Monthly Archives: July 2012

AQD recommends pompano and mangrove red snapper

(L-R) Presentors at the Farmers’ forum: AQD scientist Dr. Ma. Lourdes Aralar who spoke on updates on giant freshwater prawn; researchers Mr. Eliseo Coniza, Ms. Ofelia Reyes and Ms. Jocelyn Ladja who tackled pompano / red snapper hatchery, nursery and grow-out, respectively


Fishfarmers ask if AQD can supply seeds and feeds for high-value marine fish production. AQD says yes but the quantities are limited. For seeds, advance order is advisable so the AQD hatcheries can schedule their production and fry disposal. For feeds, AQD’s pilot feed mill can only supply larval feeds and not grow-out feeds because the latter requires a large volume of ingredients. At best, AQD can train farmers in both hatchery operations (course is offered yearly) and fish nutrition (course is every other year)


SEAFDEC/AQD added two commodities to its business package for entrepreneurs under the ABOT mechanism (Agree-build-operate-transfer AquaBusiness). These are pompano Trachinotus blochii and mangrove red snapper Lutjanus argentimaculatus whose hatchery, nursery and grow-out culture technologies are ready for commercialization.

AQD researchers Ms. Ofelia Reyes, Ms. Jocelyn Ladja and Mr. Eliseo Coniza presented these to stakeholders attending the Farmer’s forum on 11 July 2012 in Tigbauan, Iloilo as part of AQD’s 39th year celebration. They noted that the demand for high-value marine fishes like pompano (aka. apahan, damis lawin) and snapper (aka. managat, maya-maya, matangal bambangon) has been expanding as their market acceptance increased, and fishfarmers can profit from the high prices.

The hatchery requirements for pompano and red snapper are almost similar. Among others, this includes (a) hatchery area of 1,000 m2 with 3-5 ton larval tanks; (2) 50-150 pieces of broodstock; and (3) larval diet and/or live food for larvae and fry. Total investment in the hatchery can be around Php 800 thousand (cost of broodstock and maintenance are not included). With target production of 40- 50 thousand fry per crop, survival of 12-15%, and fry price of Php5-8 per piece (snapper is pricier than pompano), a hatchery operator can net Php 50-180 thousand per crop. Four crops are possible in a year. “Critical to success,” Ms. Reyes said, “are proper broodstock maintenance, availability of live food during larval rearing, and regular size-grading.”

AQD can provide training on marine fish hatchery. A five-week, hands-on course is on-going (26 June to 1 August) at AQD’s main station in Iloilo. The course is offered yearly.

Fingerling production of pompano and red snappers in ponds can be an enterprise separate from grow-out culture. Growing 1-inch size fry in netcages measuring 2 x 3 x 1.2 m3 in a small 0.5 ha pond, fishfarmers can produce the 45-60 g fish (body length, 4-5 inches) in 75-90 days. At a stocking density of 100-150 fry per m3 in 11-13 units of net cages, and with survival rate of 90-93%, the farmer can produce  10,000 snapper (4-inch body length, BL) and 7,800 pompano fingerlings (5-inch BL) which can be sold at PhP 20-24 each to grow-out farmers. Both fish need high protein diets of 46-48% (feed coversion ratio, 1.5). These feeds are commercially available in the market. The net profit per crop in a 0.5 ha pond is PhP 71 thousand and PhP 64 thousand for snappers and pompano, respectively. The farmer can have 3 crops per year. “In fingerling production of high-value fish,” Ms. Ladja said, “the use of shelters and size grading are important to prevent sibling cannibalism (in carnivorous fishes) and to produce uniformly-sized fingerlings.”

In grow-out culture of pompano and snapper in ponds (0.5-2 ha is suitable), there are two methods. One is direct stocking in the pond (5,000 fingerlings per ha using ≥20 g fish) and the other is stocking in net cages (density, 5 fish per m3; net mesh, 1.0-1.5 cm; cage size, 5 x 5 x 1.5 m at 40 units per ha or 10 x 10 x 1.5 m at 10 units per ha). The net cages are installed inside the pond with a water depth of ≥1.0 m. These cages occupy 10% of the pond area, and milkfish fingerlings (100-200 g) can be stocked (300-500 pcs per ha) outside the cages for added income.

