Abu Rasel Rony was working as a merchandiser in 2017, when his friend was about to sell his aquarium shop. Rony decided to take over the business.
For the first six months, Rony did his job and spent his free time on the new venture, but six months later he left the job to dedicate hismself entirely to the aquarium fish business.
He researched about ornamental fish on online platforms, which helped him start a fish hatchery- Angry Bird and Fish Farm. The hatchery now has 15 breeds of fancy guppies.
The hatchery is located on the roof of a multi-storied building in Mirpur-10 of the capital. The 100 square-feet area also hosts some birds and cats.
He pays Tk5,000 per month as rent along with Tk2,000 for the electricity, and Tk500 for the water. Although he began the venture with few imported pairs, currently he is developing new breeds and making more profit.
Ornamental fish farming can be a very promising small and medium-sized enterprise. It can also open doors for students to earn while pursuing their academics.
Shameem Hossain, a student of Tejgaon College, has been in the ornamental fish breeding business for almost six years.
His interest in ornamental fish farming has led him to breed strains of different kinds of fish.
Many types of guppies are found in Bangladesh but the highly desired fancy guppy – ornamental fish, is not widely available.
"The competition for fancy guppies is increasing in Bangladesh, and even during the pandemic, people are still ordering ornamental fish," Shamim said, adding he has more than 20 varieties of fish in his hatchery.
A pair of guppies sells for at least Tk400 and the number can go high up to Tk5,000 depending on the breed.
These guppies are fed well and kept in water tanks with ample space from them to swim freely. The fish tanks are cleaned twice a month.
For proper supply of air most breeders use air pumps, however, the cost-effective way is to use water plants.
The import cost is high but breeding easily covers up the expenses and make a profit, they said.
On average, Shameem's hatchery sells around Tk3 lakh worth ornamental fish every month. However, the coronavirus pandemic has affected the sales, he said.
Building a hatchery in Dhaka can be difficult due to the limited space. However, most ornamental fish farms in the capital are set-up on unused rooftops.
All you need is a minimum of Tk1,000 investment and time to feed the fish twice every day and clean the tanks once every week.
"Within 3-4 months, anyone can earn up to Tk10,000 in this business. But, it would be wiser to stick to live-breeding fish since big fish that lay eggs require a good amount of maintenance," said Shameem.
There are different variations when it comes to breeding ornamental fish. Countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia farm varieties of ornamental fish and are among the top exporters.
If given the opportunity Bangladesh has the potential to establish a firm grip in the international market.