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FAQs about "Coral" Reproduction/Propagation:  Economics, Sales, Swapping 

Related Articles: Growing Reef Corals For Profit by Anthony Calfo, Coral Propagation, LPS Corals, True or Stony Corals, Order Scleractinia, Propagation for Marine Aquarium Use, Trachyphyllia Reproduction Event

Related FAQs: Coral Propagation 1, Coral Propagation 2, Coral Propagation 3, Coral Propagation 4, & FAQs on Coral: Coral Prop Livestock Selection, Frag Sources (Info., Livestock, Supplies), Frag Tanks/Systems, Frag Methods, Frag Tools, Frag Feeding, Frag Health, Frag Troubles, Fraggle Rock (just kidding),  & FAQs Files on: "Frag Momma Frag, Whatcha Gonna Do? " by Group: Cnidarian Reproduction, Caryophyllid Propagation/Reproduction, Soft Coral Propagation, Growing Reef CoralsLivestock BusinessStony Coral IdentificationStony Coral Behavior,

Due diligences includes making both a Business Plan and Operating Budget: a spreadsheet of known and presumed costs (leave space for all you don't know re yet). Detail per unit (tank, gallons, organism count...) including build out, maintenance and recurring charges...  for extrapolation... make monthly time intervals... and estimations of what you can sell for what price... RMF's appraisal of likely profit is much lower than others...

Re Coral Propagation and Pharmaceuticals. Christine Williams chimes in  -- 4/29/09
HI ,
First off, thanks for having such a great web site. It's helped me in many ways over the years. This is actually my first time emailing you...so here goes....
I'm looking for information on commercial coral propagation for pharmaceutical companies. Does this even exist?
<Mmm, likely so... though as far as I'm aware, such efforts are proprietary. Am out in CO and have been chatting with another presenter, Christine Williams, who works for such a large co. doing such searches in marines... Will cc her here and ask that she chime in if she has something to say>
<< Hi all, and thanks for the opportunity to address this. I am an industrial marine microbiologist, so this is exactly what I do for a living, large-scale. There are a few drugs in use or in clinical trials which are produced from corals or other marine invertebrates: conotoxin from Conus geographicus, the geographic cone snail, dolastatin from the Dolabella sea hare, and pseudopterosin from P. elizabethae, a gorgonian to name a few. all of these are currently wild-harvested, to the tune of kilotons per year (imagine how many Seahares there are in a ton...).>>
I realize that wild caught can be cheaper, but organisms raised under controlled conditions can be much more desirable for research.
I searched Google and your FAQ's but found very limited information about this topic. I'm well familiar with culturing corals in a greenhouse setting. Looks like a logical step in propagation and business.
<<Yes, captive bred corals for pharmaceutical use would allow better quality control, control of harvest, and a more sustainable source.
However, there are two problems in trying to put this theory into practice. One is the ratio of source material to end product: in most cases, you need literally tons of biomass to get a few grams (or less) of drug, so setting up a greenhouse large enough to supply a pharmaceutical company is not economically feasible for most. Second, it will not be profitable: if you need a ton of coral to make 10g of drug that sells for $200/g, and you know the farmer is going to get a fraction of a percent of the selling price of that drug, there is no way to make a dollar selling corals that way. Even if the drug were 1000 times as expensive, you can't turn a profit. Your margin on selling artisanal corals for ornamental purposes will always be greater. Now, if you wanted to set up a greenhouse to grow corals of interest and send them to pharma or chemical companies for research purposes you certainly could, and in fact I often get samples of this sort. But the way it usually works is a company like yours would send a free sample to the "Big Industry" for testing, and if I find something interesting, marketable and profitable, unless you can industrialize your scale (and we're talking kilotons of material) I don't have a product, so I would pass on the small greenhouse corals.>>
I searched Google and your FAQ's but found very limited information about this topic. I'm well familiar with culturing corals in a greenhouse setting. Looks like a logical step in propagation and business.
<Maybe. Bob Fenner>
Thank you Christine. And be seeing you about. BobF.

Re: Coral Propagation and Pharmaceuticals... WWM Crew poss.!!! -- 4/29/09
...<Understood... and again, the open offer to aid your writing efforts (pix, helping make introductions, submissions) and pitch to have you join/help us on WWM if you have time, inclination ..... if you can! Oh, and will notify you going forward of all upcoming... Are you attending the ORCA Orlando do in July... 11/12? A few of us are heading on out ahead of time to do a bit of diving in W. Palm Beach... Interested? BobF>
Absolutely interested. Let me know how I can help on WWM, what gaps of info you need to fill--
<!!! Right up your stated fields of expertise! Practical pathology, disease ID, treatments! BobF>

