Ornamental fish players seek new ways to catch consumer interest

Dr Koh Poh Koon (fourth from right) at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Aquarealm 2017 at Temasek Polytechnic.
Dr Koh Poh Koon (fourth from right) at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Aquarealm 2017 at Temasek Polytechnic. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Dr Koh Poh Koon (left) touring the exhibits with Mr William Chew (second from left) after the opening ceremony of the inaugural Aquarealm 2017 at Temasek Polytechnic.
Dr Koh Poh Koon (left) touring the exhibits with Mr William Chew (second from left) after the opening ceremony of the inaugural Aquarealm 2017 at Temasek Polytechnic. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Dr Koh Poh Koon at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Aquarealm 2017 at Temasek Polytechnic.
Dr Koh Poh Koon at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Aquarealm 2017 at Temasek Polytechnic. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The ornamental fish business might be slowing here for some industry players, but fish and accessory sellers are finding new ways for beginners to pick up the hobby.

Domestic demand for ornamental fish has seen a dip of 10-20 per cent over the past two years, said Mr Joel Ho, 29, director of Rainbow Fish Industries, which has been selling fish in Singapore since 1986.

To attract younger customers, who tend to be more budget-constrained, sellers are turning to cheaper products and making the process of rearing ornamental fish less of a hassle.

To address this challenge, Mr Ho said that the company is trying a new approach.

"We are trying to cultivate a new mindset where raising fish is seen as easy and not overly time-consuming," he said.

Mr Andy Yap, deputy managing director of Qian Hu Corporation, said that while the local market has been stagnant for a while, the market is still "interesting" as people are still picking up the hobby.

"We are seeing new entrants, such as female hobbyists, who prefer smaller fishes such as betta fishes, with smaller tanks that are easier to maintain," said Mr Yap.

The company has also developed its own filter which it has started to sell this year. With the new filter, a hobbyist might only need to change water in the tank half as often.

Fish and accessory dealers are taking part in a four-day ornamental fish show, Aquarealm 2017, which began on Thursday (June 15) at Temasek Polytechnic.

Alongside conferences and workshops with international experts, the event is also open to the public this weekend. The public can look forward to highlights like an aquascaping competition between international aquascapers, and public seminars on topics like aquarium fish nutrition.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said in his speech at the opening ceremony that it was "timely" for the show to be addressing challenges to the ornamental fish industry.

He cited Singapore's limited land, challenges in maintaining the industry's reputation for quality, and a manpower shortage.

"Every industry will need to respond to globalisation and the changes being wrought by demography and technology. The ornamental fish industry in Singapore is no exception," said Dr Koh, who is also Senior Minister of State for National Development.