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Old 02/02/2010, 09:39 PM   #1
drew1
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does anyone try to rescue corals

So does anyone here try to rescue corals from LFS that have no clue what they're doing? The reason I'm asking is that we set up a frag tank, both to frag corals from our reef tanks and to try to rescue dying corals from a LFS that seems to lose more than they can keep alive. The bad part is that they seem less than willing try to save these corals. I'm not willing to pay full price for a coral that is 90% dead, but they are not very willing to let the almost dead corals go for less than full price. So far we have rescued two (a torch - 2 of 6 heads remain and a trumpet - several bleached heads which now have color again) and they are doing well, but it is really an effort to get the store to deal with me, even though they acknowledge that the corals are going to die. It is just so frustrating! I'm not trying to profit, just save some lives. I was wondering if anyone else tries to do the same thing.
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Old 02/02/2010, 10:15 PM   #2
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So you are encouraging the LFS store to continue to stock corals that they have no business in ordering...


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Old 02/02/2010, 10:27 PM   #3
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Nope. I've watched the store for long enough and have come to the realization that they are going to continue ordering and killing corals. I am trying to save what life they are trying to kill. Trust me, they are not profiting from what I am paying for these coral remnants.


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Old 02/02/2010, 10:30 PM   #4
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I don't think that is what he is trying to say or setting to do. If the store is selling the corals off below cost there is no benefit to them and regardless if the coral dies in there tank they are still going to buy more and repeat the cycle. I would say if you can get the coral cheap enough why not take it and try to save it at least it has a better chance of survival with someone who legitimately wants to keep it alive.


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Old 02/08/2010, 12:23 PM   #5
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Remind the store employees that if the coral dies, their loss is 100%, if you buy the coral for a discount, even though it may be below cost, the loss will not be 100%.


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Old 02/08/2010, 12:29 PM   #6
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Its a double edged sword. If I see a coral that looks interesting and I feel confident enough I may give it a try. Most of the LFS I deal with would rather see it die than give you a discounted price just because its dying, so usually I just let it go. Most of my LFS's are reputable and do their best but sometimes its a piece that may have come in stressed or diseased. Some corals I stay away from cause at this time they really dont belong in the hobby.

You say you're going to try rescue in a tank with established corals? I wouldnt. You have no idea what might be afflicting the coral and it would be a tragedy if it was something transmittable that could wipe out the rest of your livestock. I would definately err on the side of caution and always use a QT for this purpose.

If the conditions the LFS are keeping the corals in are poor and show a lack of any real regard then I walk back out the door and rarely return.


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Old 02/10/2010, 08:10 AM   #7
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It is a shame, but usually they would prefer to see the coral die then discount it. I've debated the issue with them on numerous occasions and it comes back to inventory control (?). It's easier to track a completely dead coral than a coral sold as a frag? I don't get it. Anyway, I am selective in the corals I'm trying to rescue. Usually they are dieing due to bad lighting or poor handling. If they look diseased then I pass. And they are all standard fare corals - trumpets, torches, etc. Nothing exotic. When I do get a coral I dip it and it goes into a frag tank, not a display tank. Sure there is some risk to the frag tank but I try to minimize that while still giving the corals a chance. We'll see how it goes.


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Old 02/10/2010, 09:34 AM   #8
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Yes it makes absolutely no sense. If you could see the prices that LFS pay for corals and fish they could easily sell it for half or less than what you see as retail and still make money. I think the bigger issue is reputation, if it dies in their store then theres no fault, if it dies in your tank then its their fault. You or I would be happy to have tried and failed, but there are others that would use the situation and ultimately bash the store, or if it lives then its a hoorah for you but it gets posted like "hey look at this coral that I rescued from so an so's". Its a tough business for them, but sometimes I think the lines are drawn all crooked and their philosophy on some things just blows my mind.


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Old 02/10/2010, 10:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drew1 View Post
So does anyone here try to rescue corals from LFS that have no clue what they're doing? The reason I'm asking is that we set up a frag tank, both to frag corals from our reef tanks and to try to rescue dying corals from a LFS that seems to lose more than they can keep alive. The bad part is that they seem less than willing try to save these corals. I'm not willing to pay full price for a coral that is 90% dead, but they are not very willing to let the almost dead corals go for less than full price. So far we have rescued two (a torch - 2 of 6 heads remain and a trumpet - several bleached heads which now have color again) and they are doing well, but it is really an effort to get the store to deal with me, even though they acknowledge that the corals are going to die. It is just so frustrating! I'm not trying to profit, just save some lives. I was wondering if anyone else tries to do the same thing.
Drew

Your intentions might be good but if you don't want to pay full price for a coral that is 90% dead then don't buy it as the store can then bleach the coral dry and sell as an ornament.