Please lend advice to a budding coral farmer    3/24/06 Hi Mr. Fenner, <Niki>      I know you are so busy, thank you for all you do. My name is Niki, I have actually spoken with you before on a couple of occasions. I have been working for a retail saltwater store for a while, and recently I got 15,000 to start my own business. not a whole lot, I know. My dream is to have a little place to grow coral and then sell on the Internet. <A worthy project> I have good relationships with a lot of agents at ERI, ORA, etc. due to working in the industry for a while. I am 23, but I am fairly confident in my knowledge.     I would love to have something like reefer madness or ultimatefrags. I love the idea of Internet and not retail. Do you think it could be done with 15,000, a 20ft x 30ft room and a lot of grit and determination? :) and passion for he hobby? <Yes. Of a certainty> I would love to hear any input at all. If you think it would be a pipe dream or if I would even make any money at all. <Could be made to be profitable... with careful planning, the use of as many "shortcuts" as you can find/make... Particularly issues of energy use/consumption, scheduling your time/discipline, knowing and developing your market niche... E.g., what species will you culture? How will you find, contact your potential buyers? How to ship, process payments?>    I am going to go to bar tending school and work that as a second job so any money that the farm pulls can go right back into it. I have Mr. Calfo's book, it's been a big help. thank you in advance for even reading this.       Sincerely, Niki Englerth <Much to consider here. One very worthwhile and telling experience is to "do a business plan" with layout, costs to build, operate your proposed farm... AND a spread sheet with time frame, showing what you expect to sell, the subsequent profit... Go into this with your eyes open Niki... can be done, but... important to realize the "opportunity costs"... that is, what you might otherwise do with the same resource/s... particularly your time. Think on this well, and feel free to write back. Bob Fenner> Selling to wholesalers   9/26/06 I would like to propagate a fast growing coral species to sell to wholesalers.  If I were to reliably produce a relatively high volume of a single species each month would there be a market for this product? <Possibly> If so, is there a comprehensive list of wholesalers to contact about their interest in buying from a single species supplier. <Mmm, not as far as I've ever seen... many can be found through searching about in "Buyer's Guides"... produced by industry mag.s... Phone directories, you can peruse at large/r libraries... searching the Net... e.g. organizations members lists like OFI...>   Also, is there an industry standard as far as contacting wholesalers regarding this situation (i.e., letter, phone call). <Good question... Best to call them, ask who makes such decisions, what they might be possibly interested in some/several months down the line... what they might be willing to pay (FOB/landed) for such... But, allow me to cut to the proverbial chase here and suggest you sell a mix of such possible cnidarians more locally... likely the fish stores you can drive to will take about all you can realistically produce... The nature of the trade is such that guessing "what will be hot" and the margins being so small to non-existent dealing through wholesalers, that you will first be most likely selling to LFSs, and second to this, only/either to end-users/consumers... Not to both. BobF> Thank you, Amy

SPS collection business   8/21/06 Dear Bob and crew, <Alan> I'm thinking of starting  an exclusive Acropora collecting business to supply to the trade. I only wish to collect Acroporas from the wild by fragging a few branches from a colony and gluing them unto rocks for sale in order to minimize impact on ecosystem. <Mmm... can't really be done this way... need to collect colonies, keep them in captive conditions... some time (months) later frag them... Too hard to make the transition otherwise> I suppose this will generate faster returns rather than having an aquaculture facility which requires more overhead cost and time. <...> Do you think this is viable in the long run? <Nope> Any words of wisdom? Thanks a lot. Best regards, Lee <Keep studying, dreaming, planning... Bob Fenner>

Coral Propagation/Home Business 3/7/08 Hey there crew! <Hi Ryan> This is a terrific site! I have not seen so much quality information on reefs anywhere on the web. Thanks you for your hard work. <You're welcome.> I have had aquariums my whole life. For several years, while I was in college, I bred African cichlids, angelfish, and discus for extra money. I still have many of the same LFS contacts so I think I will be able to develop a strong coral business too. My question is in regards to a 20 gallon long propagation tank that I am in the process of setting up. My plan is to start with some extra mushrooms that I have in my display tank. Profit is not an concern, <Good, since there won't be much.> I just want to develop a working system and gain an understanding of what I am doing before I increase my operation to a "large" scale home business. I just want your comments on any improvements I can make. My plan is to have a 2-3 inch substrate depth, two power heads with low gph (<150), Prizm skimmer, Penguin 150 filter, 130 watts of compact florescent lighting (dual bulbs 10000k/6700k). <The lighting should be fine for most softies.> I have ready Anthony's newest book and much of the information on this site that is relevant to what I am planning. Any help will be greatly appreciated!! <The profit margin on a home coral propagation business is usually just enough to offset the expense. Is done more for the love of the hobby and to offset hobby expenses. I would suggest the use of Rubbermaid Tubs for this purpose. One hanging MH fixture will easily illuminate the entire tub where all types of coral can be grown. Is best to keep coral families in separate tubs to reduce allelopathy. Most folks doing this use plastic eggcrate to place their frags on. Shrooms can be lightly rubberbanded to rubble rock until they attach. Aragonite plugs are now sold and hard coral frags can be super glued to the plug and placed into the eggcrate. Very efficient protein skimming is also recommended. Anthony's book should be of great help in this venture. Do continue reading/learning on this subject, learn as much as you can before starting this venture.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Ryan

