Small Towns: Exotic fish breeders bring rare fish to Wisconsin

TOWN OF WHITING, Wis. - Wisconsin already has its fair share of unique catches when it comes to unusual fish found across the state.

But one hobby that some dabble in brings exotic fish from across the globe to living rooms in the Badger State.

In the Town of Whiting, Steven Suchon's home looks like any other from the outside. Inside, however, is a world that looks a bit out place for central Wisconsin, filled with exotic fish.

"I take a sense of pride in all my fish, especially the rare and endangered," said Suchon.

For 30 years, his collection of exotic fish has been growing.

"Growing up, I had fish tanks in my bedroom since I was five years old," he explained. 

By the time he was a teenager, his hobby spawned into something else.

"I do this for the enjoyment, not for the money," he said. "I do it for just my own gratification. If I retain a rare or hard to find species, I get to breed it and pass it around."

Submerged in his tanks, you can find more than 100 species of cichlids that were gathered from around the world.

"I keep Congo basin from Africa cichlids, South American cichlids, Central American cichlids," he explained.

Cichlids are known for their parenting skills, beauty and taking care of their fry like few other species.

"Their a maternal mouth brooder, which means the females pick up and hold all the eggs in their mouth until they hatch," Suchon said.

But raising exotic fish stretches well beyond these jaws or glass walls.

"We're trying to get the fish to start reproducing so that we can take the eggs and raise them," Suchon said.

Brian Aschebrook in Marathon County jumped feet first into the exotic fish trade, too.

"Being able to reproduce fish which are not in their natural environment is tough," he said.

His pride and joy comes in the form of little male guppies known for their swirling array of colors.

"I've shipped out to all corners of the U.S.," he said.

While the care needed for these fish to thrive takes a watchful eye, fish that may not have had a chance in the wild are now thriving in Central Wisconsin thanks to small operations like these.

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