How to Make Money Breeding Fish and Shrimp in Small Aquarium

Aquarium filled with money.

In this article, you will learn the basics of breeding fish for money. You will learn that it can be accomplished for far less time and money than you may expect, but it also isn’t get rich fast scheme! By the end of the article, you will know whether you’re up to the task of breeding fish for money or not.

So many people have asked me how they can make money with fish. It is a good question. I’ve made quite a bit out of it, myself. However, selling fish isn’t as simple as throwing a few goldfish in a tank and watching them procreate. There’s much more to it than that.

For starters, if you wish to do this entirely on your own, you won’t be able to make much instantly, and it will be a risk. Let me give you some simple advice before we move into what you can do to make money:

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

While breeding fish can be quite lucrative once you get the hang of it, the concept rarely becomes something that you can make an all-out living from. Your fish won’t require 24/7 attention so it won’t be difficult to continue your job and deal with the fish in your spare time.

If your goal is to start something small in your home, then the initial stages will not earn you much, if anything. Why is that? Because before you can even make any money from your fish, you have to establish a rapport with a pet shop or some other business that would need your fish. (More on that later).

You’ll also need to get the hang of breeding your fish and taking care of the eggs and fry. (Check out some of my other articles for information on that) My point is that breeding fish can be difficult when you’re still new to the game.

On top of all that, it’s hard to rely entirely on your fish breeding business as supply and demand waver depending on the season and competition. There are a huge number of variables to consider that simply doesn’t make it logical to focus your entire future on breeding fish.

That being said, breeding fish can still earn you a decent bonus over the year. You’ll learn more about how as we go deeper into this topic!

Give It a Go Before Building an Expensive Setup

There’s absolutely no need to spend outrageous levels of money on all the fancy, expensive equipment that professionals and mass producers use. Before going all out with your investment, you should learn whether you enjoy breeding fish.

You can read more about “How to Start: Aquarium for Beginners” right here.

Not only must you enjoy it, but you need to be good at it too! Of course, you won’t be a pro in the first couple of days, but you should be able to learn how to take care of some more common fish quite quickly. If you’re finding that your fish are always sick and dying, you want to consider an alternate hobby.

As a Beginner, What Should You Breed and How?

To start out, you should focus on breeding common fish that are in high demand for your area. Some of the more common types of fish to breed are angelfish and guppies. However, don’t just breed one of those because they’re common. Take a look around your area and see what types of fish the pet stores are looking for. Remember, your goal is to create a rapport with one of these shops. The best way to do that is to sell what they need at a much lower price than the commercial price.

Let’s go into more detail on the matter:

1. Anything Sold in Mass Quantity

As I mentioned, common, high-demand fish are the way to go. You need to find out what fish is in high demand for your location. Whatever it is, that’s probably the safest bet for you to breed. Sure, each fish may only get you a small amount of money, but I’m about to explain why that is okay.

2. Start With a 10-20 Gallon Tank

That’s right! You can make a substantial amount of revenue with a single, small tank. You don’t need to bother yourself with buying tons of expensive gear unless you have the skill and financial ability to build a business out of it. (And even then you need someone who’s willing to buy in bulk, or your fish will just eat your money away)

3. Guppies

Let’s say you start by purchasing a single high-end male guppy and a few females. So far you’ve spent on a small tank and a few fish. Your only other expense at this point will be fish food which is also not overly expensive.

Your tank is quite small, so let’s say you can breed a total of 50 guppies per month. You want to be the lowest seller to the pet store that you aim to work alongside, so you’ll sell them for 50 cents each. It may not seem like much, but that’s already $25 a month for minimal expenses.

What can I do now? Should I get another tank (or two, or five?)  and try to breed another 50-100 guppies? Good questions, but no, I wouldn’t recommend doing that. In theory, it looks very interesting. Nevertheless, this is not how it works in real life! The number of guppies that your pet store contact is likely to need won’t increase as you expand. For example, you may successfully breed 100 guppies. However, you’ll still only manage to sell around 50-70 anyway.

