Normally the 150-metre (500-feet) pool at the Aveda Resort in Kerala state is packed with European tourists. Now thousands of pearl spot fish are causing the splash.
The complex was forced to shut in March when a nationwide coronavirus lockdown was ordered. Few hotels have been allowed to reopen since.
Of those which are still shuttered, not many boast a pool with 7.5 million litres of water, which can be put to alternative use.
“We have had zero revenues, so in June, we put around 16,000 two-month-old pearl spot fish in the pool,” Aveda’s general manager Jyotish Surendran told AFP.
The fish, which takes about eight months to reach full size, is a popular ingredient in dishes in southern India and the Middle East.
“We plan to harvest by November and will export to the Middle East,” Surendran said, predicting about four tonnes of pearl spots growing in the swimming pool could be worth $40,000 on the market.
The makeshift farm would not cover the losses from the pandemic, which has driven many hotels to bankruptcy, said the hotel boss.
But Surendran was hopeful that the money would help cover basic bills so the business can keep running until tourists return.
And the Aveda plans to keep faith with the pearl spot even when business resumes.
“We can’t continue with this farm in the pool, but we are trying to find alternative land where we can build up this knowledge for bigger projects,” he said.