Backyard raising of aquarium fish in Batangas… a profitable venture
Have you ever come across the names, flowerhorn, koi or betta splendens? Well, these are all aquarium fishes raised by enthusiasts as pets or ornamentals. You could usually find them in pet shops and malls side by side with exotic birds, cats and dogs.
Like the expensive arowanas, flowerhorns command one of the highest price and a nice one with beautiful Chinese markings and good colors could easily fetch P20,000.
Aquarium Fish Roadmap
Realizing the potentials of the aquarium fish industry for the local and export markets, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in cooperation with the Bio Research launched last year in Laguna, the ornamental fish roadmap or the development plan of the countrys ornamental fish industry.
The roadmap is one of BFARs priority programs for the next five years, the goal of which is to generate more livelihood opportunities for the fisherfolks. BFAR Director Malcolm I. Sarmiento, Jr. said that the Philippines has vast freshwater lakes, ponds and springs which are most favorable for the large-scale culture and breeding of selected species unconstrained by the unfavorable extreme cold seasons. The countrys unique tropical climate favors the year-round culture and breeding of ornamental fishes. These natural advantages are complemented by highly skilled fisherfolk in the area of aquaculture technologies.
As spelled out in the development plan – continuous research, development and extension programs, conduct of trainings, as well as collaborations with the private sector are just some of the strategies that are being undertaken by the BFAR to ensure the sustainable development of this promising industry.
BFAR Ragion 4A Director Rosa F. Macas, said that initially, the program will be pioneered in the CALABARZON Region where two of the largest freshwater lakes, Laguna Lake and Taal Lake are located.
Some of the trainees that benefited immensely from the BFAR program are fsherfolks from Laguna and Batangas.
Arman Anodin, a 49-year old upholsterer in Barangay Tadlac of Alitagtag usually earns some P1T to P5T per month depending upon the number of customers requiring his services. 72-year old Narciso Pagsuyuin would net some P2T to P3T per month from selling pigs he raised in his backyard while part-time labor and a businessman Leo Aranel, 52 years old takes home some P3T to P5T monthly.
Ask what these elders are known for these days in Batangas and local residents will readily reply its the aquarium fish business they started and had managed to make big. To date, Mang Arman adds some P5T to P20T to his monthly earnings from selling flowerhorn and fighting fish in the area. Mang Narcisos guppy is a hit bringing in P5T to P7T additional earnings per month and so is Mang Leos.
Sharing common interest
It all began in August 7, 2003 when these elders along with 33 other residents who are fishermen, farmers, laborers, housewife, mechanic, pig raisers or plain workers attended the 1st Training on Aquarium Fish Breeding and Culture conducted by BFAR experts of the National Fisheries Biological Center (NFBC) in Butong, Batangas. Organized by the DA-Provincial Agriculture Office with support from Municipal Mayor Guillermo Reyes, the training provided the participants basic information on raising freshwater aquarium fish. All participants went home with initial breeders on hand and several pesos to jumpstart their newly acquired skills.
What is very interesting about the participants is the fact that despite the topographical limitations of their locality, they were able to successfully breed and grow aquarium fishes. Who would ever think of raising fish in an area where the soil cannot hold water and is far from a natural water source?
Armed with ingenuity and determination akin to Filipinos, the participants came up with various models and innovative pond structures that could solve these limitations. Best of all, these are very practical and cheap. For their ponds, some participants dug holes in their backyard which they lined up with canvass so as to hold water. Others utilized old refrigerators, bamboo frames, and even their abandoned piggery. The lowly plastic bottle turned-out handy as it found many uses: as water filter device, as an incubator for hatching artemia a live food for aquarium fish and even as a part of a rainwater collection system.
Every now and then, the participants would visit the BFAR-NFBC discussing their little successes or consult problems they encounter, or simply to invite the experts to look at their production areas.
A step further
In order to strengthen their new-found enterprise, the trainees decided to organize themselves into a cooperative known as the Fisherfolk Marketing Cooperative of Alitagtag or FIMCOA in January 2004.
In October of the same year, Mayor Reyes, convinced of the groups determination to succeed, provided the cooperative a stall space at the town market to open up a pet shop. For the next six months, the stall rental and electric bill were provided free by the municipal government. To date, the pet shop is successfully sustaining its daily operation, providing a modest source of income to the cooperative.
The FIMCOA members are not only sought after by people who are interested to buy aquarium fish. Some of them are even visited and consulted by others who are interested to venture into the same line of work. Their production areas are frequented by many visitors including trainees of the BFAR-NFBC. Some of them are even invited to give short lectures regarding aquarium fish-raising in neighboring barangays.
NFBC Chief Ma. Teresa Mutia said that to ensure that the knowledge and skills exchange are accurate, the center conducted a trainors training to FIMCOA members to further update their knowledge and skills on breeding and growing aquarium fish.
A flourishing industry
There is a big, unmet export demand for aquarium fish in the world conservatively estimated at US$200M annually. It is sad to note that despite our advantage both in natural richness and competitive labor, the country shares only 3.8% of one-half of the total supplied by Asian countries, laments Dir. Sarmieto.
With the roadmap in place, the BFAR is hopsource:DA website