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 have collected all the information you need about how to sell fish, the best breeds, and what supplies they require.
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. However, side jobs such as breeding fish can be a great way of making extra money for your aquarium hobby. 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. In the beginning stages, you need to vet out any potential problems – such as how to get your fish to breed, whether or not people will buy your fish, and so forth.
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. 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. Instead, breed something like assorted guppies that sell for less but are always in 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. Beginners also tend to keep smaller fish tanks, so go with nano species instead of oscars or goldfish. Because smaller animals can be kept in small and large aquariums, there is more demand than for monster fish.
Fish that are small, colorful and hardy can be bred for profit.
Finally, remember that what you think is cool is not necessarily what the public wants to buy. For instance, many shrimp enthusiasts love the striped pattern on rili shrimp, but if you show a rili shrimp versus a solid red cherry shrimp to the general public, they will almost always pick the regular red cherry shrimp because they think there’s something wrong with the rili shrimp missing a patch of color in its midsection. If you’re interested in profitability, sell what the public prefers and keep your interesting, unique fish just for fun.
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. A growing colony can be sold 50 guppies per month for 50C How can you increase your profit? Let’s not buy another tank and more equipment to raise more guppies. Instead, let us find a way that we can make more money with the same tank.
Another option is to add a plant for sale. 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. That brings your total monthly revenue to $70 a month or $840 a year with only one aquarium.
If you breed complementary species in one tank, others can create an aquarium and purchase more products from your company. You can also have angelfish with corydoras and Apistogramma Cichlids with Java Moss in a single tank. Also, diversifying your offerings allows you to continue making some revenue each month even if there isn’t a demand for one of your 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 Operating 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. Keep track of how much time it takes to maintain your 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. 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. 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. Because they have agreements with large fish farms, most pet shops won’t purchase fish from local breeders. 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. The store manager is your only customer in fish shops, so you can devote all of your attention to that customer.
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. The reason for this is to avoid market competition. If your angelfish are sold to four different shops in the same region, one store will likely set the price and win all sales. This will damage your relationship with the three other 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 form a solid, long-term relationship with one local fish store 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. The store will give you a free sample of fish so that they can sell to 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. Remember that you’re handing them $30 of free fish for a potential $840 per year in return.
Local fish stores are often small, independent businesses. Therefore, they may offer to give you store credit. It is best to be paid in cash. This allows you to create a paper trail that documents all income and expenses. If the fish store cannot pay you in cash, then get an inexpensive credit card reader for your smartphone. 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. Make sure your fish are strong and healthy. 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. 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. You must offer the fish shop a better deal than the wholesaler and a higher quality product that the customer can immediately 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. You can then share your market data and the price that you think customers will pay for your fish with the manager of the store. The store will sell their fish faster if the price is lower. Remember that while guppy owners may pay $50 for a pair if specialty guppies through an online auction, the public might only pay $20 for those same guppies in a physical store. Next, negotiate a price that is approximately 25% less than the total price for your customer. 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. 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 might buy your marbled angelfish and breed a lot of them. Fish breeding is a long-term business. 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 the market bubble on marbled angelfish to crash and eventually rise again. You need to be that stable person who controls the market and always has marbled angelfish available at the same constant cost.
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. 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. 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. You might be better to keep several smaller spawns, each with a different hatch date, so you have fish at the right size to sell in your fish store.
If you still have too many fish, talk to your local fish store about offloading the surplus to their wholesaler, selling it to a remote fish store that is more than 50 miles away (thus decreasing the chances of them being a direct competitor), or selling the fish out-of-state via online auction websites. You might need to find another shop if they won’t take any of these options.
To ensure you don’t endanger the relationship of trust and respect you have built with your fish store if you have too many fish, it’s a good idea to talk to them before making any decision.
What can I do to 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. According to our experience, 1 in 5 orders have problems. These include incorrect addresses, shipping delays or connecting flights to hot destinations. Or boxes left outside for hours while 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. For more details on how to safely ship live animals, read the full article.
Selling on classified advertisement websites like Craigslist is the second hardest method. 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.) If they like what you’re offering, you may earn yourself a repeat customer for easy future sales.
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 also easier to form relationships with them and meet up in person. 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, sign up to our weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date on the latest blog posts and products.