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FAQs about the Business of Livestock Aquaculture

Related Articles: Stocking a Business, Open Letter to the Trade re Quarantining Livestock, Growing Reef Corals For Profit, Pond Service Business, Don't Sell Non-Aquatic Plants!, Live Plants & Macro-Algae (IZOO 98 Report), Marine Macro-Algae, Ornamental Marine Algae/How to Raise & Market It, Compatible Marine SpeciesMarine Fishes, Selection, Display in the Industry, Damsels, Clownfishes, Hawkfishes

Related FAQs: Livestock Business 1, Livestock Business 2Livestock Business 3, & FAQs on: Marine Wholesale,  & FAQs on: Wholesalers, Transshippers, Jobbers, & Sources For: FW Fish & Invert. Livestock, FW Plants, Pondfishes/Comets, Marine Algae, SW Invertebrates, SW Fishes, & From/By Source Countries, & Facilities: Collecting Stations, Holding Systems, Breeding/Aquaculture, & Research, Tradeshows, Crooked Dealings, CITES, Tariffs, Permits, Other Confiscatory Conventions, Moving Livestock, Growing Reef Corals, Tridacnid Clam Biz

Some Organizations Mentioned:  Florida OFI, http://www.ornamental-fish-int.org/ Tropical Fish Farmer's Association (FTFFA), http://ftffa.com/ C-Quest. 1-888-482-6572  

Coral Farming questions 1/4/05 I perused what I believe to be most of the FAQs on the WWM site, and didn't find too much not of the retail/service side of the business.  I was specifically looking for more information about Mr. Calfo's previous business. If I am just another schmuck who did not find the site for all the answers to my questions, I am sorry for stupid questions.  Else could you please point me in the right direction? <no worries... here in your service> Such things as why'd he quit? <many reasons, not the least of which was a desire to travel, write books and spend more time photographing.> How much was he making at his peak? <working only four days per week (wanting to always spend more time with family, versus 5 or 6 day work weeks), I netted over 100K annually with a profit margin that peaked around 52%> How many employees did he have if any? <a one man band only> How many square feet? <1000> How long did it take to make ANY profit (I read in the FAQs a couple years, but I'm just curious)? <exactly that> How many gallons were his systems? <8,000 on the high end> Greenhouse construction (I've been reading, but most books focus only on plants)? <do check out the references in the back of the "Coral Propagation"  book... it's what they are there for my friend: where I bought sand, salt, greenhouse supplies, etc. For starters, you can try XS Smith for GH structures.../ and places like atlasgreenhouse.com> I am soon to be finishing my undergrad and will probably shoot for earning an Ms in Mariculture.   <you'd be better off getting a business degree, mate (seriously). But at any rate, please do take some business courses and be sure to complete a thorough business plan before making any fiscal move. There is great software out there to help you like Business Plan Pro> As of now a coral farm/import business is my dream, and has been growing for around 4 years now. <forget about importing as a long term option... you cannot rely on a living from it in the 10 year plan if even the 5 year plan. Focus on farming corals wholly... better profits, better for the environment, and more control over your project/income> Thank you very much for your time. Adam Beem <best of luck and life to you, Adam. Please feel welcome to share your completed business plan with me for a shared opinion. Anthony>

FISHY BUSINESS? I would like to breed my freshwater tropical fish but don't know were to sell them. Could you please help? < The first place to start is the store that sold you the fish initially. If they will not buy them back then they will usually suggest a trade in. Then try the other stores in your area. If you are breeding cichlids then the American Cichlid Association (Cichlid.org) offers a publication where members can buy and sell cichlids. This service is free to members. Local aquarium clubs usually have fish auctions where they will take a certain percentage of the auction fish proceeds. You could ultimately start a web site and offer your fish for sale there. This has become very competitive lately but still worth a try. Look at Aquabid.com. Here you can put your fish up for auction to people all over the world. Be prepared for some shipping.-Chuck> 

