Fawzi releasing lampam jawa frys into the stream
Lampam Jawa, Pla Thapian in Thai, ikan tawes in Indonesian or technically once labelled as, Barbus gonionotus back in 1849, then Puntius javanicus, Puntius gonionotus and recently Barbodes gonionotus in 1996, then Barbonymus gonionotus in 1999. Their common names are like java barb or silver barb. In Malaysia, it is simply Lampam Jawa.
Is lampam jawa originally from Java, Indonesia ? There were reports that this fish was introduced to Sg. Perak and also in Trengganu, but anyway it is this lampam jawa that we ought to know better wherever it came from.
Back in 1989, my partner, the late Ahmad Fawzi and I were given the opportunity to run a 10-acre fish farm mainly to produce lampam jawa frys (young fish). We were given a contract to pay the rent of the farm in kind with the obligation to release 1 million frys back into natural rivers each year.
Fawzi was a keen enthusiast in freshwater aquaculture. He worked and spent much of his time in this subject honestly but unfortunately the world of businesses and the ethic of any humankind is crooked to the core. He once turned down the Colombo scholarship for further studies to pursue his love for fish farming. Over the years, fish farming in his time with me and later, without me was difficult and made worse by unscrupulous bodies and individuals who usually took advantage on his honesty. Sadly and with much regret in me, Ahmad Fawzi passed away on Dec 14th, 2013, before we can share and see the light that can bring us joy in fish farming.
With the help of a local worker, we learned and spawned the lampam jawa and produced millions of frys each year. It was a great experience and so much fun doing this without any application of artificial hormones meant for spawning inducement. It was all natural birth and for such experiences, one will never forget.
The lampam jawa flesh has fine cartilaginous bones and has to be careful when you eat this fish. Eating lampam jawa fresh from our pond is unforgettable and till today I still have in mind for lampam jawa on my dinner plate. Most freshwater fishes are quite similar in taste but from business point of view, freshwater fishes were made popular from exaggerated tales to boost its market sales. Especially the Chinese in Malaysia who are easily carried away with the mighty ‘kat-lo’ (kelah) and stupidly paid up to thousands of Ringgit for as long as it is red. These kind of businessmen are also good in naming the fish that makes it sound ‘marketable’.
Fish farming and any other businesses can surely fare well with honesty but unfortunately, unscrupulous and greedy businessmen, especially government officials and a hosts of others, polluted the industries and destroyed all those who have honest hearts for fish farming into a hell of failures. For that, we have to consume ‘adulterated’ preserved imported fishes from the sea, highly chemicalized endorsed Tilapia, giant tasteless Gariepinus catfish from Africa and almost once our rivers lost to ‘pacu’, the piranha-like fish and now the Arapaimas. Our local fishes that once identifiable with the local Malaysian culture like puyu, sepat, kalui, keli and even temakang are like all gone and their names sound very much like aliens to our urban younger generations.
Today, we can hardly see lampam jawa in urban markets though the world’s production has been steadily increased to about 100,000 tonnes a year since 2010. This is a small quantity if compared to seawater shrimps production.
In garden or domestic aquaculture that I am promoting, I welcome back lampam jawa as one of those fishes that we should care to grow healthily in our own garden pond to provide high quality healthy protein in our diets, and please leave the Japanese Kois to the Japanese.
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