Mbah Moedjair has the original name Iwan Muluk born in 1890 in the village of Kuningan (3 km east of downtown Blitar, East Java). He married Partimah and had 7 children. Until now there are only two children of Mbah Moedjair who are still alive and can tell stories about the struggle of his parents.
During his lifetime Mbah Moedjair had a satay stall which was very popular among the Blitar community. But because Mbah Moedjair had a habit of gambling, in the end the satay business suffered a loss which made him begin to fall.
In the midst of this downturn, the Papungan village head, Pak Muraji invited him to make a tirakat on Serang Beach on the 1st of Suro on the Javanese calendar. Now on this beach Mbah Moedjair found a group of fish that caught his attention. This fish is very unique, they hide their children in the mouth when threatened. His interest seemed to make Mbah Moedjair bring some of the new fish to be kept in his house.
Due to different habitats, of course, the fish brought by Mbah Moedjair from the beach cannot survive in fresh water. But Mbah Moedjair was not discouraged. He began diligently doing research with the determination that this fish should be able to live in freshwater habitats. He began to change the composition of fresh water and sea water to find the right mixture to maintain this new fish. According to the son of Mbah Moedjair, the persistent effort succeeded in the 11th experiment with 4 fish. Please note, for each trial, Mbah Moedjair had to go back and forth to Serang Beach from Papungan village, which was 35km away by walking through the forest for two days, going home and going.
The success of Mbah Moedjair bringing a new type of fish to the pool of his yard made Mbah Moedjair’s name become famous quickly. From one pool then it develops into three. The fish from the cultivation was distributed to neighbors and the rest was sold to the market and sold by beetle bicycles.
News about Mbah Moedjair also apparently attracted the attention of the Assistant Resident (ruler of the East Java region during the Dutch occupation) which was based in Kediri. The Resident Assistant who was also a researcher then conducted an in-depth study of new species of fish and interviewed Mbah Moedjair. Based on the results of the research and existing literature, it is known that the fish species Mbah Moedjair comes from the waters of the African sea.
Then as a form of appreciation for his efforts so far, the Assistant Resident gave the name of this new species of fish in accordance with the name of the inventor, namely moedair (mujair).
Subsequent developments, Mbah Moedjair received many awards from various parties because the fish he found favored by many people even began to worldwide.
Some of the awards received by Mbah Moedjair include the Executive Committee of the Indo Pacific Fisheries Council in 1954. While the award from the Indonesian government was received on August 17, 1951 from the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Indonesia.
Mbah Moedjair died on September 7, 1957 due to asthma and was later buried in Blitar. The tombstone reads “MOEDJAIR, The Scientist From Blitar” complete with tilapia fish carvings