Fishville Economics: Points, Experience & Levels

My Zynga addiction clearly knows no bounds.  Last week, Zynga launched a new game called Fishville, and clearly at this point I have no ability to resist any new Zynga game.

Screen shot 2009-11-12 at 12.57.13 AMFishville has a deceptively simple frame:  you have a fish tank, and you buy fish eggs for it.  The fish hatch, you feed them, and then when they are fully grown, you sell them for profit.

What I’ve found most interesting about the game is the new dimensions they are exploring in the economics of the game.  Fishville adds a couple distinguishing twists versus Farmville or Café World:

  1. Multiple Tanks. How many people wish they had more than one farm in Farmville?  In Fishville, Zynga has two types of expansion – the ability to put more fish in a single tank and the ability to buy new tanks.  This may not seem relevant from a structural standpoint – after all whether you add 20 fish to one tank or 10 to 2 tanks shouldn’t matter – but it should create a new dynamic around buying virtual goods to decorate different tanks.
  2. Harvest Levels. This is the real twist to the economics.  Fish grow up in stages, up to four levels.  The revenue in coins and the experience you get goes up linearly with each level.  So if you have a 4 hour fish, you can harvest them at 4 hours at Level 1, or 16 hours at Level 4.  You still have to feed them or they die (similar to withering crops in Farmville), but you don’t need to “replant”.

The Harvest Levels have the most impact on the game economics.  In financial terms, each fish now has a fixed cost and a variable cost, as well as a fixed experience pay-off and variable experience pay-off.

For example, let’s take the Mini Dart Goby, the first fish.

The Goby costs 7 coins for an egg.  That’s a fixed cost.  If you grow it to Level 1, you’ll get 18 coins, for a profit of 11 coins.  Easy, right?  Hold on.  If you wait until Level 4, you’ll get 72 coins over that same 7 coin cost, for a profit of 65 coins.

The fixed cost means that your “profitability” or “profit / minute” goes up the longer you wait to harvest.

Seems like a no-brainer to wait until Level 4?  Not so fast.

With Experience Points, the math works in reverse.

The Mini Dart Goby gives you 2 XP for dropping the egg.  At Level 1, you’ll get 8 XP, for a total of 10 XP.  But if you wait until Level 4, you’ll get 32 XP, for a total of 34 XP of the time period.  In this case, your “XP / Minute” goes down the longer you wait to harvest.

It gets even harder.

You can harvest a fish in-between levels… but you don’t get any credit for the time between levels.  So if you are half-way between levels, your “profit / minute” and “experience / minute” will be terrible.  In fact, the math says you need to harvest at level boundaries pretty closely.  (I think in a future blog post, I’ll graph this.)

For now, here are some tables I’ve made for the fish I have data on.  Unfortunately, this game is so new, I can’t find any guides online with data for all fish.  Special thanks to Erin Hoffmann, who serves as both data provider and my toughest competitor in Fishville.

The most interesting aspect to these tables is that while the profitability / minute rises for each level, Zynga has kept the fixed costs proportional enough that the ranking of the fish does not change significantly between 1 level or 4 levels.

Here is the profitability of different fish at Level 1:

Fish Profit / One Level Minutes / One Level Profit / Minute
Sardine 7.00 3.00 2.33
Mini Dart Goby 11.00 5.00 2.20
Red Spot Cardinal 23.00 15.00 1.53
Swissguard Basslet 17.00 60.00 0.28
Shy Hamlet 54.00 240.00 0.23
Percula Clownfish 81.00 480.00 0.17
Royal Dottyback 99.00 960.00 0.10
Hawaiian Hogfish 72.00 720.00 0.10
Scooter Blenny 133.00 1440.00 0.09

Here is the profitability of different fish at Level 4:

Fish Profit / Four Levels Minutes / Four Levels Profit / Minute
Sardine 43.00 12.00 3.58
Mini Dart Goby 65.00 20.00 3.25
Red Spot Cardinal 137.00 60.00 2.28
Swissguard Basslet 98.00 240.00 0.41
Shy Hamlet 321.00 960.00 0.33
Percula Clownfish 468.00 1920.00 0.24
Hawaiian Hogfish 432.00 2880.00 0.15
Royal Dottyback 567.00 3840.00 0.15
Scooter Blenny 796.00 5760.00 0.14

