Cheaper Alternative Feeds for Pangasius

Small-farmers are now in a better position to join the Pangasius bandwagon, after the BFAR Region 02 has determined the viability of feeding the fish with indigenous or alternative diet.

Dubbed as ‘the new darling of the aquaculture industry, pangasius offers more income compared to other popular farmed fishes, however, it also requires higher capitalization.

One reason attributed to the high production expenses is the cost of fingerlings, at 3.50 to 7 pesos a piece, which were sourced from Nueva Ecija province.

Main reason however, is the cost of commercial feeds, which has been determined to account nearly 80 percent of total production cost.

“Pangasius can easily grow to more or less 1 kilo in 6 months. To do so, the fish also requires more feeds as compared, for example, to tilapia,” Dominador Abalos said during the Harvest Field Day on pangasius culture in cages here.

“Our project here has proven however, that we can significantly cut on feed expense by mixing golden snail (kuhol) with commercial feeds,” the Project Leader for the pangasius commodity program of the BFAR Region 02 said.

The fish cage project established at the Pagkain ng Bayan SWIP near the provincial capitol here, is a joint undertaking of the BFAR and the Quirino provincial government.

It consist of 9 cages with dimension of 3m x 3m x 2meters stocked with 144 pieces 9 grammers (2 – 3 inches) fingerlings each.

According to Abalos, two feeding treatments were made – the first 5 cages with pure commercial feeds and the rest, a mixture of 60percent commercial feeds and 40 kuhol.

After a 6-month culture period, the project implementers have determined that growth is even higher for the stocks fed with kuhol compared to those fed with commercial feeds alone.

Harvest weight averaged at 712.5 grams compared to 676 grams for the stocks fed with commercial feeds. “The savings on feed expense translate to 45.75 percent retum on investment as against 20 percent only for the treatment on pure commercial feeds,” Abalos explained.

He said that the good growth can be attributed to the high crude protein (CP) content of kuhol which is around 54 percent.

Production expense averaged at 6,023 pesos per cage for the first treatment and 5,293 pesos for the second.

Organic Pangasius Culture

The project leader also disclosed during the harvest field day result of their study on the organic culture of pangasius conducted at the Dacuycuy farm in Sillawit, Cauayan City, which he said, is also feasible and profitable even with the absence of commercial feeds.

“Our stocks reached 550 grams apiece within 6 months in fishpond culture. Stocking density is 1 piece per square meter. Although weight gain is lower, we can still have income as the stocks were fed purely with surplus vegetables and fruits, and also kuhol.”

Abalos, however, added that further studies are needed particularly on the determination of nutritional value of the indigenous / alternative diet to enable them to come up with appropriate feeding combination under organic culture.

According to BFAR RO2 regional director Dr. Jovita Ayson, this project is the latest among a roster of cost-cutting and productivity-enhancement technologies introduced this year.

This includes 45-days delayed feeding technology, use of duckweeds as feeds and polyculture (2 variances).

“We encourage our fish farmers who are interested in these technologies to visit our office for proper technical advice, especially now with the ongoing financial crisis,” Ayson said.

Other Feeds

Very few Pangasius grow-out farms in Vietnam buy commercial feed for their fish. This is in order to cope with the low price of harvested fish in the market. There is no way for them to profit if they will buy commercial feeds, thus they make their own feed.

Their feed formulation varies from farm to farm but usually contain any of these farm by-products such as dead chicken, still born pigs, chicken entrails, fish entrails, stale fish in combination with rice bran, copra meal, soya etc. These are moistened and passed through a meat grinder to form an extruded pellet and fed directly to Pangasius.

With this practice, feed cost is reduced to only 25-40% of the cost of commercial feed. (contributed by J.P. Baldia)

For more information, contact:

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Building,
Elliptical Road Diliman, Quezon City
Phones: (02) 929-9597/8074
Email : [email protected]

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Regional Office No. 02
Carig Sur, Tuguegarao City
Phone: (078) 844-4252

author: Max Prudencio BFAR Region 2,

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