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?
It is not easy to sell fish from home. Other careers offer more income for the same effort and time. 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. It is important to make this profitable and not lose money. Our number one tip is to not spend too much on 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. They may be more expensive than other fish, but you won’t end up with too many fish if they don’t sell. You should instead breed guppies, which sell at a lower price but are in high 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.
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. Many shrimp lovers love the striped pattern of rili shrimp. However, if you present a rili shrimp to the public versus a regular red cherry shrimp, the majority will choose the rili shrimp. They think the rili has a problem with its midsection. You can sell the fish that people like and keep your unique fish to make profits if you are serious about profitability.
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 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. Because it is slow-growing, local fish shops are often short of Java moss. You may be able sell a bucketful for $20 per month. By adding java moss to the breeding tank, you can also breed another species like 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 will allow you to make additional revenue each month, even if there’s not a demand for a particular species. For example, if your local fish store can’t take any more guppies, you can still give them cherry shrimp and 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. 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. Also, track how long it takes to maintain an 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. You also spend 2 hours a month working with the tank (at a rate of $15 an hour), so you put in $30 a month of labor. You are almost doubling your monthly income from a $40 investment to $70. 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. You can calculate your operating expenses to see if your fish breeding side gig is profitable or losing.
How Do I Sell My Fish to Fish Stores?
Selling fish at your local fish shop is the easiest and most hassle-free method to do so. (Most big brand pet stores won’t buy fish from local breeders because they already have contracts with large fish farms.) 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.
If you have multiple local fish stores in your vicinity, commit yourself to only working with one store. The fish store nearest you will usually be the closest because it is closer. 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.
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. 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.
Local fish stores are often small, independent businesses. Therefore, they may offer to give you store credit. However, the best practice is for you to get paid in cash. This will allow you to keep a clear record of all revenue and expenses for tax reporting purposes. Get a cheap credit card reader for your phone if the fish shop is unable to pay you in cash. Your business suddenly becomes more legitimate and professional because you can accept cash, credit, or check.
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 stock African cichlids, don’t make yellow Labidochromis caeruleus or Labidochromis caeruleus. Make sure your fish are strong and healthy. Try to prevent your fish from dying in the fish shop by giving them the same food, keeping them at the exact temperature and changing their water every other day. Finally, fish stores are looking for long-term breeders who always provide the same species and aren’t constantly switching up 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. 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. You can then make the first offer, rather than asking the fish seller how much they will give you. Share your market data with the store manager and what price you believe customers will pay for your fish. The lower the price, the faster the store can sell them. 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 disagrees with your assessment, they can always try selling the sample fish you provided at a different price and then figure out your cut afterwards.
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. Your marbled angelfish may be bought by someone who will breed many of them and then lower your price. Fish breeding is a long-term endeavor. 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. 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 reproduce all the time. To avoid holding excess inventory, don’t raise up more fish than you can sell. An angelfish spawn can provide enough children to last a year. If you don’t have enough, let the next spawn go natural or separate the adults. You should also research the best size for each species that you are selling. 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 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. We have found that 1 out 5 orders are subject to problems such as incorrect addresses, delays in shipping, diverted flights to hot areas, missing or damaged packages, and boxes being left unattended for hours due to customer 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. 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. An at-home visit can also be a great opportunity to sell additional fish or add-ons. 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 a credit card reader in case they don’t have exact change in cash.) For future sales, repeat customers may be your best option if they love what you have to offer.
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 is also easier to build relationships with them and meet up in real life. 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. Also, people will compare your prices with other sellers’ if you publicly post them, so instead use private or direct messages to communicate them with interested buyers. Your reputation will grow over time and you’ll be referred to other hobbyists who are searching for the same fish.
Good luck with your fish breeding ventures. If you enjoyed this article, please sign up for our weekly Newsletter to stay informed about our latest blog posts, products and other news.