By Jobelle Mae L. Zuraek, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Service

Major fluctuations in the supply of raw marine materials and theirprices may be experienced during the La Niña phenomenon. With the decreased supply, farmers can anticipate an increase in the cost of feed production, adding to the financial burden of those in aquaculture business.

A potential feed for hatcheries during La Niña is microalgae paste: concentrated microalgae cells used as feed for larval fish, shrimp, and other aquaculture species. This product is the best alternative for live microalgae during difficult times for production. It can be stored for three months in a refrigerator without diminishing its nutritional quality. Concerns associated with phytoplankton culture and maintenance can be reduced with the availability of microalgae paste.

Microalgae paste can be an alternative to live microalgae, which is hard to produce during the rainy season.

Microalgae paste is produced from four commonly used microalgae species in aquaculture: Tetraselmis sp., Nannochloropsis sp., Chaetoceros calcitrans, and Chlorella vulgaris. 

Microalgae paste is derived from microalgae, which are microscopicfloating aquatic organisms that are usually found in marine and freshwater environments. Considered as one of the most important water organisms due to its utilization in various fields, microalgae serves as a natural food for milkfish, shrimp, tilapia, and other finfishes and crustaceans at different stages. It is also a potential feed ingredient for culture of different aquaculture species.

Since the production of live microalgae is done outdoors, it can be hampered by frequent downpours; hence the advantage of microalgae paste in terms of addressing insufficient rations of live microalgae during rainy season.

Microalgae paste is commercially produced in other countries and is an expensive imported product. It costs about US$ 150/liter. The availability of local algae paste as an alternative to live microalgae is an advantage for the local aquaculture industry, specifically for those
engaged in milkfish, shrimp, and tilapia hatcheries, because its use can lower production costs. Locally, it is produced by the University of the Philippines-Visayas College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and Museum of Natural Sciences, in collaboration with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2016 issue.