End of the line for this farm
Fish farm at Seletar West Farmway is one of two that needs to move so land can be redeveloped
The three brothers behind this ornamental fish farm in Seletar West Farmway 4 devoted more than half their lives to their fish business.
Come Nov 15, they are winding up the business as the land will be taken back by their landlord.
But they still have about 27 tanks of fish to sell off before they can put up the shutters for good.
The brotherswanted to be known only by their surname Bai.
They started the business in Sembawang in the 1970s.
The farm then moved to Tampines and then to Pasir Ris. In February this year, it moved to Seletar West because the Pasir Ris land had also been slated for redevelopment.
Now, the brothers have to move again, as their space in Seletar is also being taken back by the Government.
Said the youngest Mr Bai, who, like his brothers, is in his 60s: "There were a lot of rumours, but a month ago, the landlord suddenly told us that we had to leave by mid-November because they need time to reinstate the land before returning it to the Government.It was very sudden."
The brothers say they were not aware that the land had been slated for redevelopment when they moved there earlier this year.
They added that they were told about the move only in May. The Nov 15 date, they say, was only confirmed last month.
The New Paper reached out to the landlord, who declined to comment.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) told TNP that the tenancy of this particular piece of land was initially slated to expire in May.
It said the main tenant had been aware of this since 2008.
An extension was granted till Jan 31 next year, and this was communicated to the main tenant in March this year.
Despite the turn of events, the brothers say it has helped them make the decision to move on from the business.
"Each move we make, we spend tens of thousands and it will take a few months, it is very tiring to do so," said Mr Bai.
The brothers learnt how to rear fishes from their father. He taught them how to handle grass carp, bighead carp and common carp, which the family reared for their own consumption.
The brothers, who have nine other siblings, went on to start the business. Another brother handles the breeding of the fish.
Some of the farm's most popular fishes are the blue angelfish (inset), which sell for over $20 each, and guppies, which are going for 50 cents a fish.
The farm also sells breeds such as the holland ram fish and short body pink convict cichlid.
When TNP visited the farm last weekend, there was a steady stream of customers buying fishes that were being sold at discounted prices.
Regular customer Harry Tan, 46, brought his son, Yu Liang, nine.
Mr Tan, who used to own an aquarium shop, said he has known the brothers since their farm was operating in Pasir Ris.
He said: "I would go around the island to take a look at fish. I came across their farm and found that their prices were very reasonable... Their fishes look very healthy as well.
We (eventually) became friends," said Mr Tan, who is now a sales representative.
Another customer, videographer Tommy Fok, 34,bought $26 worth of fishes.
He said: "I read online that this place was closing down, so I decided to check it out with my family.
"This place is very different from our urbanised Singapore. It's very kampung-like and I think its a pity that places like this are disappearing one by one."
The middle brother, Mr Bai, 64, told TNP that customers have been streaming in over the last two weeks, since news of their closure was first posted on news site Mothership and Facebook.
The youngest Mr Bai added: "We used to have a much bigger place in Pasir Ris, but hardly anyone came. Now that we are closing down, we suddenly see so many customers."
The brothers' retirement plan?
Said the youngest brother: "We are not sure yet, we will just take one step at a time for now. After all, we are so old already, who would want to hire us if we were to look for a job?"
It's very kampung-like, and I think its a pity that places like this are disappearing one by one.
- Customer Tommy Fok