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. We’ve compiled the most important information about best fish to breed, how to purchase them, and selling them based on our experience as fish-keepers.
Is it possible to make money 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 can produce millions of fish, but they make very little profit selling them for $1 each. That being said, breeding fish as a side gig is a great way to pay for your aquarium 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. Don’t purchase too many tanks or expensive equipment. It is important to check for potential problems in the early stages of your venture, such as whether your fish will be sold to others, how you can get them to breed and other issues.
Which fish are the best to breed for profit?
You want to select the most profitable fish that are easy to breed and easy to unload, so go to a mainstream pet store and see what kinds of fish they sell in mass 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 something like assorted guppies that sell for less but are always in 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.
Fish that are small, colorful and hardy can be bred for profit.
Don’t forget that what you think is cool might not be the best for the market. 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. You can sell the fish that people like and keep your unique fish to make profits if you are serious about profitability.
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, then you would earn $25 per month. How can you increase your profits? 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 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. Java moss can be added to your breeding tank to allow you to breed other species, such as red cherry shrimp. 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.
People can set up an aquarium similar to yours by breeding complementary species and buying more products from you. For a single breeding tank, you can also breed angelfish with corydoras as well as Apistogramma Cichlids with Java moss. Diversifying your offerings can help you make more revenue every month, even if your species aren’t in demand. If your local fish shop can’t accept any more guppies you can still give them cherry shrimp or java moss.
Cherry shrimps or moss can reproduce in one tank, increasing the amount of revenue that you get from a single set-up.
What are the Operating Costs of Breeding Fish?
The reason you don’t want to keep adding a lot of new aquarium setups (even if you get the equipment for free) is because each tank costs money to run every month. We’ll ignore the costs of renting or mortgage for now. And gas money it takes to transport fish. Find out how much electricity and water it costs to get your bill. Keep track of how much time it takes to maintain your aquarium. Next, estimate the cost of each tank.
Let’s say you pay $10 each month for power, water and food for one fish tank. The tank also requires you to work for 2 hours per month (at $15 an hour), which means you are putting in $30 per month of labor. You are almost doubling your monthly income from a $40 investment to $70. Additionally, you have already included the cost to pay yourself. This means that you can eventually hire someone else to keep the tanks stocked so you can concentrate on your business. Calculating your operating costs will allow you to determine if your fish breeding side business is making a profit.
How can I sell my fish to fish shops?
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. 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. 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.
You can only work with one fish store if there are multiple nearby. (Usually, the fish store closest to you is the most convenient to work with because of the shorter driving distance.) 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. Also, don’t sell the remainder of your angelfish in your local fish club auction or on classified ad websites, or else you are directly competing with the fish stores and they won’t be as likely to work with you again.
Start small, and establish a strong, long-lasting relationship to one local fish market 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. You can give the fish sample to the store to sell to their 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. The store will be happy if the fish do not sell. They didn’t lose money. You’re giving them $30 of fish free for an $840 annual 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 method helps you create a clearly documented paper trail of all expenses and revenue for tax reporting purposes. Get a cheap credit card reader for your phone if the fish shop is unable to pay you in cash. Because you accept cash, credit or checks, your business becomes more professional and credible.
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 sell African cichlids then don’t make yellow labs 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. Fish stores look for breeders who can provide the same species over time and don’t change their offerings. It is important to have red bristlenose plecos available at all times if you want to be the best. When your local market is flooded with them and no one wants to buy right now, just scale down the number of tanks dedicated to bristlenose plecos but keep them around because eventually people will come back asking for them and you want to be ready for that opportunity.
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. The customer will have a positive impression of your fish store if the fish are priced correctly, look amazing, and last forever. 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. The store manager can share market data and determine what customers will pay for your fish. The lower the price, the faster the store can sell them. (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.) Negotiate your price so that it is 25% below the total customer price. If the store disagrees with you assessment, they might try to sell the sample fish for a different price. Then figure out the cut.
The supply and demand for different aquarium fish species is a constantly moving target. One fish may be all the rage and half a year later they are gone. Everyone has bred them, so now there is no demand for them. One day, someone might buy your marbled angelfish and breed a lot of them. 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. You can wait for the market bubble to burst and then 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. 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. While a 2-inch oscar may be adorable and people want to bring one home, a 12-inch oscar can be difficult to rehome. To ensure that your fish store has the best size fish, it may be wiser to have several smaller spawns.
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 may have to look for another shop to partner with if the store refuses to accept any of these options.
If you have an excess of fish, talk to your fish store before making any decisions so that you won’t break the trust you’ve built up with them.
What can I do to sell fish if I don’t have a local fish store?
Shipping fish online is one of the most difficult ways to make money from 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. According to our experience, 1 in 5 orders have problems. These include incorrect addresses, shipping delays or connecting flights to hot destinations. Or boxes left outside for hours while the customer was at work. If you want to make your customer happy, ship replacement fish at no cost to them or refund their entire order. This will cause a lot of time and money loss for both you and your customer. For more details on how to safely ship live animals, read the full article.
Selling on classified advertisement websites like Craigslist is the second hardest method. 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. Good ideas for value-added sales include microworm cultures, live daphnia, ramshorn snails, plants, food samples, spawning mops, and even used equipment. 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.
Local fish clubs and their online social media groups are nice because the audience usually consists of more serious fish keepers who are not automatically looking for the cheapest prices. It’s easier to establish relationships and meet up with them in person. To avoid appearing spammy, you should post your fish listings no more than once per month depending on the rules of your fish club’s group. 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. Eventually, you will build up a good reputation among the local hobbyists so that they start recommending your name to others who are looking for certain fish.
Good luck with your fish breeding ventures. If you enjoyed this article, sign up to our weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date on the latest blog posts and products.