Aquarium enthusiasts who want to turn their hobby into a business often wonder – is breeding shrimp for profit lucrative?
The truth is, shrimp breeding can be extremely profitable if properly executed. Experts suggest you can easily exceed a 40% profit margin, but only if you take proper care of your shrimp.
In this article, I’ll explain how much you can earn from breeding shrimp, which factors affect your profits, and provide an estimated average starting cost. Read on to find out everything you need to know about breeding shrimp for profit.
How Much Money Can You Make Selling Shrimp?
Exactly how much money you can make selling shrimp from a small home-based operation will depend on a variety of factors.
Keep in mind that here I’m talking about a small home-based setup, such as in an aquarium, garbage can, or small pool. I’m not talking about some largescale operation with a massive pond or a professional size breeding operation.
A large-scale shrimp farm can provide you with returns anywhere from 37% to 55%. However, remember that large-scale operations will have higher profit margins than a small home operation.
That said, the potential to make a good return on your investment is very real, and it depends on a variety of factors.
So, is shrimp breeding profitable? The answer is a resounding yes, it is profitable, but there are a few things that need to be considered.
These include the size of your operation, your setup, required maintenance, possible diseases, where you’re located, how you raise your shrimp, and how you choose to sell them.
Let’s take a closer look at all of the factors that you need to take into account when determining the profitability of selling shrimp.
1. The Size of Your Operation
With a small, home-based operation, the size is obviously going to be limited no matter what.
That said, there are many ways to raise shrimp at home, or in other words, various containers you can keep them in.
Some people use aquariums, some use trash bins, and some use plastic kiddy pools. Of course, the more space you have for your shrimp, the more of them you can breed and raise at once.
Keep in mind that different shrimp have different spatial requirements. For instance, if we’re talking about cherry shrimp, you can keep about 5 per gallon of water.
2. The Breed and Grade of Shrimp Being Sold
Another thing to factor in here is what kind of shrimp you plan on breeding and selling.
For instance, your average grade cherry shrimp will sell for between $1.50 and $3.00 per shrimp. However, higher grades of cherry shrimp may sell for up to $8.00 per shrimp.
Even when it comes to cherry shrimp, there are various kinds and colors, and there is more than just the cherry shrimp out there.
There are also many grades of shrimp. These range from SSS to C, and the higher the grade, the better the shrimp, the bigger the profit.
You should do some research on this front to figure out what type of shrimp to sell, especially in terms of that profit margin.
3. Water Quality & Disease
What’s important to note is that the higher the grade of the shrimp the more sensitive they are to disease. Higher grades of shrimp also tend to be more susceptible to illness due to poor water quality.
Therefore, what you need to consider is that the higher grades of shrimp may have a higher mortality rate.
This can affect your overall profit margin, or at least require more effort and money to keep them alive.
4. Organic Matters + Sustainability
This is more about shrimp raised for consumption. A lot of people nowadays want meat, produce, and seafood that is raised organically.
This means that people want shrimp that are raised naturally with real food, no antibiotics, no pesticides, or other such chemicals.
If you’re shrimp farming at home and you have a small operation, then it’s definitely sustainable.
Sustainability is another thing that matters a lot to people. People will pay a whole lot more for sustainable, antibiotic, and pesticide free shrimp.
While this is all about shrimp for consumption, these factors also play roles when it comes to aquarium pet shrimp and breeding shrimp.
5. How You Sell Them + Supply & Demand
How you sell the shrimp will make a difference too.
Of course, when it comes to selling shrimp, your options are limited. You could advertise yourself, join Facebook and other social media groups, create seller accounts on eBay, and just sell them right out of your home.
This will likely provide you with the best profit margins. Local markets aren’t too bad either when it comes to profit margins.
However, what you really don’t want to do is to sell them to third party retailers.
Selling your shrimp to either seafood/grocery markets or pet stores means that there’s a middleman eating into your profits.
Of course, the laws of supply and demand play a role here too. If the market is saturated with many people selling their shrimp, it will drive the prices down, and vice versa.
6. Your Initial Investment
You do of course also need to consider your initial investment. Now, as you’re about to find out below, if you’re just starting a small operation in your home, then the initial cost won’t be that high.
Consider that you will need some kind of tank or container, a water filter and an aerator, as well as food, water treatment supplies, and the baby shrimp to start breeding with.
For such a small home-based operation, you might not have to spend more than a few hundred dollars to start with.
