How to Grow Aquarium Plants For Profit

How to Grow Aquarium Plants for Profit

Caring for live aquatic plants can begin with a bit of a learning curve, but once your planted aquarium starts flourishing and becomes overgrown, what do you do with all the extra vegetation? What is the best way to make extra income from your trimmings? You need to decide how much time, money and effort you are willing invest. While some people are just looking for a hobby, others want to make enough money to pay their expenses. Some are serious entrepreneurs hoping to be able to compete against large plant farms. We will discuss three methods to sell aquarium plants in order to increase effort and revenue.

Easy Mode: Selling Plants to Fish Stores

If your fish tanks are growing well and you need a place to offload your excess floating plants or stem plants, then your local fish store is the good place to start. The store is the only one that offers wholesale prices and has a great customer service team. Most stores won’t buy from hobbyists as they don’t want to deal with large quantities of trimmings. It takes too much effort to separate and count the plants, cut them to the correct length and toss those that are covered in algae.

In the general manager’s eyes, it’s a lot simpler dealing with a wholesaler because they can order whatever they want from a list and it shows up packaged in a box. Therefore, if you want to compete with the wholesaler, you need to supply the fish store with an alternative that saves them time and effort. You can prepackage your stem plants into bunches of 4 to 5 stems measuring between 12 and 15 cm in length. Because they can die quickly in bunches, stores tend to buy them at a very low cost. You can increase the price by placing the plants in rock wool pots with 1/2 inch (1 cm) space between each stem. This will prevent the stems rotting and allow them to start producing roots. Customers can then grow them more successfully at their home.

You can increase the value of your plants with rock wool plastic pots. They look professional and are ready for you to sell.

Another way you can make the store manager’s life easier is to drop off the plants at non-peak times, usually during the weekdays. Yes, those times may be inconvenient for you if you have a full-time job or school, but you don’t want to bring in your goods during their busiest periods when they won’t have time to help you. Most shops need to have fresh stock ready to sell before weekend rushes when sales are high. So talk to the manager about the best times to stop by each week.

You should not only find out when they want to buy plants but also what type of plants they require. Stop selling plants that they aren’t interested in. Do not pressure them to purchase all of your stock. If you become too difficult, it will endanger the relationship and they will cease buying from you.


Intermediate Mode: Selling Aquarium plants online

If your plants are more expensive than you want to sell in your store, then it may be worth looking into selling them online through AquaBid or eBay. While there may be more online buyers than there are store customers, the prices of live plants can sometimes be less expensive because there is more supply from hobbyists and importers.

When you sold to your local fish store, they made things easier because they managed all the customer interactions. Online sellers must assume the role of salesperson. Create listings that have appealing descriptions, attractive plant photos, a list of your water parameters and growing conditions, and clear explanations of shipping costs and live arrival guarantees. Another responsibility added to your plate is customer support if something goes wrong. You should be prepared to answer any questions about the lighting, why your plants are not doing well, and how to request a refund.

Clearly communicate what you sell and set expectations. Start building a reputation for having high-quality plants that are healthy, come with roots, have no algae, are free of duckweed, or have other benefits that differentiate you from the competition. If you do your job well and customers have a good experience, they will come back to you for repeat sales.

Most plant farms that grow submersed plants cannot guarantee their plants are snail-free, so if this is the case for you, make it clear to your customers upfront to avoid disappointing their expectations.

Expert Mode: Ramping Up Production of Aquatic Plants

Scale is the main difference between a professional and casual seller. Instead of only selling plants that you already keep in your aquariums, now you are buying dedicated tanks and equipment to increase production. You will be competing against large plant farms that prefer to grow their plants out of water or emersed. Your main benefit to fish stores and online customers is that your plants are grown submersed or underwater, so you are saving the customer the time of having to convert their plants from emersed to submersed. This advantage allows you to charge more than the farms because (a) submersed plants have a higher likelihood of surviving in the customers’ aquariums and (b) stores don’t have to waste time cleaning out all the melted leaves that fall off emersed plants.

When buying supplies, the key is to spend as little money as possible. Remember that you are also competing with other smaller plant farms like yourself who may have certain advantages like outdoor ponds, great weather, and so forth. They already have a leg up in terms of cost of production, so you need to save expenses in other areas if possible. You can purchase the following items:

Water container: You don’t have to use aquariums for plants. Instead, consider smaller, more affordable options such as hydroponic racks, plastic tubs, and cement bins. For stem plants that are 6-8 inches tall (15-20 cm), taller tanks will need stronger lighting. Shallower tanks can be equipped with lower lighting and might be good for smaller plants like anubias nana petite. – carbon dioxide (CO2) : CO2 gas, when combined with adequate levels of nutrients and lighting, is an essential building block that allows plants to grow more quickly. It can also help you sell them faster. There are many ways to inject CO2, depending on how much you have and how many tanks you have. Each method has its pros and cons. The most reliable, but expensive, method for injecting CO2 is pressurized CO2 injection. This uses cylinders of carbon dioxide gas, regulators and manifolds to spread the gas to multiple tanks. – Fertilizer: To make sure our plants have enough food or nutrients to grow, we add Easy Green all-in-one liquid fertilizer to our water using an automatic dosing machine. If you are experienced with plant keeping, measure your water to determine if certain nutrients are lacking and find the fertilizer that is most appropriate for your water.

Commercial plant farms prefer to grow their aquarium plants emersed so that the leaves are above water and can grow bigger at a faster rate, but emersed plants do not always do well once they are submerged underwater in the customer’s aquarium.

As for which plants to buy and cultivate, this depends on which market you want to go after, what people in that market want to buy, and what kind of plants you are good at growing. Beginners are usually looking for hardy and easy plants such as Anubias barteri and java Fern. Java moss is difficult to find because it was submerged-grown. The beginner market has many buyers but plants are more affordable. The high-end market is interested in rare specimens such as Anubias Nana ‘Pangolino,’ and newly discovered Bucephalandra species. You will be able to sell these plants at higher prices which can mean you have fewer customers and possibly fewer tanks to keep. However, be aware that rare plants eventually get picked up by the commercial plant farms that can produce them in much higher volume than you can, so you will constantly need to be hunting for the next new species to add to your inventory.

Our last tip for plant sellers: Avoid being “outof stock” as much possible. If you have a rare plant but are only able to sell it every 6-8 months, then you are probably better off not selling it at all. It is not a good idea to have your website full of out-of stock products. This could cause customers to become dissatisfied or make assumptions about whether you are still in business. Stick to a handful of species and categories of plants you can mass-produce and are able to specialize in. If you do decide to expand your business, be sure that you can keep your existing products in stock. Otherwise, buyers will search for a reliable supplier.

If you are interested in selling aquarium fish and invertebrates as well, check out our article on breeding aquatic species for profit for more information on the best fish to breed, what supplies to buy, and how to sell them.