How to Breed Aquarium Fish for Profit
Fish keeping can be an expensive hobby, so many aquarists wonder if it’s possible to make money by breeding aquarium fish. Based on our experiences from running a fish store, speaking with many fish breeders, and personally breeding fish to sell, we’ve collected the most important things you need to know about the best fish to breed, what supplies to buy, and how to sell them.
You can make money by breeding fish
The reality is that selling fish from home as a full-time job is not a very profitable venture, and most other careers can make you more money for the same amount of time and effort. Fish farms are a great way to make a lot of money selling fish for as little as $1 per piece. They produce millions upon millions of fish. Although it is possible to make a living by breeding fish, this can help you pay for your hobby expenses. The goal is to be profitable and not run at a loss, which means our #1 tip is to not invest a lot of money in this project. You don’t need to buy many tanks or equipment. You will need to identify any problems early on, such as how to get your fish into breeding, whether people will purchase your fish, etc.
Which fish are the best to breed for profit?
It is important to choose the most profitable fish, which are easy to breed and unload. So visit a major pet shop to see what types of fish they have in large quantities. Although they may go for a higher price, don’t breed fish like discus, stingrays, or rarer African cichlids because not enough people buy them and you’ll end up with a surplus of fish. Instead, breed assorted guppies which are more affordable but still in high demand.
Fish shops are a popular place to shop for beginners. To help you choose the right fish, read articles on the top freshwater fish for beginners. Beginners also tend to keep smaller fish tanks, so go with nano species instead of oscars or goldfish. Because smaller animals can be kept in small and large aquariums, there is more demand than for monster fish.
Small, colorful, and hardy fish that breed frequently are usually great options to breed for profit.
Finally, remember that what you think is cool is not necessarily what the public wants to buy. Although many shrimp enthusiasts like the striped pattern on rili, most people will prefer the solid red cherry shrimp. This is because they feel the rili shrimp lacks a bit of color in the midsection. Profitability is important if you want to keep unique fish for enjoyment and sell the ones that are most popular.
What Should I Buy to Start Breeding Fish?
You can easily breed small and profitable fish in a 10- to 20-gallon aquarium. Let’s say that you have a 20-gallon container, heater, filter, guppies, and a filter. each. This would make you $25 per month. How can you increase your profit? Let’s not buy another tank and more equipment to raise more guppies. Instead, let us find a way that we can make more money with the same tank.
You could add a plant to your sale list. Java moss is a great candidate because not only is it easy to grow, but it serves double duty by providing cover for your guppy fry and increasing their survival rate. Due to its slow growth, javamoss is often out of stock at local fish stores. However, you might be able or even sell it for as low as $20 per month. You can also breed red cherry shrimp by adding java moss into your breeding tank. Start with a high-quality stock and you may be able to sell 25 shrimp each month at $1 a head. This will increase your monthly revenue to $70 per month, or $840 per year, if you have only one aquarium.
If you breed complementary species in one tank, others can create an aquarium and purchase more products from your company. You can also have angelfish with corydoras and Apistogramma Cichlids with Java Moss in a single tank. Diversifying your offerings can help you make more revenue every month, even if your species aren’t in demand. For example, if your local fish store can’t take any more guppies, you can still give them cherry shrimp and java moss.
Cherry shrimps and moss can both reproduce within the same tank. This increases the revenue you receive from a single setup.
What are the Operating Costs of Breeding Fish?
It is not worth it to buy a lot more tanks than you need, even if they are free. Let’s not forget about the cost of running an aquarium, such as your mortgage, rent or gas to get fish. Get your electricity and water bill to find out how much it costs for each kilowatt of energy and each gallon of water you use. Keep track of how much time it takes to maintain your aquarium. You can then estimate how much each tank will cost to operate.
As an example, suppose you spend $10 every month on power, water, food, and maintenance for one fish tank. Also, you spend two hours per month with the tank at a rate $15/hour. This means that $30 per month is spent on labor. Therefore, every month you are almost doubling your money from a $40 investment to $70 in revenue. Plus, you have already built in the cost of paying yourself, which means one day you can afford to hire someone else to help maintain the tanks so you can focus on building your business. Calculating your operating costs will allow you to determine if your fish breeding side business is making a profit.
How do I sell my fish to fish stores?
Going to your local fish market is the best and easiest way to sell fish. Because they have agreements with large fish farms, most pet shops won’t purchase fish from local breeders. You may be able to make a little more money by selling to individuals online or locally, but you will end up spending a lot of time on customer support, catering to each person that has a special request or problem with your fish. With fish stores, the only customer you have is the store manager, and therefore you can fully devote your time and attention to make that customer very, very happy.
If you have multiple local fish stores in your vicinity, commit yourself to only working with one store. Because it is usually closer to you, the fish shop closest to your home is the easiest to work with. This is done to avoid competition in the market. The reason for this is to avoid market competition. If your angelfish are sold to four different shops in the same region, one store will likely set the price and win all sales. This will damage your relationship with the three other stores. Don’t let the angelfish rest in the local fish club auctions or on classified ad sites. This will make it more difficult for them to sell your fish again.
Start small and form a solid, long-term relationship with one local fish store to sell your fish.