Coral farm business plan 11/5/04 Hello, I am writing to simply find out were to find some numbers and trade/trend facts to and to my plan. <start by doing keyword searches of this and similar phrases in the business links/pages of our archives. Many mentions of this and related topics with info to help you. References to PIJAC our industry lobbyist that will supply with such information on industry sales, trends... and also look for industry trade journals (get subscriptions) for Pet Business, Pet Supplies Marketing, Pet Age, etc> This is going to be a part time endeavor for at least a year through appointment only walk-ins and internet sales. I have built the structure to completion and the plus is that it is paid for, unfortunately I am in need of skimmers, heaters, blowers, pumps, vats, livestock, well you get the picture. <yikes, yes... and I'm terrified for you since you have done all of this without completing a thorough business plan first. You have no idea if this space can even help you reach your personal and financial goals> I am estimating about 6000 gallons of salt water and the should allow my to rival any stock for many many miles. <ahhh... OK> all licenses are in place and codes and permits. Any info or suggestions would be great. this is a hobby gone crazy. thank you, Steve Schultz <the imac.org sells (no profit to me) a video/DVD of my lecture from this years conference. The topic was coral farming for profit. It may interest you to see it. I will be happy to help you in any way I can after(!) you finish a thorough business plan and can speak with insight on it. Best of luck/life in your endeavors! Anthony>

Coral propagation business 11/5/04 Hi... my names Tyler I'm 19....I've been keeping a healthy 80gal reef tank for a few years now and I'm seriously contemplating starting a coral propagation (possibly clams as well) business. <cheers, mate... and kudos on your ambition. I wish you the best here! But I should say too that you may have the same idea that too many other upstarts do: thinking you can earn money on SPS corals, Zoanthids and clams. This is not the case. Although easy to understand by the pulse you get on these items when viewing the message boards. Yet know that the Web is dominated by the outspoken and experiences minority of the hobby/industry. Yet, most of the money to be made is in the largest segment of the market: beginners products and services. If you want to make real money, grow colorful, hardy and cheap soft corals for this (enormous) part of the market. Else, I am nearly certain that you will not succeed 5 years if even 2 by reselling clams and SPS in a small, tight market> selling coral to retail stores first in my state (Washington) then hopefully expand far past that <realistic approach... very good!> my question to you is even if a business like this has a chance to be profitable. <as per above... but regarding your geographic region, its got great potential. The PNW is huge (populous and hobby participants)> since the business would be limited to the amount of corals I could propagate how would I be able to compete against the variety of corals that are collected from reefs around the world. <easy with soft corals.. not so with hard corals> would it be wise so specialize in propagating a certain group of coral like hard corals or mushrooms. <awful on stonies... excellent on mushrooms> I know there are a lot of other aspects of running a successful business but is there a large enough market for this type of business or is in dominated by large companies that a smaller business would be unable to compete against. <usually so... but in our hobby, there is great cottage industry> Thanks a lot for your time you guys really helped me out when I first set my tank up and I hope you can help me again. Tyler <Tyler... do continue your research my friend by starting on a formal business plan early. Get some software like Business Plan Pro to make this easier. I will be in WA state three times next year (schedule at readingtrees.com) and will be delighted top chat with you if you can make it to any of the reef club meetings or social times afterwards. I also have a video of my presentation (I make no money on it) from this this year's IMAC conference that you can buy at the imac.org: the topic of the lecture was how to make money coral farming! Best of luck/life. Anthony>  

