13 Fish You Can Actually Breed For Profit (Interesting Suggestions!)

I have been keeping and breeding tropical fish for over 30 years. In that time I have bred a dozen different species of fish to sell to my local fish store. The money I have made has paid for the majority of the tanks and equipment in my fish room. Breeding fish can be very profitable!

Can You Make Money Breeding Fish?

Yes, you can make money breeding tropical fish, but you need to bear in mind that making money is a relative term. Very few people get rich breeding fish or even manage to make it their full-time job.

However, it is possible to make money, and if you choose the right species. I have essentially funded my entire fish room, and all the tanks in my house, from the fish I have bred.

Breeding tropical fish is a great side hustle, and even from a single tank, you can make hundreds of dollars a month.

Fish You Can Actually Breed For Profit

Breeding for profit is all about choosing the right species to breed. You need to pick a species of fish that 1, you can breed, and 2, you can raise a good number of young in a relatively short space of time. The list below ticks both boxes, subject to your own skill levels.

  • Guppies
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Angelfish
  • German Blue Rams
  • Discus
  • Black Mollies
  • Platy
  • Ricefish
  • Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Shell Dwellers
  • Goldfish
  • Panda Corydoras
  • Kribensis

13 – Kribensis

Kribensis

Kribensis are probably one of the easiest members of the Cichlid family to breed. To start breeding Kribensis, purchase yourself a group of 5 or 6 young Kribensis.

Keep them together for the next 6 to 12 months and as they mature, they will naturally start to pair off. When they do, select one pair and either move them to a dedicated breeding tank or remove all the other Kribensis and leave the selected pair in the tank.

You will need to provide your pair of Kribensis with a choice of caves. I usually put one terracotta flower pot on its side, one-half coconut, and another cave made from rocks and a piece of slate. By providing your Kribensis with a choice of caves, they can select one they are happy with rather than making do with the one and only cave.



Spend two or three weeks feeding your Kribensis pair good quality live or frozen foods to get them into spawning condition. When you notice your Kribensis have started to either excavate around one of the caves or block the entrance up with substrate, you know spawning is imminent.

Following spawning, your Kribensis will guard the eggs, and then the fry. Often the first sign your Kribensis have spawned is when the proud parents escort their new family around the aquarium, keeping them in a tight little school, constantly looking out for predators.

The Kribensis parents will protect their young for the first 6 to 8 weeks of their lives, but then they will be looking to spawn again. At this point, the young Kribensis should be moved to their own aquarium and raised to a saleable size.

We answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Kribensis in a separate article.


12 – Panda Corydoras

Panda Corydoras

Of all the Corydoras species, Panda Corydoras may be the easiest to spawn. They will often just spawn in the community aquarium.

To breed Panda Corydoras for profit, you will want to set up a colony of 6 or more Pandas in a dedicated breeding tank. Panda corydoras want to stick their eggs to either the aquarium glass or the underside of a plant leaf.

Set your breeding tank up with a good number of broad-leaved plants. I have used Cryptocoryne Wendetii to great success before.

To condition your Corydoras, spend a few weeks feeding them either good quality frozen food like bloodworms or daphnia, or feed them live blackworms. Blackworms are great for bulking up Corydoras, and your fish will go crackers for them.

After two or three weeks of conditioning, you can stimulate your Corys into breeding by doing a large water change, refilling with water that is a few degrees cooler than the tank water. This water change with cooler water tricks the Corys into thinking the rainy season has started. In the wild, the rainy season is the time when food is abundant and many fish species spawn.

When your Corydoras are ready to spawn, the male will be seen trying to push their snouts into the sides of the females. This is known as the ‘T’ position. The T position prompts the female into releasing an egg which she will hold between her pelvic fins.

The female will hold the egg, and once the male has fertilized it, she will stick it either to the glass, or the underside of a plant leaf.

Your Corydoras may spend a few minutes or a few hours spawning. Once the action stops, you can either remove the Corydoras and leave the eggs to hatch, or you can remove the eggs and place them into a dedicated tank where they can hatch and you can raise the fry.

Corydoras eggs are surprisingly tough. If you want to remove them from the spawning aquarium, all you need to do is, using your finger, roll the egg off the glass and onto a credit card. You can safely remove the egg from the water and place it into a hatching tank.

The eggs will hatch within a couple of days and the fry will be free swimming in 4 or 5 days. Feed the babies small food like newly hatched brine shrimp and they will soon be at a saleable size.



11 – Fancy Goldfish

Fantail Goldfish

Seriously, you can breed goldfish for profit. To breed goldfish for profit, firstly accept it isn’t a get rich quick scheme. You won’t be able to churn our goldfish unless you own massive ponds.

