Yarangjang Imchen lives in the far northeastern state of India, Nagaland. A graphic designer by profession, he owns a computer institute and works on projects in the IT sector.
But a hobby sprouted in the backyard for this software professional to grow tropical fish in the cold landlocked region of India has turned into a business.
In 2018, the 34-year-old from Dimapur started pursuing his hobby by watching YouTube videos which eventually took shape for him to build ponds, aquaculture systems all by himself, earning him Rs 10,000 per month.
Here’s how he did it.
Yarangjang says, “I was always fascinated by fish, and curiosity made me research them on the internet. My interest in the fish grew, and I started spending a significant amount of time on YouTube and other social media platforms. Eventually, I decided to experiment rearing them in my backyard.”
However, he did not have the financial means to begin his hobby. “I decided to start small with my savings and built a tiny tank. I bought guppy fish as they are easy to maintain. Over time, I started sourcing other varieties of fish from Kerala, Malaysia and Indonesia,” he says.
However, different varieties of fish demand separate ponds. Yarangjang started customising ponds accordingly. The number of ponds has increased to 50 and hosts fish varieties such as zebra danios, neon tetras, widow tetras, goldfish, oscars, crayfish, guppies, bettas and others.
“Currently, I am rearing over 10 fish varieties earning a business of Rs 10,000 a month,” he says, adding, “I market them on Instagram and Facebook due to low budgets, and a majority of my buyers are residents and aquarium owners.”
He also offers free guidance to hobbyists in fish culture, and most of them are his clients. “I offer them the same guidance of starting at a micro-level. Often I share my experiences and learnings that came from my mistakes,” he adds.
Speaking about the challenges, Yarangjang says the lack of financial means made him innovate the Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS). “The filtration system helps to clean the water through recycling of metabolites and suspended matter in the water. The equipment available in the market is expensive, and I could not afford it. So, I developed them myself using items available at home and sourcing some from a local shop,” he says.
He says that building the system was essential as it enables rearing fish in small spaces with less water. “It also reduces the need to use antibiotics and therapeutics, thus helping to lower the overall operational costs. However, the system requires an uninterrupted power supply, a reeling issue in the state,” Yarangjang says.
He says the power outages also made it difficult to maintain optimum temperatures in the water tanks, causing fish mortality.
“The tropical fish find it difficult to survive in cold weather conditions, especially during the winters. I built a makeshift heating system using geysers to keep them warm. I have managed well so far with a very low mortality rate and hope it continues,” he says.
Yarangjang plans to convert his hobby into a full-time business. “I want to expand my fishing business into a full-time enterprise. I am exploring government schemes to seek financial aid to pursue my hobby on a large scale,” he says.
The entrepreneur says that besides the money, dedication and hard work are the keys to achieving success in the business. “Otherwise, you could lose heavy money and fish,” he adds.
For Yarangjang, the learning has not stopped. “There are thousands of people involved in fish rearing, and I learn new aspects of aquaculture from them every day. My thirst for knowledge about fish has not stopped,” he says as he continues watching and learning about fish from YouTube.
Edited by Yoshita Rao