We have seen some startling price tags on some rare saltwater fish and collector corals, but nothing compares to paying $300,000 for a red Asian Arowana. In a new book, The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World’s Most Coveted Fish, details the dramatic underworld and lengths you go through to get your hands on this elusive fish.
In an interview in National Geographic, Voigt chronicles how she came to learn about this fish and the journey she took to chase this fish. It took travelling to 15 countries dealing with smugglers, shady deals, Islamic terrorists, and the Iban, who inhabit the lake region and are traditionally headhunters to make her way to Borneo to see the legendary “Super Red” Asian arowana in its native environment in Borneo.
Dubbed the dragon fish due to its resemblance and motion similar to the paper dragons you see in a Chinese New Year’s parade. Many feel the fish brings good luck and prosperity, helping to drive up demand and make this a highly sought-after aquarium fish.
With a price tag of $3,000 up to $300,000, it makes you think a fish like this is very rare and elusive. But a notion Voigt presents in her book is that, “…the dragon fish is the most dramatic example of a uniquely modern paradox—the mass-produced endangered species.” As a predator at the top of the food chain and one that is slow to reproduce, the Arowana was listed as a protected species and banned from trade, but in the last few years almost two million of them have been moved across international borders. Why?
She goes on the explain that although largely depleted in the wild, the fish is extensively bred in fish farms in countries like Singapore, because it created the perception of rarity, which spawned a market for this fish in the aquarium trade making it a hot commodity.
Of course, not all mass produced arowana fetch the $300,000 price tag. Like other prized fish, there are certain rare attributes that make it more desirable and therefore increase the potential price someone will pay. The $300,000 fish was one supposedly sold to a high-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party.
I am sure there are plenty of intriguing and similar stories about rare saltwater fish, but rarely do we get an outsiders perspective in some a detailed and well documented way [via NatGeo}