To breed goldfish for profit, start with a pair of good quality fancy goldfish. Lionheads, Fantails, and Ranchus always sell well. Set up an aquarium with a large clump of Java Moss or homemade spawning mops.

When the goldfish spawn, the male will drive the female into the moss or spawning mop where she will deposit the eggs and he will fertilize them. Spawning will probably last for an hour or two. Once both fish lose interest in spawning, either remove the goldfish or remove the spawning mops. Goldfish will happily eat their own eggs and fry, so don’t leave them together.

The goldfish eggs will usually hatch in 2 to 5 days, depending on water temperature and the fry will be free-swimming a few days later. Feed the fry on newly hatched brine shrimp, moving onto crushed flake food or dedicated fry food when the babies are large enough.

To stand a chance of making some good money from your fancy goldfish, you will need to raise them for the next 12 to 18 months. Larger fancy goldfish are always in demand and good quality fancy goldfish attract a good price.

Feed your baby goldfish good quality food and carry out regular water changes to keep nitrates low.


10 – Shell Dwellers

Shell Dwellers

There are a number of different ‘shell dwellers’ in the hobby at the moment. Shell Dwellers are a group of fish that, despite being some of the smallest Cichlids on the planet, have a tremendous amount of character. Neolamprologus multifasciatus are probably the most widely kept of the shell dwellers.

Neolamprologus multifasciatus, let’s refer to them as Neos from here on, are known as shell dwellers because they literally spend most of their lives living in shells. They hide in a shell, they spawn in a shell, they keep their young in a shell!

To set up a Neo tank, start with a deep layer of fine sand, like pool filter sand, and place a selection of shells directly onto the substrate. You can purchase a bag of shells from Amazon. Make sure you have 2 to 3 shells for every adult fish you add to your aquarium.

The Neos will select a shell and make it their own. They will defend their shell from all who stray too close.

A group of Neos will pair off and spawn fairly readily. Feed the adults a good quality diet to condition them, and then leave them to it. The first you will know about a successful spawn will be when the fry venture out of the shell.

Spawning and raising Neos is really pretty easy. The hardest part will be trying to catch the babies out to sell them. The minute you go near the tank with a net, every fish will disappear into their shells.


9 – Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows are a color form of the regular White Clouds. They are as easy to spawn as regular White Clouds, but they are likely to sell for more money due to their scarcity.

To breed Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows, set up a dedicated aquarium. A 10 or 20-gallon tank should be sufficient. Add a large clump of Java Moss or some homemade spawning mops. When your White Clouds are actually spawning they will deposit the eggs into the moss or mops.

Spend a couple of weeks conditioning your White Clouds into spawning condition by feeding them lots of live or frozen foods. When your females are looking plump and the males can be seen ‘dancing’ in front of the females, move your group of White Clouds to the spawning tank.

Your Gold White Clouds will probably spawn quickly after being moved to the spawning tank.

When your Gold White Clouds spawn, you will see them swimming in and out of the moss or spawning mops. Each pass, depositing more and more eggs. Once spawning has finished, be prepared to remove the adults and return them to their usual tank. White Clouds will happily eat every egg they can find and the developing fry.

White Cloud Mountain Minnow eggs take around 2 to 3 days to hatch and the fry will be free swimming a couple of days later. Feed the fry on newly hatched brine shrimp, moving on to good commercial fry food or crushed flakes.

Gold White Cloud Mountain Minnows always sell well, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a local fish store that wants to buy them from you.



8 – Ricefish

Rice Fish

Ricefish are seriously underappreciated in the hobby at the moment. At first glance, they are relatively dull, but in fact, they are surprisingly colorful and their color ‘pops’ against the bright greens of a planted tank. If your local store doesn’t yet sell them, they will certainly start once you take the first batch in to sell to them.

Ricefish will spend several months of the year spawning. During this time they may spawn daily. When you are ready to spawn your Ricefish, place one or more pairs into a 10 or 20-gallon aquarium which is planted up with fine-leafed plants, Java moss, or spawning mops.

Ricefish have a slightly unusual technique for spawning. The females will swim around the aquarium with the eggs ‘dangling’ from her. The eggs hang down like a string of grapes. She may keep the eggs attached for several hours or several days, depending on the actual species. When she is ready, the female will deposit the eggs into the plants or spawning mops.

The eggs will take a few days to hatch and the young should be fed micro worms or vinegar eels, moving on to newly hatched brine shrimp after a week or so. Ricefish grow quickly. This is probably an evolutionary adaptation to their short lives in the wild.

