. Sure it still took the vendor some time and money invested in farming them but now they are mass produced and after the sale of a few those original costs of have been recouped. But they still sell them at the high price of the rare find.. and we the consumer still buy them at that price. In the Example of Zoa's there are hundreds and hundreds of varieties , vast range of different colors and made up names. In this example Lets say the Average Zoa Frag contains two polyps, as far as zoa's go they are pretty much considered one of the best corals for beginners because they are hardy, reproduce well and dont require much in the realm of care infact some have problems with them growing like weeds and they even become pests in are tanks. This statement pretty much holds true to all varieties of zoa regardless of color or name even though some may argue that there are some zoa that grow slower then others or require this or that i think it can still be said that if you can keep one type of zoa its a pretty safe bet you can keep a different type in the same tank. So going back to cost if a rare Zoa comes onto market that meets what i talked about before it can be seen as understandable that it be higher priced, but what about the not rare other fancy zoa's with the designer names why are they priced so high? Think Rasta Zoa this is a pretty cool looking zoa with a nice color pattern, how ever its not rare in fact while searching the net i went threw about a dozen online coral vendors that all sold them and none of them listed a stock limit so id say its a safe bet that they had a pretty decent stock pile of them. They were all listed around 30 dollars or more and i know in coral 30 dollars isnt even close to high priced but my point is they are just as common as a the plain solid color zoa's that sell for 5 bucks a polyp but carry a high price tag. It comes to the realization that regarding Zoas it is simply the fact of how pretty or cool looking the polyp is that defines its cost in most cases, and we the consumer are kinda responsible for setting the market price, sure the vendor tacks on a cool name maybe even throws out labels like Aussie edition or what ever but really what your getting is a common zoa that at this point cost the vendor no more to keep in stock (if he is growing them) then it does to keep the 5 dollar zoa. The same example i used for Zoas can also be found in mushroom corals and other softies were paying for fancy color patterns and the vendors make larger profits if they are successful sellers. I guess all in all the point is the coral is worth what we are willing to pay for it and if thats the case why are we still willing to pay top dollar for coral that is no longer collected half way around the world that is no longer only seen in small numbers around the community but is now home grown, and easy to find.