Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bay Area Coral Farmer's Market Part 1!

Hello everyone. For today's topic, I like to talk about a cool phenomenon that Steve Tyree and his business partner Art Petit has created in the US. It has been going on for a few years and it is the neatest event in the reef hobby. It is called "Coral Farmer's Market". Basically it is like a baseball card show. Vendors are invited to showcase their goods and sell to the hobbyists. Other cool things include raffles and auctions. I was lucky enough to attend one of these shows in my home town area before I left the US. Actually the show was on the 11th of May, and I flew out that night. These "shows" are catching on and Steve and Art are organizing them throughout the US. For more information on location and dates, you can go check out Steve's reeffarmer's website under my favorites.

And here he is, the famous "sps guru" Steve Tyree. The other famous guy next to him is me:). Check out my left eye, I got beat up fighting off 10 guys that wanted my corals - just kidding! I think a bug bit me and it still haven't fully healed. I actually look pretty funny!

One cool thing for me was that I was able to meet some of my old customers from the old Tropical Paradise days. This is Roy, one of my true faithful customers. He used to buy corals from me just because I said they were nice or rare. I remember selling him an acanthastrea lord colony for $150.00. He didn't know what it was at the time, but I told him it was rare and very nice and he should have one for his collection. Then soon after, acans were selling for $100 a head! He was one of two local customers that I sold to. I had received 16 pieces, accidentally came in as blastomussas. But nobody knew what it was at the time, only me! I ended up selling them off to out of state and far away customers. They in turn sold them to vendors that started the $100 a head craze! After that I was getting flooded with calls for the acans, but was unable to get more. What was funny was that my customers that had passed it up earlier, came looking for it. But hey, by that time, all of them had been sold off. You snooze, you loose! It was only when they saw it on the internet for high pricing, that they wanted it.

Here is another story. Once I got a batch of turquoise tear dropped maximas from Solomon Islands. These are or were, considered second grade clams at the time. The metallic blue and turquoise maximas from Pohnpei Islands were considered ultra/first grade. The tear drops were killer nice though and I was selling them for $85. I couldn't get none of my customers to bite. Even my clam customers thought they were over priced for that quality. Then rumors hit that those same clams were selling for $200 in LA! It was only then that these same customers wanted it bad. But being the smart retailer I was, I raised it to $150. Not a single problem. Some of my clams ended up being sold on the internet for double that price. But of course, a 6 inch turquoise tear drop would sell well over $400 now, if you could find one. They are hard to get now and only a few specimens are coming in.

I guess it is true, if it is expensive then customers think it is better or rare. Kind of sad, some people are in the hobby for bragging rights. Others like Roy are in it for the passion. Even at $150 for the acanthastrea colony, it was a bargain and Roy believed me! Now it is one of his coveted pieces. It has a story to tell. He is on the hunt now for all of my sps pieces that was in my display tank. I look forward in getting some of my "eddie's elite edition" corals into his tank. Roy can relate to more on my coral adventures here in Indonesia. Why? Because he is Indonesian! One day he will come to visit, and join me in my coral adventures!

One of the local vendors. He is actutally a hobbyist. That is one of the coolest things about the show. If you have some neat stuff, you can always rent a table and tank/light from Steve and Art and showcase your goods. You don't need to have a store and Steve and Art are very flexible to work with you.

An online vendor displaying his frags. I like the name "wetthumbfrags"!

Another vendor selling his goods. All of the tanks use simple hang on the back filters to keep the water moving. Note the plastic cups that is used to "bag" the coral fragments.

I learned afterwards, that this gentleman is Greg Carroll. Greg has some corals named after him in the hobby and he had some nice acro pieces for sale.

This table is where the auctions and raffles are announced. Note the banner in the background.

This vendor is not from ORA, but promoting their and his products. He has two metal halide hoods for his display. I think he must be a regular at these shows. I know some of the vendors drove all the way up from Southern California for this event. Steve has planned a show in Southern Cal sometime later in this year. I hear it is huge with hundreds of people attending. I wish I could be around:(

Not all the vendors were livestock. I remember me and the old reef club "BARE" sponsored Randy Reed from Reed's Mariculture to do a talk about his products at my shop. Basically his company mainly dealt with producing foods for oysters. He was shipping mass amounts of his food to oyster farms all over the world. The food was so good that, sometimes, the flesh would outgrow the shells! At the time, Randy was trying to get into the aquarium market. I used his foods extensively on our corals and we had huge successes. He was nice enough to leave me batches of food for free!

And now, "Reef Nutrition", as it is marketed has many different products. From foods for sps to larger lps's, Reef Nutrition has an array of products to choose from. All I got to say is that if it is from Randy Reed, it must be good! For more information, go check out their website.

