So what demographic is collecting the high end stuff for the most part. I've noticed that the high end collector is predominately high school age to about mid-30's with regular household incomes. Maybe making up to $150k per year and depending where you live $150k per year we're just getting by. It's a very addicting hobby and I found myself wanting to figure out a way to help offset some of the costs of the hobby, so I started looking at the more expensive stuff. I figured if I could grow out the nice "Rare" corals that I could frag and sell them to pay for some of the $300+ monthly addiction I have. I have recently decided that it's really not worth the time because of several factors. One of which is the decline in prices of the high end corals.
I found it fairly fascinating because in dealing with some of the trades and purchases I've noticed a steep decline in the demand for purchasing these corals due to current economic circumstances. Rising unemployment and people's incomes reducing, as well as, cost of living increases has impacted the market. As well as, forums and articles by some of our reefer colleagues that many of these pricey corals really aren't as rare as we're told. For example, the introduction of the Purple and Red Hornets. Several years ago when first introduced the Purple Hornet sold for over $300 pp and it went crazy. Two years ago you couldn't find them cheaper than $100 pp and now many can't sell them for $35-$50 pp. It's the basic fundamentals of economics, which is supply and demand. The demand for expensive corals has decreased for the most part and and the supply has increased. Prices are dropping because there are also less people getting into the hobby and a lot of people getting out due to current economic circumstances. There will always be the hobbyists who just love the namebrand stuff and are willing to pay for them, but again like anything else they're only worth what you could get for them.
Is this a bad thing for the hobby? There are two different view points.
First, there's the reefers who spent a lot of money on their corals and wanted to use their "High end" rare corals to trade or grow out and sell. Unfortunately, like many other businesses and investments there is a shorter and shorter list of demand, thus decreasing the value or the amount they're able to sell them for. In addition, some corals are being found, which are similar in looks and colors being imported from distributors overseas, thus increasing the supply. Lineage is important and does demand higher premium due to being aquacultured and adapted to captive life, but I think we're going to notice that the gap in prices between wild and aquacultured frags are going to continue to diminish.
Second, there's the reefers who just enjoy the hobby and realize that it's not really a profitable venture. They enjoy their tanks and watching them thrive and grow. Their systems are the centerpiece of art work in their homes and they just love having a piece of the ocean in their living room.
I started out enjoying the hobby's beauty and the challenges it gave me. Then I started to look into and try the high end coral collecting and between dealing with fragging, shipping, and finding the time to do it became overwhelming. I found myself worrying about my nice corals dying or not growing fast enough and stressing about them melting or RTNing after fragging and dipping. I also spent a lot of time with guys who tried to make money off of their corals. Virtually all of them have since gotten out of the hobby due to the stress and losing the passion for the hobby itself. Between my wife, two boys, and working full time it's just not worth it for me to try and offset the costs through propagating, fragging, and selling the corals. I've decided to go back to just enjoying the hobby again. I may buy some "Rare" corals, but I'm just waiting as I'm waiting till home prices decline to buy another home:) Obviously, this is just my own personal experiences and I'm sure that there are people making a lot of money out the of the hobby, but I doubt it's the regular hobbyist.
Anyone else have any thoughts or experiences?