Poor larval feeding has been linked to the low production of milkfish fry in hatcheries in the Philippines. To be able to boost the production of milkfish fry, the University of the Philippines (UPV) has released a manual on Improved Milkfish Hatchery Management and Production Techniques. The manual offers improved protocols and techniques for high density larval rearing, which can increase milkfish fry production by 200 to 300%. The manual involves techniques such as increased feeding, use of flow-through system, probiotics, and nutritional enrichments for rotifiers (Brachionus sp), which is a staple food for milkfish larvae.
The manual will help the Philippines’ annual requirement for milkfish fry, which currently is at a 54% deficit. Although the country has enough milkfish hatcheries and broodstock, the country is still importing milkfish fry from Indonesia.
The manual provides a protocol for larval rearing of milkfish at 50 larvae per liter from the newly hatched larvae to harvesting of fry. The system ensures higher fry production through continuous introduction of live algal concentrates as food for rotifiers, application of probiotics in the rearing water to prevent the occurrence of red bacterial infection, and use of commercially available products with phospholipids, which provide improved nutrition for the rotifers.
Using high density larval culture, a hatchery can produce 150,000 to 200,000 fry compared with the current production of 60,000 to 80,000 fry in 10-tonner larval tanks. At eight nursery cycles and 30-40% survival, the 12 million fry is attainable annually. An annual return on investment of 68% makes this business highly profitable with a payback period of 1.3 years.
The manual was prepared by the UPV research team headed by UPV professors Dr. Jerome Genodepa, Dr. Rex Ferdinand Traifalgar, Dr. Valeriano Corre, Jr., and Research Assistants Josette Emlen Genio and Hannah Mae Pasaquian. It is an output of the DOST-funded project, Improvement of milkfish hatchery technology through food enrichment and bioencapsulation under the DOST-PCAARRD-coordinated Milkfish R&D Program.