Ok this is Steve's booth. Of course Steve is on the left and me in the middle. The guy on the right is Gresham. Gresham used to work for a marine wholesaler called Cortez Marine back in the days. Steve Robinson was the owner and Gresham was the main sales/warehouse guy. Now he is the frontman for "Reef Nutrition". Note the banner in the background.

Here is a close up of the banner. The coral on the left hand corner of course is my true undata. Good to see that Steve is using it for his banner!

This is John from "yourreef.com". The lady on the left is Pam. She works for John and she is as knowledgeable as you're going to get as a reefer. She was one of my good customers before, back in the TP days. John and Pam was at the MARS coral auction in Sacramento back about a month ago too.

Another vendor, I believe they are from Southern Cal. The guy remembered me from my old TP days. Kind of cool to hear!

Check out this fairly new magazine. It is called "Reef Hobbyist". Besides the great pictures and interesting articles, this magazine is totally free! Also what makes it special is that it was started by my old guys from my Tonga distribution network. There are three guys involved in this, Harry, Dave and Jim. Harry and Dave used to run a company called "Rare Aquatics" in LA that distributed my Tonga products. Jim worked as my manager in Tonga sending products at the same time. After Jim left, without my influence, Tonga operation fell apart. Dave and Harry gave up the business and teamed up with Jim to bring this magazine to the hobbyists. Dave is the same Dave, that went with me to see ShuTin to trade his blue tort. For more info on the magazine, go check out their website.

One great thing about these kind of events is that you get to meet new reefers and old ones that you've forgotten about. I ran into a bunch of my old customers.

One vendor checking out the goods from another. The whole event was held in a room at a hotel. Perhaps one day these events can get big enough to be held in a conference hall!

Here are some of the products that was showcased.

Check out the cool branching sponge frags from Australia at the top! The second row are frags of cyphastreas, followed by monti frags on the bottom.

These are Australian Acanthastrea lordhowensis frags. It seemed like Australian acans dominated the show. It looks like montipora frags on the right. The two small pieces in the middle look like Superman montis!

Some of the real rare pieces can be very tiny. These are pieces of blue
Acropora echinata.

Again a few of Australian acans. The single hairy polyp coral is a Duncanopsammia axifuga, duncans for short. These are endemic to Australia and are in less demand than before. Too many are hitting the market and price is dropping. Other frags include an acropora and a favia.

Some unidentified acropora frags mounted on cute tiny disks!

Here is a picture of that Australian sponge again, growing like a gorgonian. A very nice addition to any reef tank, if we can keep it alive!

Here is a colony of that duncan coral. It looks like a turbinaria with extra large polyps. This colony is brown in color, but will turn nice green under some good lights.

This coral caught my eye! This unidentified mussa coral look like the ones that I've been sending out from Indo, very nice!

All sorts of frags are available, from the very beginning to the advanced reefers.

Some fresh cuttings of acropora. These were in Greg Carroll's tank, so must be special!

A small candy striped Aussi acan frag. Check out the green one on the top right corner. Green, but still nice.

Some more Aussi acans.

The interesting frags in this picture are not the red montastrea pieces, but the three orange Pavona maldivensis pieces on the left. This unique pavona species is found only in the South Pacific and is an extremely nice coral. One of my missions when I went to Tonga was to find more of this highly sought after piece. Before I went, I would be lucky to see one or two pieces in a whole year. After two months of training, my divers in Tonga could get 6 to 10 pieces consistently on an outing! There is a green morph that is more rare than the orange, but the orange still looks better. It will turn into a dark copper color that shines beautifully.

Some small unidentified acro frags that have completely covered the base. These little guys can acclimate anywhere, since they have been growing in a tank for so long.

Some zoanthid frags for the beginner. Note the blue plugs that they are mounted on. I believe these are the same ones that ORA uses.

Some more easy to keep frags, montiporas.

A small piece of the Aussi duncan. Note the green color. The polyps extend out very far and are easy to feed.

One of my favorites, orange Montipora capricornis frags. One of the easiest sps corals to start with. I always recommend it to beginning sps keepers.

It was nice to see a couple of my Acan maxima pieces!

A chart that had a list of corals and products for the raffle. There was a drawing every hour.

There was also an auction for some of the rarer stuff.


The whole reef hobby is always evolving. From new state of the art products to events like this is what makes the hobby more fun and attractive. There are trade shows already, but a show just for hobbyists is something still new. Steve Tyree is a pioneer in farming corals. Now him and his business partner Art has taken that idea to a new level and is bringing it to our neighborhoods. With their concept of these coral farmer's markets, they are promoting the importance of sustaining the reef hobby through farming. I can picture these kind of shows being really huge in the future.

Tomorrow I will post pictures of corals that was raffled and auctioned off at this event.



Unknown said...

nice summary, and nice pics :)

Gennie said...

Thanks for sharing this descriptive article about coral,
coral frags

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