Although Ricefish show no maternal care for their young, they don’t usually eat the eggs or fry. The real problem raising Ricefish is, that as the young Ricefish grow, they will eat the next batch of developing fry. For this reason, separate batches should be raised in separate aquariums.

Ricefish spawn often and develop quickly. For this reason, you may need to find 2 or 3 local outlets to sell your Ricefish.



7 – Platies

Platy Fish

Being a live-bearing species of fish, Platies make an excellent choice as a fish to breed for profit. Platies are always popular in local fish stores and any good store should be keen to buy your Platies. Choose a bright, colorful Platy to breed from. Bright orange, yellow or red Platies tend to sell better and therefore will be more in demand from your local fish store.

To spawn Platies, get a group of 1 male to 3 or 4 females. Feed the Platies well, which will help the females produce lots of healthy fry.

Your Platies will be breeding constantly and the females will produce fry every month for years. To maximize your Platy production, move the heavily pregnant females to a dedicated fry raising tank prior to birthing. When the female drops her young, move her back to the main tank and raise the fry.

Platy fry grow quickly and should be ready to sell within a few short months.



6 – Black Mollies

Much like Platies, Black Mollies are a live-bearing species of fish that reproduce quickly.

To breed Black Mollies for profit, set up a 30 or 40-gallon aquarium. Add 3 to 4 females and a single male to the tank. The decoration is not important in this breeding setup, however adding live plants will help process some of the fish waste, and also give the females a place to hide from the male, who will want to be spawning constantly.

Bearing in mind the fact that Black Mollies spawn continually and the females are essentially pregnant permanently throughout their lives, feed your Black Mollies a really good quality diet that includes lots of live or frozen foods.

Black Mollies show no parental care for their young, so to maximize production, consider moving the females to a dedicated fry rearing tank just prior to her giving birth. You should move her back once she has given birth.

The fry will take crushed flakes or a dedicated fry food from birth. They will also appreciate the addition of newly hatched brine shrimp or frozen cyclops added to their diet.

Black Molly babies grow fairly quickly and will be ready to sell within a few months.


5 – Discus

Breeding Discus for profit is not for everyone. You will need good quality breeding stock, a moderately large setup for raising fry, and a good, reliable outlet to sell the Discus fry to. If you can tick all those boxes, Discus can be very profitable.

To breed your Discus you will need to start with a pair. Unfortunately, you can’t make Discus pair up, they have to choose their partners for themselves. Place your pair of Discus into a 40-gallon aquarium and add a breeding cone or two and maybe a piece of slate standing up against the glass.

By giving the Discus a choice of spawning sites, they are less likely to choose an unsuitable place to spawn, like on the aquarium heater or filter intake pipe.

Discus are fantastic parents. They will tend to their eggs whilst they develop and then guard the fry for a number of weeks after they hatch. One of the pros to breeding Discus is the parents do most of the hard work for you.

Discus are fantastic parents. They will tend to their eggs whilst they develop and then guard the fry for a number of weeks after they hatch. One of the pros to breeding Discus is the parents do most of the hard work for you.

Discus can be extremely profitable, but you do need skills and outlets to sell your fry to.



4 – German Blue Rams

German Blue Rams

As with Discus, German Blue Rams can be extremely profitable, but you will need a level of skill and access to good quality breeding stock. The number one secret of breeding German Blue Rams is water temperature. Rams will need their aquarium temperature to be around 84°F to 86°F.

There are two main methods for breeding German Blue Rams, in a pair or as a hareem.

In the ‘pair’ method, select a male and female Ram and place them in a 10-gallon aquarium. Decoration is not important to the fish, however, they will need a place to lay their eggs. A very flat pebble or small terracotta saucer will do the job.

If you use the ‘hareem’ method you will want to have 1 male to 2 or 3 females. You will need a few pebbles or saucers so each female has her own spawning site. The male will service all his females.

After spawning the German Blue Rams will take good care of their eggs and the developing young. The fry will need to be fed very small food like microworms or vinegar eels, moving on to newly hatched brine shrimp as the babies develop.

If you can crack German Blue Ram breeding, you can make a lot of money.

For even higher profits you could try breeding Dark Knight Rams!



3 – Angelfish

Angelfish

Like other members of the Cichlid family on this list, Angelfish are amazing parents who will take excellent care of their fry.

Although Angelfish will happily spawn in the community aquarium, for maximum profit, consider setting up a dedicated breeding tank. A 20-gallon tank will be fine for a pair of Angelfish. A simple sponge filter will suffice.

Provide your Angelfish pair with a couple of different places to spawn. A piece of slate set at about 45° and a terracotta flower pot will both make excellent spawning sites.

