The Best cichlid to breed for profit depends on the level of the hobbyist. Learn how and what types of cichlids to breed. Select mouth breeders to egg layers. This is measured in terms of experience and know-how of cichlid keeping. To be successful at this endeavor will require a strategy and level of planning to succeed.
There are numerous working parts to this but here are three necessary pieces to pull this off. One is selecting the right cichlid species, having the right amount of tanks, and have a market to sell to.
With hundreds of species of cichlids to select from, where do you start? Simply looking thru online forums, classifieds and online pet stores will shed some light. But here is a list of some recognizable species of cichlids which can be lucrative or at least have been known to be.
There are so many other things to consider for example think about the type of cichlid and how it lays eggs. Is the cichlid is a mouth breeder or egg layer? Egg laying cichlids also called substratum spawners deposit their eggs on hard surfaces.
Mouth breeding cichlids require a male or female to hold the eggs until the fry absorb their yolk sacs and become free swimming. Clearly cichlids that lay eggs will yield up to hundreds and even a thousand eggs compared to up to 50 or so eggs from a mouth breeding cichlid. Purely based on volume the egg laying cichlid is the way to go.
The tanks play a vital role in breeding cichlids for profit. At a minimum you will need a breeding tank to develop the livestock to sell. Additional tanks are necessary for growing out the fry, and in the event a parent needs to be removed. This can happen when one of the parents becomes over protective and may harm its spawning partner.
Or you may have to remove both parents should they want to eat their fry to make way for another spawn. There are so many variables here and that’s why having experience will prove to be pivotal in success.
It makes sense to have two to four rearing tanks for the fry. This can be beneficial to the fry so they have more room to grow and spreads the risk out over multiple tanks should a disease or sickness come into play. It also makes culling easier when the amount of fry are thinned out. Culling deformed fry is a necessary part of rising clean and healthy or deform-free fry. If you expect top dollar people will expect top quality fish.
Knowing your fish is important and what does that mean. Not all cichlids are created equal and this applies to how long they take to grow and certainly their water requirements. Take for example Discus
, this is considered the King of the Aquarium. These beautiful South American cichlids are just gorgeous and graceful but they require a level of advanced sophistication to breed them let alone rear their fry.
Discus are very hard to keep in terms of everything, water quality, pH and diet. You really need to be an expert level to keep these fish healthy and happy. They are sensitive to disease and infections but they are very lucrative to someone who understands their requirements. It’s just like anything else; when you learn the right way to breed and raise them it’s worth it.
Regarding cichlids eggs for example egg laying species, like Angel Fish
. They lay their eggs on a flat surface, aquarium plant, and clay flower pot. One can simply remove the parents or remove the eggs and artificially hatch them. Essentially eggs take several days to determine if they are viable or not, by the third day they should appear honey colored with black peppered markings.
Over the next five days they become wrigglers and eventually are free swimming after they have absorbed their yolk sacs. Fry can be feed live brine shrimp and various prepared foods available for cichlid fry.
In contrast egg laying cichlids require a parent either male or female to rear the fry. And the fry can be limited to fifty or so eggs maybe more. Take for example Oreochromis niloticus known as the Nile Tilapia
. Both of these African cichlids are mouth breeders who rear their eggs in their mouths until their free-swimming.
A breeder has two choices with these types of cichlids, wait for the male or female to finally release the eggs or manually strip them. Striping them is the way to go because you can artificially rear the eggs with a cichlid egg tumbler and allow the female to bounce back to health and fatten up again to spawn. Generally it takes about 2 to 3 months for a fry to reach one inch in length which is the stand size to sell fry at, and it’s not uncommon to see fish for sale smaller than an inch. So roughly speaking it takes three months to get your fry ready for market.
From a volume perspective the trend seems to be breeding Tilapia species such as O. niloticus
, O. mossambicus
, and O. aureus
. As these has become an important source of food in the world now. Behind salmon, freshwater fish such as Tilapia is big business
from a consumption perspective while breeding and selling other cichlids is for hobby perspective, the fish are considered pets, not dinner. If you’re not going into Tilapia fish farming than you’re going to be selling cichlid fry as pets.
In a classic article by Dr. Loiselle, On The Economics Of Cichlid Breeding
, he details three parties to which you can possibly sell to, they are a wholesaler, a pet store and direct, direct would be the consumer. As mentioned in the beginning of this article having a strategy and plan are essential. Take for example selling direct to hobbyists, do you have the means to keep the fry and feed them daily until they sell out.
What will you do if they don’t and you’re left with sub size adult fish that in turn become active and want to reproduce? Can you afford to feed them and for that matter, afford the space they occupy? Selling direct requires patience, a means to pack and ship fish to customers. Do you have the time to take the fish to the post office or air freight and cargo at the airport? I add another source to compliment Dr. Loiselle’s article from the 1980, enter online auctions and forums. These venues are basically selling direct but level the playing field in terms of offering fish to a lot of eyeballs.
The money, that’s what the Best cichlid to breed for profit is all about right? From the perspective of getting the most money per fry, going direct is the way to go but you run the risk of not selling everything or sitting on them for a long time as the fry continue to change in size. Selling to a pet store does not seem realistic because at most you will be given store credit and they in most cases they will not take all of the fry off your hands in one transaction.
Of all of the scenarios relative to selling, the wholesaler would be the best option. The reason for this is simple; you sell all of the fry in one transaction. Granted you want to do business with someone local. It doesn’t make sense shipping a box of fry to a wholesaler. The caveat with this is that you’re going to get pennies on the dollar but that’s where the volume makes up for it. If you can establish a great relationship with a wholesaler, it would benefit both parties especially if you focus on breeding a species they want and can’t import.
The species, that’s what the Best cichlid to breed? This is a personal decisional but one suggestion would be to go with a dwarf cichlid such as Apistogramma
and here’s why. Apisto are small, most never exceeding four inches in length. This means you have a decent amount of tanks in a small space. It’s quiet simple to create nice rack stands to house 10 or 15 gallon tanks to stack them vertically.
This would be a win win strategy because small tanks cost less than larger ones. Their easier to maintain and as stated you can pack a lot into a small space. Overall their cheaper to operate and for species, Apistogramma are extremely popular with dozens of species to choose from. There is a pretty significance tribe of Apisto lovers to market to. Here is a great resource for Apistogramma keepers.
There is nothing wrong with the other species mentioned here it’s just a suggestion to go with dwarf cichlids. Should you have the budget and space for larger tanks the other cichlids are equally as reward but may cost more to maintain.
From the perspective of getting the most money per fry, going direct is the way to go but you run the risk of not selling everything or sitting on them for a long time as the fry continue to change in size.
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