Search for aquarium leads Ashwin to new venture; now grows 27 varieties of aquatic plants
Kozhikode: Ashwin Aaranyakam, a wildlife photographer hailing from Maniyoor here, was in search of a shop to set up an aquarium with beautiful aquatic plants and ornamental fish. But he returned with a new business of aquatic plant sales.
Now Ashwin’s farm located at Karuvothparambu near Memunda East LP School houses over 27 varieties of aquatic plants collected from all over the world. This includes Cabomba (the plant that attracted wide attention at Avala Pandi in Kozhikode), aqua rose, java moss, Bacopa Australis and the like.
For setting aquatic plants in a 4-feet long and 1.5 feet tall aquarium void of fish, some shops asked Rs 25,000 and above to Ashwin. With this, he realised the value of aquatic plants. Thus he started searching for the plants and collected saplings from all over the state.
Ashwin kept aside the healthiest plants in the collection to make mother plants and nurtured them in his own way. The mother plants were grown in concrete tanks filled with soil and cow dung powder. A fertiliser was made by mixing boiled rice water and vegetable waste. This is applied after diluting.
Once new roots emerge from the plants, they are shifted to a flowerbed made of coconut husk. New saplings emerge after the plant blooms. The healthiest among them is preserved to make mother plant. All 27 varieties of plants are reproduced here in the same method and this is rather affordable, Ashwin said.
The farm of aquatic plants functions close to the house of Ashwin’s wife. There are two others named Anoop and Anurag who help maintain the plants. They also create Aquascaping which is a method of creating landscapes inside aquariums using grass, vines and shrubs.
Though Ashwin started aquatic plant farm as a hobby, now many people approach him for the plants. Aqua rose plant has huge demand. There are five varieties of Cabomba including pink, cream and yellow colours. Ashwin and team also collect aquatic plants from rivers and waterbodies and preserve them.
Maintenance of aquatic plants is time consuming and should be done patiently. It requires more attention than growing ornamental fish. The water should be replaced every five days. The plants should be dipped in potassium permanganate.
Snails and fungus are the major threat for aquatic plants. They will perish easily if not maintained properly. Ashwin is also expert in developing Miyawaki forests. He organises environment related classes in cooperation with forest department.