Our Tilapia industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the years.

By Dr. Rafael Guerrero III

Central Luzon is the country’s “Tilapia Capital,” accounting for 45 percent of the total production in 2012. Pampanga, which has the largest area of tilapia fishponds in the region, is considered “Tilapia Country.”

During a recent product launching of Tateh Feeds at Sasmuan, Pampanga, we learned about new developments in the industry. Market development manager Daniel Cabrera introduced the “Floating Extruder Feed” of Tateh Feeds for milkfish and tilapia. Improved pond management for Nile tilapia has significantly reduced fish kill, and the Gloria Tilapia is making a splash.

The new feed is a balanced fish diet that is efficient, cost-effective, and environment-friendly, according to Cabrera. “Eighty percent of the feed floats on the water surface while only 20 percent sinks to allow better access (to the feed) for the various
sizes of the fish.” He adds that because of its balanced formulation, the fish flesh is meaty and tasty at harvest.

Manager Ramon Soriano (above photo) at the Redel Fishfarm. Left photo shows the “Gloria Tilapia” (below the pen) and Nile tilapia (above the pen) being sold at the Sasmuan fish market.

In a pond experiment, the fish fed with Tateh feed grew to an average size of 345 grams
apiece at a lower cost compared to 280 grams apiece for those fed with the competitor’s feed
at the same stocking density,feeding regime, and culture period.

We visited the Redel Fishfarm at San Nicolas, Lubao, Pampanga, courtesy of Marivic
Panahon, Central Luzon area representative of Tateh Feeds. The 18-hectare farm is managed by Ramon Soriano, with the help of three workers. In an 8-hectare pond of the farm, which
was stocked at a density of 10/square meter (m2) with size 22 (0.5 gram) sex-reversed Nile
tilapia fingerlings, which were fed with Tateh feed, 102 tons of the fish were harvested. The fish had a survival rate of 61 percent, and four pieces comprised a kilo after five
months of culture. With the cost of production of 50 per kilo and an ex-farm price of 67 per kilo for the fish, the farm made a whopping profit of 1,734,000!

With improved pond management, fish farmers in Pampanga are now getting better survival rates and better growth for their fish, and this gives them bigger incomes, according to Panahon. In the past, growers’ net income was only 50,000 per hectare for a six-month culture period, with a survival rate of only 30 percent. Compare this to earning over 100,000 net over a 3 to 4-month period and a survival rate of over 60 percent at present. The main causes of the poor growth and survival rates of the fish despite the use of good feeds were the overstocking of the fish, bad water quality, and the shallowing of the ponds due to dike erosion and siltation.

The new technology for “degassing” intensive culture ponds that could help in preventing fish kills was explained by Chris Ganancial, aquaculture product manager of Bayer HealthCare. With the use of a two-horsepower electric submersible pump or a six-horsepower diesel engine-run centrifugal pump, the pond bottom sediment
can be effectively reduced, the toxic gases at the pond bottom released into the atmosphere, and the pond water oxygenated, according to Ganancial. This technology, developed abroad, is now widely applied by intensive fish and shrimp culturists in Pampanga and Negros Occidental.

Our visit to the Sasmuan fish market showed that the Gloria tilapia (black-chinned tilapia or Sarotherodon melanotheron) caught by fisherfolk in the Pampanga River and coastal waters of Manila Bay are now being sold alongside the Nile tilapia, albeit in limited quantities at relatively low prices of 50 to 60 per kilo compared to the cultured species. The new tilapia, which was introduced by unknown individuals, was first reported by this author to be present in Laguna de Bay in 2008.

Interestingly, we also found out from Soriano that largesized Nile farmed tilapia (4 pieces to a kilo) are trucked to Manila live in aerated containers for the market, while smaller-sized fish (8 pieces to a kilo) are brought in the

same manner to the Ilocos provinces. The undersized fish (smaller than 8 pieces per kilo) are sold at a much lower price than the regular-sized fish for human consumption or as “trash fish” for feeding mud crabs.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s June 2014 issue.