Coral Farming in Phoenix 11/30/04 Anthony, I have left the email below so that you may remember me from our previous dialogue, although considering the volume of emails that you process, that is doubtful. :)  The 300 gal tank is doing very well...perfect water quality...corals are growing and rotifers are being cultured.  I've attached a few pictures. <excellent... and all good to hear/see. I am making plans to begin coral farming in Phoenix.  My company is called New Reef, LLC.   <wow! kudos to you> After reading your book (and others) and doing some market research, I believe this to be a viable opportunity on a large scale.   <agreed> My research shows that roughly $23M worth of coral is purchased each year in the US alone, which I believe equates to about 500,000 pieces annually.  Of that, 98% comes out of the ocean.  Do you agree with those numbers? <yes... largely. At least, with the best we have/can do from CITES info and the like.> Technology is improving consistently, making it easier for hobbyists and businesses to maintain reef tanks successfully.  Prices are coming down as competition heats up.  The economy is improving (albeit slowly).  These factors seem to point to the fact that the reef hobby will experience growth over the next decade.  Thoughts? <the aquarium hobby has historically fared well through economic times dating back to even the great depression (there are market stats this far back!). People will give up many of their hobbies in lean times, but they will not compromise the comforts of keeping cats, dogs, birds, fish, etc. Overpriced coffee, yes... pets no :p> Briefly, my background is managing manufacturing production, and over the last decade has been in e-business architecture for a very large corporation.  I recently completed an MBA at Arizona State.  It seems to me that a coral farming business would do well selling wholesale to retail LFS's and online stores (like Drs Foster&Smith and Marine Depot Live).   <agreed... I favor this myself and recommend it. Direct retail is miserable and not your best bet>. Channels of distribution (retailers) are well established. They exist for this purpose. You are a grower. They are two separate things.> If the farmer can get the coral propagation grow-out rate synchronized with forecasted demand, then a very good business could be maintained.  The magic of FedEx means that LFS's  can procure cultured corals overnight from "my ocean" rather than a week or two out from the real ocean.   <please do reconsider putting the fate of your business in the hands of such overnight carriers and reread my explanation why in the shipping and receiving chapter of my coral prop book. FedEx is fab for non-perishables, but not designed (temp/climate control) for livestock. The commercial airlines are... and they are faster too (really - do read the chapter and then do the math on coast to coast flights, versus 7PM drop offs and 10AM-3PM next day deliveries from unheated/un-air-conditioned plains and trucks (overnight folks)> The increased quality/survivability, coloration, etc., will encourage hobbyists to purchase even more corals.  And of course, this will reduce the burden on the natural ocean from coral harvesting. <OK> Phoenix gets over 300 days a year of sun.  The average temperature is in the 70s.  There are strategies for keeping things cool in the summer.   Hmmmm.  Is there a more optimal outdoor propagation condition? :) <yes... sunny and milder temps (like the Carolinas) :) You do have the dry air and better evap cooling going for you though. Heat is an issue though for sure.> I have more questions, but don't want to write an email book, so I'll stop for now.  I would really appreciate your thoughts and feedback. Regards, Jerry <I'm visiting the local AZ reef club DMS in January... be delighted to talk to you more that weekend if you like in person. Best regards! Anthony> Re: Coral Farming in Phoenix: Anthony <Antoine is out till 12/12...> Thanks for the quick response.  It is encouraging to have confirmation of my initial thoughts.  As far as transportation, I have looked into commercial airline freight, and agree that it is better.  My only challenge is figuring out how to get the product to the LFS from the airport. <There ARE freight-forwarding services... and you might even (oh, see you mention below)... otherwise, most large orders, the stores go and pick up themselves> That was the main thought behind using FedEx.  But I'll ask around and figure that out, unless you have an easy explanation. <Even some big companies (like Petco in several locations) use FedEx, UPS, DHL to make their deliveries... and if the orders are small (let's say the equivalent of "one box" or so) this is very likely your and their best route (as I hope you are charging freight, packaging to the recipients)... Barry Neigut of ClamsDirect and others have very successfully used these services... can be negotiated, discounts asked for volume...> For plugs and other propagation medium, I've been exposed to the GARF's Dixie cup shaped plugs. <Do consider making "miniature ice-cube tray plugs with dimples"... by attaching "plugs" to the bottom of the cube's bottoms> Also, there are the flower holder plastic tubes, floor tile pieces, etc.  Do you have an opinion on the best kind that would be accepted by the hobbyist community?  The Dixie cups look a little too "flower pot"-ish, but looking at them in my tank, they aren't all that bad. <Oh... something that is consistent in appearance, either chemically inert or of benefit (we used Portland cement and sharp sand... and soaked the plugs in freshwater with a little hydrochloric acid (Muriatic) to neutralize much of the easy hardness> It appears that Xenia/Anthelia, Acropora, and Seriatiopora hystrix bring the greatest value, followed by Pocillopora, Montipora, Pavona, Hydnophora, Turbinaria, and Sinularia.  Clavularia, Sarcophyton, Lobophytum, and Cladiella also seem to make sense.  Do you agree? <Mmm, yes... would be looking (always) for new varieties, color forms... for instance, Oculinids (Galaxea spp.), Atlantic and Pacific Ricordeas... though slow-growing, can help distinguish you, your business...> It seems kind of hit and miss to figure out growth rates for each species. <Mmm, not so... this data is available... and able to be manipulated... at a cost (electrical for heat and lighting... CO2 boosting...) and increased risk of trouble to disaster.> Given excellent growing conditions, is there a known chart for this? <Not a chart (as far as I'm aware)... but individual articles, scientific works... even good "word of mouth" from folks in the trade. Do you know Dick Perrin (Tropicorium)? He might just tell you> Many sources state "fast growth" or "slow growth", but that's hard to translate into weeks/months. :)  Also, when a parent coral is propagated, how long until it is ready again? <A few to several months> I'm thinking of an initial configuration using short 13 gallon plastic tubs with 40w fluorescent lights.  The depth of water would be only 8 in, with 3in of sand.  The tubs would be placed on shelves and plumbed together to create an entire raceway (similar in concept to displays in a LFS).  The tubs can be disconnected and moved in order to facilitate many operational efficiencies. <Mmm, do some re-thinking here... there are major advantages in having much larger grow-out containers (hundreds of gallons)... and very shallow water (an inch or so above the final selling size)... more stable chemically, physically, better use of light, more color...> For pricing, it seems that tank-raised corals bring higher retail revenue.  I plan to get wholesale price lists from coral importers to compare what the LFS is currently paying, but is it true that tank-raised should command a higher price? <Yes, definitely, in terms of mass per dollar... but do keep in mind that a minimum mark-up at retail is often keystoning the net landed cost (freight, boxing, specimen...), even tripling... so your sales cost may be a third of retail> Thanks again!  I will definitely plan to meet you at the Phoenix DMS meeting! Jerry <Hope Anthony does so. Bob Fenner>