Here is the experience productivity of different fish at Level 1:

Fish XP / One Level Min / Four Levels XP / Minute
Mini Dart Goby 8.00 5.00 1.60
Sardine 4.00 3.00 1.33
Red Spot Cardinal 16.00 15.00 1.07
Swissguard Basslet 20.00 60.00 0.33
Shy Hamlet 75.00 240.00 0.31
Percula Clownfish 135.00 480.00 0.28
Hawaiian Hogfish 170.00 720.00 0.24
Royal Dottyback 220.00 960.00 0.23
Scooter Blenny 290.00 1440.00 0.20

Here is the experience productivity of different fish at Level 4:

Fish XP / Four Levels Min / Four Levels XP / Minute
Mini Dart Goby 26.00 20.00 1.30
Sardine 13.00 12.00 1.08
Red Spot Cardinal 52.00 60.00 0.87
Swissguard Basslet 68.00 240.00 0.28
Shy Hamlet 255.00 960.00 0.27
Percula Clownfish 459.00 1920.00 0.24
Hawaiian Hogfish 629.00 2880.00 0.22
Royal Dottyback 814.00 3840.00 0.21
Scooter Blenny 1073.00 5760.00 0.19

If you’d like to help, I’m missing data for the following fish:

  • Blue Damsel
  • Inland Silverside
  • Pajama Cardinal
  • Longnose Hawkfish
  • Annularis Angelfish
  • Blue Spot Grouper
  • Blue Hippo Tang
  • Bartlett Anthias

For each, please leave a comment with:

  • XP / Egg
  • Revenue / Level
  • XP / Level
  • Minutes / Level

Hope this helps the new Fishville players out there.  Enjoy.

Update (11/14/2009): New blog post coming tomorrow, with updated tables and new info.  Also, fixing the issue around the whole “Level 4/Adult” confusion, and publishing a Google Doc to help others benefit from the raw data.  I’m still finding that people are ignoring the XP from the dropping of the egg, and only focusing on the XP from harvesting, so I’ll update tables to make that more clear.

Updates:  I’ve now posted additional columns on Fishville:

52 thoughts on “Fishville Economics: Points, Experience & Levels

  1. You have left out one key factor: your strategy is based on the idea that each fish grows at the same rate for each level. However, you have neglected the idea that each fish has 5 levels. Once the reach adulthood, that is a level in itself, simply without a number. When you state that they grow linearly, this is true up until the reach level three. What must be taken into consideration, however, is that growth from level 3 to level 4 (or in my terms, level 4 to 5) takes significantly longer than the linear growth for the other levels. This means an entirely different payoff in terms of growth time and revenue.

    • Katherine, my fish seem to grow linearly between levels. If you have an 8 hour fish like the Clown fish, how long does it take to grow between levels 3 & 4? I assumed 8 hours. (which is what I see).

      • Katharine is correct.
        My mini-dart goby:
        Level 1: 5 minutes
        (this is right after I drop the egg, and the star says 1- Level 1 has begun
        Level 2: 5 minutes
        The star says 2- level 2 has begun
        Level 3: 5 minutes
        The star says 3- level 3 has begun
        Level 4: 2 days
        When you reach level four, you have only reached it, you have not completed it yet, and that last level (COMPLETING level 4 is what is non-linear).

        Hope that helps! Don’t want you missing out 🙂

      • This is very helpful… thank you. Is there any equation that predicts how long Level 4 takes? Is it always 2 days? Because 2 days = 576×5 minutes. Hard to believe that an 8 hour fish, like the clown fish, would take 576×8 hours = 1/2 a year to reach the end of Level 4!

        For the purposes of the above, I can just replace “Level 4” with “Level 3” and adjust the numbers. It seems like everything is linear until the last level.


      • I would think that level 4 is actually 1 day. The time listed is not how long until the next level but the max time before you need to feed them.

        For example, the sardine grows in 3 minutes, but when you drop him in the tank and cursor over, it says feed in 6 min. So I can only guess that feed time/2 = growth rate.