So what should I do? Well, let me introduce you to the wonders of the cherry shrimp:

4. Cherry Shrimp or How to Do Double Duty

The wonderful ability of the cherry shrimp is that it can relatively happily live in the same tank with your guppies. Not only will you not need to spend on a new tank, but you’ll also now have more variety of fish. To top that off, cherry shrimp can typically be sold for 1 dollar a piece. With the size of tank that we’ve chosen, you should be able to breed somewhere in the region of 20 or 25 cherry shrimp per month.

Again, you are working on building a better relationship with your store. Because you want them to buy from you every time. This is the easiest and safest way to find the buyer for you.

So now you’re earning $25 worth of guppies and $20-$25 worth of cherry shrimp, from that same one-time-purchase tank. Are you starting to realize how a fish breeding hobby can make for an excellent side business? Well, hang on! We aren’t done yet!

5. Java Moss and Trifecta Sale

Java Moss is by far the most useful addition to your small tank. There are a couple of reasons for this. It is very easy to grow but at the same time, and it is almost impossible to saturate the market with it. Sure, when you look at your tank it will not look glamorous but that is where another 20-25 dollars are.

Growing java moss along with your guppies and cherry shrimp also helps to protect fry from the other guppies who may want a little snack in the night. The baby shrimps will sit snuggly in the moss, and the fry can hang around in there too. Thanks to this protection, you won’t even need to buy a second tank for the fry and baby shrimps.

Of course, you will not be able to safe all small ones. In order to do that (and if you want to increase the number of fry and shrimps for sell) you need the second aquarium in any case. However, today we are talking only about one aquarium.

You’ve now managed to breed and grow three different products in a single tank using very little capital for the guppy and shrimp food. (Did I mention the moss feeds off of guppy poop and will cost you nothing after you’ve bought the initial batch?)

This is just a basic stuff. You have just one 20-gallon aquarium and the cost to run that one is very low. Nevertheless, you can make money out of it without any efforts. You have your shrimp, guppies and java moss. Why do those three work well together? Why will they sell well for a store? Because the customer of the store who is interested in your guppies or shrimp is also going to need some moss to protect them. So all of a sudden, you get the trifecta sale!

The Trouble with Breeding Discus

For those of you who are not aware of discus, it’s a type of expensive fish that tends to sell for much more than guppies, etc. The main issue with breeding discus is demand. The demand for these rare fish is just not that high. Say, you breed ten discus and sell them to the pet shop. You probably just made a little bit of money even if the fish is expensive. Why?

Because discuss need more and better food, warmer temperatures, more light, more everything! The excess costs of breeding discus are only worth the cost if you are assured to sell them timely.  Also, keep in mind that to breed Discus you will need at least 30 or 40-gallon tank (if not 75). More investments at every step.

Also, it will take significantly more time for the discus fry to grow out. Another downside is that  shrimp and Discus is not a good combination. You will lose your shrimp and will not be able to get any second income.

Even if you manage to breed more of them than the previous month, the pet shop may not be interested in buying more. Now you have rare, expensive discus that no one wants. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to continue spending in their upkeep.

It’s simply more practical to breed more common fish like guppies. I hope the explanations I’ve given you have shed some light on the subject of breeding fish for money.

Assuming guppies, cherry shrimp, and java moss are all in demand where you live, you could easily find yourself making over $1000 a year with it, even as a beginner. As you learn how it all works and how to figure out what is in demand nearby, you should be able to switch between fish quickly enough to keep up with what is wanted.

Remember, the key is to build a loyal relationship with a pet shop to the point that they buy from you every single time, no matter who else tries to bargain with them. If you manage to accomplish this, you’ll be right as rain so long as you continue to deliver good quality, low-cost fish! Good luck to you all!

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