Re: Coral Farming in Phoenix Very good.  Thank you, Bob.  I've got and read your book, too.  Very useful!  In light of this business initiative, are there particular books that you would recommend besides the normal Sprung/Borneman/Moe books? <Definitely Anthony's Book of Coral Propagation which am sure you have... and attending venues where you can meet other folks in the trade, learn what you can... visit competitors... "chat" on the Net (BBs especially) re trends, pricing...> I'll take your advice on the grow-out tanks.  For clarification, given the short water depth, is it likely that 40w tubes (was thinking 4 tubes per 15" wide x 48" long tank) would give appropriate lighting?  Obviously, VHO/PC/MH are more expensive, create more heat, and multiples may be needed to create the desired Kelvin spectrum. <Worth looking into the boosted fluorescent systems, even MH for some types, applications... UNLESS you have the slow boat to China mentality, plan for growing out lower light intensity species> In your opinion, what would prevent tens/hundreds of thousands of corals to be sold wholesale per year? <Mmm, decidedly "the" economy first of all... if folks don't have money, the higher-end marine trade is going to suffer... other troubles intervene... the publics distaste for saltwater keeping due to media disparagement... A large factor (and one whose gradient we constantly fight) is outright ignorance leading to apathy then loss... of aquarists (they themselves cycle out more than 100% each year) not getting timely, useful, accurate help/instruction/inspiration from... LFS, books, magazines, other aquarists, clubs, BBs... I strongly encourage you to invest long-term in developing, maintaining your own website (yes, I WOULD sell to the end-user... at least initially... the first few years) in this regard>   Assuming that price is right, order fulfillment is satisfactory, and delivered product is good quality...normal business stuff.  Are there industry dynamics that would come into play to limit potential? <All sorts... most prominently the influences of national restriction (government) and air-freight costs... Consider if Fiji disallows the collection, shipment of cnidarians, or costs of shipping double from there... Bob Fenner> Thank you, Jerry

Re: Coral Farming in Phoenix Thanks, Bob.  You and Anthony have given me great information to go on.  Your willingness to share your knowledge is very cool...hopefully rewarding.  Hopefully, I will have knowledge to share soon, as well. <You will my friend> I see that there is a "Wet Pets" store in Flagstaff, AZ.  Is that your place? Jerry <Ah, not that one... our "Wet Pets" stores are all gone... were in S. Cal. Bob Fenner>

Coral Farming questions 1/4/05 I perused what I believe to be most of the FAQs on the WWM site, and didn't find too much not of the retail/service side of the business.  I was specifically looking for more information about Mr. Calfo's previous business. If I am just another schmuck who did not find the site for all the answers to my questions, I am sorry for stupid questions.  Else could you please point me in the right direction? <no worries... here in your service> Such things as why'd he quit? <many reasons, not the least of which was a desire to travel, write books and spend more time photographing.> How much was he making at his peak? <working only four days per week (wanting to always spend more time with family, versus 5 or 6 day work weeks), I netted over 100K annually with a profit margin that peaked around 52%> How many employees did he have if any? <a one man band only> How many square feet? <1000> How long did it take to make ANY profit (I read in the FAQs a couple years, but I'm just curious)? <exactly that> How many gallons were his systems? <8,000 on the high end> Greenhouse construction (I've been reading, but most books focus only on plants)? <do check out the references in the back of the "Coral Propagation"  book... it's what they are there for my friend: where I bought sand, salt, greenhouse supplies, etc. For starters, you can try XS Smith for GH structures.../ and places like atlasgreenhouse.com> I am soon to be finishing my undergrad and will probably shoot for earning an Ms in Mariculture.   <you'd be better off getting a business degree, mate (seriously). But at any rate, please do take some business courses and be sure to complete a thorough business plan before making any fiscal move. There is great software out there to help you like Business Plan Pro> As of now a coral farm/import business is my dream, and has been growing for around 4 years now. <forget about importing as a long term option... you cannot rely on a living from it in the 10 year plan if even the 5 year plan. Focus on farming corals wholly... better profits, better for the environment, and more control over your project/income> Thank you very much for your time. Adam Beem <best of luck and life to you, Adam. Please feel welcome to share your completed business plan with me for a shared opinion. Anthony>