      • I think the difference is in how people are classifying what a 1st level, 2nd level, etc. is.
        For a Sardine:
        Baby -> 1st level = 3 min
        1st->2nd level = 3 min
        2nd->3rd level = 3 min
        3rd->4th level = 3 min
        4th->5th? level = 1 day
        When the number 1 appears in the star(fish), Adam is classifying that fish as being level 1, not attaining level 1. Thus when he is speaking of level 4 he is speaking of the 12 min (for sardines anyways) it takes to get to level 4. He has not addressed the fifth level. At least this is the way I understand your (and kelly’s) statements. Now if you mean that once the 1 day is up (or 2 days for gobys (from kelly’s statement), etc.) to get to the 5th level you get paid differently, it would be helpful to state exactly what that change in payment is. I somehow doubt its worth waiting for in which case the 5th level is irrelevant, but I welcome being pleasantly surprised by your findings.

  2. why is it that:
    Fish XP / One Level Min / Four Levels XP / Minute
    Mini Dart Goby 6.00 5.00 1.20
    Sardine 3.00 3.00 1

    mine is just
    Fish XP / One Level Min / Four Levels XP / Minute
    Mini Dart Goby 8.00 5.00 1.60
    Sardine 4.00 3.00 1.33

    Fish XP / Four Levels Min / Four Levels XP / Minute
    Mini Dart Goby 26.00 20.00 1.30
    Sardine 13.00 12.00 1.08

    mine is just
    Fish XP / Four Levels Min / Four Levels XP / Minute
    Mini Dart Goby 24.00 20.00 1.20
    Sardine 12.00 12.00 1.00

    The XP just multiplies like How much it will be sold
    For XP:
    XP/min is the same for all levels

    • Bernard, you need to re-read my post. You are ignoring the experience points you get for putting the egg in your tank.

      Because it’s a fixed amount, it becomes proportionally less per minute as you go up levels.


      • Besides, as to the previouse post. I have not tried it with the goby or sardine, but at least for the hawiian hogfish, the xp and gold at level 4 was 480 gold and 610 xp. At level 5 it stayed at 480 gold and 610 xp, so I got no change in value between 4 and 5.

  3. I can’t give you all the details you were after as I have not yet put one in my tank… but the Blue Damsel Costs 107, Sells for 302, and grows in 1.5 days. I will get back to you with the XP in about 2 days 🙂

  4. hi

    here is the fish stats:

    Blue Greeen Chromis cost 26 grows 3hr xp:12 sell for 72
    Royal Dotty back cost 57 grows 16hr xp:? sell for 156
    Blue Damsel: cost 107 grows: 1.5 days xp? sell for 302
    inland silverside: cost:9 grows:30 min xp: 3 sell for 25

  5. So, the lesson here is, go with the fastest fish you can, for the xp rush. Will be interesting to see if later fish burst that trend.

  6. Another topic… I’ve seen “advice” on other blogs that suggests that frequent feeding will speed up the growth rate. Is there any evidence to suggest this is accurate?..

    • I have suspected this but cannot ever prove it. I keep trying to drop food in the tank fast enough, then switch tools, hover over a fish that hasn’t eaten yet, and then watch him swim up to eat and the measure again. But I keep being too slow if there are few fish in my tank or getting confused about which fish it is if there are many.

      The best test I’ve done so far is to have 50 sardines in the tank. They were all fed. Then 1/2 way through growth cycle, I dropped in 25 pieces of food. Then I waited for the growth cycle to end. 25 of my fish grew about 2 seconds faster than the other 25. Was that the result of the food or just a delay in the game updating that many fish? More testing needed.

  7. But what HAPPENS at level 5? What are they called, what are they worth, is there some kind of bonus? I keep trying to hold onto one until that stage, but I always accidentally click him and sell him too early.

  8. Yes sorry I meant 30 mins for the Silverside not 3, simple typo. My friends and I have tried many fish beyond the 4th level… nothing happens, they just don’t die as fast. The coins and XP stay the same. It is not worth waiting to find out what happens beyond the 4th level, because it does not benefit coins or XP.

  9. I just saw a neighbors fish at Level 6 and it was still worth what it was at Level 4. I really thought there would be some sort of bonus for keeping it alive so long.

  10. I actually just sold my last mini dart goby, which I have let grow for days. It was on level 7 at 70%! What is the point of having the extra levels if you get nothing for it? After level 4, the experience or coins gained from the fish never changed. Does anyone know if you get something for letting them grow to these levels?

