Why Dragon Fish Are So Expensive | So Expensive

Why Dragon Fish Are So Expensive | So Expensive

Narrator: What would you rather have, a new car, or this fish? Turns out they cost around the same. A single dragon fish can go for tens of thousands of dollars. So, what’s so special about it? Well, it might not look it,
but this endangered fish is so coveted, people have
actually gone to prison over it. The dragon fish gets its nickname for how it resembles a
dragon in flight as it swims. However, its real name
is the Asian arowana. It’s a freshwater fish
native to Southeast Asia, and it has taken the
aquarium market by storm. Today, these fish are so prized that some have their own motorcades, and breeders protect their stock with layers of concrete walls, complete with guard dogs and watchmen. There’s even a market for cosmetic surgery to help subpar fish who need
eye lifts or chin tucks. And that may sound like
overkill, but it’s really not. Emily Voigt: It’s a
very valuable commodity, and that had driven a
tremendous amount of crime around the areas where it’s bred. Narrator: That’s Emily Voigt,
who explores this world for her book, “The
Dragon Behind the Glass.” We’re talking murder and
midnight fish-napping. This wasn’t always the case, however. Up until the second half
of the 20th century, these fish weren’t flaunted. They were fileted and eaten by locals. Then, in 1967, an aquarium trader traveling through northern Malaysia saw a dead arowana at a
food market and found it so attractive that he sought
one out to keep as a pet. By the 1980s, arowanas
had turned up in Taiwan, and eventually people
all over Asia wanted one. In particular, the red and
gold varieties of arowana came to symbolize luck and
wealth in several Asian cultures. Voigt: All that has led to a
whole mythology about the fish. It’s supposed to bring
good luck and prosperity, even to jump out of its
tank to save its owner. Narrator: Nowadays, breeding for new color combinations is all the rage. Like this fish, called the chili red, which you can get for around $1,400 each. Or the emerald violet fusion super red, which goes for about $12,000 each. But no fish is more rare and
valuable than the albino. In 2009, one of these
supposedly set a record, selling for $300,000 to an anonymous high ranking official in
the Chinese government. In fact, most people who buy dragon fish are middle-class Chinese men, who’ll collect the fish
as a status symbol. Voigt: So keeping this fish
is very much a macho hobby. There’s not a lot of women that do it. And it’s almost like collecting
cars or something like that. Narrator: So in the
mid-90s, when dragon fish were successfully bred in
captivity on certified farms, it was a big deal,
because they were becoming rare in the wild due to overfishing and harvesting for the pet trade. Since then, more demand has led to breeding operations
all over Southeast Asia. And while it’s perfectly
legal to buy a dragon fish in the area, it may not be
in other non-Asian countries. In the US, for example, you can only find the Asian arowana on the black market. And in fact, you can’t bring
it into the country legally, because it’s banned by the
US Endangered Species Act. People have actually gone to prison for trafficking this fish. So if you have an itch to have a dragon-like pet, maybe you should stick to something safer, like bearded dragons.

100 thoughts on “Why Dragon Fish Are So Expensive | So Expensive

  1. Hello they are nowhere near endangered. Theyre bred.

    I once had a $1,200 arowana with pricey maintenance… i killed her on the 4th year by forgetting to clean the tank. Coz i was busy.. poor thing.. it felt like having a dog coz it recognizes you. 😢😢

  2. 1988: "Some fields of study have not yet existed, I can only imagine how advanced we will be in 30 years from now"
    2019: "I am majoring to become a Dragon fish expert"

  3. Yeah it so expensive, my dad bought a gold 1 for 8000 USD from his friend last month now my dad love that fish more than me.

  4. Theres a Chinese restaurant where I live and the owner have 3 of these that are whitelist silver color and the best table is next to the HUGE TANK they are in

  5. I think the most expensive Arowana is the Platinum Arowana. At a convention center in Japan, a rich Japanese man offered the breeder $800,000, but the breeder declined and said it’s not for sale.

  6. Endangered species? These breeders are breeding millions of them isn’t it? They not going to be extinct.

  7. I am sure people cannot afford to buy it due to inflation other mixed problem maybe related to the issues or not

  8. We have an arowana in our house, my grandfather bought it when it was little and it is so big now. A chinese man offered him large amount of money to buy it but he didnt sell it cuz he believes it is our business’ lucky charm

  9. Wait so they are expensive??
    I see them in a restaurant even though it's one but it's really not protected any criminal just grabs the fish from the aquarium and leave sooooooo did the one that I saw is a fake one or is it just not guarded that much?

  10. You can see these swimming in a tank in the background in the first scene of the animated movie Ghost In The Shell.

  11. Ridiculous .. everything worth money is subjective. Branding and marketing is driving the demand and that's it … The fish is trash compared to Koi imo

  12. My great grandfather has two dragon fishes
    Edit:Holy shit my great grandfather has albinos and which is apparently the most rare

  13. People at Malaysia still eats them, only the Chinese restaurants display those dragon fish. And golden and red isn't that rare and same goes to platinum. They're are expensive in China because Chinese think platinum is the ultimate fortune, Goodluck and wealth.

  14. in america anything you smuggle on other country that you buy illegal are super illegal even Kinder Surprise which is easy to buy on PH or other country at any super market for a chocolate which you get toys to collect. if they got paranoia on choking hazard its better not to give on a child who for no reason like to eat a small toy.

  15. My local pet store actually has a beautiful silver arowana in their private tank that was actually a rescue fish because somebody didn't realize how big it was going to get

  16. But… Silver Arowana is cheap, and not to mention the wild Arowanas are still eaten and sold by indigeneous Amazonian tribes.

  17. “That may sound like overkill, but it’s really not.” I’m sure that was supposed to refer to the security for the fish. But he said it right after mentioning pet cosmetic surgery and and sounds like he is condoning it. That’s animal abuse btw.

  18. Their so odd looking :3 I'd love to have one mostly because of how in danger their are I'd love to have one or 2 to look after them

  19. Here in my Country take care of that fish it brings Goodluck and unlimited wealth
    -asian superstition

  20. I cant believe i was brought here with this stupid video that involves fish, so you think that fish is much more expensive than human life

  21. Nah bearded Dragons looks like western Dragon which are symbol of evil or ferocious creatures in western past. While the Dragon fish looks like the Eastern dragon which are divine holy creatures in Eastern culture so yah, that's one of the reason for the choice

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