To cope with the stress of losing his business, the 48-year-old kept an aquarium of fish five years ago.
The hobby became his ticket back into the business world.
As the fish bred and multiplied, Zulkifli bought new aquariums and this caught the attention of the youth in his neighbourhood.
They began thronging his house in Kampung Jias Dewan Beta here to buy fish for their own aquariums.
It was then that he decided to go full-time into the aquarium fish-breeding business.
Now, the father-of-four is a successful aquarium fish-breeder with a farm and 15 ponds filled with various species of fish such as guppies and molly fish.
Instead of resting on his laurels, he is making big plans for the future, including developing an arowana farm at a one-hectare site in Gual Pasir, Rantau Panjang.
Zulkilfi has also started breeding the popular Betta splendens, or fighting fish, and the expensive discus fish.
He has had to hire four workers to help him out on the fish farm and has delegated the marketing to several agents.
"I sell to customers who come here, but the daily marketing is left to the agents, who open up stalls at farmers' markets and other public events.
"We sell more than 20,000 fish of various species monthly in the state, and it is still not enough.
The cheaper varieties are sold at 12 sen to 18 sen each to the agents, while the fighting fish go for RM2 to RM50 each.
The discus fish usually go for more than RM100 each.
Zulkifli's growing business has also attracted the attention of the Fisheries Department and the Kemubu Agricultural Development Authority, which has helped him to improve his farm and sent him for training.