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Old 02/10/2010, 03:31 PM   #10
drew1
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No, not these corals. At best they get sold as live rock rubble. I'm usually will to go 25% of their price, if I think the coral has a chance. Unfortunately by the time they are willing to talk its usually too late.


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Old 02/11/2010, 02:32 AM   #11
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So you are encouraging the LFS store to continue to stock corals that they have no business in ordering...
This is the same thing that fuels puppy mills and poorly kept pet stores. We can justify it however we want, but at the end of the day, unless you talked them into giving it to you free of charge, you just gave them a pat on the back to keep doing what theya re doing.


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Old 02/11/2010, 08:02 AM   #12
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Lordofthereef,
I appreciate the opinion, but you're wrong. If they relied on my business they'd be out of business. They are losing money on the corals I buy from them, maybe just not as quickly as if I didn't buy the few corals I do. The people that buy the corals when they first come in are the ones who keep these stores in business. Unfortunately their business model allows for some really good deals if you know what to look for (all corals are the same price - whether its a rock of GSP or an elegance). I come in after the corals been there for a while and are dying a slow death and try to save a life or two. Unfortunately not as many as I'd like. After all, its not the corals fault they are there so why let them die. And by the way, I have tried to talk this LFS out of the coral business (or improving their system to actually support the corals) but I just get the "Thanks, we know what we are doing" line.


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Old 02/14/2010, 10:19 PM   #13
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Drew-- I think your energy would be better spent at different LFS. Sooner or later they will close because you can't be successful when a majority of your product doesn't sell.


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Old 02/15/2010, 07:29 AM   #14
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I think you would be surprised how little they pay for the corals wholesale. There aren't many corals they would be losing money on if they sold for 25% of the normal retail price (though they wouldn't be making money either). When I was in retail, minimum markup for corals was 300% of wholesale except for show pieces and rarities and our prices were competitive with everyone else. Some pieces would still be competitively priced at 1200%. If I figured out the percentage markup on things like zoa and GSP frags, which are some of the biggest money-makers it would probably be even higher. Unless you're buying Australian Scolymia or high end chalices at a 75% discount I don't think they're hurting in the pocketbook from the deal as much as you might imagine.


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Old 02/15/2010, 12:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lordofthereef View Post
This is the same thing that fuels puppy mills and poorly kept pet stores. We can justify it however we want, but at the end of the day, unless you talked them into giving it to you free of charge, you just gave them a pat on the back to keep doing what theya re doing.
Agree

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Old 02/16/2010, 09:05 AM   #16
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drew,
i try to save coral from lfs few times.. the reason they dont wanna give u a better discounted price is cause they can simply write it off ... this came right from the owner at my lfs.. he get awesome pieces., but he has tons of parasites in tanks.. ive even said you should remove that stuff,.. you know what he told me,, thats for the customer to deal with and they can buy the stuff to remove it from me.. most of the lfs are scumbags and try and rip u off. the lfs here if he knows you like something he simply will shoot you a higher price if he knows you got money to spend.. he qouted same piece to my cousin for $100 less than what he told me.. now thats some shady stuff..he is getting ready to start selling on line.. and ill be sure that everyone know what a scum bag he is..


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Old 02/16/2010, 01:41 PM   #17
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I think you would be surprised how little they pay for the corals wholesale. There aren't many corals they would be losing money on if they sold for 25% of the normal retail price (though they wouldn't be making money either). When I was in retail, minimum markup for corals was 300% of wholesale except for show pieces and rarities and our prices were competitive with everyone else. Some pieces would still be competitively priced at 1200%. If I figured out the percentage markup on things like zoa and GSP frags, which are some of the biggest money-makers it would probably be even higher. Unless you're buying Australian Scolymia or high end chalices at a 75% discount I don't think they're hurting in the pocketbook from the deal as much as you might imagine.
Corals are marked up at a high margin because there are a multitude of costs associated with keeping/selling them. Electricity, water, rent, salaries, shipping, livestock losses, etc are all taken out of that gross profit. Until Unicef gets into the coral business I'd assume the markup will continue as most business owners strive to not go bankrupt.


