You’ve read articles on breeding fish on the internet before. They all say you won’t make a profit from breeding fish. It’s simply untrue. If you’re smart about resource management and breed a fish that sells, you will turn a profit. Chances are unless you’ve worked for an aquarium shop, you have no idea what sells and makes money. I intend to shed some light on the art of being a professional breeder.
First of all, there is a difference between a professional breeder and someone doing it for fun. The professional is intentionally setting up tanks to produce fish for resale. The average hobbyist that spawns a fish in a tank for fun will on average not turn a profit.
The hardest part of breeding for profit is analyzing your market. What are people in your area interested in? Once you have established that, decide what has the biggest demand. This is almost impossible to find out without doing market research. Go to some of your local fish stores on fish delivery day. Observe for a couple months what they keep ordering. You’ll notice for every high dollar discus they order, they order 50 guppies. Think like the consumer and you can sell to the consumer.
What do people want for their fish tank? The most common statements I hear are.
- I want something cheap.
- I want something colorful.
- I want something that isn’t going to die.
- I need an algae or “allergy eater”.
- I need someone to clean my tank.
These are the most common statements from customers that walk into a fish store. For every customer that wants that crazy rare fish that he’s been looking for 3 years for, there are 20 customers that don’t want to understand fish at all. They are simply there to find the answer to one of those 5 statements I listed.
The first thing I always recommend breeders start with is guppies. Wholesale prices on guppies range. Anywhere from .40 cents to $1.50 depending on the variety. The reason guppies are such a good choice, is because the setup required to start turning a profit is very limited.
- 10 Gallon Fish Tank
- An aquarium heater
- Some live plants
- Some guppies
- A Filter
- A light or free sunlight
The costs of running this setup each month should be less than $3 including power. This means to turn a profit on this tank, you have to recoup at least $3 each month. It should take you roughly 3 months to grow a guppy from a baby to a sell able size. If you receive .50 cents per guppy from your local fish store. You only need to make 18 guppies a month to break even. Guppies breed like rabbits! Usually you’ll be able to make many more than 18 per month. This turns into profit, which can be reinvested, to buy tank #2.
I know what you’re thinking, 3 months work to only make a few dollars? That’s right, slow and steady wins the race. You can definitely go out and start breeding discus and be making much more money in that same time. It will require more work. Setup costs will be $1000+ for all the fry tanks you are going to need etc. Once you get all this established, and raise say 100 discus to sell able size, which you’ll receive $10 each for. Chances are your market will have ended. Most places cannot support that many of a high dollar fish. You either start undercutting yourself or stop breeding that fish.
If that same $1000 had been invested to buy say 4 55 gallon fish tanks, with guppies. That allows you to produce 50 guppies a week. All of a sudden your investment is returning $100 a month, and the demand is there, as you saw from your market analysis.
Now imagine you were breeding slightly higher quality guppies. If you were able to get $1 each, you double your profit.
Alright, what else are popular sellers?
- Bristlenose Plecos
- Other Livebearers
All of these fish can be bred in 10 gallons. The bigger the tank you use, the more profit you’ll make. The lesson to be learned here is quantity is key. 100 Discus that are worth $1000 that you can’t sell are worthless. 1000 guppies that are worth .50 cents each, with unlimited demand are a gold mine.
Most startup “breeders” breed what is interesting to them. They tend to be more advanced aquarists. They see the high dollar price tags on the fish and think of the stacks of money they’re going to make. In the real world, your customer is the 5 year old girl that begs her mom for that $3 dollar fish every single week.
There are plenty of people who do turn a profit with high end fish. Usually they can cheat the system by using free heat, or filtration, or live next to an airport to ship them out.
Do yourself a favor and make friends with your local fish store. Then simply ask them what they order the most and what they’d be willing to buy.
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