Like all other grow-out pond ventures, fishfarmers must prepare the pond properly; select healthy, big and uniform-sized juveniles; practice proper handling, transport, acclimation and stocking; maintain good water quality; maintain the pond, cages and support facilities; do periodic sampling and monitor fish health; and harvest properly. Feeding pompano requires a diet with crude protein (CP) of 44-47% and crude fat (CF) of 12-18%; such feeds are commercially available. Snapper, on the other hand, need phased (starter, grower, finisher) diets with 48-50% CP and 12-15% CF. For the moment, these phased diets are prepared by SEAFDEC in small, experimental quantities. The use of phased diet would also enable the farmer to feed the right pellet size to fit the mouth of the fish and to give the feed formulation appropriate to the developmental stage of the fish.

“The cost of feed (61-66%) and juveniles (23-25%) are two highest variables in production cost,” said Mr. Coniza. “AQD produces its own pompano and red snapper grow-out diets, and our feed conversion ratio is 2.3 for pompano and 2.4-2.6 for snapper.”

Pompano and red snapper join the growing list of commodities with culture technologies. AQD also offers technology packages on giant freshwater prawn, abalone & seaweeds, mudcrab, grouper, milkfish, seabass, native catfish, tilapia and carp.

Update on the giant freshwater prawn culture

AQD scientist Dr. Maria Lourdes Aralar discusses the biology and culture of the giant freshwater prawn


“The hatchery production of giant freshwater prawn (locally known as ulang) can be done by small-scale fishfarmers. Fishfarmers can utilize plastic drums (cut into half) as larval rearing tanks,” AQD scientist Dr. Maria Lourdes Aralar pointed out during the Farmers’ Forum on 11 July at AQD’s Tigbauan Main Station in Iloilo, Philippines. The plastic drum costs around Php 700 per piece and a drum can be converted into two 50-liter capacity larval rearing tanks. The stocking density for larval rearing is 50-100 larvae per liter and for nursery is 1,000 postlarvae per square meter. With a total hatchery area of 150 square meters, a farmer can have a net income of about Php 400,000 per run (estimated run per year is 4) with a postlarvae survival rate of 70% at 15 days.

Prawn grow-out culture also looks promising since fishfarmers can earn a net income of at least Php 100,000 per year for a total farm area of 5,000 square meters with 70% survival rate. The postlarvae are grown for four to five months with a stocking density of 10-15 pieces per square meter. The average harvest size of ulang is 25-35 grams.

The giant freshwater prawn exhibits aggressive behavior that may prevent culture in very high stocking densities. The provision of additional substrates to increase surface area improves production by reducing mortalities from cannibalism as well as increasing natural food production which can also be utilized by the prawns. The substrates may also provide shelter for moulting prawns which make them less vulnerable to aggression by other non-moulting prawns.

For the past two decades, the culture of giant freshwater prawn spread quickly as an alternative to shrimp culture due to the decline of the shrimp industry. From 1993-2002, the world production of giant freshwater prawn increased from 17,000 to 195,000 tons. In 2008, the Philippines made it to the top 15 producers of this species.

Dr. Aralar presented the prawn update during the Farmers’ forum on 11 July 2012 at AQD’s Iloilo station.

Meet the new AQD Chief: Dr. Felix Ayson


(First two photos) New AQD Chief Dr. Felix Ayson during the installation ceremony (Third photo) Dr. FG Ayson with SEAFDEC National Coordinator for the Philippines Dr. Jonathan Dickson; former AQD Chief Dr. Flor Lacanilao and AQD Deputy Chief Dr. Teruo Azuma


Dr. Felix Ayson is the new Chief of SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department (AQD) to serve a two-year term of office starting 29 June. A career fisheries scientist specializing on biotechnology, marine fish hatchery and climate change, Dr. Ayson was selected based on the results of a search process facilitated by the (Philippine) Department of Agriculture. He was endorsed by Hon. Benigno Aquino III, Philippine President, and his nomination was affirmed by the SEAFDEC Council.

In his first address to the AQD community, Dr. Ayson stressed the importance of AQD’s work plan on five thematic programs to address food security, poverty alleviation and sustainability issues in aquaculture in Southeast Asia. AQD’s thematic programs, adopted in 2011 at the ASEAN-SEAFDEC conference on sustainable fisheries, include (1) meeting social &economic challenges; (2) ensuring quality seed; (3) developing healthy & wholesome aquaculture; (4) maintaining environmental integrity thru responsible aquaculture; and (5) adapting to climate change.