Farming Atlantic corals? 8.25.06 Hey all.. <Cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service.> I am currently in the first stages of an idea to start a business propagating Caribbean corals. I have done some research on the subject and found Eric's article about the coral farm in Dominica most interesting. <All fascinating indeed.> My experience is mostly on the hobbyist level, but I am working on a degree in Biology, and various entrepreneurial  ventures (none related to coral propagation) are not new to me. The location I was contemplating is Panama central America, specifically the Bocas Del Toro area. I am planning on looking at property there in the next 3 months. It seems that Panamas access to major international airports, tax advantages to new businesses, cheap raw land on the ocean, and very favorable infrastructure make this a very favorable area to look at. <Hmmm... or whom would be your market? How do you reckon importing them into the American market or any CITES nation? Not only do I think the US is out of the question, but I am certain most of Europe will be (Italy, Germany, UK). Is this for research and accredited zoological institutions... or for ornamental sale? Of the later, you need to visit/read/explore the CITES.org website for starters> I'm still in the dreaming stages but I've had the idea of moving to a tropical climate and getting out of the rat race for many years now. <A nice dream... be sure you have a very thorough business plan to insure you succeed.> The problem is making a living in a third world country, support a family etc. <The challenges/problems I suspect run far deeper than that. I'm just happy to get an unused bar of soap at some hotels <G>> But I think! this idea could be feasible, long term of course. <I do not, my friend... at least not in the short term (definitely not 1-3... likely not even 3-5 year plan. Your energy and money would be safe and better spent elsewhere. Like a coral farm for legal Pacific species situated in a temperate climate with cheap standards of living such as the Carolinas, Southern Virginia, for example.> Do you know of anyone embarking on such a project anywhere in central America? <I have consulted two folks looking to do the same in Belize. One fell through... one is still trying top make headway with the government/officials.> Thanks. AJ Ginther <Consider joining us at one of the regional or national hobby conferences like MACNA where we can sit down and chat at length about the possibilities. Best of luck/life to you. Anthony>

Mariculture Career The only experience that I have is the 15 or so years that I have as a hobbyist. I came across a deal about 2 years ago that was too good to pass. I found someone about 45 minutes from my house that was selling 3 tanks that had never been used. These were each about 60 gallons and had dividers in them. They were always meant to be used for breeding. I bought them with the intent of breeding. I know that propagation is where I want to be. <excellent... a good starting point... to know your passion and purpose> Where I am stuck is how to make this my only income. <very possible in the long term (3-5 years minimum)> Researching techniques for culturing species would be great, but I don't see this as being profitable. <many people in our industry easily make 25-60K doing this (aquaculture cottage industry style)> I am seeking the expertise of an individual who has made this into a career. <OK, bud... I see why someone placed your query in my mailbox <G>. I have worked the last decade as a coral farmer. Made a nice income on it... and wrote a book about how to do it (Book of Coral Propagation).> I appreciate your ongoing responses to my emails. Thanks again, Ron Looker <do let me know what specific questions I can help you with, my friend. Anthony Calfo>

