The reefkeeping hobby today is full of colorful trade names for corals, and it appears that, for better or for worse, the trend is here to stay. Tidal Gardens has plenty of corals with goofy names, so we are the last folks in the world who should be judgmental about the practice.
As a seller, it is clear that named corals sell better than corals with a descriptive name such as “red and blue” coral. Higher prices and greater overall demand are incentive enough for sellers to continue naming corals. The other reason that coral naming continues is that it’s literally the number one most asked question we get. When customers ask, “What is that coral called?” they aren’t asking about the genus or species; they want to know “what it’s called.” Even if the vendor were to draw a line in the sand and say no more stupid names, the market is like the mafia. It will draw you right back in!
On one hand, trade names can be helpful in identifying a particular coral. Describing the appearance of zoanthids, for example, is practically a lost cause. Green center, orange skirt with some purple…sounds like about 20 different things it could be. How about Fruit Loops? A pretty distinct zoanthid comes to mind.
The problem, of course, is that certain corals have different commonly used names or, worse yet, different uncommonly used names. The worst-case scenario is every vendor calling a certain coral a different name in hopes of branding it as something unique to him or her. I encourage vendors not to do this for two reasons.
First, it is a confusing practice for everyone involved. Second, and more importantly, people do not know to search for your freshly minted unique snowflake of a coral. It is better to find out whether the coral has a name that’s already used out there and go with it. More customers are likely going to look for a “known” coral name than a name that literally nobody else on earth has ever called it.
A side benefit of going with an existing name is you spend less time and energy coming up with new names. It may sound like a minor issue, but, personally, my reservoir of colorful names is completely exhausted. My staff comes up with the majority of the names you see on Tidal Gardens because these days…I got nothing.
What are your thoughts on the naming of corals? Let us know in the comment section below.