Asian Arowanas Breeding Venture - Know the Risk
In recent times, we see that many more individuals have expressed interest in wanting to go into the arowana breeding business. Here we mean the asian arowanas specifically, especially the gold (or cross backs), red and red tail golden (or RTGs) as they are the ones that fetch the highest prices in the market. There is a saying that as long as there are Asians (especially the Chinese), there will always be demands for this magnificient fish. This rise/surge in demand is more pronounced now with the rising affluence of the middle class families in China in recent times.
The asian arowana's resemblance to the mythical dragon has made them a much sort after 'feng shui' fish. They are considered a 'good luck' fish and many people swear by this! Many feng shui masters have considered them to be one of the three 'lucky' fishes, the other two being goldfish and koi. There was a 'fourth' one which is the flowerhorn or 'Luo Han' but I think this is passe now and has not really stood the test of time.
What has also driven up the prices for these beautiful asian arowanas are the fact that it is very difficult to breed them. (Again we are talking about the red, gold and RTG arowanas only.) Thus far, they have only been successfully bred commercially in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. No one has succeeded in breeding them anywhere else which has led to a constant 'short supply' of asian arowanas in the market. Success rates in breeding asian arowanas in tanks are also too few and far between and is just not viable commercially.
As is evident above, the arowana breeding business can be highly profitable when done on a commercial basis. This has driven up the interest of people wanting to get into this business. But please be aware of some of the inherent risks before you do take the plunge into it.
1) The barrier to entry can be quite steep because of the high initial investments needed. For this business to be viable, you will need many ponds with a minimum of 20-40 adult asian arowanas in them to breed as not all ponds will be productive from the start unless you already have some producing ones. With each adult arowana being between $5,000 to $10,000 each, you do the math. Bear in mind that these cost does not include the investment you have put up to build the farm!
2) Even if you have the farm and the arowanas in place, there is still a chance that they will not breed enough for you to sustain the farm. Please do not take the plunge if you do not have someone experience to run it for you. You need an experience individual with a 'sharp' eye who can spot pairing arowanas (which means possible male arowanas that are carrying the fry in their mouth) and know when is the right time to harvest the fry. Even experience breeders don't get it right all the time, let alone us. So be mindful here!
3) If you are intending to try this in a place or country which has no history of breeding success in the past, then you have to be triply sure this is what you want to do. Asian arowanas are very picky about what kind of environment they will breed in. There must be a 'right' climate and optimal mix of soil and water in the mud ponds for them to breed in. I want to emphasize again that they have only been successfully bred commercially in 3 countries, namely Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Does this mean it cannot be bred in any other country? Frankly, no one knows! Never say never but you just need to know the facts thus far and be ready for any eventuality!