In Demand: Rare Black Diamond stingrays which cost over $10,000 a pair

Demand is increasing for a rare breed of stingray, the Black Diamond, which can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $80,000 per pair, ornamental fish sellers said. Director of Malaysian fish company Kin Star Aqua World Mr Tan Heng Wah sold about 40 pairs of black diamonds worth more than $10,000 per pair to Singaporeans last year. He gets about 15 Singapore customers per month, with 2 or 3 more enquiring about his stock in recent months, he said. According to Qian Hu's local sales manager Mr Tho Thiam Thye, the company sold about 200 pairs of black diamonds last year. Demand is still growing, Mr Tho added.

Black diamonds are typically sold in pairs because fish keepers usually breed them and sell the extra stock for money. They are rare as Brazil banned exports of these rays about five years ago.

"If they breed successfully then buyers recoup their cost,"he said. "It's also a status symbol when people have it in their houses." Mr Tan now has a pair of $25,000 black diamonds but he is not selling the rays because he believes they will be worth more in future.

Besides black diamonds, more Singaporeans are also keeping cheaper stingrays as part of their fish collection.These are no ordinary stingrays but spotted stingrays which add variety to a biodiversity in a tank. "The stingray cleans the bottom of the tank. But unlike suckerfish, it looks more exotic and it adds variety to the look of the tank," said Group Integrated Research and Development Head of Qian Hu Corporation Alex Chang. At Qian Hu's retail shop in Choa Chu Kang, it sold about 20 stingrays per month five years ago compared to 80 to 100 per month now, Chang said.

Stingrays have also become more popular in the last two years because costs have fallen 30 to 40 per cent as fish breeders breed larger quantities. Popular breeds include the Motoro and the teacup stingray which cost $100 to $200.

Qian Hu and Kin Star Aqua World are just two exhibitors in Aquarama 2013, Asia's biggest ornamental fish and accessories show. The show is co-located next to Pets Asia 2013, South East Asia's first international pet and accessories trade show. Both shows run through this weekend.

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