Ornamental Fish Culture: Creating A Niche In The Economy
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Ornamental Fish Culture: Creating A Niche In The Economy

                         ̽Shabir Ahmad Dar, Mohd. Ashraf, Mishal. P & A.M Najar

    

             ̽Ph.D Scholar, Central Institute of Fisheries Education Versova, Mumbai 400061

                                                                           Corresponding author: Shabir Ahmad Dar

                                                                                   Email: shabirdar777@rediffmail.com

Introduction                                

Ornamental fish keeping is one of the most popular hobbies in the world today. The growing interest in aquarium fishes has resulted in steady increase in aquarium fish trade globally. The trade with a turnover of US $ 5 Billion and an annual growth rate of 8 percent offers a lot of scope for development. The top exporting country is Singapore followed by Honking, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Srilanka, Taiwan, Indonesia and India. The largest importer of Ornamental fish is the USA followed by Europe and Japan. The emerging markets are China and South Africa. Over US $ 500 million worth of ornamental fish are imported into the USA each year.

India's share in ornamental fish trade is estimated to be Rs 158.23 lakh which is only 0.008% of the global trade. The major part of the export trade is based on wild collection. There is very good domestic market too, which is mainly based on domestically bred exotic species. The overall domestic trade in this field cross 10 crores and is growing at the rate of 20 per cent annually. The earning potential of this sector has hardly been understood and the same is not being exploited in a technology driven manner. Considering the relatively simple technique involved, this activity has the potential to create substantial job opportunities, besides helping export earnings. India's share in ornamental fish trade is estimated to be Rs 158.23 lakh which is only 0.008% of the global trade. The major part of the export trade is based on wild collection. There is very good domestic market too, which is mainly based on domestically bred exotic species. The overall domestic trade in this field cross 10 crores and is growing at the rate of 20 per cent annually. The earning potential of this sector has hardly been understood and the same is not being exploited in a technology driven manner. Considering the relatively simple technique involved, this activity has the potential to create substantial job opportunities, besides helping export earnings.

        Ornamental fishes form an important commercial component of aquaculture, providing for aesthetic requirement and upkeep of the environment. Aquarium keeping of fish began in 1805 with the first public, with the first public display aquarium opened at RegentÕs park in England in 1853.Development of aquaria picked up further and by 1982, there were 45 display aquaria open to public, with over 500 aquaria presently functioning worldwide. However, the market for ornamental fish in the world for public aquaria is less than 1% at present and over 99% of the market for ornamental fish is still confined to hobbyist. The brilliant, flamboyant colour and exotic appearance of the fish appeal to one and all children and aged alike. As the days passed, ornamental fish keeping became an interesting activity for many, in the process generating income for the unemployed youth and farmers. The concept of entrepreneurship development through ornamental fish farming is gaining popularity day-by- day. Therefore, more people are entering into this lucrative business of culturing and breeding these fish through farming. As a results, many ancillaries as pet shops are also coming up in cities and even small towns. One of the basic requirement is a clear understanding of the habits and biological requirements of the fish. The hobbyists can study the behaviour and biology of the fish during aquarium maintenance and can breed several varieties of fish. 

Why breeding?

Ninety five per cent of our ornamental fish export is based on wild collection. Majority of the indigenous ornamental fish trade in India is from the North Eastern states and the rest is from Southern states which are the hot spots of fish bio diversity in India. This capture based export is not sustainable and it is a matter of concern for the industry. In order to sustain the growth it is absolutely necessary to shift the focus from capture to culture based development. Moreover most of the fish species grown for their ornamental importance can be bred in India successfully. Organised trade in ornamental fish depends on assured and adequate supply of demand, which is possible only by mass breeding.

Technology

There are quite a large number of tropical aquarium fishes known to aquarists. While many of the fish are easy to breed, some of these are rare, difficult to breed and expensive. Most of the exotic species can be bred and reared easily since the technology is simple and well developed. It is advisable to start with common, attractive, easily bred and less expensive species before attempting the more challenging ones. An ornamental fish project can be either 1) rearing only 2) breeding only 3) breeding and rearing depending upon the space available. The technology involves the following activities

Culture/rearing: The culture/rearing of these fishes can be taken up normally in cement tanks. Cement tanks are easy to maintain and durable. One species can be stocked in one tank. However in case of compatible species two or three species can occupy the same tank. Ground water from dug wells / deep tube wells are the best for rearing. The fishes reach the marketable size in around 4 to 6 months. Eight to ten crops can be taken in a year.

Feeding: Young fish are fed mainly with Infusoria, Artemia, Daphnia, Mosquito larvae Tubifex and Blood worms. For rearing, formulated artificial or prepared feed can be used. At present no indigenous prepared feed for aquarium fish is available. The amount and type of food to be given depends on the size of the fry. Feeding is generally done twice in a day or according to requirement. For rearing from fry stage dry/ prepared feed can be used.

