They are barely half the size of your little finger, come in a myriad hues and are forever flitting from one end to another or zooming up and down mesmerising onlookers— irrespective of age — with their frolics.

Yes, we are talking about dainty ornamental fishes which, in recent times, have become a popular choice as pets.

The very idea of having pets at home is to share an emotional bonding with them. Besides indulging them at times of happiness, we also know that they are a great source of comfort at times of distress. With space a big crunch in the metropolis, many families — especially those living in modest flats —cannot have dogs as pets even if they want to. But in the case of fish, there is no such constraint. All you need is a tank (you get them in different sizes) with some fresh water, not to forget the miniscule feed.

US Aqua Farm at Uthandi, East Coast Road, offers a variety of imported ornamental fish — both fresh water and marine.

T.R. Saravana Kumar, who set up this state-of-the art farm on a 10,700 sq ft area in 2008, says that this is the biggest farm in Chennai where you get 20 - 25 varieties of ornamental fish — both fresh water and marine, under one roof.

Among the fresh water fish are guppies (in red, blue, black & white, purple), mollies (sunset, moon tail, golden sun dust), tiger endlers (very small in size),blue and white platy, cichlids, Honduran red point, tilapia, cherry shrimp, Albino bricardi, fresh water lobster (very aggressive), flower horn, arowana and gold fish.

The imported marine fish varieties include clowns (remember Nimo?), angels, tangs and butterfly.

The farm has a huge RO water purifying system to protect the fish from water contamination. The fresh water fish are bred in the rows and rows of big tanks. They are segregated breed-wise and once the eggs hatch, they are let into separate tanks for one month, transferred to a ‘grow out’ section for another month, then segregated according to their sex, by which time they grow to about 1 1/2 inch. It is then that they are ready for sale, explains Mr. Saravana Kumar.

Moving to a tank at the far end of the shed, he shows off another breed, koicarp, a pure Japanese breed which grows up 3-4 feet and whose price is a whopping Rs one lakh. The tanks are cleaned once a week and the dirty water is recycled and let into a paddy field.

All the fishes are imported from Singapore and Malaysia. Once they arrive here, the fishes are quarantined for about a week to acclimatise them to our conditions. The marine fish are kept in a controlled temperature.

Mr. Saravana Kumar says he has a committed clientele throughout the country who buy the fish in bulk. “We take utmost care in packing as the fishes are sent by bus, train and flight. The marine fish is only sent by flight to ensure that it is not under stress.”

Shahul Hameed, who has a pet shop selling fish in Parrys and Moore Market, says he is a regular buyer from US Aqua. “I buy in bulk from this farm and sell the fish through my shop. I get all types of fish here and the high quality that is maintained is important for me,” he adds.

Mr. Saravana Kumar says he also undertakes installation of tanks for marine and fresh water fish at homes, offices and other corporate establishments.

US Aqua Farm is at No: 5/159, Eden Gardens, MGR Road, Uthandi (near Toll Plaza). It is open on all days. Phone: 99400 85595.

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