Fish Breeding Business... you've come to the right crewmember I have been searching all over trying to get information about starting a wholesale freshwater fish breeding business.  Could you direct me to where I might locate some information? You seem to have all the answers. Thanks for a very informative site! >>Stacy, Not sure what species you are planning on breeding. Because of the costs involved few species are worth breeding for a profit in North America. The  thing to start with is to identify what species you want to breed, and check to see if you can produce them at a competitive price. You will compete with places that have free heat and very cheap labour, mostly in Asia. So it is not easy. Some larger cities have a good market for locally raised angelfish, but unless you are able to produce large numbers and sell for cheap it may cost too much to heat the place and provide food and labour for your "product". Good Luck, Oliver C-Quest new Toll free number. Note, this is a wholesale marine livestock supplier, not selling to consumers  9/21/06 Bob, <Hi Barrie!> It is Barrie here, from C-Quest.  I just wanted to drop you a quick note to give you some updated information.  I've set up a new telephone number for people to contact us at.  The number is 1-888-4-TANKRAISED.  Which is 1-888-482-6572.  I'm trying to get this info out to as many people as possible and if you have the opportunity to pass it along that would be great. I'm actually down in Puerto Rico visiting the hatchery right now and having a blast.  I've been to do quite a bit of really amazing snorkeling right off the coast.  Fun Stuff! <Oh yes!> I'll be back in California some time next week and I plan on making a road trip down to San Diego to visit some stores.  I'd be interested in meeting up for some ribs. <Oh! Do please call me: 858 549 XXXX for this and I'll show you about (we only have a few stores that deal with marines unfortunately... but two or three might be your target customer. I'll call about, make sure the decision makers are about... BobF> Take care, Barrie

Saltwater retailer systems   11/19/06 I'm having a heck of a time find info on saltwater retail systems. What I'm really after is an efficient system for growing out various saltwater marine species with low maintenance. I have a list off about 30 species which are either breedable or I'm going to make breedable. =) Do you have any info, pictures, or contacts who could help me out?? Seems like you have to be in a secret society to get info on them. <Heeeeee!> Thanks Brandon <There are a few folks that will/can fashion you such a system... or needed components for such... TMC in the UK, Advanced Aqua Tanks in LA... many others that fabricate "parts"... However, I strongly encourage you to "make your own" holding tanks themselves and devise (design/engineer) your own mechanicals and controllers... with some help... Best for you to set out, visit folks in the trade... Perhaps Dick Perrin... Carol and Craig and other folks/companies in HI... where do you live? Are you adverse to travel? Cheaper, better by far in my estimation to take this DIY route... as am sure you'll agree in the not-so-long time frame. Bob Fenner>

Re: saltwater retailer systems   11/19/06 I was going to use 130gal polyethylene troughs <Mmm, for what species? Or class of species? Fishes?> with HDPE baskets all draining to a common sump <... I would not mix the water from all...> with skimmer etc. <... skimmers on culture systems?> that would allow me to just lift the juveniles out without catching/injuries them all day. I don't wanna <...> pay a small fortune for tanks to be drilled except the broodstock system perhaps. Maybe I'll look into a retailer system for that. <A bit more delving, investigating re what has been done, is being done per the types of organisms you wish to culture... including foods... is strongly suggested here. BobF> Re: saltwater retailer systems   11/19/06 Going to have a broodstock system and a separate grow out systems. both will have a common sump with a large skimmer and a suitable UV Species to culture will be Ocellaris Percs GSM WWM tomatoes cinnamon B&Ws <Pomacentrids... can be bred in much smaller systems, grown out in the volumes you list> Various gobies which I'm hopefully more then yellow watchman's can be breed. Hope to breed longnose hawks as I find them quite interesting. <Neat!> Inverts: peppermints sexy shrimp CBS Nassarius snails <Quite a project list. Excelsior! Bob Fenner>

