For people that are new to this hobby, it is sometimes hard to grasp just how expensive certain corals can be. In this article I will be discussing the most expensive corals (well, corallimorpharians and zoanthids, to be technical) and the reasoning behind the price. Most of the time, the price is due to high demand and low stock. It could either be because not many individuals of the species have been brought into captivity or because of highly unusual or attractive coloration/pattern.
If you plan on purchasing any of these high-end expensive corals, make sure you are not placing them in a newly established aquarium. None of these are for beginners and usually are only recommended for experienced hobbyists due to the high cost and risk you are taking with purchasing them. Most of the time, you will only be able to purchase these specific corals online, so consider the stress of shipping, and remember to acclimate them properly. When purchasing any coral it is important to research proper acclimating methods for that specific coral. It is sometimes a great idea to dip new corals to prevent any pests from entering your aquarium. It doesn’t matter how much you may trust the person you are receiving the coral from; accidents happen and even the cleanest aquariums could have one pest that wasn’t spotted!
When purchasing such high-end expensive corals, you want to make sure you cover all areas when it comes to making it comfortable in its new tank. It is never a bad idea to ask the seller what their parameters are in their tank including salinity and even PAR levels. Ask how much lighting the coral was receiving, where it was placed, was it in high or low flow… These are all reasonable questions that any seller should be happy to answer for you to ensure the health of their corals. Even asking what types of lights they run can make a big difference in transitioning. If they were running a mixture of T5’s and LEDs and you just have LEDs, it may be an adjustment for the coral and it may not be completely happy the first few days. Even the smallest of changes can affect these sensitive corals!
Purple monster jawbreaker
This first example happens to be the world’s first when it comes to price. The purple monster jawbreaker mushroom coral can sell at a whopping $10,000. As shocking as that may sound, once you see just how beautiful this mushroom is, the price starts to make a little more sense. However, this mushroom will not always be $10,000. Since this jawbreaker morph is the first, that makes the first one sold the most expensive one. Once more people get a hold of this mushroom and successfully have it reproduce, the price will slowly come down. Pricing on coral fluctuates nonstop; it may not ever be a $50 mushroom, but as more people begin to have it which makes it more readily available, the price will come down.
These mushrooms are mainly red, with green, yellow, and purple streaks all across it. No two will ever look the same, which is what is unique about the patterns of these mushrooms. So even if that first one is successfully propagated, the offspring will not look exactly the same as the parent. It will have the same basic coloration, but the pattern and placement of the colors will be different.
This next example is a mushroom as well, and is still one of the most prized mushrooms that a hobbyist can obtain. A well-known and rather expensive coral, the WWC bounce mushroom was one of the first of its kind and in 2015 one single mushroom sold for $6,000 at Reefapalooza. This bounce mushroom has bright yellow and orange bubbles across the top of it with a blue and purple body and skirt. Many people will call this the “OG bounce” due to it being the first of its kind. Even today, these mushrooms are sold at $400-$800 a piece depending on the size and the amount of bubbles.
There are now many types of bounce mushrooms and they are considered the most expensive and sought after mushrooms in the industry alongside the jawbreaker mushroom. Luckily, mushrooms are fairly easy to care for. Sometimes it takes them a long time to reproduce; however, once they do, it seems like they really take off and start popping out progeny. Some people have their bounce mushrooms for years, and they just continue to grow larger and larger without ever reproducing or splitting. This may also contribute to the high cost of these mushrooms (however, there are ways around this and people have found methods that help their mushrooms split off much faster).
Grand master krak
The next coral sold for $2,000 for a single polyp. The grandmaster Krak zoanthid is by far one of the most expensive corals for its size. A single polyp can max out at the size of a dime–and usually, you will not be purchasing them at this size. The grandmaster Krak has gold and green striped skirts with a red and purple/blue speckled mouth. It is hard to rationalize such a small coral for that size, but as someone who has gotten the pleasure to see one of these in person, the price makes sense. They stick out like a sore thumb in your aquarium as they are so radiant and glow from across the room. The unfortunate thing with these zoas is their sensitivity.
While most zoanthids are fairly hardy and forgiving, the GMK is not. This zoanthid offers stunning coloration but can be difficult to keep alive in the aquarium. It requires pristine water conditions with no swings of any sort. Many people have told horror stories about purchasing these zoas and having them just slowly melt and die in their aquarium. The sad truth is, this is just part of the hobby; you will buy some corals, you will lose some corals!