His products serve Vietnamese customers and are exported to overseas koi fish lovers. Nguyen Pham Tan Cong, 24, dwells in Binh Loi Commune, Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. His family used to produce fish for consumption, including catfish, snakehead fish, and red tilapia, in Vietnamese families. However, their switch to providing pet fish, especially the Japanese koi carp, has boosted their income.


Nguyen Pham Tan Cong, a 24-year-old koi farmer in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City, has succeeded with a high-revenue koi farm model. He is seen holding a koi in this supplied photo.


A touch of biological technology

As their family dabbled their feet in koi farming, they adopted a small-scale model while studying the potential market. The current urbanization rate of their district was having an impact on not only the lives of residents, but also fish farming. “The technology required for fish farming is quite demanding and I went through highs and lows before I could be where I am now,” said Cong. Cong began his journey for pet fish farming right after high school. He attended technology transfer training courses and consulting sessions on koi farming organized in his commune by the Binh Loi Commune Youth Union.At the same time, through the Internet, the man attempted to apply the models of farming from other places to his own conditions. However, the tricks to the job that he passed on to his family members could not bear fruit while he was absent for two years doing military service. 

Determined to go through with this original plan, Cong visited the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ho Chi Minh City to learn more about the technological infrastructure, biological technology application, water treatment, fish farm designs, as well as introducing new fish breeds. “Besides the technology, koi farming requires a lot of on-site supervision. You have to check the water sources and the amount of foods given,” Cong said. “If there is too much food, that will pollute the water, increasing the chance of diseases in fish. “That will drive customers away.” The application of new technology brought about visible results and doubled revenue for his farm. The quality of koi carp from Cong’s farm remains constant due to the semi-intensive approach without the use of growth-promoters. His annual income went from hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dong to VND1.2-1.5 billion ($50,000-63,000). The man also succeeded with captive breeding for the koi thanks to his previous experience working with Japanese carp. Cong’s koi are much sought after by domestic and international buyers because of their enhanced adaptability as pure-bred samples.

An active local agent

Despite his busy schedule, Cong is an active member of the local community. As a standing member of the Binh Loi Commune Youth Union, he tends to side with other young people in his commune in their business efforts. Cong’s koi farm has become a hub for experiential learning. As the host, Cong happily shares the lessons he learnt with his colleagues and those about to the enter the field. However, koi is not his sole product. Cong also constructs decorative fish ponds on request and offers maintenance service together with health checks for koi keepers. The man has popularized his fish ponds to a few provinces in Vietnam, mostly commissioned by owners of open-air coffee shops, villas, and office buildings with large green space. In 2023, Cong has kick-started a locally run project of promoting ecotourism through koi farming and the appealing waterways of Binh Loi Commune. This project is meant to create jobs for young locals. 

Excellent Business Farmer

After years of hard work, Cong understands the edge that his fish has over other farms. As they are pure-bred, these koi fish are colorful with sharp patterns, which call to buyers far and wide. Their family’s fish farm provides regular work for full-time employees and a dozen seasonal contractors during the harvesting months, especially the Tet holiday – the Lunar New Year celebration of Vietnam. Cong was nominated as an ‘Excellent Business Farmer” among nine others in 2022 by the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Union. Rural young people have been contributing to the development of themselves, their families as well as their neighborhoods, which improves the rural areas of Ho Chi Minh City, according to Phan Thi Thanh Phuong, secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Union. “They are proof of the strong will and a yearning for wealth of young people who work hard in their own homeland,” she said.