|The entire industry, including accessories and fish feed is estimated to be worth US $ 14 Billion. The top exporting country (with percentage contribution to global trade) is Singapore (19.8%) followed by Czech Republic (7.8%), Japan (7.4%), Malaysia (7.3%), Indonesia (5.3%), Israel (4.3%), Thailand (3.9%), Sri Lanka (2.9%) and India (0.008%). The largest importer of ornamental fish is the USA followed by Europe and Japan. The emerging markets are China and South Africa.|
India's share in ornamental fish trade is estimated to be less than 1 % 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 Rs 1000 lakh and is reportedly growing at the rate of 20 per cent annum. 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 techniques involved, this activity has the potential to create substantial employment opportunities, besides earning foreign exchange.
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 wider tolerance. The common varieties of fishes and the details of grouping is given below.
Monsoon - June to August, Summer - March to May, Winter - November to January
Marine Ornamental Fishes
Marine ornamental fishes are also popular among hobbyists and the technology of breeding and larval rearing has now been developed for certain species by research institutes. The present model has been restricted to freshwater species only.
At present in India, hundreds of exotic and indigenous ornamental fish varieties are being bred under captive condition. Majority of the production goes to domestic market and to some extent for export. A generalised production cycle of ornamental fishes is given below.
There are quite a large number of tropical aquarium fishes known to the aquarists. While many of the fishes 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/ scale of operations desired and the expertise. 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/ borewells are the best for rearing fish. The fishes reach marketable size in around 4 to 6 months. Eight to ten crops can be taken in a year.At present the market is mainly domestic and the demand is increasing steadily. The export market for indigenously bred exotic species is also fast growing and encouraging.
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 the requirement. For rearing from fry stage dry/ prepared feed can be used.
Breeding : Ninety five per cent of our ornamental fish export is based on wild collection. Such 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, which is possible only through mass breeding.
The method of breeding is based on the family characteristics of the fish. The success of breeding depend on the compatibility of pairs, the identification of breeders which is a skill gained through 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 brood stock and replace the breeders. Otherwise, the original characteristic of the species keeps on getting diluted because of continuous inbreeding. Brooders especially egg layers should be discarded after few spawnings.
Water exchange, is a must for maintaining water quality conducive for the fish health. Only healthy fish can withstand the effects of transportation and fetch a good price. Permitted chemicals / antibiotics, vitamins, etc can also be used for preventing / treating diseases.