To realize AQD’s strategic plans on these themes, the new Chief said he plans to expand AQD’s technology transfer efforts to include a wider clientele by (1) focusing onfisheries schools to enable them to put up small-scale aquaculture facilities that can be used as a laboratory and as a technology showcase; and by (2) intensifying collaboration with DA-BFAR which has a better reach in the Philippines with their regional fisheries training centers (RFTCs) all over the country. He also said he will address the lack of expertise at AQD in highly specialized fields (like biotechnology) by recruiting highly-qualified staff according to a rational manpower development target. Regarding the funding of AQD programs, he encouraged AQD researchers to be aggressive in seeking grants through innovative research proposals.

Dr. Ayson promised a transparent, just and fair management that will listen to all AQD employees; in return, he said he expects innovation, hard work and dedication.

“I am strict, but reasonable,” he said. “And, we AQD employees must have only one loyalty and that is to AQD; we must have one motivation and that is service to all the stakeholders; and we must have only one guide and that is AQD’s triple mandate of research, human resources development & information dissemination.”

Dr. Ayson completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Kitasato University in Japan (2000) through a grant from JSPS (Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science); acquired his PhD in Zoology major in fish physiology and endocrinology from theOcean Research Institute of theUniversity of Tokyo (Japan) in 1994; and obtained his MScand BSc in Marine Biology from the University of the Philippines Diliman (1987) and University of San Carlos (1981, cum laude), respectively.

As an AQD scientist rising through the ranks (he was first employed as a senior research assistant in 1986), Dr. Ayson has so far published 16 science papers in peer-reviewed international journals as sole author or first author. He has received research grants on rabbitfish from USAID (2001-2004) and AusAID (2004-2005); the latter was for an award-winning proposal on siganid culture for a rural community. More recently, he has received a milkfish grant fromUSAID-AquaFish CRSP (2007-2009) and is a current collaborator of a DOST-PCAAARD milkfish project with UP Visayas. He has headed AQD’s programs on marine fish and climate change, which included research, training & information, and extension activities for aquaculture stakeholders.

In between his stints at AQD, he served as the Chief Technical Advisor on aquaculture for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy (2007–2010); he was a visiting professor at the Tropical Biosphere Research Center of the University of Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan (2005–2006); and he was a research fellow in Kitasato University (1997–1999).

Dr. Ayson is 51 years old; hails from Candijay, Bohol, Philippines; is married to Dr. Evelyn Grace de Jesus-Ayson, also an AQD scientist; and has two children.

With the new leadership, the AQD community is looking forward to better serve the needs of aquaculture stakeholders in ASEAN-SEAFDEC member-countries.

Stakeholders are invited to a farmers’ forum

AQD is pleased to invite its stakeholders to a Farmers’ forum on giant freshwater prawn, pompano, and mangrove red snapper on 11 July 2012 (starts at 8:00 AM) as part of its 39th anniversary celebration. Venue is AQD’s Tigbauan Main Station in Iloilo, Philippines. Here are the topics and speakers:

Seed production and grow-out culture of the giant freshwater prawn
– by Dr. Maria Lourdes C. Aralar

Production of high value fishes: pompano and mangrove red snapper
Hatchery technology – by Ms. Ofelia S. Reyes
Pond nursery technology – by Ms. Jocelyn M. Ladja
Pond grow-out technology – by Mr. Eliseo B. Coniza

Farmers’ consultation / discussion

Stakeholders are also invited to:

  • Installation of the new AQD Chief  Dr. Felix Ayson and main anniversary program
    on 12 July 2012 (9:30 AM)
  • 20th Dean D.K. Villaluz Memorial Lecture on Fish health challenges in Southeast Asian aquaculture
    on 12 July 2012 (1:30 AM). This will be delivered by scientist Dr. Gilda Lio-Po
  • Guided tours: (1) for farmers (11 July 2012, 1:30 PM), (2) for students (13 July 2012, 10:00 AM)
  • Special lecture on Beach forest species for the national greening program and book launching of
    Beach forest species and mangrove associates of the Philippines by Dr. Jurgenne Primavera
    on 13 July 2012 (8:30 AM)
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