How to Grow Aquarium Plants for Profit
Caring for live aquatic plants can begin with a bit of a learning curve, but once your planted aquarium starts flourishing and becomes overgrown, what do you do with all the extra vegetation? Are you able to sell the extra trimmings for an additional source of income? You need to decide how much time, money and effort you are willing invest. There are two types of people: hobbyists who want to make a few extra bucks to offset their costs of keeping an aquarium. Others are serious entrepreneurs who intend to compete with major plant farms. We will discuss three methods to sell aquarium plants in order to increase effort and revenue.
Easy Mode: Selling Plants to Fish Stores
If your fish tanks are growing well and you need a place to offload your excess floating plants or stem plants, then your local fish store is the good place to start. There isn’t a lot of competition (besides the wholesalers), and the store takes care of all the customer support. However, most stores don’t like to buy from hobbyists because people bring in a giant bag or bucket full of trimmings, and it takes too much work to separate the plants, count them, cut them to the right length, and throw away those covered in algae.
General managers see it as easier to deal with wholesalers because they can choose from a list and have it delivered in a box. Therefore, if you want to compete with the wholesaler, you need to supply the fish store with an alternative that saves them time and effort. You can prepackage your stem plants into bunches of 4 to 5 stems measuring between 12 and 15 cm in length. Because they can die quickly in large quantities, most stores buy them at a very affordable price. If you wish to raise the price of your plants, make sure to place them in pots of rockwool with at least a 1/2 inch (1cm) between each stem. This prevents the stems becoming rotten and allows them start to produce roots. This is a great way to help customers grow your plants at home.
Increase the value of your plants by placing them in plastic pots of rock wool that look professional and are ready to sell.
Another way you can make the store manager’s life easier is to drop off the plants at non-peak times, usually during the weekdays. Yes, those times may be inconvenient for you if you have a full-time job or school, but you don’t want to bring in your goods during their busiest periods when they won’t have time to help you. Most shops need to have fresh stock ready to sell before weekend rushes when sales are high. So talk to your manager about the best times to visit them each week.
You need to know not only when the store is looking for plants, but also which kind. Stop selling plants they don’t want. You should not press them to buy all your stock. This can cause a strained relationship that will result in the store stopping buying from you.
Mode 2: Selling Aquarium plants online
If you’re producing more than what your store can sell, you might consider selling live plants on AquaBid, eBay or Craigslist. There are more people who buy online than those who shop in the store, but sometimes prices can be lower due to increased supply from other hobbyists.
When you sold to your local fish store, they made things easier because they managed all the customer interactions. Online sellers must assume the role of salesperson. Make sure your listings have attractive descriptions and plant photos. Include a list of water parameters and growing conditions. Also, include clear explanations of shipping costs as well as live arrival guarantees. Another responsibility added to your plate is customer support if something goes wrong. Be prepared to promptly answer questions on what kind of lighting you use, why the plants are doing badly, and how to submit a refund.
Be clear about what you are selling and meet expectations. Establish a reputation as a supplier of high-quality plants. If you do your job well and customers have a good experience, they will come back to you for repeat sales.
Many plant farms that grow submerged plants cannot guarantee that they are free of snails. Make sure to inform your customers in advance to avoid disappointment.
Expert Mode: Increasing Aquatic Plant Production
Scale is what makes a professional seller different from a casual one. Instead of selling plants you already have in your tanks, you now buy dedicated tanks and equipment to increase your production. There are many large plant farms out there that grow plants in water, so you will be competing with them. Your main benefit to fish stores and online customers is that your plants are grown submersed or underwater, so you are saving the customer the time of having to convert their plants from emersed to submersed. This advantage allows you to charge more than the farms because (a) submersed plants have a higher likelihood of surviving in the customers’ aquariums and (b) stores don’t have to waste time cleaning out all the melted leaves that fall off emersed plants.
The most important thing when purchasing supplies is to save as much money as you can. Be aware that you are competing with other small plant farms who may have advantages like great weather or outdoor ponds. They already have a leg up in terms of cost of production, so you need to save expenses in other areas if possible. Some items to purchase include:
– Water containers You don’t need to use an aquarium to grow plants. There are many cheaper options, such as plastic tubs, hydroponic racks and outdoor cement bins. For stem plants that are 6-8 inches tall (15-20 cm), taller tanks will need stronger lighting. Shallow tanks can be outfitted with lower lighting, which might be a good choice for small plants such as anubias petite. – carbon dioxide (CO2) : CO2 gas, when combined with the right levels of light and nutrients, is an essential building block that allows plants to grow more quickly. This will help you sell your plants sooner. There are many options for injecting CO2 gas depending on the budget and number of tanks. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. The most expensive but reliable technique is pressurized CO2 injection using cylinders of CO2 gas, regulators, and manifolds to spread to multiple tanks. – Fertilizer Using an automated dosing machine, we add Easy Green all in one liquid fertilizer to water to ensure that our plants have sufficient nutrients and food. If you have some experience in plant maintenance, measure the water and determine whether certain nutrients are missing. Then choose the fertilizer most suitable for your water.
Commercial plants farms prefer to have their aquarium plants emersed in order that the leaves can grow larger and more quickly. However, emersed plants don’t always thrive once they are submerged under water in the aquarium.
It depends on what market you want to target, what the buyers are looking for, and what type of plants you are skilled at growing. For beginners, you will want to sell plants that are easy to grow, such as Anubias Barteri, Java Fern, and Java Moss. This is because they don’t have the resources to buy submerged-grown products. Although the beginner market is large, plants tend to be sold at lower prices. The high-end market, on the other hand, is interested in rare specimens like Anubias nana ‘Pangolino’ or newly discovered Bucephalandra species. These plants will sell at higher prices, so you’ll have fewer customers to care for and fewer tanks. You should be aware, however that rare plants will eventually be picked up by commercial growers who can produce them in a greater volume than you can. Therefore, you will always need to hunt for the next species to add to you inventory.
Our final tip for plant sellers is to avoid being “out of stock” as much as possible. If you have a rare plant but are only able to sell it every 6-8 months, then you are probably better off not selling it at all. You don’t want your website to be full of products that are out of stock because then customers may become frustrated or assume you are no longer in business. Keep your main focus on a few specific species or groups of plants that can be mass produced and are your specialty. You should ensure you can keep your existing products in stock if you want to expand. Otherwise, buyers will search for a better supplier.
If you are interested in selling aquarium fish and invertebrates as well, check out our article on breeding aquatic species for profit for more information on the best fish to breed, what supplies to buy, and how to sell them.