Most Profitable Fish to Breed

Top 6: Most Profitable Fish to Breed: Species for Aquaculture Success


The business of breeding fish is one that has the potential of being highly lucrative when done correctly. With the consistent increase in aquariums’ popularity in homes, schools, and offices, the demand for highly sought fish is there.

While determining which species of fish will bring the most profit to you is likely dependent on many factors, including your current setup and capacity, we’ve put together a list of the 6 most profitable fish to breed.

6 Most Profitable Fish to Breed

Get your aquarium or outdoor set-up ready for the following beautiful and profitable fish species. 

1. Dwarf Cichlids (Apistogramma)

Most Profitable Fish to Breed Dwarf Cichlids
Dwarf Cichlids are splendiferous and very Profitable Fish to Breed

Dwarf cichlids are a large family of freshwater fish, with the Apistogramma being a large genus. These fish are commonly kept in aquariums worldwide but are native to the waters in South America. 

What Makes Them one of the Most profitable fish to breed

These fish make for an excellent starter for those looking to get into the fish breeding business primarily because the costs associated are minimal compared to some of the others in this list. Dwarf cichlids are easily obtainable at a low cost, and their aquarium setup needs are pretty minimal.

How to Breed Them

Ideally, you should purchase a larger group of dwarf cichlids and wait for a pair to form on their own naturally. If the breeding process is becoming a bit challenging, you can mimic a rainy season in the environment by changing the water to a cooler and softer formula.

Breeding Challenges

One of the challenges of breeding dwarf cichlids is awaiting the juvenile fish to become of saleable size and coloring. The challenge is in your favor because they hold high value in the market as a product of this.

2. Wild Caught Cichlids (Cichlidae)

Most Profitable fish to breed Cichlidae parachromis managuensis
Cichlidae is an excellent fish to make some money

The larger familial group of cichlids, or Cichlidae, found in the wild holds higher value in breeding for aquariums. As mentioned previously, you will find cichlids  in Central and South American regions.

What Makes Them one of the Most profitable fish to breed

Mass breeding of aquarium fish has weakened genetics, making the wild-caught species more sought after. Aquarium fish go off a ranking system that shows the number of generations away from wild parents, with F1 and F2 being more profitable.

How to Breed Them

However, you can obtain wild, or as close to wild as possible, cichlids; it is crucial to provide them with a tank that mimics their natural environment as much as possible. You want to give them as much space as you can and equip the tank with pieces that are similar to their original homes.

In the tanks of wild-caught cichlids, it is also essential to add in dither fish, who provide a more natural environment and help boost your fish’s confidence. Be sure to select fish that are quick, plentiful, and large enough to avoid being considered a meal for your cichlids.

Breeding Challenges

Often the stress of changing environments can be difficult for wild-caught cichlids, so it is important to watch them closely. It is not recommended for first-timers to try their hand at wild-caught cichlids as it requires a lot of prior knowledge to avoid over or under handling the fish.

3. Discus (Symphysodon)

Most profitable fish to breed Discus Symphysodon
The amazing discus fish will keep your fish tank business afloat with their profits from breeding and selling

Discus fish are one of the most profitable fish to breed. The species is yet another genus of the cichlid that is highly sought after in aquariums but is a natural habitat of the Amazon river basin in South America. Because of their bright-colored markings and patterns, they are also commonly known as pompadour fish.

What Makes Them one of the Most profitable fish to breed

Discus holds a timeless beauty with its colorful markings, distinctive shape, and behaviors and is especially popular in the Asian aquaculture market. They are highly sought after and very difficult to breed, making them a highly profitable aquarium fish.

How to Breed Them

As mentioned, breeding can be quite challenging to discus. The prime discus environment requires multiple elements that can become costly quick, including:

  • Multiple tanks for growing fish
  • Separate broodstock tank
  • Reverse osmosis water
  • Hatching equipment for Brine shrimp
  • Expensive food costs

You can cut costs if you happen to have a reverse osmosis water system set up in your home, otherwise expect frequent water changes in all of your tanks.

Breeding Challenges

Unlike other cichlid species, buying a larger group of smaller fish and waiting for a bonded pair is not recommended. This process could take a long time and potentially could never happen. It will be better for you to purchase a mature breeding pair, but proceed with caution; they can be costly. For basic coloring in a mature couple, you can quickly pay $250.

4. Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus Zebra)

Most Profitable Fish to Breed Zebra Pleco Hypancistrus Zebra
A Zebra Pleco resting

The zebra pleco belongs to the catfish family and is native to the Xingu River in Brazil. Its name comes from the landlocked zebra because of its distinct black and white striping. 

What Makes Them one of the Most profitable fish to breed

The zebra pleco was exported from Brazil in significant numbers since its discovery in the 1990s. Today, the government has since placed bans on exportation to curb the population from reaching extinction. The scarcity of the ban makes the Zebra Pleco one of the most profitable fish to breed, as demand is high.

In addition to exportation, the species faces additional threats due to the construction of the Belo Monte Dam. The dam causes complications to the water flow, ultimately disrupting the natural habitat of the zebra pleco.

Because the species is endangered and hard to come by, they sell at very high rates.

How to Breed Them

The water condition will be of utmost importance in breeding and nurturing the zebra pleco. You will likely need a reverse osmosis treatment system to care for your fish correctly.

Breeding Challenges

As to be expected, it can be challenging breeding and nurturing the young zebra pleco. The fish only produce around 15 eggs per batch, which is on the lower production end to other species on the list. They are also expensive to acquire a proper broodstock, but in the future, this pays off as they sell at very high rates once you have grown them large enough.

5. Clownfish (Amphiprioninae)

Most Profitable Fish to Breed Clownfish Amphiprioninae
Clownfish are relatively easy to breed, considering they produce somewhere around 1,000 eggs per batch and are very profitable to sell

There are currently almost thirty different species within the clownfish, or Amphiprioninae, family. They are unique for the relationship formed in nature with sea anemones and develop habitats in warmer waters such as the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Pacific Ocean, Great Barrier Reef, Southwest Asia, Japan, and Malaysia.

What Makes Them one of the Most profitable fish to breed

Clownfish are relatively easy to breed, considering they produce somewhere around 1,000 eggs per batch, meaning the numbers are definitely in your favor. You can even look into developing your strain for the more experienced fish breeder, exponentially increasing the value over a standard clownfish. The clownfish is high in demand and easy to breed. It is therefore one of the most profitable fish to breed.

How to Breed Them

Clownfish tend to be easier to breed in aquariums than others on this list. While they will not necessarily sell at the highest values, the gain is in the numbers with this profitable fish. You will want to make sure you equip yourself with the necessary tools and knowledge of proper breeding grounds for saltwater fish.

Breeding Challenges

The baby version of clownfish behaves on two opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of aggression, and it is entirely dependent on the number of fish in the tank. If you have a high enough amount of fish in the tank, they act like a swarm and leave peacefully. With too few fish in the tank, the baby clownfish are incredibly aggressive and will fight endlessly.

6. Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma Flavescens)

Most Profitable Fish to Breed Yellow Tang Zebrasoma Flavescens
Yellow Tang are low in supply and therefore highly profitable for the breeder

The yellow tang is one of the most popular aquarium fish and belongs to the Acanthuridae family, shared with the unicornfish and surgeonfish. In nature, the fish prefer shallow reefs common to the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and eastern Japan. 

What Makes Them one of the Most profitable fish to breed

There have been recent conservation efforts that have placed more pressure on collecting yellow tang in the wild. As a result, there has been a very sudden increase in cost. If you find that you are successful in breeding yellow tang, you could potentially try your hand at breeding higher-value tangs. The Yellow is hard to find in the wild and therefore in supply is low. If you know how to do it, yellow tang is another one of the most profitable fish to breed.

How to Breed Them

It is crucial to provide excellent quality plankton foods properly to breed yellow tang to saleable size successfully. Additionally, as with any other fish breeding, you will need to closely monitor the tank water to ensure its high quality over time.

According to experts, as yellow tang primarily eats marine plant material in the wild, it is vital to incorporate this into their aquarium diets. Typically, they are fed meat and fish-based aquarium food in captivity, but it is unknown what the long-term effects are on the fish’s health from this diet.

Breeding Challenges

Up until very recently, it was believed that yellow tang could not be bred in captivity. The biggest challenge comes from evolving them through their early planktonic period.

We do have a list of some related articles for your interest:

Wrap-Up of the Most profitable fish to breed

Breeding fish isn’t always an easy job, but it can reap significant financial rewards when appropriately handled. Your knowledge and skill set will play a large role in the success of your fish breeding business.

By choosing from our list of the 6 most profitable fish to breed, you are taking the first step to find financial success. Ensure you are educated and have all the supplies necessary, and your fish breeding business should go swimmingly. 

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