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Retired teacher turns to breeding fish

2018/02/19 13:32:23

Chen Wen-hu (陳文湖)

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) A marble goby fish farmer from Tainan, Chen Wen-hu (陳文湖), had a career as an elementary school teacher until his retirement, when he transformed his interest in fish into a viable concern.

Chen chose to raise the marble goby, which requires a high level of technical skill, and has remained insistent on not using chemicals in his farming methods.

Despite losing millions of New Taiwan dollars in his venture to begin with, there is now a large demand for his fish.

Chen, a native of Tainan's Cigu District, was born into a farming family, but had little interest in growing crops, preferring fish.

Upon retirement, he rented a fish farm with the hope of realizing his dream.

"Since we are going to breed, then lets go for what is the most challenging," said Chen, pointing out that the main products from Tainan's fisheries are milkfish, white shrimp, clams and tilapia.

However, the profits from these species are not stable, so he chose the marble goby, which has a higher unit price, although it is more challenging to breed.

Marble gobys are carnivores and nocturnal fish that live at the bottom of the water and stay hidden, said Chen, adding that the fish is adaptable to low oxygen levels and can survive for up to one day out of water.

But because it is a tropical species, it does not do well in cold temperatures, said Chen, noting that if the water quality is not ideal, the fish will be susceptible to viruses, making breeding in Taiwan rather challenging.

Chen breeds the fish without chemicals. White shrimp are also bred in the same pools as a food source, even though the shrimp fry are expensive, but the fish prospered, while the left over shrimp can also be sold, said Chen.

Chen finally raised his first batch of fish weighing around one kilogram each, however, after selling only a small amount, a cold spell killed all of his stock, causing a loss of around NT$4 million.

However, Chen believed he was on the right track as his fish were healthy and were in line with what people wanted.

Chen has gone to Taipei numerous times to sell his fish and the number of returning buyers are high, with many restaurants ordering stock from him.

The marketing of marble goby is not the same as that of other farmed fish species, as there is generally no middleman and most of the fish are sent directly to restaurants from the breeding pools, said Chen.

In the future, he plans to set up a small live fish storage and transportation depot in northern Taiwan to stabilize supplies to restaurants in the area and also to sell to consumers at a retail level, which will also allow more people the opportunity to eat marble gobys, said Chen.

Chen Wen-hu (陳文湖, center/file photo/photo courtesy of Tainan City Government Agriculture Bureau)

(By Yang Sz-ruei and William Yen)