Anthony & Bob's Books 5/31/03 Hi Anthony, <cheers, my friend> Just ordered a few more reef books to add to my collection and was considering your propagation book but wasn't sure what all it includes other than the obvious.   <good question. Indeed, the text actually is quite comprehensive with the first half of the text mostly covering general reef husbandry (feeding, water chemistry, system dynamics, etc). Do check out some of the reviews on Amazon.com or the big message boards like Reefcentral.com for perspective> If you remember our phone conversation of a couple months ago (probably not--I can't remember what happened yesterday so I don't blame you), I informed you I've been aquaculturing soft corals for a number of years now, but the wholesale market for them in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is almost nil.  You recommended the Chicago area and reducing my prices, and I've been giving that a lot of thought.   <ahhh, yes... do recall> Does your propagation book include that type of information, i.e., sales/wholesalers contact information, or is it strictly propagation info? <hmmm... not sure exactly what info you are looking for. But there is a very specific slant to the text and some dedicated chapters for guiding professional aquarists in the business of the trade (seeking jobbers, protocol for shipping and receiving to an from customers and suppliers, getting set up as a legal entity)> I'm presently a paralegal at the district court level and due to state budget cuts, my position of 18 years may be eliminated, so I'm contemplating my next "living" if you will. <and what a pleasure and privilege it would be to earn a living in our hobby> I know where my passion lies--in propagation and the reef industry, not suits and lawyers--but it must be somewhat profitable. <it is possible to earn a good living in our industry with due diligence and preparation (be sure to make a business plan)> Sorry to blather on here.  Your response on the wholesale contact, etc., and contents of your propagation book would be most appreciated. BTW, I can't believe the amount of time you and Fenner and others at WetWeb spend responding to countless e-mails!  You guys are so very kind to everyone; you are to be commended. Peggy <thanks kindly, my friend. It is our love/life's passion and work> P.S.  I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new "autographed" book authored by you and Fenner! <and soon you shall! Est. release date of mid June from the printer. Yaaaaay! Anthony>

Coral Propagation Lighting 2/27/04 Last week in Seattle I attended a lecture by Anthony Calfo on coral propagation/farming. Thanks Anthony, I found the discussion very interesting. I enjoyed your articulate and humorous delivery. It's obvious from listening to you that you have a real love for marine life and the reefs. <thanks kindly my friend... I truly had a fun time! :)> In your discussion about your experience of propagation in Pennsylvania you mentioned that you used a green house and natural lighting. <yes... natural lighting almost exclusively> I am preparing for starting a propagation program myself but had planned to use artificial lighting (T-5) . <yikes! Well... I think its great you can afford to establish a charity <G>> Do you feel that an artificially lit aquiculture facility would not be able to be profitable due to cost of lighting? <I am certain of it. Personal experience, the shared wisdom of others... and above all: the numbers/statistics. Calc your rates of growth at present and salability of corals against what it costs you to buy and operate lights... plus replace those fluorescent lamps every 6 months just to try to maintain growth. You can indeed grow corals under lamps... but very little profit to be made. If you need/want to make money... you need to harness natural sunlight, my friend. Anthony>

Fragments Hi Bob, I've added more light to my reef tank and will add some stony corals. Why are fragments so small ? It will take years to have an impressive display . So, I discovered how brittle they are . Very hard to transport without breaking. That must be the reason only small frags are offered.. My question : Instead of a plastic bag, how about a couple of inches of gravel or sand in the bottom of the styro , add water , "plant " the larger pieces upright and schlep them home. It's a 6 hr. drive from Hayward to L.A. Harry Wagner >> Agree with you Harry... and some help on the way... Seems to be simple economics... cheaper to produce and ship the smaller bits... and folks are willing to pay for them (!) as such... WSI and others are going to be making larger, less expensive cultured frags in good numbers available soon... Many folks getting into the field. Bob Fenner Coral propagation To Bob I have been involved with coral propagation and have many rare corals which are not readily available in the hobby. At the moment I am just selling to LFS and was hoping to expand to a bigger business scale. My question to you is, is it worth to go on the internet and try to expand my business?  <IMO, absolutely... on several fronts, angles... contact at your leisure with customers, exposure to vital, vibrant parts of the interest...> Can the hobby support me?  <Without a doubt, yes. Know of many other people it already does> And most importantly would it, or could it be profitable to a point where it would be worthwhile to attempt. My main concern is not making enough money to support the business. I was hoping to sell my rare corals because they rather difficult to attain. I was hoping to sell 500 hundred corals a month. I was also hoping to sell some respectable products, clams, and Caulerpa. I have 10 different kinds of xenia, many Zoanthids from Fiji, many leathers, tree corals and a ton of different kinds of SPS corals. In your professional opinion do you think I could reach my goals. Yours Truly, Ryan Alexaki Coral Creations <Yes... when you are ready to expand to the clams, more standard stock (Acroporids) please make this known, and I will introduce you to a friend who can/will be able to help supply you. Bob Fenner>

Trading Coral Cuttings Hello Bob, I really enjoy the site. Tons of info. I'm not sure if this is the proper forum but I'll ask anyway. Do you know of any sites/organizations that enable hobbyists to trade coral cuttings? I am aware that Garf.org sells their propagated plugs. That doesn't cut it (No pun intended.) Any information on this subject would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance. Patrick Hynes <An excellent idea... to have a forum for such exchanging... Do know that individual marine clubs do often have trading sessions at their meetings, and lists of who has what for exchange in their bulletins... I would ask the same question on the listservs... and their URL/sites can be found on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links Pages... perhaps indirectly. Bob Fenner><<Update: Now there's frag exchange, aquabid... and many more .coms. RMF>>

