GUWAHATI, Feb 29 � Ornamental fish, which is rapidly gaining in popularity, has now become an employment generator in Assam. With profit margins on the rise, a large number of educated youths have taken to its breeding in and around urban settlements where markets are expanding.
Such has been the trend in recent times that imports of various ornamental species for aquarium use have almost halved in recent times, according to sources in the Department of Fisheries. Till last year, aquarium fish worth Rs 5 lakh was being brought from distant metros to Guwahati every week, which no longer is the case.
Fish enthusiasts have also been making a switch to local varieties as they are more resilient in local conditions and do not suffer from the stress that imported fish experience during transport by rail or air. The cost factor has also influenced their decisions to opt for locally raised fish.
Gautam Saha, a city-based breeder of ornamental fish, told this newspaper that the market is expanding and the response he has received so far is quite satisfactory. He, however, felt that a group of people breeding different varieties of fish would result in better market penetration in Assam and the rest of the North East.
Apart from individuals, establishments like hotels, nursing homes, and financial institutions have been procuring ornamental fish. The reasons cited for display of aquarium fish include aesthetic pleasure and therapeutic effect like stress relief. According to Sanjay Sharma, an official in the Fisheries Department, the adoption of Vastu and Feng Shui by interior decorators, and people in general have also contributed to the demand for ornamental fish.