A fish supplier who cashed in on the craze for flowerhorn cichlids has confessed to dramatically inflating the prices of the fish.
According to a story in the Electric New Paper, a fish supplier who preferred to be referred to under the alias "Charlie", said that he was making a profit of S$20,000 a month selling the hybrid cichlids, which are also known as luohan.
The cichlids, which are man-made hybrids produced by crossing various varieties of large Central American cichlid, such as "Cichlasoma" trimaculatum, have been selling for large sums of money and there have also been reports of fish being stolen.
Before the "marketing" of Flowerhorn cichlids, most hybrid cichlids were considered worthless.
The report claims that "he aggressively marked up the price of his luohans" because the Chinese overvalued the fish because they were cleverly marketed as feng shui or good luck fish.
Charlie told the Electric New Paper: "I could pay $50 for a luohan and sell it for $250 to $300. During the luohan craze, many aquarium owners marked up their prices more than five times.
"I'm no luohan expert, but if a fish is beautiful and has a big bump on its head, I'll sell it at a very high price.
"I think many of the people who jumped on the bandwagon did not know much about luohans themselves."
The report claims that Charlie did not even keep fish, or have any knowledge of the fish trade himself, he simply saw a commercial opportunity to sell the fish at a high price and took it.
As Practical Fishkeeping reported in September 2003, demand for the hybrid cichlids soon fell and the fish started being dumped in rivers and canals.
In March 2003 a Practical Fishkeeping Reader Poll showed that 79% of readers thought the hybrids would have a detrimental effect on cichlid keeping.