Sri Lanka is home to a total of 111 ornamental fish species living in fresh, brackish and marine water habitats, which makes the country one of the most sought-after aquarium fish exporter destinations to the world.
The ornamental fish industry in Sri Lanka has a history of nearly 100 years when a group of hobbyist and collectors started exploring and discovering exotic fish varieties in the rivers, lagoons, and marine habitats around the country.
Yet, the rise of conservationism and the urge for sustainable breeding and harvesting practices in the global ornamental fish industry, as well as the introduction of local laws and regulations to curb destruction of habitats and breeding populations of rare and threatened exotic fish species, has driven the ornamental fish industry in Sri Lanka to a new direction, compelling them to take steps on sustainable harvesting and breeding.
Sri Lanka exports marine, freshwater, brackish water fish species and marine invertebrates. Marine fish and invertebrates are collected by experienced scuba divers from the waters around the island while freshwater species are bred in captivity by a large number of small and medium scale producers who are dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of quality.
Freshwater aquarium fish comprise the more colorful and striking species of guppies, swordtails, platys, barbs, tetras, angels, gouramies, and catfish. Out of these freshwater species exported from Sri Lanka, about 60-70% consists of famous fancy guppies - highly recognised in international markets due to the strength and diversity of the particular fish species when compared to other exporting nations.
To ensure the fish are in good health, a certificate issued by the Department of Animal Quarantine on health accompanies each and every shipment.
There are about 40 regular exporting companies in Sri Lanka. Major buyers for Sri Lankan ornamental fish are the USA, Japan and the European Union.
A conducive climate and the availability of coral reefs, sand bars, lagoons around the country as well as inland water bodies such as streams, rivers and reservoirs provide the ideal ground for breeding of marine, brackish water and freshwater species in Sri Lanka. This is the very reason why Sri Lankan ornamental fish are in high demand and are exported all over the world.
The growth rate of Sri Lanka's aquarium fish industry is a healthy 4.7% with our share of 2.7% of the US$ 412 million world market. In time to come, the aquarium fish industry in Sri Lanka will look to expand their foothold by breeding high value marine ornamental fish including exciting new varieties and rare species endemic to the tropical island.