How Much Does It Cost to Start Breeding Shrimp?
If you’re just starting a small shrimp farm at home, it really shouldn’t cost you all that much.
Sure, it can cost upwards of $40,000 for a largescale farming operation, but that’s not what we’re talking about.
For a small operation, there are really only a few things that you need. Below I have a short list of the most important things you’ll need here and about how much they’ll cost.
- Aquarium. You can find large aquariums for very low prices. You can easily find something like a 40 gallon acrylic aquarium for well under $100.
- Aquarium filter. For that 40 gallon tank I mentioned above, a decent filter will run you between $50 and $100.
- Air pump. This shouldn’t really shouldn’t cost you more than $50.
- Your breeding shrimp. Sticking with our cherry shrimp example, expect to spend about $1.50 to $3.00 for every shrimp. Remember that the more breeding pairs you have, the more fry there will be.
You’ll also need a few other things, such as nets, food, a small heater, pH monitoring tools, water treatment chemicals, and other such things.
Altogether, the cost of these things shouldn’t exceed $200, maybe $300 for high quality supplies. So, if we add everything up, you can see that it is possible to start a small home-based shrimp breeding operation for around $500.
However, if you choose to breed much more expensive types of shrimp, then your initial cost will be higher. Initially buying those breeding pairs can be pricey, especially those black King Kong shrimp I’ll talk about below.
Most Profitable Shrimp to Breed
The profitability of a shrimp breed depends on a number of factors.
At first, it may seem that if you take the most expensive shrimp breed, such as the black King Kong shrimp, you’ll inevitably make a lot of money.
These shrimp sell for $30-$830 each, yet extensive knowledge is required and costly supplies are important to breed. The lifespan of these shrimp is 16 months, and they only sell at the highest price when they reach full maturity.
In other words, you would have to care for such a shrimp for about a year and spend a significant amount of money until you could sell it for $830.
Beginners typically make the most money from shrimp that are the easiest and fastest to breed and take care of. They’re at a lower risk of dying or catching diseases and don’t require special equipment.
Here are the best shrimp breeds for beginners:
- Red Cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. Red). This breed isn’t fussy about water values and is easy to breed.
- Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentata). This breed is best for large tanks and not suitable for home aquariums. Yet, they make a great cleaning team, are easy to breed, and happily eat algae.
- Blue Dream shrimp (Neocaridina davidi var. Blue). These decorative blue shrimps are popular among aquarium lovers. They eat algae and leftover fish food, and breed actively in invert-only setups.
- Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes sp.). This breed is extremely tolerant of bad water values.
How to Start Breeding Shrimp
Before you start breeding shrimp, you need to know as much as possible about the chosen breed and get all the necessary supplies.
- Water tank (aquarium, swimming pool, or another sort of tank)
- Water filter
- Shrimp food and supplements
- pH test kit
- Optionally – plants, driftwood, leaves, mineral stones
Most shrimp prefer a water temperature of 70F-75F, though certain breeds require warmer water. If the room you’re planning to breed shrimp in doesn’t have temperature fluctuations, you may do without a thermostat.
But if the day and night temperature differ by over five degrees, a thermostat is a must. Maintaining the correct temperature will ensure an optimal breeding cycle and longer lifespan.
The filter should be chosen based on your tank size and water conditions.
It’s also important to note that baby shrimp are tiny creatures, usually not exceeding three millimeters in length. The filter must be fine enough not to suck them up.
A pH test kit will ensure that your water parameters are always optimal for your shrimp. Each shrimp breed has different water requirements. Choose water solutions to balance the pH depending on your shrimp needs.
Once you get all the supplies, it’s time to set up your shrimp tank. I’ve compiled a great guide here on choosing a suitable tank and setting up all equipment.
In a natural environment, shrimp are surrounded by plants. Hence, getting some for your tank will be beneficial. When plants start to decay, microorganisms will cover them. They serve as a great natural food source for shrimp.
Mineral supplements are also important for a healthy shrimp diet. Remember not to overfeed the shrimp, as this will slow down their breeding cycle.
You can get a light source, but don’t keep it on for 24 hours. It’s best to limit light exposure of your shrimps to six to eight hours a day.
That’s all you need to know to start breeding shrimp for profit. Make sure to gain sufficient knowledge about your chosen shrimp breed before you set up the tank.
Overall, the crucial factor in maximizing shrimp farm profit is taking good care of your shrimp.