    • Pride? In all seriousness, the economics of the game clearly reward harvesting after they clear level 1, and then re-buying. It’s OK until you clear Level 3, and then it’s not worth it.

  11. Pingback: Fishville Economics: Points, Experience & Levels Part 2 « Psychohistory

  12. Great info here, started a spreadsheet myself. After mulling through it for hours, and days getting more info (or calculating it), I thought to myself…wait… maybe looking at this wrong…

    So I came up with a Cost / XP (with a profit byproduct) based on the spreadsheet data. and interestingly, I found it more beneficial!!!


    Mini Dart Goby (yr1) costs .875 per XP
    whereas same fish (yr4) costs .269 per XP

    I gotta look at this more, maybe cost/xp/minute ?? I get back to ya!

    • I don’t think Cost / XP is the right model. By ignoring time, it basically is just going to reward taking the fishes up levels. Most people want to see progress in terms of wealth and experience *as fast as possible*, so you need some time component.

      You might be able to get away with “cost per XP per hour” or something compounded like that. I’ll think about it.

  13. Pajama Cardinal
    Grows in 2hrs
    When you buy 1 egg: 8XP
    XP Gained at level 1: 32XP
    Therefore, you gain 20XP/Hour going to level 1, and 17 Coins/Hr

  14. Pingback: Fasteddy Times » Blog Archive » Fishville.. I’m addicted..

  15. I think you need to take in to account the time taken to place the fish eggs, I think most users are going to do a patch of eggs all at once, and while this time won’t make much of a difference on the bigger time fish, it will make a difference on the 3 minute and 5 minute fish.

    Nice guide though.

  16. it is also necessary to include the players time schedule. the fast fishes are favored against the slow ones if you play day and night, constantly; and spend the same amount of time. if you choose sardine, you have to be ready in front of your computer in every 3 minutes. and you have to buy new eggs immediately as you sell the grown fishes. fast fishes are only favored on statistical charts, and keep you in front of your computer for longer time. therefore, one more factor has to be added to this analyses which is the “labor”, and precious time you have to spent by buying, selling and feeding. it was helpful by the way, thanks!

  17. Longnose hawkfish
    XP/one level = 88 Coins/one level = 116
    XP/four level = 352 Coins/four level = 464
    XP/minute = 0.24 Coins/minute = 0.32

  18. Annularis Angelfish

    * XP / Level = 144
    * Revenue / Level = 131
    * XP / Four Level = 576
    * Revenue / Four Level = 524
    * XP / Minute = 0.24

  19. Hey guys, I just stumbled on this after a google search. Interesting info, but I just thought I’d ask and see if anyone has had this happen yet….

    I recently hit level 20 and bought a 3rd tank. In this tank, I bought one of each fish to see what happens after they reach adulthood. So at level 20, you have access to 14 fish and a new tank holds 15.

    I managed to stay a while and get most of the fast fish up to level 4 and logged off for a bit. When I came back, there was a dead fish but after a quick count, I still had 14 fish total. Unfortunately, putting a cursor on a dead fish doesn’t tell me what it was and I couldn’t readily identify it from the shape either. My only guess is that one of the adult fish, possibly the sardine, had a baby.

    Anyone else have this happen?

    • I don’t know, but i have a fish at age 51 and it’s still alive, but instead of feeding it every 2 days, i have to feed it every 2 hours

  20. woot lvl 29! my strategy is to do the 12 hr and 1 day fish all the time, and having the most tanks possible at all times

  21. @quinn congrats on the lvl 29 but honestly the best strategy in fishville is how much time u can devote to it my current lvl is 14

    for me the best strategy is placing 50 blue damsel grows in 8 days giving 72k XP

    and 30 Scooter Blimey in second tank grows in 5 days giving 31k XP

    so if i average it at a 10 day pace tht would make 62K Xp from Blimey, 72K Xp from damsel and still i can level of from fast fishes for the rest of the 2 days couple of thousand from red spot cardinals

    in my case that would amount to a huge XP of ~140K Xp in 10 days….. roughly +10 levels in 10 days good enuff isnt it 🙂

