Chennai, May 12 (IANS) With the rise in popularity of marine ornamental aquarium, the breeding and retailing of clown fish in captivity in Tamil Nadu offers a good livelihood opportunity, said an expert here.
"Like farming of fresh water ornamental fishes, breeding of marine ornamental fishes can be a good livelihood avenue. We have succeeded in captive breeding of 10 varieties of clown fish and supplying the fish to various farms and retailers," T.T. Ajith Kumar, assistant professor and senior research officer at Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology at the Annamalai University, told IANS here.
He said there are around 30 varieties of clown fish in the sea.
Notching up success in breeding clown fish in captivity the Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology (CASMB) is now working on captive breeding of marine fish varieties like damsel and others, Kumar added.
He said the centre offers training programmes for budding fish farmers in rearing clown fish and many are turning entrepreneurs.
"There is good money in this business if done properly. I have invested around Rs.15 lakh (Rs.1.5 million) in setting up the hatchery for clown fish, damsel fish and others near Mandapam area in Ramanathapuram district (in Tamil Nadu)," S. Sivasakthi, owner of Vignesh Marine Ornamental Fish Hatchery, told IANS over phone.
He said he buys clown fish hatchlings/babies from CASMB and rears them for a month and sells them off to retailers in Tuticorin and Chennai.
"I sell around 200-250 clown fishes per month. While I buy a larva for around Rs.40-Rs.50, I sell it for around Rs.125 after rearing it for a month. The expenditure is also not much. The fire clown fish variety fetches higher revenue," Sivasakthi added.
Speaking about the business in clown fish at the retail end, T. Bangaru Babu of New Marine Fish here told IANS: "The potential is good and hence I am setting up a showroom at Ayanavaram (a north Chennai locality) at an outlay of Rs.15 lakh (Rs.1.5 million). The investment is towards stocking fish tanks and other accessories."
Babu rears and sells six varieties of clown fish apart from other varieties (like Blue Damsels) and makes around Rs.150,000 per month.
"Till now I have been selling to wholesalers and retailers on cash and carry basis," he said.
The one issue that hinders ornamental fish hobbyists in having a sea water aquarium is the availability of water and the high cost of fish.
"With the availability of synthetic salt and mineral water cans, the problem of salt water is solved. After the initial set up one there will be loss of water due of evaporation. That water loss can be offset with the mineral water," Kumar said.
He said the captive breeding of marine ornamental fishes will bring down the retail prices as all these days the fishes were caught in the sea resulting in high costs.
"At the farm level the fish mortality rates are not high if taken proper care. Our idea is to extend the breeding technology to rear the fish in backwater, estuary and mangrove areas," Kumar said.