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Confusion & Misinformation in the Global Trade of Asian Arowanas

The following passages will try to explain this predicament and hopefully hobbyists will be enlighten and understand the manner this magnificent fish has been marketed today and then will not fall into ¡®traps¡¯ set by unscrupulous individuals in the trade.

1.   Why are there wide difference in pricing quoted for this fish by farms, exporters, traders and retailers?

The answer to this question is actually very simple and straight forward. It has to do a lot with the authenticity of the grades and quality of the fish offered.

However, for a lot of new hobbyists (without an in-depth appreciation of what is going on in this industry) they time and again nevertheless fall prey to this ¡°cheaper price trap¡±. They often discover much later after they have reared the fish ¡°religiously¡± over a period of a few months that the cheaper price they paid was actually a much inflated price for the variety and quality of the fish they had purchased. These fish in the shop at the point of purchase appeared very attractive and exactly what they were looking for. But this illusion of a very nice looking arowana (it may be a Gold or a Red) slowly disappears as the fish grows and later do not look at all like what they were supposed to be! Why? We will explain the reason in Part 2.

2.      The Hankie Pankie On-Goings in the industry.

The reason why people keep the Asian arowana as a hobby is because of the colours Gold and Red. These colours symbolize health, wealth and good fortunes plus everything good one can wish for. Over 30 years ago when the ¡®craze¡¯ started, this resulted in a great demand for Gold and Red  Asian Arowanas and drove up their price. The Green arowana, not being the colour in favour was neglected and sold at very low price relative to its ¡®richer cousins¡¯. But, the ¡°damage was done¡± as they have already been named green arowanas and it was too late then to call them differently.

The Banjar (a.k.a Yellow-Tails) from Indonesia did not suffer the same ¡°ill-fate¡±. The poachers and later farmers/traders decided to use the name Red Arowana Grade 1.5 for this variety and refused to refer to it by its actual and natural colour definition. They know they must have the reference Red in the naming of this variety for it to sell. This became the norm and Red Arowana Grade 1.5 (actually the Banjar or the Yellow-Tail) was sold as a cheaper variety (after colour enhancement) of the much-sought-after red arowana or super red as it was then popularly called.

Later, as the global demand for the Gold and Red Asian Arowanas outgrew the available supply, unscrupulous farmers looked towards the Green and the Banjar Arowanas to boost their production of the gold and red to meet this increased demand. This has to happen as farmers realize that these two cheaper varieties of arowanas are ample in supply and quite unlike the gold and the red are also prolific brooders and after initial experimentations found:

 

Trick 1.      That by using male Banjar arowanas to breed with female super red arowanas, they produce more babies which when further enhanced by ways to make them redder, they look very much like the babies of super reds. Here then was how the game started  with such farmers offering these fish as cheap super red alternative to unsuspecting buyers looking for ¡®bargains¡¯ or they have a small budget.

Trick 2.      That by using male green arowanas to breed with female cross-back golden arowanas, they produced babies that glisten and glitter in color like the babies of actual cross-back golden arowanas. These were again sold as in Trick 1 above to same unsuspecting buyers looking for bargains and low budget buyers. Actually, the babies of green arowanas look very much like the babies of the gold. In the early days, green arowanas were referred to and called Malaysian gold arowanas in the Philippines and were then sold there as a very cheap version of the Malaysian gold arowanas. I believe this practice is still on-going there till today.

Trick 3.      That by breeding the green arowana with red-tail gold (RTG) they can have babies that look very much like high-back RTGs (HBRTGs). The better looking babies of this union are sold as HBRTGs and the poorer specimens were then sold as RTGs much the same way as in Tricks 1 and 2 above.

It is only after the fish has grown for a few months in the hands of the unsuspecting hobbyists that the truth comes out and they realized then the actual variety and quality of the fish they bought.

With what had been explained in above paragraphs, can you not then sympathize with a hobbyist that emailed to us some time ago the following message ¨C

 ¡°Hi,

      It is because many of my country farmers generate a lot of ungenuine arowanas (i.e fake). I have checked a number of shops with same grades and types but each shop are giving me a very enormous pricing gap, which make me suspect something is wrong.

   As a new hobbyist, I do not want to be cheated as the prices are not cheap. Better buy from an established and reputable farm!! Right!!

   If you have contacts with genuine arowana dealer in my country, I am happy if you could recommend me.¡±

The examples of hybreeding different varieties of arowanas mentioned in the 3 instances above illustrate the bad practice of producing an inferior product in false variety and poor quality to sell as a cheaper version of the original to fool buyers is detestable. Such practices give hybreeding a bad name and in fact should not be condone.

On the other hand we have instances of good practices of hybreeding arowanas to create more varieties for hobbyists to enjoy (and not for the purpose to dupe buyers) which are positive to the development of the industry. Examples of this are the breeding of the red and cross-back to produce the ¡°Tong-Yen¡± and closer to home our own hybreeding efforts over the years to produce our very own product the Panda Gold.

3.      A good instance of hybrid: Panda Gold

Let us now reveal the objective and motivation behind the efforts to produce our Panda Gold over these years.

We are a CITES¡¯ Registered Arowana Farm in Singapore (CITES¡¯ Registration No. A-SG-506) since 1997. We envied the fact that Malaysia has its native Malaysian Gold (a.k.a Cross-Back Gold) and Indonesia its Red-Tail Gold. Both fish are beautiful specimens of the gold variety of the Asian arowana. But, our own country that can captive breed the Asian arowana does not have a native variety of the gold arowana to call our own.

It is precisely for this reason that we decided at an early stage of our farm¡¯s development that this has to be addressed and put right and that¡¯s when the original idea to produce Panda Gold (Singapore¡¯s own Gold arowana) began.

We achieved this by hybreeding very high quality RTGs (chosen for strong colouration and good physical attributes like size and balanced body mass with proportionate-sized fins and tails) with specimens of Cross-Back Gold that were rejected for breeding in our Cross-Back Gold breeding ponds (we have very high standards for the Cross-Backs breeding in our Cross-Back Gold ponds). Panda Gold is not a HBRTG and it is a great injustice to refer to it as such! Over the years we have refined the variety even further and today many of our customers having bought our Panda Gold over the years come back to tell us that their grown fish look very attractive and can be compared even to the quality of the best standard Cross-Back Gold! But, we will immediately respond to their comments by reminding them that ¡°The Panda Gold is not a HBRTG nor is it a Cross-Back Gold. It is Singapore¡¯s very own Gold arowana! The best value you can find in Gold arowanas.¡±

We hope the above explanations would be able to, help you have a clear picture about current situations in global arowana trade and help you make your next decision right.