By Shaun Tan
FOR six months, Mr Victor Tan took pains to ensure that his arowana had the best conditions to live in.
The 26-year-old construction- site supervisor would spend one to two hours a day cleaning the fish tank - even at 2am, after a long day at work.
After the tank is cleaned and the water changed, he would feed the arowana and watch it swim for about 15 minutes.
His efforts paid off yesterday, as his arowana, a golden crossback, won the first prize of the Arowana Grow-Out Competition organised by the Arowana Fanatics Club in Singapore.
Literally outshining the other competing fish, Mr Tan's arowana has a back fully covered in shades of gold, which is a "desirable trait" for an arowana under a year old, said Mr John Tan, president of the Arowana Fanatics Club (Singapore).
Mr Victor Tan's golden-hued fish was also noted for its unique purplish-blue tinge.
"The main thing to look out for in picking a juvenile arowana is its shine. A fish with a very high shine is deemed to have the potential for good colour development," Mr John Tan told my paper.
Yesterday's competition, held at OTF Aquarium Farm in Pasir Ris Farmway 3, was slightly different from typical fish contests.
For the Arowana Grow-Out Competition, all participating fish were bought six months ago - when they were about three to four months old - from eight fish farms in Singapore, and the owners were judged on how they groomed and nurtured the fish over the period.
A total of 43 arowanas passed the preliminary round to vie for the top prize of $1,000 and a trophy. The arowanas were assessed on their health, aesthetics and swimming posture.
When asked about his secret for rearing a prize-winning arowana, Mr Victor Tan said: "The water has to be pristine."
He added that the fish tank must be free from partially consumed feed that would contaminate the water.
Mr Tan also owns three other arowanas, two parrot fish and two tinfoil barbs. He plans to use the $1,000 prize money to buy another arowana.
On the prize-winning golden crossback arowana, he said: "I will sell it if I lose the personal connection with the fish, or receive a good offer for it."
The Asian arowana, also known as dragonfish, is one of the top 10 popular breeds of exported fish, according to a recent Straits Times report. Exports of this breed were worth $5.9 million last year, up from $2.26 million in 2000.
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