Better than watching television, having an aquarium can entertain you hours and hours. Being an aquarist is a passion necessitating patience, rigorousness and self-investment. So now imagine you, bringing a piece of the tropics into your house to shine the grey weather of Europe. What about corals? Keeping corals is not the most easy task and requires some experience. In fact, in order to survive, most of the corals require a very clean water (0 ppm of nitrate and phosphate), very stable water parameters, an efficient mixing current and a good light exposure. Keeping corals is therefore very rewarding. The more the coral will enjoy your tank, the more colorful it will be. But coral beauty has a price that was not taken into account during those marvelous underwater colonies' evolution: Humans love it! In fact, the fragile reefs are threatened by aquarist's coral collection but also by the climate change, the pollution, etc.
Even though it is not implemented/respected everywhere, coral collection has been limited and controlled, increasing its price for its exportation to Europe and the United States from countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, etc. Following this, it was then profitable to farm corals in Asia. While studying in Belgium, I worked in a shop that sells corals. Most of them came from Bali where they are aquacultured. As well as for (freshwater and saltwater) tropical fish importation, the only knowledge of where it comes from and how it has been collected/grown remain unclear as the supplying trade is only based on how the importer trusts the exporter. In fact, all the process before closing the animal's box for its exportation by plane is a black box. This poses ethical concern for the animal but even more for the Asian workers as we don't know how well they are treated. Even more, for a business of millions of dollars that should be transparent, only a few know exactly what is happening there, unfortunately.
Along with the development of the aquarium technology performance, culturing coral has become more profitable. In Europe and in the USA and Canada, for the past few years, start-ups have grown based on this serious idea and some coral production. Investors remain cautious though, as most of the start-up projects remain experimental. Nevertheless, as coral reefs habitat is collapsing, the coral individual itself is becoming more and more valuable. Rare specimens can be valued for more than 200$ for a piece of the size of a Brussels sprout!
As it is also possible to grow coral in a domestic aquarium, by taking a cutting from the colony, growing could also be profitable for aquarists... and their wallet. So, why don't you start?