While I'm not currently thinking of building a salt-water tank, I might do after a few years of experience.

I've seen a lot of YouTube videos and online tutorials that feature different coral setups in their tanks.

They sure look nice, but where does the coral that is in stores come from?

If they're coming from the ocean (The biggest aquarium of all :D) and already-depleted coral reefs, it would seem a bit unethical to me.

Is it possible that there are suppliers that farm coral? I don't know much about coral but it seems like it would take a long time.

2 Answers 2


The import of live rock is under the control of United States Vital Reef Task Force in the USA.

International Trade in Coral and Coral Reef Species

International Trade Sub-Group

Report to the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force

In assessing the U.S. role in international trade and protection of coral reef species as prescribed by the President’s Executive Order, the international trade subgroup presents the following information:

The United States currently is the number one consumer of live coral and marine fishes for the aquarium trade and of coral skeletons and precious corals for curios and jewelry. All U.S. states with coral reefs prohibit direct take of coral from their reefs, yet the U.S. is the primary market for coral and coral products. For example, in 1996 the U.S. imported over 80% of all the live coral in trade representing at least 350,000 pieces. That same year, the U.S. also imported over 90% of the live rock (reported as Scleractinia; base rock for marine aquaria consisting of living marine organisms attached to dead coral substrate) [see annex 1a]. Imports of dead coral have leveled off since 1993, however the imports of live coral and live rock has dramatically increased each year. The live trade targets different species, including many large-polyp corals that are rare and grow slowly. In addition to the direct loss of live coral, coral extraction is contributing to loss of important fisheries habitat.

Their long term aim is to assist countries in the sustainable trade in corals. But yes most live rock is taken from the ocean.



Some is collected, some is farmed. It would be good to a visit a large successful salt shop. It takes the same conditions to keep corals healthy as to grow them, so these shops often grow some corals. I think it is acropha coral that is most easy to grow.

Corals require a LOT of light. I suggest starting with easy fish (damsels, wrasse, gobies, etc.) and inverts (shrimp, crabs, starfish, etc.) to practice before trying corals.

I had salt aquarium about 20 years ago, but now I go to a good shop if I want to see salt aquariums; much easier and cheaper than having one.

  • 1
    I once brought live rock home by air. Of course the security people had to open the box for exam after they saw the X-ray . They still let me on the plane with stinking wet rocks wrapped in wet newspaper. Mar 20, 2018 at 17:18

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