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.
Can You 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 are a great way to make a lot of money selling fish for as little as $1 per piece. They produce millions upon millions of fish. Although it is possible to make a living by breeding fish, this can help you pay for your 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. 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?
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. 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.
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. Nano species are better than oscars and goldfish for beginners. 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.
Remember that the popular opinion of what is cool may not be what they want 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 Should I Buy to Start Breeding Fish?
A lot of small, profitable fish can be bred in a 10 or 20 gallon tank. So let’s assume you have a 20 gallon tank with heater, filter and some guppies. You could earn $25 per month if you have a growing colony of guppies and can sell 50 guppies each month for 50C How can you increase your profit? Instead of buying another tank (and additional equipment) to raise more guppies, let’s find a way to make more money using 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. Local fish stores typically run out of java moss because it’s quite slow-growing, so you may be able to sell a bucketful of java moss for $20 a 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. This will increase your monthly revenue to $70 per month, or $840 per year, if you have only one aquarium.
If you breed complementary species in one tank, others can create an aquarium and purchase more products from your company. Other possible combinations for a single breeding tank include angelfish with corydoras or Apistogramma cichlids with java moss. Diversifying your offerings will allow you to make additional revenue each month, even if there’s not a demand for a particular species. If your local fish shop can’t accept any more guppies you can still give them cherry shrimp or java moss.
Cherry shrimps and moss can both reproduce within the same tank. This increases the revenue you receive from a single setup.
What are the operational costs of breeding fish?
It is not worth it to buy a lot more tanks than you need, even if they are free. Let’s not forget about the cost of running an aquarium, such as your mortgage, rent or gas to get 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.
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. Therefore, every month you are almost doubling your money from a $40 investment to $70 in revenue. Plus, you have already built in the cost of paying yourself, which means one day you can afford to hire someone else to help maintain the tanks so you can focus on building your business. By calculating your operating costs, you can determine whether or not your fish breeding side hustle is running at a profit or at a loss.
How Do I Sell My Fish to Fish Stores?
Going to your local fish market is the best and easiest way to sell fish. 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. While you might be able make a little more by selling your fish to people online or locally, you will still need to spend a lot on customer service and helping each individual with any questions or problems. 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. 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. 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 establish a strong, long-lasting relationship to one local fish market 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. Give the sample of fish to the store for free to try selling to their 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. 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. The best way to get paid is in cash. This will allow you to keep a clear record of all revenue and expenses for tax reporting purposes. If the fish store cannot pay you in cash, then get an inexpensive credit card reader for your smartphone. Your business suddenly becomes more legitimate and professional because you can accept cash, credit, or check.
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. Make sure your fish are strong and healthy. 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. If you decide to be the best provider of red bristlenose plecos, have them available at all times. 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 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 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.) Next, negotiate a price that is approximately 25% less than the total price for your customer. 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. 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 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 will need to be the stable person who controls and has marbled angelfish at the same cost every day.
What do I do if I have too much fish?
Fish keep breeding all the time, and just because you made a fish doesn’t mean you can sell it. Keep your inventory under control by not raising more fish than what you can sell. 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. You should also research the best size for each species that you are selling. A 2-inch oscar is adorable and everyone wants to take one home, but a 12-inch oscar is difficult to rehome even for free. It may be smarter to raise up several smaller spawns with different hatch dates so that you always have fish available at the ideal size for the fish store to sell them.
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?
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. 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. 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 often doesn’t show up to scheduled meetings or is looking to bargain your price down. 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. In case they don’t have the exact amount in cash, this is another reason for having a credit card reader. For future sales, repeat customers may be your best option if they love what you have to offer.
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 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. 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.
Best of luck with your fish breeding endeavors. 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.