BEIJING - PET shops in a city in southwest China are offering fish tattooed with patterns and lucky characters intended to bring their owners good fortune and happiness.
The Qingshiqiao pet market in Chengdu sells a variety of ornamental 'fortune fish' decorated with flowers, rainbows and characters, the Huaxi Metropolis Daily reported on Thursday.
Tropical parrot fish are usually used for tattooing, often with the Chinese characters meaning 'May your business boom,' the regional newspaper said on its website.
A dealer said lasers were used to tattoo the fish. An ordinary parrot fish sells for just 10 yuan (S$2.16) while a tattooed one goes for at least 25 yuan.
A set of four fish tattooed with the characters for 'Good Fortune,' "Luck,' 'Long Life,' and 'Happiness' can cost 120 yuan, the paper said.
Tattooed fish first appeared on the market in 2005 but only became popular in the past year or two.
While some shoppers interviewed by the paper said the idea of tattooed fish was novel, others thought it was cruel.
Fisheries expert Zhang Zhicheng said no one had studied how the tattoos would affect the fish.
'To use a laser to tattoo will surely affect the fish. It's like tattooing a human being's body, it breaks the physiological balance of the fish and damages the skin's protective surface,' Zhang was quoted as saying.
Pets have become more popular in China in recent years with the country's increasing prosperity. -- AFP