Setting Up A Home-Based Aquarium Fish Breeding Business: An Overview
Setting up a home-based aquarium fish breeding business can be an exciting step for any fishkeeping enthusiast to partake in. While experience goes a long way in ensuring the success of your ambitions, just about any aquarist can begin breeding and start realising profit in the fun and rewarding business of fish breeding at home.
Why home fish breeding works
When you visit your local aquarium fish store and take a look at the various imported species of fish that they offer, chances are that a great deal of them come from commercial breeding farms that, in some cases, can be separated by hundreds or thousands of kilometres of distance from the store itself.
Naturally, this presents problems for the local storeowners: namely, the health of the fish during transport. The local store has to pay for the number of fish they purchased regardless of how many of those fish show up dead-on-arrival or battling sickness and stress. These newly imported fish undergo a quarantine period where they are nursed back to health during which the shopkeeper will not be able to sell them.
For this reason, many local stores are more than willing to purchase their fish from local suppliers who can provide healthy, happy fish at similar prices and with a greater chance of their continued survival. Fish which can be put up for sale within days. If you are interested in setting up a home-based breeder business, you can earn a decent living through a reliable network of these local stores.
The Internet also provides a great way to make a profit through your home-based breeder business, especially through using local classifieds websites that let you undercut the local fish shop entirely, selling and delivering your fish directly to customers who, if they are pleased with your fish, will become repeat customers and pass the word on to their friends.
How to begin setting up a home-based breeder business
Naturally, the first thing that you need to do is choose which species of fish you would like to breed. Buying quality pedigree fish can pay dividends in the long run. In general, you can expect to get a higher price on species that are harder to breed successfully, or on common species that you can breed with specialised morphs or colours, ie of high pedigree. It is just as expensive to breed and raise expensive fish as inexpensive fish but the returns are greater. It is better to compete on quality than quantity.
• Killifish are a popular choice, but need a lot of involvement to breed;
• Discus fish are difficult to breed, but can earn breeders a healthy profit and are always in great demand.
• Angelfish are easier to breed, but are not likely to gain a good price unless you pick a specialised colouring or finnage.
• Guppies are easy to breed, and make an excellent beginner’s breeding fish. Some specialised varieties can even fetch good prices.
• Bettas are easy to breed, but you will have to specialise— for example, pedigree bettas such as koi bettas are highly desirable.
There are many other options available, and a successful fish breeder will want to have a selection of species available. Once you become established as a fish breeder, you will develop a good reputation and begin to get repeat customers who will be interested in other species you can provide.
Once you have chosen your fish, you can begin grouping them into suitable pairs or spawning groups. This will require sexing the fish, which is a simple process for some species and a very specialised one for some others. There are several important traits to consider in your pairs or groups that will yield higher-quality results in the resulting offspring:
• Markings, colour and finnage. Choosing fish that display attractive markings and bright colours should produce similarly attractive young. Many people are impressed by the colouration of tropical fish, and this factor will play an important role in the value of the fish you breed.
Similar markings and colours should be paired together, as differences in these attributes will often produce unattractive young. It is generally good advice to avoid crossing different strains of fish for this reason.
• Fish health. Only mature, healthy fish should be used for spawning because unhealthy fish can produce sick or deformed young.
• Pair Compatibility. This is an important factor for some species of fish. For example, some species of cichlids will only form pairs after being raised together for months or years. Other species will respond poorly to induced breeding and begin to bully one another, sometimes to death.
As an additional consideration for pair compatibility, fish must be of the same species. Hybrid fish tend, like many other members of the animal kingdom, to produce sterile young.
Breeding strategies for egg-laying fish
While livebearers are very easy fish to breed and offer a great starting point for beginners, you will eventually need to begin breeding egg-laying fish in order to realise a profit. There are five major groups of egg-layers to be considered when setting up a home-based breeder business:
• Egg-scattering fish These species of fish scatter their eggs during spawning. The eggs either fall down into the substrate, attach to plants, or float to the surface. These fish will produce large numbers of small eggs, and may eat their own eggs. So must be separated from eggs soon after spawning.
• Egg-depositing fish These fish will deposit their eggs safely on a substrate in the tank. This may be the glass wall of the tank, or on rocks or wood present in the tank. The eggs tend to be larger than scattered eggs. Some of these egg-depositing species will care for their eggs and the resulting young, while others will not.
• Egg-Burying Fish. Setting up a home-based breeder business with egg-burying fish can be tricky. These fish inhabit lakebeds that are dry for some portion of the year; the eggs lay dormant until the annual rains begin and hatching begins then. Recreating these conditions in an aquarium can be difficult.
• Mouth-Brooding Fish. Mouth-brooders are fish that retain the eggs and sometimes even the young fry in their mouth until the fish are ready to fend for themselves.
• Nest-Building Fish. These fish are not unlike egg-burying fish, except that they actively construct nests for themselves to lay eggs in. Examples include the bubble-nests formed by labyrinth fish.
Whichever type of fish you choose to breed, you must design your tank to have the necessary rocks, plants or other spawning material and enough space for the fish to feel comfortable spawning.
Designing your spawning tank
Since community tanks are filled with neighbouring fish that may predate on the vulnerable young, it is crucial to grow the young fish in a separate spawning tank. Spawning tanks need to have some special construction elements to protect the young fish:
• A protected heater will keep the young fish from burning themselves against the edges of the heater.
• A slow-moving sponge filter will prevent eggs or fry from being sucked into the filtration system.
• Tanks with a dual-layer substrate are ideal for egg-scattering fish since the parents of these fish may eat their own eggs. A permeable layer that lets the eggs fall down out of reach of the hungry parents is ideal for allowing optimal spawning conditions.
• Egg-depositing fish should be provided with a healthy number of fine and broad-leaved plants. Additionally, egg-depositors that do not care for their young should be removed from the tank once the eggs are laid.
• Nest-building fish should be provided with materials with which they can build their nests. Additionally, water currents should be very low so that the nests are not disturbed.
Once you have setup your spawning tank, you need to simulate natural conditions and keep your parent fish in good, healthy condition in order to stimulate the production of offspring. With care and a little bit of luck, you should begin to see young fish appearing in your tanks, ready for sale.
You will also need growing on tanks for maximising the growth rate of your young fish. large tanks without gravel and sponge filters are ideal. This will result in fish that are saleable within 3-6 months depending on species. The earlier you can sell the young the more profit you will make.
Tips on advertising and selling your fish
Like any business, you need to be competitive in the existing market both in terms of price, quality, and advertising. These three factors are what combine to create value in any product or service, and your fish are no different.
While the price is largely determined by the existing local market, and the quality by your fish keeping experience, your advertising is only limited by how much effort you invest in the process. Taking good pictures is a must— high quality photographs of your fish will attract buyers. Invest in a reasonably good digital camera, preferably one that takes animal photos. Then, take many, many different photos and select the best.
It is especially important to include pictures of your adult fish, as well as the young, in your adverts so that your buyers have a good idea about what to expect as they grow. Investing in quality photographs can pay off with a stream of interested buyers, especially if you choose to advertise your breeding business exclusively online.