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.
Is it possible to make money breeding fish?
Fish farming isn’t a lucrative venture. There are many other career options that can earn you more for the same time and effort. Fish farms produce millions of fish and make very slim profits by selling them for less than $1 each. That being said, breeding fish as a side gig is a great way to pay for your aquarium hobby expenses. Our #1 tip is not to invest too much money in this endeavor. The goal is to make it profitable, not lose. Don’t purchase too many tanks or expensive equipment. In the beginning stages, you need to vet out any potential problems – such as how to get your fish to breed, whether or not people will buy your fish, and so forth.
What are the Best Fish to Breed for Profit?
The best fish to choose are those that are profitable and easy to raise. Visit a pet shop and check out the variety of fish they offer in large numbers. You won’t be able to breed rare fish such as discus, stingrays or African cichlids for less than they are worth. This will result in a surplus of fish. You should instead breed guppies, which sell at a lower price but are in high demand.
Many people who visit fish shops are novices. Read articles about the best beginner fish for freshwater aquariums to find out what fish they prefer. People who are just starting out with fish keep smaller tanks so they should consider nano species over oscars. Because smaller animals can be kept in small and large aquariums, there is more demand than for monster fish.
It is possible to breed small, hardy, and colorful fish for profit.
Finally, remember that what you think is cool is not necessarily what the public wants to buy. For instance, many shrimp enthusiasts love the striped pattern on rili shrimp, but if you show a rili shrimp versus a solid red cherry shrimp to the general public, they will almost always pick the regular red cherry shrimp because they think there’s something wrong with the rili shrimp missing a patch of color in its 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?
Most small, profitable fish can be easily bred in a 10- or 20-gallon tank, so let’s say you start with a 20-gallon tank, heater, filter, and some assorted guppies. If you get a growing colony and are able sell 50 guppies every month for 50C How do you increase your profit? Instead of purchasing more tanks and additional equipment to raise more puppies, let’s look for ways to make more with the same tank.
You could add a plant to your sale list. Java moss makes a great choice because it’s easy to grow. It also provides cover for your guppy fries and increases their survival rate. Because it is slow-growing, local fish shops are often short of Java moss. You may be able sell a bucketful for $20 per month. You can also breed red cherry shrimp by adding java moss into your breeding tank. You may be able sell 25 shrimp per month for $1 by starting with high-quality stock. That brings your total monthly revenue to $70 a month or $840 a year with only one aquarium.
People can set up an aquarium similar to yours by breeding complementary species and buying more products from you. Other possible combinations for a single breeding tank include angelfish with corydoras or Apistogramma cichlids with java moss. 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 shrimp and moss can both reproduce in the same tank, upping the amount of revenue you get from a single setup.
What Are the Operational Costs for Breeding Fish?
You don’t want to add more aquariums, even if the equipment is free. Each tank costs money to operate each month. For now, let’s ignore certain costs like the mortgage or rent of your home and gas money to deliver 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. Plus, record down how much time it takes you to maintain the aquarium. You can then estimate how much each tank will cost to operate.
For example, let’s pretend every month you are paying $10 for power, water, and food 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. You have also included the cost of your own salaries, so one day you will be able to pay someone to maintain the tanks while you focus on building your business. You can calculate your operating expenses to see if your fish breeding side gig is profitable or losing.
How Do I Sell My Fish to Fish Stores?
Selling fish at your local fish shop is the easiest and most hassle-free method to do so. Because they have agreements with large fish farms, most pet shops won’t purchase fish from local breeders. Although you may make more selling fish online, it is not a good idea. You will spend a lot of your time dealing with customers and solving any problems they have. Fish stores have one customer, the manager. Therefore, you can dedicate your time and energy to making that customer happy.
If you have multiple local fish stores in your vicinity, commit yourself to only working with one store. (Usually, the fish store closest to you is the most convenient to work with because of the shorter driving distance.) The reason for this is to avoid market competition. 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. You should also avoid selling the rest of your angelfish to your local fish club auction or classified ad website. If you do, you will be directly competing with fish shops and they may not work with you again.
Start small and form a solid, long-term relationship with one local fish store to sell your fish.