  22. Pingback: Fishville Economics: Points, Experience & Levels Part 3 « Psychohistory

  23. Which Fish to Clone? Maroon Clown! Pacific Barracuda!

    It occurs to me that in deciding which fish to clone, the cost of the fish is not relevant once you already have one. So I’ve done a profit analysis leaving cost out of the equation. I found to my surprise that there is a clear winner. Maroon Clown is far and away the best fish to clone, winning you 50 coins and 63 XP per hour. I have read on FishVille discussion pages that a good fish to clone is Kole Tang. This is not, however, true at lower levels. At Level 37, Kole Tang won me a mere 19.1 coins and 9.77 XP per hour.
    Highest scorers are (in order. See tables below):
    Coins per hr per clone
    1. Maroon Clown 50
    2. Giant Shimpgoby 39.58
    3. Flagtail Shrimpgoby 39.4
    4. Murphy Cardinal 37.3
    5. Neon Black Damsel 36.8
    6. Blue Assessor 33.61
    XP per hr per clone
    1. Maroon Clown 63
    2. Neon Black Damsel 43.88
    3. Flagtail Shrimpgoby 43.3
    4. Murphy Cardinal 40.83
    5. Blue Assessor 37.25
    6. Blackfoot Lionfish 35

    The best strategy seems to be: At beginning levels, buy and sell Mini Dart Gobies (150 coins 50 XP per hour) at age 1 and hoard Clone Magic until you have 4 sand dollars. Then buy a Maroon Clown and clone away while you buy fish and expand your tanks. Hoard or sell Kole Tang until a much higher level (I haven’t reached yet). Sell Mastery fish at age 1; investment fish (ones that cost sand dollars) at age 4. Clone before selling.
    *Profit per hour per clone
    Mini Dart Goby^ 150
    Barlett Anthias^ 50
    Blue Hippo Tang^ 39.58
    Hawaiian Hogfish^ 39.4
    Scooter Blenny^ 38.7
    Prawn Goby^# 37.3
    Blue Spot Grouper^ 36.8
    Dwarf Angelfish^ 33.61
    Moorish Idol# 31.25
    Cardinal 30.4
    Blackfoot Lionfish 28.8
    Blue Assessor 24
    Sunshine Chromis 22.8
    White-faced Surgeon 20.8
    Blue Boxfish 19.2
    Yellow Boxfish~ 18.75
    Racoon Butterfly# 18.75
    Blackcap Baslett 16.67
    Purple Firefish 12.5
    Neon Black Damsel 10.42
    Maroon Clown# 10.42
    Murphy Cardinal# 10
    Annularis Angelfish# 9.61
    Flagtail Shrimpgoby#~ 9.21
    Wheelers Shrimpgoby 8.3
    Big Eye Soldierfish# 8.3
    Giant Shrimpgoby 7.6
    *XP per hour per clone
    Maroon Clown# 63
    Mini Dart Goby^ 50
    Neon Black Damsel 43.88
    Flagtail Shrimpgoby#~ 43.3
    Murphy Cardinal# 40.83
    Blue Assessor 37.25
    Blackfoot Lionfish 35
    Purple Firefish 30.75
    Giant Shrimpgoby#~ 24.48
    Moorish Idol# 23.5
    Cardinal 23.25
    Barlett Anthias^ 21.3
    Blackcap Baslett 17.7
    Wheelers Shrimpgoby#~ 17.5
    Blue Hippo Tang^ 13
    Hawaiian Hogfish^ 12.75
    Sunshine Chromis 12.5
    White-faced Surgeon 12.5
    Blue Boxfish 12.5
    Yellow Boxfish~ 12.08
    Prawn Goby^# 11.04
    Scooter Blenny^ 10.88
    Blue Spot Grouper^ 8.4
    Racoon Butterfly# 8.3
    Big Eye Soldierfish# 8.3
    Dwarf Angelfish^ 5
    Annularis Angelfish# 4.17

    ^coin-bought. Included for comparison
    *doesn’t include cost
    #can/must be obtained as prize or gift
    ~must/may be asked for
    Yours sincerely,
    FishVille addict
    Susie Helme

    PS. If you like my research and find my strategy makes you fish-rich, and you are a daily player AND you like receiving and giving gifts, come be my ‘neighbor’.

    I have discovered: Pacific Barracuda is even better! 82.7 coins 94.88 XP per hour per clone.

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