Friday, December 3, 2010

Would You Pay $200000 For A Freshwater StingRay?

Giant Freshwater Stingray of the Mekong [Himantura Chaophraya]
Chinese like bump-headed Cichlids because it resembles that of the deity that represents Longevity [third deity] in the trio Fu,Lu,Shou.
Stingray 1 : I think this one is called Pearl or Black Diamond
Stingray 2: How many lucky number '8's can you see?
Stingray 3 : Plainer and cheaper
Stingray pattern 1 : Numbers '8' enlarged
Stingray pattern 2
Some giant catfish
Bump-headed Cichlid
Elephant-Nose Fish
High Fin Pangasius: Most elegant fish I have ever seen
Recently, in the Singapore newspapers, the case of a person who was accused of defrauding the Telco he worked for to the amount of S$12 million was mentioned. Readers were not surprised to read about $400000 Porsches, Patek Philip watches and apartments bought with the loot. But many found it strange the the accused paid $200000 for an Amazon Freshwater Stingray. I have kept freshwater stingrays as pets, but that was 30 years ago, and I don't remember paying more than $150 each for them, which was a lot of money at that time. So I went to Qian Hu Fishfarm, Singapore's premier exporter of aquarium fish, to look for freshwater stingrays. Freshwater stingrays are common fishes and exist in most big rivers of the world from the Mekong, to the Niger, to the Amazon. Those from the Amazon are the most popular partly because of the beautiful patterns on their backs. Mostly coming under the family Potamotrygonidae, they have fanciful names associated with their color and the back patterns such as Black Diamond, Pearl, Tiger, Leopard and Flower. Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela all have freshwater stingray.
To cash in on the sudden surge in interest on the stingrays, Qian Hu displayed many tanks filled with them. The prices for each ranged fron $150 to $5000. I didn't see any $200000 or $100000 stingray, and the Qian Hu man said that the accused must have been mad to pay $200000 for a specimen. In a restricted area of Qian Hu, reserved for serious clients, there are rays going for $10000-$30000 but that's about the highest. Brazil has recently posted a quota of 5000 rays for export per annum, but stingrays are not difficult to breed, and prices will stay stable according to fish farmers. What makes one stingray more expensive than another is the pattern on its back. For superstitious Chinese, anything that looks lucky is worth a lot. In the image "Stingray Pattern 1 " above, look carefully and you find a couple of '8's, the lucky number of the Chinese on its back. This was why this ray costs $2500 although it was relatively small. I was told by a fellow fish-farm visitor that in another farm there exists a ray with lots of numbers '3' and '8' on its back and this, to the Chinese is doubly lucky and this ray is selling for $50000.
The bump-headed Cichlid, above is another 'lucky' fish. The huge bump on its head is said to be like the one on one of the trio of good luck Chinese deities Fu, Lu and Shou (Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity). See top image. In the same way, Arrowana fishes are also prized as lucky fish because they resemble the Chinese mythical dragon.
While at the farm, I saw other exotic freshwater aquarium fish. One of this, the Elephant Nose fish comes from African rivers. Many species exist, under the family of Gnathonemus, but the most common is Ganthonemus Petersii shown above. I like these fish because they are very intelligent. Quote "The Long-nosed elephant fish has an electrical organ which it uses to find its food. Its brain size to body weight ratio is higher than that of humans. Unlike man, its cerebellum is larger than its front brain". The electrical impulses they emit can be recorded with an underwater microphone and sound like the clicks made by dolphins.

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