Reef nutrition

Starting a business

Eric Johnson

Supporting Member
Due to being fed up with corporate jobs and wanting to do something I enjoy, I am contemplating starting a coral/anemone propogation business and potentially clownfish breeding as well.

Anyway, I am wondering if anyone who currently does this or has tried it in the past has any advice or would be interested in a partnership/joint venture? I'm thinking about starting small initially in my display tank and/or garage.
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
yeah coral/anemone propagation is done all over the place, you're looking to a hard life if you're doing this as your main source of income though. It takes time to propagate corals, unless you have a lot of high end stuff already it's going to take significant income to get started but it still won't make stuff grow to a sellable size faster, not to mention the electricity rates in the area may make any large scale operations here unfeasible.

as for advice... learn how to take pictures under nothing but blue LEDs and make them look super fancy, that seems to be a big key in getting huge money out of corals/anemones :)
 

rygh

Webmaster
Staff member
It is funny, but the one thing that might actually make money - a coral marketplace site.
Ebay and Craigslist are terrible for buying/selling corals.
Instead, have a coral optimized site.
Feedback on both vendors and buyers.
Specific policies and arbitration on refunds, that make sense for corals.
Maybe specified drop off points for exchange.
 

Eric Johnson

Supporting Member
yeah coral/anemone propagation is done all over the place, you're looking to a hard life if you're doing this as your main source of income though. It takes time to propagate corals, unless you have a lot of high end stuff already it's going to take significant income to get started but it still won't make stuff grow to a sellable size faster, not to mention the electricity rates in the area may make any large scale operations here unfeasible.

as for advice... learn how to take pictures under nothing but blue LEDs and make them look super fancy, that seems to be a big key in getting huge money out of corals/anemones :)
Fortunately my wife is encouraging me to do something else and we won't go broke not having a second income.

I have similar doubts about the profitability as well. The electricity cost here is definitely an issue (not to mention the "planned safety power outages"). I do have an overproduction of electricity from my solar array, but I'm not sure how much since it hasn't been a year and that won't help after expansion to another location.

That's a great tip about the photography. I noticed a lot of the coral being sold looks a lot better in the pictures. I'll have to learn how to do that better.
 

Coral reefer

BOD
Staff member
It’s not as easy ir profitable as I’d like to think it is. Supporting your hobby or as a side hustle, sure, but maybe not a “living”. Be prepared to be online a lot, and shipping all over the place. Good luck!
Where do you live?
 

Eric Johnson

Supporting Member
It is funny, but the one thing that might actually make money - a coral marketplace site.
Ebay and Craigslist are terrible for buying/selling corals.
Instead, have a coral optimized site.
Feedback on both vendors and buyers.
Specific policies and arbitration on refunds, that make sense for corals.
Maybe specified drop off points for exchange.
That's a great idea. eBay and Craigslist aren't the best for coral.
 

tankguy

Supporting Member
Id have to jump in and pretty much echo what your already hearing. I sell corals on the hella cheap side just to help out with salt , additives etc. If I tried it as an income Id rely on Id be finished very quickly. I wish you luck on your adventure
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
It’s not as easy ir profitable as I’d like to think it is. Supporting your hobby or as a side hustle, sure, but maybe not a “living”. Be prepared to be online a lot, and shipping all over the place. Good luck!
Where do you live?
Yeah pretty much this, there's only so much you can do in a local market, you need to be willing to ship all over the place and then have the infrastructure to deal with that which means knowing shipping rates, temperatures at destinations, pain in the butt.

Personally I'd do the whole fragging business just as a way of fun though just to see if I could make stuff grow... but I kind of do that with my tank already :D
 

JVU

BOD
Staff member
Have you been going to the Coral Farmer’s Markets that happen twice a year? There are a lot of people there who do what it sounds like you are interested in, so you could talk to them. The next one is in Feb.

FYI if you want to sell locally on this site, the first step is to become a supporting member.
 

Eric Johnson

Supporting Member
Have you been going to the Coral Farmer’s Markets that happen twice a year? There are a lot of people there who do what it sounds like you are interested in, so you could talk to them. The next one is in Feb.

