Practical Coral Farming

Practical Coral Farming: Book Review

Practical Coral Farming

A quick thanks to Miguel Tolosa for sending me a copy of Practical Coral Farming, Second Edition, with a forward by Marc Levenson. This quick read covers the basics for those of you who might be interested in setting up your own coral farming operation as a business.

miguel tolosa book is a short read
the book is a quick, easy read

As the title suggests, this 140 page book is a practical guide, covering topics such as:

  • Formation of the business structure/ legal entity

  • Dealing with wholesalers and suppliers

  • Tank setup and equipment–including a detailed description of a DIY LED light build

  • LIvestock

  • Shipping

  • Customer service and returns policies

Inside cover of practical coral farming
Autograph and note from the author–a nice touch


What to expect in Practical Coral Farming

Each chapter of Practical Coral Farming is broken up into an easily digestible section of about a page in length–so the book really is a quick read. The most detailed topic was the rather extensive chapter chronicling plans for a DIY LED light build. The author contends that a serious coral farmer in today’s market would benefit from the energy efficiency provided by LED lights. I wouldn’t argue with that–the math there is pretty sound, as I have written about in a previous post. The book has some detail about how to do it yourself along with pictures.

From a coral husbandry and how-to-farm aspect, there is also a section dedicated to the main coral types a would-be coral farmer is likely to sell, with a recommendation on how challenging that type of livestock is to raise and sell. You will find a few solid nuggets of husbandry advice throughout Practical Coral Farming. One excerpt that caught my attention was this:

“Salinity problems can be especially detrimental to Zoanthids, which can be a canary in the coal mine for salinity issues. A tell-tale sign of either high or low salinity is when different colonies of zoanthids fail to open for several days…too low of a salinity will affect Xeniids most strongly…”

Tips like that one, found in Practical Coral Farming, are helpful for aquarium hobbyists of all shapes and sizes, including the would-be coral farmer. I especially appreciated the canary in the coal mine comparison, which gives me a great take-away insight that I’ll keep forever. We all should watch our corals for behavioral changes as a first sign of trouble in our tanks–but I had never connected the dots so cleanly there for a sign that salinity may be the culprit. Thanks, Miguel.

I was a bit surprised with the content in Practical Coral Farming. The book’s back cover touts to be “The complete insider’s guide to the coral farming industry,” and based on that quote, I set some lofty expectations about learning some insider’s scoop. In that respect, I found myself wanting more.  However, the back cover also boasts, “There is something for everyone, from hobbyists to retail stores,” and I agree about that (the canary in the coal-mine was that something for me.

All-in-all, with a sticker price of $19.99, Practical Coral Farming is far from the most expensive reef book out there–many of the textbook style books cost $60 or more–however, it still feels somewhat expensive for the value. I was able to read through the majority of the book in a single, thirty-minute sitting. Which equates to spending $40/hour from an entertainment or educational perspective. Not the cheapest way to spend an afternoon–but also the price of a single coral frag. For the would-be coral farmer, this book would likely pay for itself immediately if even one additional tip, trick or thought is implemented–and for that reason, I think the book is appropriate for those with aspirations of setting up their own coral farming operation. And the good news is that the author will donate $2 for every book sold to the Adopt a Reef program.

You can find the book on

Buy Practical Coral Farming on Amazon(Affiliate link–which means that if you choose to purchase this book from Amazon after clicking on the link–they will pay a small % of the price of the book to me as a commission–at no additional cost to you).

Or purchase it directly from the author on his website at

Written by Al Ulrich






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