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. However, side jobs such as breeding fish can be a great way of making extra money for your aquarium hobby. It is important to make this profitable and not lose money. Our number one tip is to not spend too much on this project. Start small, and don’t buy a lot of tanks and equipment at first. 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.
What are the Best Fish 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. You should instead breed guppies, which sell at a lower price but are in high demand.
Most people who visit fish stores are beginners, so research what kind of fish they like to buy by reading articles on the top beginner fish for freshwater aquariums. People who are just starting out with fish keep smaller tanks so they should consider nano species over oscars. Smaller animals can be kept in both little and giant aquariums, so there is a higher demand for them compared to 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. 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 do I need to buy in order to breed 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. each. This would make you $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 an excellent candidate as it is easy to grow and doubles as a cover for your guppy fry, 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. If you start with high-quality shrimp, you might be able to sell 25 shrimp per month at $1 per head. With only one aquarium, your monthly income will be $70 or $840.
By breeding complimentary species in the same tank, people can then set up an aquarium like yours and buy more than one product 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. If your local fish shop can’t accept any more guppies you can still give them cherry shrimp or 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 of 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. Then overestimate how much it costs to run each tank.
Let’s say you pay $10 each month 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. You are almost doubling your monthly income from a $40 investment to $70. 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. 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?
The easiest, most hassle-free way to sell fish is to go to your local fish store. Most pet stores that carry big brands won’t buy fish directly from local breeders as they have already signed contracts with large fish farmers. 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. The store manager is your only customer in fish shops, so you can devote all of your attention to that customer.
It is best to work with only one local fish store, even if you have several nearby. 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. If you sell your angelfish to four different stores in the same area, inevitably one store will set the angelfish at the cheapest price and win all the sales, souring your relationship with the other three 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 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. 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. You’re giving them $30 of fish free for an $840 annual return.
Most local fish stores are independently owned, small businesses that are low on cash, and therefore they will likely offer you to pay you store credit. However, the best practice is for you to get paid in cash. This allows you to create a paper trail that documents all income and expenses. 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.
In order to build a strong, lasting relationship with your local fish store, only breed the species that match what the store sells. If they don’t sell African cichlids then don’t make yellow labs or Labidochromis Caeruleus. You should also make sure that your fish are strong, healthy, and happy. 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. Finally, fish stores are looking for long-term breeders who always provide the same species and aren’t constantly switching up their offerings. If you decide to be the best provider of red bristlenose plecos, have them available at all times. 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. 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. 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 becomes a win-win-win situation for everyone.
Before you approach the fish store, do your research to find out how much fish cost, depending on their 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 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. Negotiate your price so that it is 25% below the total customer price. 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. 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 marbled angelfish prices to plummet and then rebound. 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. A single spawn of angelfish can make enough babies to sell for an entire year, so let any subsequent spawns get naturally eaten 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. To ensure that your fish store has the best size fish, it may be wiser to have several smaller spawns.
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 might need to find another shop if they won’t take 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.
How Do I Sell Fish If I Don’t Have a Local Fish Store?
Selling fish online and shipping them is one of the hardest ways to make money breeding fish. 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. In those cases, the only way to make your customer completely happy is to ship replacement fish at your cost or refund their entire order, resulting in a lot of lost time and money for you. Read the entire article to learn more about how to safely ship live animal.
Selling on classified advertisement websites like Craigslist is the second hardest method. 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 someone who can read credit cards in case they don’t have exact change. You may be able to earn a repeat customer if they are satisfied with what you 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. Public postings can lead to people comparing your prices with others’. If you do, they will be compared with other sellers’. Use private or direct messages instead to contact interested buyers. Your reputation will grow over time and you’ll be referred to other hobbyists who are searching for the same fish.
All the best with your fish breeding efforts. If you enjoyed this article, please sign up for our weekly Newsletter to stay informed about our latest blog posts, products and other news.