FYI if you want to sell locally on this site, the first step is to become a supporting member.
I haven't gone to them in the past but will definitely go this time around. The eventual goal is do to something on the scale of a WWC type company.
 
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sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
So you said you have a reef tank, but have you set up a frag grow tank yet? I mean something as simple as a Petco 20G breeder tank would be a good place to start. Get a light that goes over it, a pump that is inside, and heck plumb it to your existing setup or keep it as a separate system, toss in some egg crate, make as many frags as possible from existing stock and see about growing them out. Could be a relatively inexpensive way to see if you have what it takes to grow out corals for a living. And what I mean by that is the patience to wait for them to actually grow, the ability to keep your water parameters at acceptable levels, and do this before you get all your expensive brood stock where if you have a tank crash or something you lose a ton of investment.

That said saying "WWC type company" is a pretty lofty goal, most people start out just the way I mentioned. I don't know what your finances are for something like this, but it is not a cheap thing just to start up.
 

Eric Johnson

Supporting Member
So you said you have a reef tank, but have you set up a frag grow tank yet? I mean something as simple as a Petco 20G breeder tank would be a good place to start. Get a light that goes over it, a pump that is inside, and heck plumb it to your existing setup or keep it as a separate system, toss in some egg crate, make as many frags as possible from existing stock and see about growing them out. Could be a relatively inexpensive way to see if you have what it takes to grow out corals for a living. And what I mean by that is the patience to wait for them to actually grow, the ability to keep your water parameters at acceptable levels, and do this before you get all your expensive brood stock where if you have a tank crash or something you lose a ton of investment.

That said saying "WWC type company" is a pretty lofty goal, most people start out just the way I mentioned. I don't know what your finances are for something like this, but it is not a cheap thing just to start up.
I do not currently have a dedicated frag tank set up. I have some frags across the front of the display tank (RS XXL 750) on egg crate.

In my garage I have an empty 54 corner and a 55 gallon. The corner was my original tank and the 55 was used for holding during the upgrade. The empty 55 is plumbed to a sump, also in the garage, and I have some extra pumps, but the only extra lighting I currently have is 4x 24" T5 retrofit with reflectors. My display is a LED/T5 hybrid: 4x 60" T5, AP700, A360WE x2

I was thinking of using one of those hydroponic trays with a stand plumbed to a sump. I don't have any practical way of plumbing this to the display though. Basically I can do whatever with the garage.
 
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yellojello

Supporting Member
Seems like most of the guys who "seem" to be making good money are ones who get new corals either from importers or some other source for new corals. Then they slap a fancy name on it, and sell it at a high price. $300 to $1000 per frag. Most of them ship around the country. By the time most of us end users grow out our frags to try to recover some costs to sell, they already have new colonies ready to chop up and make your whole collection worth a lot less. For the less rare stuff, I would assume $100-$200 frag packs to entice newer reefers in areas that don't have access to a good LFS. Overall it seems pretty tough unless you got the hookups in the industry.
 

NanoCrazed

Supporting Member
From personal experience... the market and hobby has gotten super competitive and flooded. Still buyers but the only way to make the economics work out to be a full time operation is to do one of three things: 1) focus on only high end already sought-after pieces and invest enough time and money to create a sustainable brood stock, 2) set up shop and do it in volume online like POTO, AquaSD, etc., or 3) get your CITES, etc and import, and cherry pick promising pieces to cook.

There are risks in all of these in that you have to be willing to lose $$ in the form of unforeseen mishaps and just nature. And you'll definitely need more than 1 tank to make it more than supplemental offset to incidental hobby costs.
 

Flagg37

Supporting Member
Maybe think a little in reverse. How much do you want to make? I know you said you don’t NEED the income but no one wants to do this for free long term. Say you want to make $1000/month and we’ll just guesstimate $250/month for overhead (that’s likely really low if it’s a legitimate business). So that $1250/month would be 25 corals/month if you sold them for $50 each. Of course the price of the coral would depend on the coral. Pumping out 25 corals every month and actually finding buyers for all of them is going to be hard (purely my opinion).

Honestly, I think you’d have better luck with a MLM.
 
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