Swimming pool to pond conv.  11/16/06 I own an outdoors swimming pool, I would like to put it and it's filter system to good use. <Mmm, may have to do some cleaning... and modification to the filter> Can I turn this pool into a koi farm? If so what is necessary? I live in Wichita Falls which has moderate to warm climate. Richard Dalton <Let's start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/poolpdconvart.htm and the FAQs file linked above. Bob Fenner>

Research funds  11/20/06 Do you know any organization which might help fund some ornamental saltwater breeding efforts? <Mmm, I'd start with the most local Sea Grant program near you. Can be searched on the Web. Bob Fenner> Seahorse - H. kuda. Wholesale from Vietnam    12/9/06 Dear Bob, <Trung> I am from Vietnam, who has own breeder seahorse farm in Vietnam. I can supply for 5-7 thousand heads per week. My seahorse has CITES Permit approval. If you know somebody are looking for it to forward me please. <I have heard that the syngnathids from your area are subject to having high parasite loads and concomitant large incidental mortality...> Kind Regards, Trung Tel/Fax: +84 58 836 335 Mobile: +84 913 471 795 Email: vthatrung@dng.vnn.vn Website: www.liveseahorse.com.vn < http://www.liveseahorse.com.vn/> <Will post your contact info. on our site. Bob Fenner>

MACNA Dear Bob, It was my fault that we missed each other. I could not make it to any of the talks as I was on call throughout the weekend. However, I managed to squeeze in some time one Friday and Sunday and got a chance to speak with Walt who was not too optimistic about Indonesia and Philippines. Also bought a book from your wife. I asked her if you were there and she said that you were "floating around" somewhere. And I have not seen you before so we could have crossed paths. Nevertheless, I will surely make a trip to CA to meet up with you and the rest of the folk. Walt also mentioned that the Indian government has invited him over to start a coral aquaculture. <Yes... there was a nice article in the L.A. Times re Walt yesterday... and the coral business> He mentioned South India. Says that he is trying to make an agreement with the Indian govt. whereby for every coral he traded, he would grow and replace three in the wild. I leave for Malaysia in couple of weeks. Will try and find loopholes in the system which will enable me to commence with my business. Will also scope out other regions from Kuala Lumpur. Wish me luck! Best, Bala <I do wish you good fortune. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Recent developments in Singapore Hi Bob A Tropical marine Institute has been set up in Singapore. They are trying to raise clams and seahorses. Here is a link from the local newspapers http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/cybernews/0,1874,,00.html? <Hope they've contacted others in the field... this has all been done, and is being done now by others. Bob Fenner> Perry

