Small fish, big potential

28 May 2003

A number of endangered fish species may escape extinction thanks to a small company in Touws Rivier, Western Cape which has pioneered the use of a new hormone that is encouraging reproduction among fish which have resisted previous breeding attempts.

Spawnrite says its “Proudly South African” product, Aquaspawn, has been successfully used for the first time for the captive breeding of the Synodontis species, commonly called squeakers – a rare collector’s favourite found only in the Great Lakes, Zaire and Congo River basins.

“Because of their unique habits, colour and patterns, and the fact that they are difficult to catch, these fish command high prices in the ornamental trade,” says L Read, Spawnrite’s general manager.

“Currently we are co-sponsoring a four-year breeding project at Rhodes University, as part of an ongoing programme to spawn and breed ornamental fish and develop the ornamental fish industry in South Africa.”

If Aquaspawn can be used to successfully breed rare species for collectors, aquariums and museums around the world, the potential for job creation and foreign exchange earnings are enormous.

Cape Nature Conservation described the product as “invaluable . in assisting us to save species from extinction”, and plans to use Aquaspawn to artificially spawn three endangered species of Olifants River fish, namely the yellowfish, sawfin and sandfish.

Says Read: “Breeding fish is dependent on being able to control and manipulate the reproductive cycle. Some of the obstacles confronting fish farmers are the absence of ovulation, impaired sperm production, excessive spawning and unseasonal spawning. With this hormone, fish can usually be induced to spawn successfully.

“The ornamental fish industry in America is at the moment a business worth several billions of dollars. Considering the fact that South Africa has to create employment and bring in foreign exchange, the ornamental fish industry has great potential.”

Proudly South African CEO Martin Feinstein said there were enormous opportunities in the export of fish eggs worldwide. “Spawnrite are in a unique position to export aquaculture technology to benefit developing countries, where there is a dire need for inexpensive, high-quality proteins.”

Recognition for the company came last year in the form of the Quality Summit international award for excellence and business prestige, which was awarded at the International Quality Summit convention in New York.

Source: Proudly South African