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Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:52 pm

I have a small fish room only 130sq feet but I make the most of the space I currently have 800+ gallons of water in 21 tanks. In the last two years I have had as many as 30 tanks running but I have cut back on the different fish and dropped some of the smaller tanks. I really enjoy keeping fish but I have decided to change things up and go toward more Malawi cichlids. So when I started looking for new fish I hit the LFS but looking at the LFS most of their african cichilds are grey or very faded colors, just not what you call "Show fish". And with no local freshwater fish club (there is a salt water group but they snub anything freshwater) it is hard to find local keepers or breeders. This got me to thinking I really enjoy breeding my SA cichilds, and BN plecos so why not make the swap to breed some african cichilds that will have lots of color. I have put it off for years because not wanting to really rebuild my fish room. But with the opening of another room in my basement now is a good time to change things over.

First off I'm doing this because I love the experience of it and if I can make enough money to cover my fish food or new fish that's awesome. Not looking to make this a business but if it really takes off I can deal with that down the road.

Here are the fish I'm starting with.
Blood Dragon (had this group for year)
Red Shoulder (had this group for years)
Electric Yellow (Yellow Lab) got 12
Red Zebra got 11

The Blood Dragons and Red Shoulder I have had for just under 2 years, I haven't worried about fry in that time but I'm going to start pulling fry to place them in grow out tanks. I will grow these out and take the males to the LFS, while I keep the females at least until I get a few dozen for my stock. I might only sale the males as they have the best color but only time will tell it depends on if I get a demand for the females.

The Electric Yellow and Red zebra I know aren't the most exciting fish but they have nice colors and I really like them so I got enough juveniles that I can grow them out to adults and get a good mix to breed. They are all less than 2" so it will take me a few months to get these guys going but no problem. These I will take both males and females as they both have nice color, I will be keeping some back for my self but shouldn't be a issue.

With all this I'm expanding my fish room to another room. As you can guess my 130sq foot room is kinda full with 21 tanks so I'm going to move a few tanks to the new room with my fry tanks. The fry tanks will be six 10g tanks, and four 20g tanks all linked together sharing water. Plus three 55g tanks that I might link not sure yet. I will put new fry in the 10g and as they get larger will move out to the 20g. Once they get a little bigger (about 1") will move them to the 55g tanks to grow out. Then off to the store. With the tanks linked it will make water changes much easier I'm thinking 3 times a week.

When it comes to the store I have 1 LFS here to town and 1 more within a hours drive both have bought fish from me in the past so once I get the system running I'm going to make a list and prices for the stores. There are 2 other stores within a hour but I need to talk to them about buying fish. My plan is once or twice a month driver to the out of town stores to deliver fish. I will keep breeding the BN plecos because they do well in the LFS and I have them going already.

I have found a local breeder(hour drive) that has Eureka reds, blue orchid and Daffodils(not Malawi I know) so might have to set up a few more tanks for those guys also. I have a few more empty tanks I could use for these.

I have thought about the 55g for growing the fry, it might be a little big I could pick up some 29g but I like the big tanks. I haven't finalized the layout for the new room yet so I can move things around or maybe adjust the number of tanks.

I know it's a rough plan but anyone see any holes?

Thanks
Stephen
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby tanker3 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:05 pm

Make sure you keep the Electric yellow and the red zebras separated. They will cross breed and you will get hybrids.
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:21 pm

tanker3 wrote:Make sure you keep the Electric yellow and the red zebras separated. They will cross breed and you will get hybrids.



I did read that they could and I will be keeping them separate. I was thinking keeping the fry and juveniles separate just to be sure nothing crosses
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:37 pm

Today for work I had to go to a city about a hour from where I live so I stopped at the LFS and talked to them about buying fish from local breeders, they where excited about it so I'm sure I can sale fish to them also. That will give me 3 differrent stores that will buy fish.

But now I have a problem, how to I price the fish? I see the local prices and I have heard lots of places say the price of the isn't doubled and the markup on live fish is higher. So for a $8 fish at the LFS I'm thinking $2. When you include I will be delivering them for free that should be a good starting point. The key will be have them buy 2 or 3 different groups of at least 10 fish that will make a trip worth the drive.

Store 1 is 2 miles from my house
Store 2 is about 45 miles west
Store 3 is about 45 miles northwest

Ideally the LFS here in town would take all I can produces but not sure if they can do that.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby DJRansome » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:28 pm

Usually they want to give you wholesale prices in store credit only. Think in terms of $2 for juveniles and $10 for full-size adults. Did you talk to the owners?

Plus they will only take fish when they have tank space and what they think might sell. And they want you to come during quiet times when the cichlid specialist is working (not evenings, not weekends, and at his convenience).

They like fish that are colored from birth like yellow labs and demasoni. You have to raise a LOT of peacocks to get $10 for one colored up male. But demasoni and yellow labs you can pretty much sell all of them when they are 2".

Store prices are still too high for me so I only sell to LFS when I need to move a fish fast. Mostly I don't save fry or donate extras to my local fish club auctions.
125G Borleyi, Maleri, Astatotilapia, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Maingano, Msobo, Lucipinnis
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:25 am

I did think about stores only doing store credit and I'm okay with that but in credit I will price them higher. The reason is if I sell 5 fish at $2 each then I have $10 credit but if I buy fish food for $10 they only have $5 in that so its a super win win for them. My plan is to be honest with the LFS and tell him as long as they are buying the fish from me I won't be selling them on Craigslist or other local selling places. I don't want to undercut their sales that is one reason I'm looking at stores 45 miles away from each other. The shop in town I talked to the owner but the other shops I talked to the "fish buyer" as they called them.

