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? Is it possible to sell your extra trimmings as an extra source of income? Like most side hustles you will need to consider how much time, effort, and money you are willing to put into it. Some people are hobbyists who just want a little fun money to help offset their aquarium keeping costs, while others are more serious entrepreneurs who plan to compete against major plant farms. To address these different levels of commitment, let’s discuss three approaches for selling aquarium plants, in order of 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. The store is the only one that offers wholesale prices and has a great customer service team. Many stores are reluctant to purchase from hobbyists. They don’t like it when they have to sort through the trimmings and cut the plants to the right length.
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. Prepackage stem plants in bundles of 4-5 stems, each measuring 5-6 inches (12-15cm) 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 prevents the stems from rotting and allows them to begin producing roots, which in turn helps customers to grow them more successfully at home.
You can increase the value of your plants with rock wool plastic pots. They look professional and are ready for you to sell.
You can also make it easier for the store manager to drop off plants during non-peak hours, which is usually on weekdays. You may find these times difficult if you work full-time or have children, but it is best to not bring your goods in during peak hours when they are busy and won’t be able to help. Most stores need fresh plants to sell during peak sales times. Talk to your manager to determine the best time to visit each week.
It is important to find out the exact time they are looking for plants. Stop selling plants that they aren’t interested in. Do not pressure them to purchase all of your stock. If you become too difficult, it will endanger the relationship and they will cease buying from you.
Intermediate Mode: Selling Aquarium Plants Online
If you are producing more than your store wants to sell, the next step may be to try selling live plants through AquaBid, eBay, Craigslist, Etsy, or other e-commerce websites. While there may be more online buyers than there are store customers, the prices of live plants can sometimes be less expensive because there is more supply from 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. Make sure your listings have attractive descriptions and plant photos. Include a list of water parameters and growing conditions. Also, include clear explanations of shipping costs as well as 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. You can build a reputation for selling high-quality plants. If you do your job well and customers have a good experience, they will come back to you for repeat sales.
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 what makes a professional seller different from a casual one. Instead of only selling plants that you already keep in your aquariums, now you are buying dedicated tanks and equipment to increase 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 advantage allows you to charge more than the farms because (a) submersed plants have a higher likelihood of surviving in the customers’ aquariums and (b) stores don’t have to waste time cleaning out all the melted leaves that fall off emersed plants.
The key point when buying supplies is to spend the least amount of money as possible where it makes sense. Remember that you are also competing with other smaller plant farms like yourself who may have certain advantages like outdoor ponds, great weather, and so forth. Their production costs are already higher than yours, so it is important to reduce expenses elsewhere. There are some items you can buy:
– Water containers: You don’t have to just use aquariums to grow plants, so consider cheaper, bigger options like plastic tubs, hydroponic racks, and outdoor cement bins. Taller tanks require stronger lights to reach the plants but are well-suited for stem plants that need to grow 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) tall. Shallower tanks can be equipped with lower lighting and might be good for smaller plants like anubias nana petite. – CO2: When used with the right levels of light and nutrients, CO2 gas can be an important building block. This will allow you to sell your plants sooner. Depending on your budget and number of tanks, there are different methods for injecting CO2, each with their 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 Using an automated dosing machine, we add Easy Green all in one liquid fertilizer to water to ensure that our plants have sufficient nutrients and food. If you have experience with plant care, you can measure the water in your home to find out if there are any nutrients missing. Then choose the fertilizer that will best suit your water.
Commercial farm farms prefer to have their aquariums emersed. This allows the leaves to grow higher and faster, but they can’t do as well if the plants are submerged in water.
The market you’re targeting, the people who are interested in buying it, and your skills at growing plants will determine which plants you should buy or cultivate. 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. The beginner market has many buyers but plants are more affordable. The high-end market, on the other hand, is interested in rare specimens like Anubias nana ‘Pangolino’ or newly discovered Bucephalandra species. These plants of course sell for higher prices, which means you will have fewer customers and potentially fewer tanks to maintain. However, be aware that rare plants eventually get picked up by the commercial plant farms that can produce them in much higher volume than you can, so you will constantly need to be hunting for the next new species to add to your inventory.
Our final tip for plant sellers is to avoid being “out of stock” as much as possible. If you have a rare plant but are only able to sell it every 6-8 months, then you are probably better off not selling it at all. You don’t want your website to be full of products that are out of stock because then customers may become frustrated or assume you are no longer in business. Stick to a handful of species and categories of plants you can mass-produce and are able to specialize in. If you decide to expand, make sure you can still keep your current offerings in stock or else buyers will look for another, more 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.