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? It is possible to make additional income by selling your trimmings. You need to decide how much time, money and effort you are willing invest. There are two types of people: hobbyists who want to make a few extra bucks to offset their costs of keeping an aquarium. Others are serious entrepreneurs who intend to compete with major plant farms. Let’s talk about three ways to sell aquarium plants. These are based on increasing effort and potential 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. There is not much competition, and the store provides all customer support. However, most stores don’t like to buy from hobbyists because people bring in a giant bag or bucket full of trimmings, and it takes too much work to separate the plants, count them, cut them to the right length, and throw away those covered in algae.
The general manager sees it as much easier dealing with a wholesaler. They can order from a list, and the product arrives 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. They can quickly die in groups so stores often buy them at a low price. If you want to raise the price, invest the extra effort to place the plants in pots of rock wool with a 1/2 inch (1 cm) of 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.
Increase the value of your plants by placing them in plastic pots of rock wool that look professional and are ready 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. If they keep taking less and less of a certain plant you have, stop selling them as much of it. Make sure not to pressure them to buy your entire available stock because if you are too difficult to deal with, the relationship is damaged and the store will stop 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. Yes, there are a lot more buyers on the internet than store customers, but prices may sometimes be cheaper because there’s also a lot of supply from other hobbyists and importers.
When you sold to your local fish store, they made things easier because they managed all the customer interactions. However, as an online seller, you must put on the new role of salesperson. Listings should have attractive descriptions, plant photos, detailed explanations about shipping costs, and live arrival guarantees. If something goes wrong, customer support will be another responsibility. If something goes wrong, be ready to quickly answer any questions you may have about what lighting you used, why the plants aren’t doing well, or how to get 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. Customers will return to you for repeat business if you do your job well.
Many plant farms that grow submersed crops cannot guarantee that the plants will be free of snails. Make sure to inform your customers in advance to avoid disappointment.
Expert Mode: Increased Production of Aquatic Plants
Scale is the main difference between a professional and casual seller. Instead of selling plants that you already have in your tanks, you now buy dedicated tanks and equipment to increase your production. You are competing with a lot of large plant farms that primarily grow their plants emersed or out of water. 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 allows you to charge higher than farms as submerged plants are more likely to survive in customers’ aquariums. Additionally, stores won’t waste time cleaning up melted leaves from emersed plants.
The key point when buying supplies is to spend the least amount of money as possible where it makes sense. You must remember that you will be competing with smaller farms, which may have some advantages such as outdoor ponds and great weather. They already have a leg up in terms of cost of production, so you need to save expenses in other areas if possible. There are some items you can buy:
– 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): When combined with appropriate levels of lighting and nutrients, CO2 gas is an important building block that helps plants to grow faster, which means you can sell them sooner. There are several ways to inject CO2 depending on your budget. Each has its own pros and cons. Pressurized CO2 injection is the most reliable and expensive method. This involves using regulators, cylinders of CO2 gas, and manifolds that spread to multiple tanks. Fertilizer We add Easy Green all-in-1 liquid fertilizer (using an automatic dosing device) to our water to ensure our plants get enough nutrients. If you are an expert in plant maintenance, measure the water and determine whether certain nutrients are missing. Next, choose the fertilizer best suited to your water.
Commercial plants farms prefer to have their aquarium plants emersed in order that the leaves can grow larger and more quickly. However, emersed plants don’t always thrive once they are submerged under water in the aquarium.
It depends on what market you are targeting and what plants they want to grow. 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. Although the beginner market is large, plants tend to be sold at lower prices. The high-end market prefers rare specimens, such as Anubias Naana ‘Pangolino” or the 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. Be aware, however, that rare plants are eventually picked up by commercial plant farms that can produce them at a higher volume than you can. This means that you will need to constantly be looking for new species to add your collection.
The last tip we have for plant sellers is to make sure you don’t run out of stock as often as possible. It is better to not sell a rare plant if you can’t sell it for 6-8 months. Your website shouldn’t be full of out-of-stock products. Customers may get frustrated and assume that you are not in business. You should limit your focus to the most common species or types of plants that are mass-produced and can 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.