New “High End” Corals

by | Aug 14, 2011 | Corals, Eye Candy, Opinion | 5 comments


Recently I was talking with a fellow reefer and the phrase “High End” came up in reference to certain zoanthid corals.  For those that don’t know me, I’m not one for the multitude of common names attached to corals.  A simple, actually common name is ok.  I don’t have a problem with not using scientific names for everything and I understand the marketing behind the craze but more often than not it goes too far.  Then going further and attaching the label “High End” to a coral seems excessive and almost a vulgar use of the term.  Can a coral really be “High End”?

I would argue that some could be considered luxury items by definition, but to say that some polyps are of a higher caliber because of an often silly moniker attached to them seems wrong and misleading.  If you have been reefing for any period of time than odds are you have seen the same morphs of some corals over and over and over but under different lighting and probably a new name.  Everyone wants to leave their mark on the coral/hobby and there’s nothing wrong with that within reason.  When did a special name become synonymous with quality?  When did the orange zoas covering the fist sized rock over there for $60 become less desirable than the exact same 6 polyps of “Bam Bam Orange” for $19.99?  Obviously the larger rock with far more polyps is a better value if it’s the very same thing… right?  At what point do these polyps on a frag plug become something more? 

For me, one of the highlights of working in this business is ordering livestock from various suppliers.  I look forward to it because each list is like the best three holidays rolled into one and it happens every week.  Very few of the lists really have any of the names most hobbyists are familiar with.  You won’t find any “Gorilla Nipples” or “Armor of God”, sorry.  Sometimes you will see a more colorful common name when a coral reaches epic stardom such as the various “Hornets” did when they first showed up.  Even their prices dropped very quickly as a huge supply met with demand and it was just as easy to find a Sacagawea dollar as it was a frag of “Hornets.”  Most of the named corals are actually fairly common (especially the zoanthids) and if you go to just about any store you can find entire rocks or colonies, sans the flashy name, for a fair price by comparison.  It doesn’t matter if it’s cultured or not, if it has a name it’s just more expensive.  Tank cultured coral should be more expensive as it costs more to produce them (for now).  However, with more and more mariculture facilities being established in the various supply countries “rare” is a term with fewer and fewer corals to which it can be applied.  Bali has an amazing Acropora mariculture facility that churns out some spectacular specimens 3-4″ in diameter that are jaw dropping and the entire colonies sometimes retail for less than some frags of the same morph.

I’m not saying there aren’t rare corals or specimens out there that aren’t deserving of the “second mortgage” price tags.  Those animals do exist and their prices are justified by whatever the market or customer is willing to bare.  When you really look at the majority of the corals being readily traded or sold, if it isn’t the rarity or the price tag that earns the label, than what is it that makes them “High End”?  Is it really just in the name?


  1. Michael D. Phelps

    My hero. I’ve felt exactly the same for quite awhile. The name game has gone insane and is why I stick to purchasing through club members, from a few trusted on line friends and only one or two online stores. I drool over pieces on quite a few sites but I’m not going to over pay because someone threw a fancy name on them.

  2. lfsmarineguy

    I think both sides are guilty of the name game but I think the real problem is that some corals are viewed as better than others because they have that name and that couldn’t be more wrong. Some people look at the frags and think they are out of reach for either financial or skill reasons and I think it shuts out part of the newer hobbyists who don’t realize that the frag they’re chasing is just a myth.

  3. ryangrieder

    Buying coral is very similar to buying a new vehicle…

    First there is the dealership you choose to purchase from (AKA local fish store) certain places have great seasonal deals, some actually care for their customers, and some are just trying to make a buck off you.

    Then there is company (AKA species of coral) what you want is your choice. Known brands like ford dodge chevy (sps, lps, softie)

    Followed by actual vehicle of company. For ford let’s say. You have the f150, focus, mustang, edge, torus, ect. (for example softie. You have zooanthids, Palys, leathers, ect…)

    Now you found your car, let’s say the classic focus (zooanthid). You now have models. The “SE” model which is smaller motor, no leather, simple cd player ect…(basic deepwater assorted zooanthids) then there is the “SES” better motor, nice leather, 6 disk changer, spoiler, chrome accessories, ect…(common name zooanthids or “high end” zooanthids) orbthe “SES Sport” which has the rims, the graphics, the 6 speed transmission, the body kit, ect…( “high end” zooanthids with higher grade coloration. For instance “armor of god” are now called “ultra armor of god” or maybe even the “top of the line” zooanthids like “utter chaos” or others that sell for 50-75 bucks a single head)

    Which ever vehicle you choose, you purchase because you want it, you like it, and more importantly, you can afford it…

  4. lfsmarineguy

    I think you need to read the blog again. You sort of missed a few key points.

  5. VitalApparatuz

    ultra high end aquarium design firm , lol nice 🙂


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