At home is beneficial for health. Besides it brings luck and peace according to Chinese mythology, writes T.SARAVANAN

Sizzling colours of the fish species brighten any area. Ornamental fish varieties enhance the serene contours of the waters they cascade in. Welcome to the world of enticing beauties at the Aqua Gardens, which seem to complement the exotic nature of these finned creatures.Located at a sprawling seven acres at Kadachanendal, 10 km away from the city, the aquarium houses one of the largest collections of alluring fish species ranging from the slender golden-scaled beauties to dazzling tin foil fish.

Commitment must

As you enter the aquarium, the silken Arowana, oblivious to the commotion that exists outside, cascades through the water. "Don't get misled by its calmness. The endangered Amazon River fish has two antennas with which it senses the vibration and identifies the intention of any visitor to the place and reacts accordingly. If the stranger has come with a bad intention then it will look agitated and behaves wildly," cautions R. Kirubaharan, one of the brothers, who own the aquarium. "Their life span is 70 years and is considered lucky symbol in Chinese and Japanese mythologies. Ornamental fish breeding can be a healthy hobby but to sustain it one needs commitment," he asserts.It all started as a hobby with a meagre investment of just Rs.10 about 43 years ago by a railway employee M. Raju. "My father was very much interested in breeding ornamental fish, as he felt that it relieved him off his stress. Later, we brothers picked it up from him and I still remember Rajagopala Iyengar, my father's colleague, who educated us on ornamental fish by providing literature on fish species," he reminisces.

Good exposure

Earlier, people had no exposure about ornamental fish as they knew only 10 to 14 varieties but now people are aware of different species. Most of the fish varieties in his aquarium are imported from Singapore, which is considered to be the capital of ornamental fish. The fish come in oxygen packed containers."Of late, in countries like Germany, Israel and Japan, exporters use tranquillisers to export large fish. Once the tranquillisers are administered the fish will require only minimum oxygen and any disease-causing virus will not survive in the fish due to the dip in oxygen. Hence, the fish is safely exported. But the technology is not available in our country, which is a huge drawback," points out Mr. Kirubakaran."The export potential for the ornamental fish world over is put at 30,000 crore US dollars, but we are not in a position to fulfil even one percent of it." Most of the species at Aqua Gardens are hybrid varieties. They feed on tubifix worms, blood worms (larvae of a fly), mosquito larvae. The pet food for the smaller fish species is Dapinia insects. Some of the most sought after and exotic collections at the aquarium are gold fish, angel fish, mollies, red sword tail, tin foil fish and malawi cichilds. Now, the aquarium also provides training for people. With an investment of Rs.1000 any one can become a fish breeder. "We offer a four day training. Apart from that we also provide fish and other necessary accessories," Mr. Kirubakaran says.

Advice for novice

He also has plenty of advice for those who wish to pursue it as a hobby. "Many people come to us seeking guidance. But most of them don't follow it sincerely. Some of them over feed the fish, which may end the life of the fish community," he cautions.He still rues his misfortune when he lost exotic fish species during the 1993 floods and even in recent floods he lost part of his collections. He suggests the best combinations in a fish tank: "The gold fish has to be bred alone where as mollies can go well with red sword tail fish and guppies. The malawi cichilds, which are combative in nature should also be bred alone." The charm and salubrious elegance exuberated by the maintenance of ornamental fishes steals the hearts of all those who are keen in pursuing it as a hobby .Partners of Aqua Gardens are R. Deva Manoharan, R. Elangovan and K.P. Karthikeyan. For further information, dial 0452-2422820 or 9443242230.DOsFresh water must to breed fish species.
Maximum of 12 fish in a two feet long tank.
Water plants must to maintain eco balance.
Use of power filters.
Regular change of water.
Use of air pumps.
Removal of dead fish.
Use of antibiotics.DONTsOver feeding.
Use of corals (as the salt content will spoil the water and kill the fish)
Use of plants grown in natural ponds (as leeches may be found on the leaves)
Use of stones, which are not recommended.
Irregular maintenance.BENEFITSWatching the movement of fish is a good exercise for the eye. Rejuvenates the onlooker. Relieves you off stress. Reduces blood pressure. Brings luck and peace at home. Enhances unity among siblings.