Frags! Hi Bob, You mention starting out maybe with other hobbyists for frags for trade ins or maybe sell on SPS. My question is how or what source can I find out to meet this people, is there a website if anyone lives around my proximity lets say (San Jose, CA)?  <Very good question... I would try the listservs (like "topica", "reefs.org" (Links through other links posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links pages...), the hobby club "Sea-Bay" (link there too... and a big conference coming up in Monterey with lots of frags for sale there... next week if you can make it... Link... you know where> <<To which Zo responds: This sounds like a very good Idea since I can't seem to find a good LFS around my area. The corals they sell is either half dead or nearly dying and cost ridiculously high. I believe that in order to be successful is get the highest quality and best condition as you can, cause it's not worth losing money if it is ready to kick the bucket anyway or even infect the rest of your livestock! Thanks you very much for your wonderful website. RL <And soon... I believe many folks will be setting up... "clearing houses" for trading frags amongst all... I can see this happening. Bob Fenner> <<Bob F sent to Mike.K and Zo re: As in "how hard would/will it be" for us to have such a feature on WWM? Something folks from the outside can post their offerings, images about... for sale/trade with others?.... is this impossible, improbable, impractical... a bad idea? Bob F, troublemaker>> It's a very, very interesting, but complicated idea. Technically, we could do it fairly easily within the framework of WWM2. It's also perhaps possible to setup a CGI-based 'message-board' within WWM1. We'd want to be fairly careful if we setup a 'blessed' trading 'area' of some sort. Legalese here is prevalent on other, similar sites, and apparently rather important. Fact is we'll need at least a little legalese for several of the services we'll be offering in WWM2, already.  Good legalese about usage of all those images, (not the full-resolution, purchased/licensed images, but all the browsable thumbnails), we'll need verbiage about privacy, and indemnification regarding data-loss and/or ownership of posted text, in bulletin boards, other posted comment areas, photos posted to any 'for sale' or 'my aquarium' pages... things like that. Anyway, a simple bulletin board is probably quite safe, and I believe some can accept pictures posted by members, for the sake of your 'trading' site. I haven't really investigated building a bulletin/message board for WWM1 - but it's possible. I'd like to build an LFS registry too. Maybe with a user-contributed rating system, or something... that'd be neat - no thoughts on any ramifications, though, industry-wise. Just occurred to me. The user-reviews are the one good thing Bezos has done, IMHO. -Lorenzo>>

A question for Anthony please I hope no one minds my asking a specific question for Anthony alone. I could use other feedback but I hope if Anthony would answer this. <my pleasure> On the message boards my name is Jane Doe you might have seen some of my posts.  <yes... thank you<G>> If not am working on setting up a very small scale frag setup in my garage. I have two 20 gallon cubes and a 20 gallon long tank. Yes very small.  <no worries at all on the size... benefits indeed to the controlled space> I have been keeping reef tanks for years now and have fragged for trade many times. Your book has changed my whole outlook on raising coral for trade or sale. <outstanding! Indeed one of my hopes for the hobby. Organization and efficiency> I know my setup is no where near the size for any profit.  <on the contrary... you can indeed make profit in it... just not a full time living :) Some coral like African blue Cespitularia and rare colored Ricordea could generate a couple of hundred dollars monthly in these small tanks> I don't mind that at all. I want to learn how to work on a very small scale first. Paying out of pocket right now is ok by me because it is so much fun. My question is if you might look over my plans and tell me if you think what I have in mind would work. I have everything I think I would need for setup. <it would be my pleasure!> I hope it was alright to email you here.  <very fine... I check this e-mail daily :)> I was going to email you at ReadingTrees.com but thought that maybe people on this site might like to know what I am doing. <exactly... and thank you for your willingness to share. Such a beautiful attitude will come back to you in kind from others!> Thank you Jane Doe: Lacy <best regards and looking forward to it. Anthony>

Coral Prop Anthony, where in PA are you located?  <Pittsburgh, my friend> I heard you've propagated corals outside, and I'm interested in how you did it.  <50 foot greenhouse> I haven't read your book yet, but I'm planning on getting it in the next week or so. <thank you kindly! That buys me another beer :)> The reason I ask is a friend and I are starting a prop business. We're trying to spend as little as possible, so we'll be able to have low prices.  <those two things are not mutually inclusive. High volume and low mortality will afford low prices and a lower affordable operating margin> Our prices are going to be at least half that of the LFS (where we just happen to be employees).  <better yes... grow them and sell them to your local stores! More volume and less headaches than selling direct for which you are not set up for. This is the best of both worlds... won't require a lot of money to start-up and you'll have established higher volume resellers of live coral> We kind of have limited funds, since we're both still in high school. <do save as long as necessary to do it right... and do consider joining a local aquarium society if possible. PMASI in Pittsburgh, PARC in Philly, etc Anthony>

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