Without trying to start a big thing I was wondering if you could comment on this! Cultured Fishes from the Sea Hello gentleman The material below is from Flying Fish Express. I saw something similar, about what I assume was a wholesaler, in FAMA yesterday and I wonder if you could read this and comment on whether the part about "step actually causes the gastro-intestinal tracts of these fish to develop differently from their wild cousins, allowing these now captive specimens to assimilate the artificial food" is possible?  <I have heard a lecture from the researcher that developed the technique, I have seen the cultured fishes at several trade shows... I am hopeful of the whole process... but I think that their claims at essentially overcoming evolution for the dietary needs of these fishes is dubious at best. Still not convinced here> The article in FAMA directly mentioned butterflies, but if this is the case wouldn't this be the ideal?  <heck ya!> Fish that had hard to furnish requirements that were no longer those requirements? Ornate butterfly's? Meyers? Angels that need sponges that would no longer need them? Thanks so much for your comments Mac <thanks kindly, Anthony> http://www.ffexpress.com/fish/tank_raised.html <http://www.ffexpress.com/fish/tank_raised.html> >From the crystal clear coves of tropical French Polynesia comes another industry first, brought to you exclusively by Flying Fish Express. Our new line of tank raised fish goes way beyond the usual range of cultured clownfish and Dottybacks currently available in the industry today. From tangs to damsels, these farmed fish are part of our commitment to save the world's reefs one animal at a time. Our aquacultured fish begin their lives just as most wild specimens do. Mature fish broadcast their gametes into the water column where the eggs are fertilized and the ensuing larvae become part of the zooplankton population. Under ideal circumstances these larvae suffer a mortality of over 99% in the natural habitat due to factors ranging from natural death to predation. Our biologists seine these larval fish from the tropical shallows before they meet their natural fate and tank raise them under ideal conditions. Free from disease and predation, the survival rate of these tiny fish is enormously enhanced and they grow rapidly. At a very specific time in their development the larval fish are introduced to artificial commercial aquarium food. This step actually causes the gastro-intestinal tracts of these fish to develop differently from their wild cousins, allowing these now captive specimens to assimilate the artificial food. They actually develop a preference for artificial food making them ideally suited to captive life. Hardy, beautiful, competitively priced and easy to feed, our Flying Farmed Fish are the perfect swimming additions for your marine aquarium. Why purchase wild-caught fish from other retailers and struggle with the age-old problem of "getting them to eat"? Why deal with the hassle of having to keep all those different frozen and live foods for all those different species? >From puffers to butterflies, our cultured fish LOVE commercial pellet or flake food. It's easy, it's fun.......IT'S THE FUTURE!! Keep visiting us for different Flying Farmed Fish arriving periodically at our Los Angeles facility.

Future Aquaculturist My name is olasukanmi I got your recommendation and contact from a friend that informed me that you are into fishery business. Based on this and fact that I have been retired, I now intend to go into fishery business. I need to know from you if we can go into Partnership; <Unfortunately I have no time to put into such ventures> if not, I have some amount of money to Invest on the business venture on my own, hence, the need for your assistance. I am of the opinion that you have technical expertise which I don't have as per this line of business. I wish to know the exact capital outlay that is required to venture into the fishery business just endeavor to give me the low-down from the procurement of land, the machinery etc. I need to know your reaction and intention as soon as possible <What sort of species? What applications? That is, ornamental, food-fish... to what markets? Where? Such businesses can be very expensive to quite reasonable... if you have time, expertise, some money-generating practice may fit in your home... Let's continue discussing the possibilities for now. Perhaps we can find you a worthwhile partner, other folks to aid you in your business. Bob Fenner> Looking forward to hearing from you soonest. Thanks, Yours Sukanmi.

Coral Propagation for Commercial Venture II Thank you very much. I don't rush into any venture. I appreciate your advice. I have the "Book of Coral Propagation" on order. Would you recommend any others? <There are many other excellent books on coral husbandry. Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals", the two Sprung and Delbeek volumes, and the Fossa and Neilson works are all excellent.> Thanks again, Rob <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Breeding Petfish for Export Hello,    My name is Tesfaye O'Sullivan and I am a Civil Engineer working in Jamaica. My passion is fish breeding and I am seriously interested in breeding pet fishes for export. I know we currently export fishes from Jamaica but I wanted to know if you could advise me as to which fish I should breed based primarily on world demand. I heard that Swordtails are popular. What fishes do you believe I should start out with. Also do you know any company/agencies etc that I could sell these fishes to for export. Thanks in advance for you assistance. <Thank you for your interest. My best advice is to contact the Florida Tropical Fish Farmer's Association (FTFFA) re their membership's offerings, contact them in turn and gain awareness of how much they are charging for what species, sizes... to determine if you can produce fin-fish competitively... better to even visit some of the Florida farms. OH, and if possible, there is an international trade show, the Aquarama in May, June in Singapore where many of the freshwater and marine livestock producers, distributors will be. Both these organizations can be found on the Internet. Please feel free to contact me/us if we can be of further assistance. Bob Fenner> Regards, Tesfaye O'Sullivan

