Keeping fish can become pricey. If there was one thing that I would have wanted to know before I started was how many different thing you can buy.
Because of that, a lot of fellow fish keepers are looking for ways to earn some money back to fund their hobby. I do so myself, and I suppose you are looking for some ways as well. I want to share with you these 11 ways to make some extra cash which can for example fund the hobby.
1 Breeding for profit
This first way is probably what comes to mind first, and it is super popular. Breeding for profit has become an entire movement on its own.
A question that a lot of people have is what should I breed? While there are a lot of options for you to choose from, I want to give you these two specific tips. Breed what sells in the shops, and breed a species of fish that you like.
Breed what sells a lot in the shops
Before you start breeding like crazy, you need to ask yourself: Who are you going to sell to? There needs to be someone who buys the fish from you, otherwise you will be stuck with a hundred angel fish in no time.
Most of the times you will sell your fish to your local fish store. It is unlikely that they will give you cash for it, most of the times they will give you store credit in return. This means that you can go spend the money that you got for selling your fish at that specific store.
If you are already buying there, that is perfect. It can fund your fish food, plant fertilizer and possibly other fish and plants in the future.
Stores prefer to buy their fish from local breeders over wholesalers!
To find out what sells, you should ask your local fish store. Other fish that generally sell well are for example shrimp or german blue rams. If you can deliver fish at a decent size to your store, they will gladly buy them from you.
Breed what you like
When choosing what fish you are going to breed, make sure you choose something you like to keep and breed. Sure, in the best case scenario this is also something that sells a lot in the store, but it is your hobby. If you do not enjoy keeping the fish, the whole fish keeping thing will get boring soon!
Next to selling your fish to shops, you can sell the fish to people in your community. Try and advertise online on a second hand website like craigslist, in Facebook groups or to other people in your community that have an aquarium.
2 Sell live plants
If you have a thriving aquarium with live plants, you will know how often you need to trim those plants and how much plants you have left over. Imagine how many small plants you can start with all these cuttings.
These cuttings are perfect to sell! Imagine how happy you can make other aquarium owners that are looking to start with live plants. You can offer your cuttings to them via the internet or in for example a Facebook group.
Next to plant cuttings, a popular plant to grow is java moss. Java moss is a plant that a lot of beginner (and experienced) people keep in their aquarium, as it is perfect for a lot of different things.
Therefore it sells really quick in fish stores. I myself have often sold a lot of java moss to my local fish store. In return I got store credit which I spent on fish food.
3 Breed live food
The third thing on this list is live food. And you might think, isn’t that the same as breeding live fish? No, it is way different. Something that you can start doing is cultivating your own vinegar eels or micro worms.
If you want to learn how to start cultivating these little goldmines, take a look at some videos of Cory over at Aquarium-Coop.
Once you have your cultures up and running, you will have noticed that you need a some of the worms or eels as a seed portion. Your seed portion will grow to be a big colony over time.
Now comes the good part, you can sell tiny parts of your bigger colony to other people who also want to start growing their own live food. Even if you only charge a small amount, doing it more often will add up to a substantial amount. And more good news: the colony grows back! You can keep doing this.
4 Do maintenance for other people
If you have been gaining experience in doing the maintenance of your tank, you will feel confident to do the maintenance of other people’s aquariums as well. Especially when you are good at it, there are a lot of people out there who will definitely appreciate your services.
Your services can include doing the regular maintenance like water changes or even feeding, but with this point I aim more towards doing the aquascaping or trimming the plants. This is something that a lot of people who keep tanks think they lack the skill to do this themselves.
I have seen a lot of people, for example elderly, hire someone to help them do some of the maintenance. Of course you do not have to ask big bucks, but it can definitely be a way by which you are able to express your passion for fish while helping someone else.
If you are interested in using this way of making some money on the side, you should start slow. If you are delivering quality work over time the word will spread and more people will ask you to help them with their aquarium over time.
5 Offer to watch aquariums when people are on holiday
Now dog sitting is a thing and has been a thing for a long time. While most people take their dog with them when they go on vacation, a lot of aquariums surprisingly stay behind. I have yet to figure out why.
Aquarium owners go on holiday just like other people. It can be tough to prepare for a trip, which can be read in this article I wrote. I can ensure you that they feel a little uncomfortable leaving their beloved aquarium behind.
