The Sungam bus stand corner is a profusion of colours as a mini aquarium takes shape there every morning

Sungam bus stand, 10 a.m. A. Sagabutheen arrives from Edayarpalayam with his load of cartons. He quickly unpacks the glass bowls and places it on a platform. In minutes, the place is transformed into a colourful aquarium, complete with fishes and ornamental greenery. His partner A. Abu Tahir attends to customers who peer at the kadal pura. The kadal pura showcases its eel-like tail in the glass bowl. Ornamental gold fish, green gold, yellow, black and white koi carp, and white angel join the party. “We also have snake-like vilangu, molly and shark varieties,” says Sagabutheen.

A fresh stock of fish arrives every day from Chennai. A pair of ornamental fish sells at Rs.30 and goes up to Rs. 80. They easily sell 150 pairs a day. “We give small packs of fish food and plants for free. School children regularly stop with their parents and take home a bowl,” says Sagabutheen. They sell bowls (Rs. 60 onwards), aquarium tanks with carved wood covers, motors and filters too. Abu says people keep an aquarium to beautify the interiors and for vaastu. “We stick to ornamental varieties and source vaastu fishes such as arowana and flower horn on request.” There are hundreds of colourful varieties, says Abu. “You can raise gold fish, koi carp and angel in a single tank. Mollys, flower horn, fighter fish and red parrot tend to feed on smaller fish.”

Sagabutheen says the aquarium size matters. “If it’s a small bowl, stick to five or six fish. If you add more, they will stifle and die. The water temperature must be constant. Many gold fish varieties die when the water gets too cold,” he says.

It cost about Rs. 800 to set up an aquarium. “Bigger ones can cost over a lakh,” says Abu. What is their favourite fish? Abu picks the angel that resembles an aeroplane. It comes in black, white and silver. Sagabutheen finds flower horns (which can cost up to Rs. 11,000) and gold fish attractive.

They also give maintenance tips. For example, they tell customers to layer the aquarium with good quality stones and to add medicinal glucose to the tank if they are going to travel. This keeps the fish going for a couple of days. When they are not attending to customers, they just sit by and watch the fish frisk about. It makes us happy! They say.

They are at the bus stand till 5.30 p.m. on all days. For details, call: 90256-52660