Feb162009
Comparison Shopping Series: Corals
Written by Ava
It’s been a few weeks since our successful Comparison Shopping tool first hit The Reef Tank and about three weeks since I started a column in hindsight, to make our TRT community aware of the importance of research before buying anything you’re your tank.  Protein Skimmers, Water Pumps, and Heaters have already been compared in the series. 

This week’s commentary focuses on Corals—our first “dip” (excuse the pun) into the foray of marine life and livestock as part of the series.  With only 21 corals to compare and only two sets of corals: Mushrooms & Polyps and Soft Corals, this may be our smallest section of the tool to date but we’re hoping to expand quite frequently as more and more online stores become a part of the Comparison Shopping tool.  
Let’s get started.  

It’s difficult to compare prices here because every coral is just a little bit different from the rest.  I’ve come to the conclusion that one must really know what coral they’re looking for before they check out prices.  Therefore, I will feature two separate corals from the Mushroom & Polyps section and two from Soft Corals.
Hopefully soon every coral in the Mushroom & Polyps section will feature a review because they’re all so different! That will mean you can read up on the product’s features alongside a compare and contrast of the price.  The Reef Tank is hard at work creating a method to compare features in the same way they compare prices, but until that happens, we must stick with what we know.

First, I took a look at the Bullseye Mushroom which had a significant price increase from $23 to $98.  I didn’t understand why one was so much cheaper than the other, but I soon realized that the corals that were more rare were more expensive.  Surprisingly here (and this was a trend I noticed this with other mushrooms and polyps in the corals section,) the more expensive corals were ones being auctioned off on eBay for a higher price. In this case, the Live Coral RARE RED Bullseye Mushroom Colony Reef Nano from eBay was a whopping $98.  In the case of corals, perhaps eBay is not the best place to look—unless you truly want that rare find that no one else has. I also noticed that Pets Warehouse frequently had the cheaper finds. I noticed that in the case of the Bullseye Mushroom and in the case of the Button Polyps, where Pets Warehouse featured the second cheapest price, only $15. (Ironically, eBay featured the cheapest price on the page at only $1.99.)

The most expensive Button Polyp was from Petsolutions at $60.  That’s quite a range, $2-$60 or even $15-$60. By the cheapest and you’ll save $45!

In the Soft Corals section, PetSolutions and Pets Warehouse were the dominant stores with both the cheapest and the most expensive soft corals.  Price ranges weren’t huge—usually in the $20 to $60 range.  This was the case for most of the corals.  For example, the Red Carnation Coral featured the cheapest coral at about $27 while the most expensive $50.  

The Colt Coral, however, differed from the rest featuring corals from eBay and a large range moving from $9.95 to $69.99.
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