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Old 02/17/2010, 06:57 AM   #18
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Our LFS has a bargain bin where they put dying corals and small bits of stuff that has been broken off of colonies. Some are as low as $5.00. It's the first place I go when I walk through the door. I think it's a great idea that more LFS should think about since it makes them money and helps out the customer while keeping coral alive that would otherwise be thrown in the trash or buried in the sand.


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Old 02/17/2010, 11:00 AM   #19
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Corals are marked up at a high margin because there are a multitude of costs associated with keeping/selling them.
Yes, I understand that and if you're doing everything right to keep the corals alive and healthy, as we were, there's still a decent margin to discount the corals from normal, competitive prices without losing money. Even running MH and T5, chillers, kalk reactors, and phosphate reactors on 15 coral tanks, paying for rent and A/C in a 3000 sq ft high-bay South Florida storefront, etc. we could cover costs and losses at a bit over 2x markup and we made reasonable profit at 3x, which was the minimum we sold most pieces for (show pieces, which we paid close to retail for ourselves, were the exception). A lot of corals like acans and chalices we could mark up as much as 12x, not because we had to do it to cover costs- we still broke even at 2x, but because that was the going retail price for them. The biggest money-makers though were zoas, Xenia, and GSP. We could make probably 30 $10 frags of GSP from one rock that cost us $15, so that comes out to about 20x markup and the break-even point for them is even lower than 2x since they don't require the heavy duty lighting and filtration used on the other tanks.

If you're not running strong lighting, haven't invested in chillers and reactors, and your shop isn't in such a high-rent area your operating costs are going to be lower, but the going retail price for the corals is the same. There's more room to discount without taking a loss.

When you're dealing with livestock, losses are expected though and they're built into the markup. Occasionally selling a coral at a loss isn't a big deal, especially if it would have been written off completely anyway if it died in the store instead. Ideally, if a store isn't taking care of their corals they would be taking a loss on most of the pieces and would go under. Unfortunately though, the people you meet here at RC aren't representative of hobbyists IME. As the saying goes, there's a sucker born every minute. About 90% of our customers relied completely on us for their information about the corals and if we were dishonest we could easily sell them our unhealthy or dying corals at full price and they would be none-the-wiser. The persistence of the trade in bleached sebaes, dying goniopora, and dyed corals proves that there's still a strong market for unhealthy animals at full-price.


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Old 02/17/2010, 02:58 PM   #20
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And this is where I came in with the original question. This particular LFS doesn't really have the knowledge base in it's staff or adequate facilities for keeping the corals alive for longer than a few weeks. And they are more than happy selling an unwary customer something that is unhealthy or that the customer doesn't have an appropriate setup for. So having already talked with several levels of management at the LFS and knowing that they aren't getting out of the coral business anytime soon, and knowing that they aren't losing money on the marine aquarium livestock as a whole (because of the markup), I decided that I could only make a difference one life at a time. And then only if the LFS was willing to deal, because unfortunately I don't have sufficient $$ to save every last dying coral. And that was why I was wondering if anyone else had a similar sentiment towards neglected corals.


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Old 02/17/2010, 11:08 PM   #21
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Not surprisingly, this doesn't only apply to Corals but fish as well. I've tried rescuing fish from the LFS. It is very true, most shops would rather throw it in a dark tank or feed it to the triggers than let someone save them.


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Old 02/24/2010, 07:25 PM   #22
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I saved two more corals this week, and think I may have found a gem. Sometimes doing a little good comes back around.


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Old 03/23/2010, 01:31 AM   #23
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I have been saving the badly shipped corals from a lfs near me for years and I have a deal with the owner. I get the corals just about free and he takes any frag or colony I want to bring him for like half of what he would sell it for but I have a full qt setup for this plus it has paid for a lot of my equipment which he also discounts heavily for me. I started doing it because so much is lost in the transport. BTW I'm talking mostly acros


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Old 04/01/2010, 12:06 AM   #24
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we have some stores in houston that would not even want to sell the almost dead ones because they say " some make it, some dont"


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Old 04/15/2010, 10:38 PM   #25
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It seems like a burden.. I would keep it as a frag tank not a rescue tank.. only my opinion.


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