After you add your pair to the spawning tank, spend a week or two feeding high-quality food, including live or frozen bloodworms. When your pair is ready to spawn they will spend a couple of days cleaning their chosen site. If you see your Angelfish ‘biting’ the slate or flower pot, they are cleaning it in preparation to lay their eggs.

When spawning begins, the female will swim slowly up the chosen spawning site. She will deposit a line of eggs with each pass. As soon as she finishes a line, the male will follow the same line, fertilizing the eggs.

This egg-laying can go on for a couple of hours or more. Once they finish laying their eggs, both parents will take turns guarding the egg. Once the eggs hatch the adults will take care of the fry. Any eggs or fry that fall off the slate, will be picked up and stuck back into place by the parents.

Once the fry are free swimming, the adults will continue to guard them and actively lead the fry around the tank in a search for food. Newly hatched brine shrimp are the food of choice for Angelfish fry, followed as the fry grow by cyclops, crushed flake, and then onto micro pellets.

After 6 to 8 weeks the parents will be thinking of spawning again and the fry should be moved to a separate tank.

If you have the skills and space to breed Angelfish they can be extremely profitable. Angelfish are undoubtedly one of the most widely sold fish in the world. Any store worth going to will sell Angelfish week-in-week-out.


2 – Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco

Number 2 on my list is the Bristlenose Pleco. There is an old adage for breeding Bristlenose Plecos ’Add water, will breed’. It really can be that easy, all you need do is set your aquarium up and leave the Bristlenose to it.

You genuinely can breed Bristlenose Plecos for profit in your community aquarium because the Bristlenose lay their eggs and care for their young in a cave, away from other fish.

If you decide to breed your Bristlenose Plecos in a dedicated aquarium, set the aquarium up with a number of caves. Ideally, you want to have more than one cave per fish. For example, if you have a breeding trio, put 5 caves in the aquarium. That way everyone gets their own cave and they can choose which cave works best for them.

If you can source a selection of slightly different sized and even shaped caves, all the better. Place the caves all facing at different angles too.

Unlike with many of the livebearers on this list, you want to keep more males than females. An ideal breeding trio would be 1 female to 2 males. The reason you want this ‘backwards’ ratio is because of the way the Bristlenose Plecos spawn and then care for their young.

When preparing to spawn your Bristlenose Plecos, feed them lots of live or frozen bloodworms. If you put the effort in now with the conditioning feeding, the female will reward you with a bumper crop of eggs.

When your Bristlenose Plecos are ready to spawn, the male will attract the female to his cave. If she goes in he will trap her there until she lays her eggs. Once she is done he will kick her out and then fertilize and protect the eggs. The female will then go off for a few days before visiting the cave of another male in the aquarium where she will deposit more eggs.

Because males guarding eggs can be difficult to see in the cave, it can be hard to know if your Bristlenose Plecos have actually spawned. One sure-fire way to know your male is guarding eggs is if you observe him sitting at the entrance of his cave, ‘fanning’ water in.

Bristlenose Plecos will continue to look after their fry until the fry grow large enough that they leave the cave. Once the fry are out of the cave, they are essentially on their own and the male will take little if any care of them.


1 – Guppies

Guppies are without any shadow of a doubt THE fish to breed for profit. They are probably the best-selling fish in the world and they come in a kaleidoscope of colors.

If you are serious about breeding guppies for profit, you need to set up a dedicated breeding tank. Guppies will breed in the community aquarium, but just about every fish in the hobby, including guppies themselves, seems to find guppy babies tasty!

Set your breeding tank up with a simple sponge filter, a heater, and then lots of live plants. Java Moss is the ideal plant for a guppy aquarium because it provides the perfect refuge for baby guppies.

When purchasing your breeder guppies, choose 1 male for every 3 to 4 females. This ratio will result in lots of babies, but more importantly, means the male’s constant desire to spawn is spread out across more than one female. If you just keep a pair of guppies, the male can literally harass the female to death.

As with many other species of fish, condition your guppies into spawning by feeding them lots of live or frozen foods. If you have the space, (and the patience) keep your females separate from your males for a good 6 months or so.

During this 6 month period, the females will grow and put on weight without the strain of producing babies. When it does come to spawning, the female will reward your patience by producing large broods of babies.

Guppy fry will grow quickly. Feed the fry newly hatched brine shrimp, frozen cyclops, and crushed flake, moving on to mini pellets when the fry are large enough.



In Conclusion

Breeding fish for profit is great fun and incredibly rewarding. You can make $1,000 a year from a single tank. Get yourself 3 or 4 breeding tanks and you start to make some real money.

Whatever fish you choose to breed, make sure it is a fish you enjoy keeping. Breeding a fish you enjoy keeping is always easier than a fish you have no interest in.


About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James
Editor

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