Breeding, supplying cichlids for profit Hello, For the past month or so I have been researching everything I can find on breeding and importing Cichlids.  That's when I came across your website which is great, very informative.  I want to start a business supplying the local fish stores and general public with high quality Cichlids as the selection around me is pretty pitiful. <Where are you located?> Eventually I may put up a website but I'm kind of far from an airport so I'm guessing shipping would be difficult. <Yes, possible trouble. How will you get your live product to your customers? Have you looked into FedEx, UPS?> This is my second attempt at breeding Cichlids for profit.  The first time I tried I did everything wrong and ended up getting out of it. This time I want to start out right and I'm hoping you can help.  In your experience is it possible for me to make money supplying local fish stores? <Has been done, yes> I don't need to make a fortune (it would be nice though) I'm just looking to bring home some extra cash. Also Could you supply me with maybe a punch list of things to do to get started.  Also maybe some tips on how to set-up my tanks and centralized filter system to make it as maintenance free as possible without costing me a fortune. <These items are archived on the WWM site. Do read through the Business Index/subweb> I will continue to read the articles on your site as I'm sure most of the information I'm looking for is in there.  But I am eager to start and was hoping you could direct me to the right articles or provide any help you can.  Thanks in advance for your help. Thanks, Steve Bruni <Do study and keep good notes for now... while drawing up plans, looking for used gear (in good shape). Bob Fenner>

Your opinion (re a giant dream of collecting, processing, etailing rare angelfishes) Mr. Fenner, I plan on opening a internet based marine fish store which specializes in only the rarest and hardest to come by marine angelfish, and I would like your assistance in a few areas. <Not easy to do this business... hope to help you work in the industry first... Have you read over the "Business Index" part of our website: www.WetWebMedia.com? I suggest you look over "The Marine Center" site... link on WWM... as they do the sort of enterprise very well already...> My first question is what are the rarest and hardest to come by angelfish!?  <Look over the survey pieces on Pomacanthids on the WWM site... and the reference works listed on the Bibliography/Further Reading areas on each article... get and read these over...> I've already decided to get clarion's, clipperton's, Conspicuous, scribbled, the masked angelfish, West African, the resplendent, the golden pygmy, the red sea angel, Armitage angel, and the Nahacky. I plan to catch most of these myself to ensure the quality and care taken to capture these beauty's. <Wowzah! Lofty goals indeed! Have collected about half of these myself... not easy to get to the areas of most... no realistic way to make "collecting and re-selling" them an economic enterprise... Perhaps your efforts would best be directed into investigating captive breeding?> and when I finally have them in the store they will be quarantined for at least 3 weeks before I sell them and of coarse ill make sure that they eat and are taken care of. And then my second question is what numbers should I maintain of these fish to appease the collectors? <They will tell you in time, turn... just a few initially.> I know that these fish aren't offered in the industry often, so I want to know what type of demand to expect. thank you for any help you offer and it will be greatly appreciated. thank you once again. Michael Camacho <Much more for us to discuss... very enjoyably... do you do much dive travel currently? You are welcome to join us on our regular outings. Very often go to, dive with such collectors around the world. Bob Fenner>