Once you have found a fish retailer to work for, give them a sample of fish. Include a cover letter, your contact information, and a price list labelled by the species. The store will give you a free sample of fish so that they can sell to customers. This donation is a show of good will so that the store can see whether or not your fish will sell at a certain price. If the fish don’t sell, then the store won’t be unhappy with you because they didn’t lose any money. For a possible $840 per annum, you are giving them $30 worth of fish in return.
Many local fish shops are small, independently-owned businesses. They will often offer store credit. The best way to get paid is in cash. This allows you to create a paper trail that documents all income and expenses. Get a cheap credit card reader for your phone if the fish shop is unable to pay you in cash. You can now accept credit cards, cash, and checks, making your business more professional.
You can only breed species that you are familiar with to establish a lasting, strong relationship with your local fish market. If they don’t stock African cichlids, don’t make yellow Labidochromis caeruleus or Labidochromis caeruleus. Also, make sure your fish are healthy and robust. You can solve problems such as fish dying at fish stores by providing the same food and keeping them at the right temperature. Also, make sure you change your water the same frequency that your fish store changes. The fish store is looking for long-term breeders that provide the same species of fish and don’t switch up their offerings. You want to be the best supplier of red bristlenose plecos. Make sure they are always available. You don’t want them to go to waste if your local market is full of them. However, you should keep them around for when they are needed most.
How Much Should I Sell My Fish For?
Pricing is a tricky subject because you are competing against the wholesaler that the local fish store buys from and they can sell at very cheap prices. The fish store should be able to offer a lower price than the wholesaler, or a product that is of better quality and the customer can see immediately. If your fish are priced right, look fantastic, and never die, then the customer develops a great impression of the fish store, and the fish store wants to work with you more. It’s a win/win situation for everyone.
Before you visit a fish store, research how much fish costs depending on size, quantity and quality. Instead of asking the fish shop how much they would pay you, make your first offer. You can then share your market data and the price that you think customers will pay for your fish with the manager of the store. The faster the store can sell them, the lower the price. (Remember, guppy lovers may pay $50 in an online auction for a pair of specialty guppies, but the general public may only pay $20 in a store for those same guppies.) Then, negotiate your price to be approximately 25% of the total customer price. If the store disagrees with your assessment, they can always try selling the sample fish you provided at a different price and then figure out your cut afterwards.
The supply and demand for different aquarium fish species is a constantly moving target. Sometimes one fish is all the rage, and then half a year later, no one wants them because everyone bred them and now the market is oversaturated. One day someone may buy your marbled angelfish from the store, breed a ton of them, and then undercut you in price. Luckily, fish breeding is a long-term game. If your pricing is right and the other breeder’s price too low, then eventually their business won’t be sustainable. Or they may lose interest and quit breeding your species. Wait for the market bubble on marbled angelfish to crash and eventually rise again. You need to be that stable person who controls the market and always has marbled angelfish available at the same constant cost.
What should I do if I have too many fish?
Fish keep breeding all the time, and just because you made a fish doesn’t mean you can sell it. Keep your inventory under control by not raising more fish than what you can sell. One spawn of angelfish can produce enough fish to sell for an entire calendar year. Let any subsequent spawns go naturally or separate the adults. You should also research the best size for each species that you are selling. While a 2-inch oscar may be adorable and people want to bring one home, a 12-inch oscar can be difficult to rehome. It may be smarter to raise up several smaller spawns with different hatch dates so that you always have fish available at the ideal size for the fish store to sell them.
If you have excess fish, your local fish market may be able to help you sell it off to their wholesaler or to another fish shop that is closer than 50 miles. This will decrease the likelihood of them being a direct competition. You may have to look for another shop to partner with if the store refuses to accept any of these options.
To ensure you don’t endanger the relationship of trust and respect you have built with your fish store if you have too many fish, it’s a good idea to talk to them before making any decision.
What can I do to sell fish if I don’t have a local fish store?
It is difficult to make money by selling fish online and shipping them. Yes, you may be able to sell them for a higher price, but don’t forget that you need to pay for extra shipping costs and there’s no guarantee your package will arrive on time and in good shape. In our experience, 1 out of 5 orders seems to have problems, such as wrong addresses, shipping delays, connecting flights diverted to hot locations, or boxes sitting outside for hours because the customer was at work. You can only make sure your customer is completely satisfied by sending replacement fish at their expense or refunded the entire order. This article will provide more information on shipping live animals safely.
It is second-most difficult to sell on Craigslist or other classified advertising websites. Clients are likely to miss scheduled meetings or to lower your price. If you let them come to your home to pick up the fish, be prepared to spend a lot of time with each customer because they will want to see all your tanks and talk shop about the aquarium hobby. That being said, an at-home visit is also a good opportunity to upsell them on additional fish or small add-on purchases. Microworm cultures, live daphnia and ramshorn snails are all good options for value-added selling. (This is another reason to have a credit card reader in case they don’t have exact change in cash.) For future sales, repeat customers may be your best option if they love what you have to offer.
Because the online community is made up of fish keepers with more serious interests, local fish clubs and their social media groups are great. It’s easier to establish relationships and meet up with them in person. To avoid looking spammy, your fish club’s rules may dictate that you post your available fish listing only once per month. People will also compare your prices to other sellers’ listings if they are publicly posted. Instead, use private messages or direct messaging to communicate with interested buyers. You will eventually build a reputation among local hobbyists and others will start to recommend your name to other people who are interested in certain fish.
Good luck with your fish breeding ventures. If you liked this article, don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter and stay up to date on our latest blog posts, products, and more.