Breeding: The method of breeding is based on the family characteristics of the fish. The success of breeding depends on the compatibility of pairs, the identification of which is a skill born out of experience. Generally the brooders are selected from the standing crop or purchased and reared separately by feeding them with good live food. However, it is always better to buy good brooding stock. Otherwise, the original characteristic of the species keeps on getting diluted because of continuous inbreeding. Brooders especially egg layers should be discarded after few spawning.

Health care

Water exchange, is a must for maintaining water quality conducive for the fish health. Only healthy fish can withstand transportation and fetch good price. Chemicals / antibiotics, Methylene Blue, Methylene Yellow, Malachite Green, Ampicilin, Vitamins, Potassium permanganate, Copper sulphate etc can also be used for preventing / treating diseases.

Market

At present the market is mainly domestic. There is a good domestic market which is increasing. The export market for indigenously bred exotic species is also increasing.

Ornamental Fishes

Aquarium fishes are mainly grouped into two categories, viz., Oviparous (egg - layers) and Viviparous (live-bearers). Further, the fresh water ornamental fish varieties can be broadly grouped into Tropical and Cold water species also. Management of these two categories are different in nature. According to water tolerance fishes are hard water tolerant, soft water tolerant species and those with wide tolerance. The fishes and the details of grouping is given below.

Species

Water Quality

Season

Breeding Type

Egg Type/ Care

Molly

Hard water Sp.

Summer/Monsoon

Live Bearer

Young Ones

Guppy

Hard water Sp.

Summer/Monsoon

Live Bearer

Young Ones

Platy

Hard water Sp.

Summer/Monsoon

Live Bearer

Young Ones

Swordtail

Hard water Sp.

Summer/Monsoon

Live Bearer

Young Ones

Blue Gourami

Wide Tolerance

Summer/Monsoon

Nest Builder

Male Guard eggs

Pearl Gourami

Wide Tolerance

Summer/Monsoon

Nest Builder

Male Guard eggs

Rosy Barb

Wide Tolerance

Summer/Monsoon

Egg Scatterer

Adhesive

Gold Fish

Wide Tolerance

Monsoon/Winter

Egg Scatterer

Adhesive

Z/P/Vl Danio

Wide Tolerance

Summer/Monsoon

Egg Scatterer

Non Adhesive

S Fighter

Wide Tolerance

Summer/Monsoon

Nest Builder

Male Guard eggs

Catfish

Wide Tolerance

Monsoon/Winter

Egg depositer

Enclosures Reqd.

Angel

Soft Water

Summer/Monsoon

Egg depositor

Parents Fan Eggs

FM Cichlid

Soft Water

Summer/Monsoon

Egg Depositors

Enclosures Reqd.

R D Cichlid

Soft Water

Summer/Monsoon

Egg Depositors

Enclosures Reqd.

Bl W Tetra

Soft Water

Summer/Monsoon

Egg Scatterer

Adhesive

B A Tetra

Soft Water

Summer/Monsoon

Egg Scatterer

Adhesive

Serpa Tetra

Soft Water

Summer/Monsoon

Egg Scatterer

Adhesive

Manila Carp

Soft Water

Monsoon/Winter

Egg Scatterer

Adhesive


Ornamental Fish breeding project

The basic requirements for successful breeding and rearing of ornamental fish are adequate space, quality water and sufficient feed. Considering this the following investments are required for starting an Ornamental fish project

Tanks: The tanks can be of RCC or brick masonry work having flat bottoms with inlet and outlet pipes. Clay, cement, fibre glass or plastic tanks can also be used. Rearing of fishes should be done in large tanks. Size of the tanks varies according to the space, the number and type of fish cultured.

Aquariums: Glass tanks of varying size are required for breeding. Small glass bottles of 250 ml are used for keeping individual male fighter fishes. Number and size of the glass tanks depend on the specific breeding / spawning behaviour of the species selected.

Over head tank: An over head tank of suitable size for storing and to enable sedimentation of water is required.

Water Supply: Deep tube wells would be the best source of water. Recycling of water through bio-filters or other sort of filtering mechanism can be tried. Other sources like dug wells, Municipal water if available can also be used. A small pump to lift the water to over head tank and a network of pipes are needed to feed the culture tanks.

Work Shed: Work shed should be designed in such a way that the tanks get filtered sunlight. Translucent HDPE sheets can be used. This also protects the culture tanks from falling debris and bird dropping etc.

Aeration equipments: A blower pump with net work of tubes for aeration is a must. ContinuoÕs power supply should also be ensured through generator set or UPS or inverter.


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