After you have selected a fish shop to work with, send them a sample bag with fish. Also, include a cover letter with all your contact information, and a pricing listing labelled by species. The store will give you a free sample of fish so that they can sell to customers. The store will use the sample to determine if it will sell for a given price. The store will not be upset if the fish don’t sell 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. However, the best practice is for you to get paid in cash. This will allow you to keep a clear record of all revenue and expenses for tax reporting purposes. You can get a smartphone credit card reader if the fish store is unable pay you in cash. You can now accept credit cards, cash, and checks, making your business more professional.
To build strong and lasting relationships with your local fish shop, you should only breed species that are compatible with what they sell. If they don’t stock African cichlids, don’t make yellow Labidochromis caeruleus or Labidochromis caeruleus. Make sure your fish are strong and healthy. If your fish keep dying at the fish store, try to solve the problem by feeding your fish the same foods, keeping them at the same temperature, and changing your water at the same frequency your fish store does. The fish store is looking for long-term breeders that provide the same species of fish and don’t switch up their offerings. If you decide to be the best provider of red bristlenose plecos, have them available at all times. If your local market is overflowing with them, you can reduce the number of bristlenose pleco tanks but still keep them around as people will eventually ask for them.
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. Therefore, whatever you offer to the fish store must be either at a better price than the wholesaler or at a better quality that the customer can instantly see. Your fish will make a lasting impression on the customer if they are well priced, look great, and don’t die. This creates a win-win-win scenario for everyone.
Do your research before you go to the fish shop. Find out what price fish are depending on their size, quality, and quantity. 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. Guppy lovers might pay $50 to buy a pair of special guppies online, while the general public will pay $20 to purchase those same guppies at a local store. Next, negotiate a price that is approximately 25% less than the total price for your customer. If the store does not agree with your assessment, they may offer to sell the sample fish at a lower price and then calculate your cut.
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. Your marbled angelfish may be bought by someone who will breed many of them and then lower your price. Luckily, fish breeding is a long-term game. If you have your pricing correctly dialed in and the other breeder’s price is too low, eventually their business will no longer be sustainable (or they lose interest in angelfish) and they will quit breeding your species. Wait for marbled angelfish prices to plummet and then rebound. You must be a stable individual who can control the market and ensure that marbled angelfish are always available at the same price.
What Should I Do If I Have Too Many Fish?
Fish breed all the time. You should not raise more fish than you can sell to avoid having excess inventory. 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. Also, research the ideal size for each species to be sold. A 2-inch oscar will be loved by everyone and is a great choice. However, it is very difficult to rehome a 12-inch one. You might be better to keep several smaller spawns, each with a different hatch date, so you have fish at the right size to sell in your fish store.
Talk to your local fish shop about selling excess fish to their wholesaler, selling it at a distant fish store (thereby decreasing the chance of them being a direct rival), or selling the fish online via auction sites. You might need to find another shop if they won’t take any of these options.
Talk to your fish shop before you make any decisions if you have excess fish. This will ensure that you don’t lose the trust you’ve earned with them.
How do I sell fish to people who don’t live near a fish shop?
Selling fish online and shipping them is one of the hardest ways to make money breeding fish. You may be able offer them at a higher cost, but you will need to pay extra shipping charges and your package won’t arrive on time. We have found that 1 out 5 orders are subject to problems such as incorrect addresses, delays in shipping, diverted flights to hot areas, missing or damaged packages, and boxes being left unattended for hours due to customer 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. The average client is not available for scheduled meetings, or may be looking to reduce 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. You can sell value-added products such as microworm cultures and live daphnia. Ramshorn snails, plants, food, spawning moops, and used equipment are good examples. This is another reason to have someone who can read credit cards in case they don’t have exact change. If they like what you’re offering, you may earn yourself a repeat customer for easy future sales.
It’s nice to find local fish clubs through their online social media channels. This is because they are more serious fish keepers and aren’t necessarily looking for the lowest prices. It’s also easier to form relationships with them and meet up in person. Depending on the rules of your fish club’s online group, post your available fish listing no more than once a month to avoid looking like spam. 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.