Now what you can do is offer to take care of their aquarium for the time that they are away. This will involve feeding the fish, measuring the water parameters, adding plant fertilizer and even doing water changes and cleaning the filter when they stay away for a longer period.
Make sure to make some proper agreements with the owner upfront, because it happens that an aquarium shatters overnight (I know right, nightmare material). Other things that can happen are stuff like a power outage etc etc. Just make sure that you are not considered responsible, as this is not under your control.
This definitely is a fun way to make some extra money when you have the time.
6 Give personal advice
If you are super knowledgeable on (a specific subject of) fishkeeping, there are people who really want to learn from you personally. There are so many people starting with keeping fish because it fascinates them, but that realize that they have made a variety of mistakes later on.
I remember that a friend of mine guided me through a lot of aspects of setting up an aquarium, and I could not be more grateful. Although he was by no means an expert, he had been keeping fish for about a year and just knew what mistakes I should avoid (some of them are also on my list of 13 common fishkeeping mistakes, which you probably find helpful and can read here) and how.
Try and find a facebook group or other community and try and be involved. People will start to notice you over time, especially if you have helped them in the past. Once you gain a little bit of deserved trust, you can put yourself out there. Create a post with you and a picture of your aquarium(s) and explain what you want to do for them. Also mention how much you would charge.
If you are hesitant, try and help as many people as you can before you start charging people. This will help to get your name out there, but also gain confidence in your skills as a mentor/consultant.
7 Start working in a fish store (part time)
Alright I get that this is slightly straightforward, but if you just love working with fish and aquariums, this is a perfect way.
Maybe you dream of having your own fish store some day. Or you want to learn everything there is to know and experience first hand. What better place to gain the right experience than working in an actual pet fish store.
This way, you will get to interact with customers and guide them. They will ask you questions and will listen diligently to your advice. People will be extremely grateful that you helped them the way you did.
8 Become a public speaker
Similar to giving personal advice, you can give public speaking a try. This can take on multiple forms. You can give workshops, demo’s, or lectures.
When you are passionate and you are decent in public speaking, there are a lot of people that will want to hear your story. Especially if you have a lot of experience. Maybe you have been breeding corydoras for a long time, or you know everything about german blue rams or even discus fish.
A good recommendation is to contact an aquarium club, where all people with the common aquarium passion will gather. Say that you want to give an aquascape demo, or you want to tell on your experience keeping and breeding angel fish. Whatever you are super passionate about and have a lot of experience with.
Passionate people are always willing to learn.
This is also true for me, and for you because you are reading one of my articles.
9 Do product reviews
Doing product reviews can be a good way to get equipment for free if you are able to pull this off. Maybe you have a personal website or a youtube channel that has some subscribers. You can use this to write of shoot a review of different products, where you try them and tell the audience what you think.
This is something that can be difficult to do when you do not already have something going for you. Just keep it in the back of your head, and know that there are a lot of brands that want people to test their product.
If you are chosen to test a certain piece of equipment (for example a new LED aquarium light) they will send the lamp to you for free, because you get to keep it when the review is done.
Helping people install their aquarium for them is a viable way to make money in the aquarium hobby. You are basically going to do a small scale version of the popular discovery show “Tanked“.
I have seen people that were experience African cichlid keepers help all kind of people set up their cichlid tank for them. The good thing is, they also loved doing this!
Using this way, you can keep setting up aquariums without having to pay for them all. So even if you are doing this for free, only to help your community, you are still able to work with aquariums.
And finally, photography. There are so many people that have access to a decent camera nowadays. It might be a super good DSLR, but it can also be the camera on your mobile phone. These keep getting better and better every year.
If you like photography you can take pictures of your fish. I know you might think “But…. who will pay me for my pictures??”. Good question. The answer are stock photo buyers.
You can upload your picture to a variety of stock photo websites, where professional people and companies go to buy images they might need for different projects. A good example might be for advertisements.
Every time someone buys your photo, you get a small commission. I actually bought all photos on this article from a stock photo website. Look how beautiful some photos can be:
Another bonus point: it is pretty passive money. You can upload 20 photos to a site and not worry about them again. This is an article from Envira, a company active in digital assets. It will tell you about some different places to sell your photographs.
I hope that you got some inspiration to make some money back from your aquarium hobby. My advice is to choose something that you are interested in and give it a try. If you for example like the breeding of fish, find some fish that are rather easy to breed. I have written an article about this, you can check it out here if you want.