Tell us about yourself
I am Saqib Ahmad, a fisheries graduate from SKUAST Kashmir. I was born in a family with good number of educationists but no Govt employment. I studied upto my 10th class from Lyceum Public School Mattan Anantnag. I was an average student throughout my carrier but I always knew about myself as a person with immense potential to do every difficult task. My best friend from Ganderbal has been the main cause of what I’m today than what I would have been without my friend. I graduated from Faculty of Fisheries SKUAST KASHMIR in July 2017.
Tell us about Crystal Aquatics
Crystal Aquatics is an aqua company with multiple working fronts. Crystal Aquatics initially started with the name of Crystal Kashmir Aquariums. For some time the work continued only with the manufacturing of Aquaria. Later on to increase the scope of its work and to introduce the diversity in aqua industry, the name was changed to Crystal Aquatics. Breeding division of Crystal Aquatics works in breeding of the ornamental fisheries in Kashmir region. With its future plans, many more functional divisions are going to be added soon.
What was the inspiration behind Crystal Aquatics
Love of nature and natural beauty was embedded in my heart since my childhood. By the end of my UG degree program, I was dishearted by the agony of people about aquarium keeping. Everyone who had an aquarium at home would complain about its demerits with death of fishes as the main cause of their anger. Simultaneously I was inspired by the hobby of aquarium keeping in the foreign countries like China, Japan & other western countries. Both things kept pinching me, the feeling of dishearted people and the culture of aquarium keeping. At the same time I was admitted in the final semester of my UG degree wherein I was given a choice to select either Fish Farm management or Ornamental fisheries under Experiential learning program. I choose to continue with ornamental fisheries, although it was quite difficult to choose the ornamental as all of my friends choose the farm management and I was the only boy among other 18 girls in the ornamental unit. I learned the fabrication of aquariums during the experiential learning programme. It was not enough, more was required to prioritize the scientific aspects of aquarium keeping and its management. I learned the basics of the aquarium from Takashi Amano who was the owner of Japanese company ‘Aqua Design Amano’ presently run by his daughter. I read his books namely aquascaping, Freshwater plants and Fishes. My desire to gain knowledge about my future business didn’t stop and I got the rest of knowledge from my friend ‘Solomon Alter’ from California. I used to talk with him at each step I did about its implications and further advancements. Above all my best friend Arrshh Baba from Ganderbal has been the building block for my business.
How has your course at Skuast helped you in your venture
Being a BFSc student was a milestone for me to be a professional aquarist. I had no idea of aquaria until I got admission in SKUAST KASHMIR for the same. After I became familiar with the aquaria, the thought of transforming this knowledge into a business venture started to take over my mind. Dean Faculty of Fisheries has been the most helping person from the institution for encouraging me in the venture. Also my guide Dr. Feroz A. Shah has been one of the permanent and loyal supporter to my business activities. Some other teachers were really a boosting force for me while few proved to be the most disastrous in my carrier as an entrepreneur.
How did you arrange for funding for your venture as you’re still a student
Initially I had no fund to start with. When I designed my first aquarium it was from my saved pocket money. I didn’t tell my family about what was going through my mind. I sold the first aquarium to a customer through my Facebook page. I continued aquarium making with pre-order booking. This continued until I got first mega project of aquaria delivery in one of the reputed institutions of the valley. Second mega project I got was at Kissan Mela organized by SKUAST KASHMIR. With great support from Dean Faculty of Fisheries Prof. M. H. Balkhi and Vice Chancellor SKUAST KASHMIR I got the stall at the Mela free of cost.
How has the response been so far
People in Kashmir are very fond of beauty so the response from people was very good as every aquarium we delivered was made with utmost care and dedication. As the Crystal Aquatics provides best services to its customers, our customers are linked in a network of love with crystal aquatics.
How do you manage your MSfc and your business together
After first phase of the business, I shifted to the Ganderbal for my MFSc at FoFy SKUAST-K Rangil Ganderbal. There I tied up with one of my batchmate from Harwan Srinagar. He had a shop at his residence which I hired for my business in this area. Thus I established the second functional branch of the business with first one under construction at Anantnag. I usually manufacture the aquaria tanks during weekends while I’m busy with my studies during rest of the days. My friend has helped me a lot in establishing the business in this area.
What are your future plans
Crystal Aquatics has started the breeding of ornamental fishes in Kashmir to lower the price of fishes and make their availability to customers easy. Initially, we started from Gold fish with future plans to work on the breeding of some rare tropical fishes.
Crystal Aquatics will soon launch its online portal where customers can book fishes, aquaria, accessories and other related items and get the same home delivered. We will also start consultancy services in Kashmir to help the fish farmers to get a better yield with scientific applications in a proper way.
Crystal Aquatics is also in a pipeline to establish its own fish feed manufacturing plant in Kashmir to make it available to fish farmers at cheaper rates.
Any message for someone reading this
There is a growing rate of depression and mental disorders in Kashmir. Aquarium keeping has been proved to be one of the best medicine free treatments of relieving mental disorders. Moreover aquarium at home has proven to be the cause of lowering blood pressure in patients. I believe in present days where digital media and electronic devices have overtaken our lives and the life of our children, aquarium keeping is a better option to choose for your children. When the children watch the aquarium and live fishes in it, their mind gets the natural nourishment and makes them more realistic and sober.