Only taking fish they have space for I understand, my plan is to contact them 3-4 days before I can deliver to ask them what fish they want or even have them contact me. I know that might take a few months to get worked out but it should work out pretty well.

I agree fish with lots of color do sale better that was a big part in me picking Red Zebra and Electric Yellow both will have color when small. I didn't think about demasoni but that would be a nice fish to do also. I know peacocks would take longer to sale and being that most of the females have minimal color the males prices will have to go up. I see a lot of breeders online selling males for $45+ I know the stores won't pay that but maybe those are something I will have to hold and sale to people not stores.

I really would love to have a local fish club, I know it's a long shot but maybe if I can get the LFS stocked with locally breed fish it will kick some locals in gear and we could start one. I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana the city is 250,000 people and when you add the county and suburbs we are well over 300,000 so there has to be people that keep fish but no idea what no clubs.

Thanks for the feedback. This is all a work in progress and things will changes as needed to make it work. I know this will take time to get moving but I feel it is something that could work out nice. Don't see me replacing my normal job but as it fun hobby it can do well.
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby tanker3 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:11 pm

The price that they would pay would really depend on your stock too. If the fish is "too common" you would not get a great price. Also if you keep supplying your LFS with just your few species, you may "over-saturate" your area with that fish=lowering demand.
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:29 pm

tanker3 wrote:The price that they would pay would really depend on your stock too. If the fish is "too common" you would not get a great price. Also if you keep supplying your LFS with just your few species, you may "over-saturate" your area with that fish=lowering demand.


That thought did come up and I'm going to start with 2 or 3 species that are common and sale fast to build up the relationship. Then start to expand and add more species of fish to my room. I'm thinking 8-9 total species unless things really take off. I planned on using the store credit to buy new fish that the shop in town would like to sale this should help him sale more fish and make more money in the long run. If I can get him fish that makes him more money he will be much more wiling to deal with me.


I also thought about the local market and yes the first month or so the fish might go very fast then it would slow down. That is when I hope to have the other species started.

I feel the key to making this work is the LFS here in town, if I can have a good relationship with the owner it will help me a lot. I know we might not be "friends" and business will come first but if I can make him more money then we both come out ahead.
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Aaron S » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:33 pm

The whole saturation of the market thing is why the online fish retailers really makes sense. They have massive distribution channels that they can ship to. Your only hope as a local seller is that you live near a bunch of people like me who have fish die randomly all the time and have to start over OR if you keep changing the fish you keep so that your old customers want to upgrade to your new fish.

I am kind of surprised that there are not more options near Ft Wayne. You do have very good clubs in your "area" though; I believe there are clubs in Lansing MI, Detroit MI, probably something in Indy, and maybe something in Toledo. I do realize these are 2 hrs away, but they would be great ways for you to get your hands on relatively low cost fish that are rarer than what you will find in the classic shops.
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:57 pm

Aaron S wrote:The whole saturation of the market thing is why the online fish retailers really makes sense. They have massive distribution channels that they can ship to. Your only hope as a local seller is that you live near a bunch of people like me who have fish die randomly all the time and have to start over OR if you keep changing the fish you keep so that your old customers want to upgrade to your new fish.

I am kind of surprised that there are not more options near Ft Wayne. You do have very good clubs in your "area" though; I believe there are clubs in Lansing MI, Detroit MI, probably something in Indy, and maybe something in Toledo. I do realize these are 2 hrs away, but they would be great ways for you to get your hands on relatively low cost fish that are rarer than what you will find in the classic shops.



I agree with selling online, I don't mind doing that but it's not my first choice to start with. I feel to break into that market you need to setup with 10-15 species and really push the online presences(forums, you tube, social media). So the start up would be much harder, but if I could move them locally I could build up to that level if I wanted to go that way.

I'm amazed there are no freshwater clubs in this city it's large enough and I have meet a few people that talk a FB (not no FB myself). There are some Saltwater guys but that isn't what I like. I have driven to some of the clubs but like you said 2 hours one way isn't something I can do very often. But I guess if I'm willing to drive a hour to deliver fish it isn't too far past that. I have been to the club in South Bend and talked to some guys in Indy but Lansing Mi or Toledo Oh might be a good idea too.
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:04 am

I started moving things around and while not done I did make a lot of progress. Still need to move a few fish and get some plumbing done. Here is a video

This week I will be finishing the plumbing and getting the fry system done.

https://youtu.be/aklt032HFYs
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:48 am

I'm thinking about adding a new rack or two of tanks. My first thoughts are 29g because I see a lot of people doing breeding groups of 1 male 3-4 females but 40g would make going taller easier as they are 2" shorter and might give me more options later if I every change fish.
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby DJRansome » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:46 pm

If you are doing Malawi a 40BR is the smallest I would go. I like the 33G tanks that are 48x12 personally, but they were more expensive than standard 55G when I bought them.
125G Borleyi, Maleri, Astatotilapia, Multipunctata
75G Demasoni, Maingano, Msobo, Lucipinnis
75G Calvus, Caudopunctatus, Petricola
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33G Hara; 33G Kwanga; 33G Maingano; 33G Cobue
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Re: Time to change some stuff in the fish room.

Postby Warhawk77 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 4:27 pm

I was leaning toward the 29g at first because I see 2 of the big time African breeders online use them. I do have a 48x12x12 (30g I think) that i really like and if I could get more I would but like you said price sometimes is a issue. After posting I did think about the 55g I could do 2 males and 8-10 females in those as groups and it should help them spawn faster (all depending on the males if they aren't too aggressive).

Plus the $1 per gallon does make those cheap.
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