Fish Breeding 9/10/03 Hey Crew, <howdy> Here is my question, I am looking at setting up a small home based business of fragging & growing out corals, and I would like to diversify- I am already doing the frag thing wt some of my local stores and am getting a friend of mine to design me a website when I get more tanks on line:) <very cool... if you haven't peeped it already, do consider looking at my Book of Coral Propagation - a book written on this very subject: www.readingtrees.com > When I was a kid I used to breed quite a few cichlids, mainly Africans, and did quite a brisk business for a 14 year old!! I am looking to breed freshwater fish in conjunction wt fragging corals for our local market & would like y'alls opinion on what fish to breed? The crux of the problem is rare fish or bread n butter. And what kinds would you recommend of each. <Hmmmmm... the question is very general and tough to answer without knowing how much space you have and how much money you'd like to earn. But, at any rate... beginners and their needs drive our market, and as such... bread-n-butter species are the most reliable profit. For corals, its colorful and hardy soft corals (avoid SPS and delicate softies)... seek hardy leathers and colored button polyps and corallimorphs. For freshwater... seek angelfish, fancy guppies, African cichlids> I did very well with cichlids, but that was 16 years ago! Tho from what I have read on your most excellent site, it does not appear that things have changed that much. If I were to breed cichlids, African or South American? Or maybe good ol Angel fish? Any help/info/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanking you in advance, Joshua Scialdone <please also read through our business links on the site by navigating from the home page. Much info on starting a fish biz. Best regards, Anthony>

Fish and coral farming 9/10/03 Anthony, Thanx for the response. It's funny that you suggested going with colorful softies, as this has been the bulk of what I have been collecting over the years! <much better money there> To be honest, I have only kept 2 SPS corals in the 12 or so years that I have been keeping reef tanks. As regards to space, I am setting up tanks in a spare bedroom right now, but my wife & I are going to be moving out of the city (Norfolk, A) across the NC border into the country where I am seriously thinking of going with a greenhouse to prop/breed in. <indeed... will make a tremendous difference in your potential. No prayer of a significant income from home-based business with corals at least while paying for artificial light> My only concern is that our summers are VERY hot & humid, and I wonder what will be the best way to keep temps within spec? <no worries... its an issue long since taken care of by hothouse growers. Evaporative cooling, large water pools for stability... and desiccating beads or geothermal cooling if necessary (see recent threads on reefcentral.com and others regarding these topics)> I am going o purchase your book as I always pick it up when I am at my LFS! Thanks for the link to your site. I know that you used a greenhouse setup wt good results. The system I am looking at doing for my inside prop is a stacked shallow tank design as seen in Daniel Knops clam book- basically a 4-5 unit design wt a sump at the bottom wt live rock & shallow(12-14inch) tanks for grow out. <yes... very efficient> I am going to start wt one system, but am thinking about plumbing two or more of these units into a large Rubbermaid sump that will be filled wt LR & a large skimmer in the near future. I have always used VHO lighting in the past, or NO over shallow tanks, but now I am debating on VHO vs. PC. <do look instead to jump to t-5s, a better technology> I would also like your opinion on DSB and/or plenums vs. Berlin style setups (I have always used Berlin style setups in the past) <easy... DSBs have tremendous benefits. Browse through our archives here on this subject (keyword search from home page) and take a peek at the new Reef Invertebrates book (the most current coverage on the topic)> My reason for wanting to breed fish is that I am assuming that it would be a good way to supplement income from the corals. Around here South American Cichlids seem to be more popular than Africans with the general public, plus being egg layers they seem to produce more offspring faster in a given time, but as I stated earlier I have much more experience with Africans. <I trust that you know your local market best> As far as how much money that I want to make, it will be a part time end ever at first, but I would like to go in business for myself one day. I have extensive experience wt sales, retail, wholesale, and direct. I also worked in 2 different LFS as a teenager. I have contacted potential investors for when I plan to put up a greenhouse. I was also a biology major wt an emphasis in fisheries science & education. So I do have some experience in the field. <do be sure to write and revisit a good business plan> I have toyed wt the idea of opening a LFS, but after much thought I have decided that I would rather have a business based at home such as breeding or fragging. <retail is a hard road and needs a lot of capital> In your opinion (or the rest of the crew for that matter!) is this a sensible idea? (fish & corals or corals only) Thank you for your time, and I am looking forward to your response. Thanking you in advance, Joshua Scialdone <frankly, with your limited space... I would suggest you focus on one group rather than spread yourself thin (inventory wise). Your clientele will favor reliability over an unrealistic inventory. Focus now... expand later. Best of luck! Anthony>

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