At the ground-breaking ceremony in Brunei: (L-R) Chairman of KR Apollo Sdn Bhd, Minister of State for National Development and Trade & Industry, Bruneian Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, and Apollo Aquaculture Group CEO.
Apollo Aquaculture Group started its ornamental fish business in 1969, a decade in Singapore’s history when the ornamental/aquarium fish industry was beginning to thrive. Today, Singapore is the world’s top exporting country of ornamental fish, with exports amounting to almost $76 million in 2013. Among the 300-odd farms devoted to the breeding of aquarium fish in the 1960s, Apollo Aquaculture Group is among the few that still stands strong, exporting millions of dollars’ worth of ornamental fish yearly.
Besides continuing to play a part in putting Singapore on the world map of ornamental fish export, Apollo Aquaculture Group has also diversified into farming food-fish and crustaceans. Group CEO Mr Eric Ng inherited the business from his father in 2009. Under his stewardship, Apollo Aquaculture Group currently produces groupers and shrimps, contributing to Singapore’s food security.
Mr Ng said, “The fundamentals for farming freshwater and marine fish are similar. It’s about good water quality, nutrition, and husbandry practices”.
Despite having strong fundamentals in aquaculture, the transition from farming ornamental fish to food-fish was not an easy one. Not only did Mr Ng have to bear with naysayers, he also had to be patient and industrious in conducting experiments and pilots. For more than eight years, Mr Ng and his team conducted research on aquaculture technologies, studied the compatibility of the aquatic organisms, and collected trial data.
To Mr Ng, technology is clearly the way to go in the “blue revolution” of aquaculture. “Although Singapore is a small nation and land space is a major constraint for aquaculture activities, we have turned to technologies to improve our manpower and production productivity. Innovation is key for us to stay relevant in the industry and it is this drive that keeps us moving forward.”
Vertical Fish Farming: ‘AquaDeck’
A signature of Apollo Aquaculture Group innovation, the ‘AquaDeck’ technology was conceptualised for the vertical stacking of ornamental fish tanks indoors, on land. AquaDeck’s innovation uses Japanese and German technologies and was designed to suit our tropical climate.
Level 1 of the multi-tier recirculating aquaculture system, which currently stacks up to 3 levels at Apollo Aquaculture Group’s farm in Lim Chu Kang.
AquaDeck features three overlaying tiers of aquaculture tanks, water recirculation systems, and automatic underwater sensors that allow the remote control of measure parameters like temperature and pH, among others. Now, this technology is further expanded to support the farming of food fish, even beyond Singapore’s shores.
The water filtration and monitoring system, part of the multi-tier recirculating aquaculture system.
Beyond our Shores
Apollo Aquaculture Group will be setting up an indoor vertical fish farm in Brunei, in a joint venture with a Bruneian partner. The farm will produce grouper fish, shrimps, and ornamental fish using the AquaDeck and multi-tier recirculating aquaculture system.
Farming operations are expected to begin in mid-2017. The 12-hectare site is slated to be fully developed by 2022. By that time, the yield will reach 5,000 tonnes per year, of which 95 per cent will be food fish.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held on 13 February 2017, graced by Bruneian Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong and the Minister of State for National Development & Trade and Industry Dr Koh Poh Koon.
This new farm is in line with Mr Ng’s vision for the future of aquaculture. “Fish farming in the 21st century is very modernised, and technological advances will bring the aquaculture industry to new heights. Technologies should be implemented to ease daily routines such as feeding, water change and harvesting. With technology, farming can be done with a smaller water footprint.”
He added, “Most importantly, the fish we produce must be free from antibiotics and hormones, and be safe for consumption.”
Watch a video of the ground-breaking ceremony in Brunei:
Features of Apollo’s Multi-tier Recirculating Aquaculture System
- High efficiency in recycling water: Recirculation system uses less water, maintains consistent water quality, and reduces the discharge of waste water.
- Optimised for high stocking density and biological loading: Multi-tier tanks are energy efficient and cost effective.
- Compartmentalised system: Can contain and isolate disease outbreak and reduce losses.
- Use of microbes, ozone, and nano-technology in fish health management: Reduces dependency on antibiotics and use of chemicals.
- Barcode tracking system: Enables fish health traceability and inventory control.