New feed for Lapu-lapu
- Leo Solinap () - December 8, 2002 - 12:00am
ILOILO CITY – Lapu-lapu fish may soon became a domesticated fish from its usual nature of being cannibals and territorial fish. They may taste even better.

This is after an introduction of an artificial nutritional feed for Lapu-lapu instead of the usual trash fish or fishmeal which comes from dead fish.

Phillip Ong, president of the Santeh Feeds Corp., makers of Tateh artificial feeds said that they have developed a technology that would changed the feeding methods and technology of lapu-lapu growers from the usual old trash fish to the new formulated feed.

This new technology, has also made some breakthrough, not only on the growth of lapu-lapu but also changes on their behaviors.

Lapu-lapu (grouper) is one of the most widely-sought finfish species in the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan. In natural waters, groupers feed on bottom-living finfishes and crustaceans.

By feeding on trash fishes, bottom-living finfishes and crustaceans the mortality rate of the grouper is large because of the fact that if they starve, they eat their own kind thinking they are also trash fish.

It also develops bacteria from decomposing components of trash fish.

Trash fish feeding results in 30 percent mortality from the stocks, due from bacteria cannibalism while artificial feeding eliminates mortality rate.

Research has shown that grouper, which is a territorial and a cannibal kind of fish becomes domesticated after a month that they have introduced their formulated feed.

"They are like this domesticated fish when they started eating this artificial feeds. They have not been like this before," Ong said.

Ong said the down of the grouper industry in the country was due to the inconsistency in the production of grouper to the other country.

He also stressed that the inconsistency was the result of poor production of grouper fingerlings and poor feeding technology.

"I think this is the formulated feed product in the market that is only for lapu-lapu. Because as far as we know, group growers have been using ever since trash fish to feed their lapu-lapu," Ong said.

Ong said, the artificial formulated feed contains fishmeal, fish oil, carbohydrate, wheat and vitamins which is perfect for growing grouper, compared to the trash fish which is only contains dead fish.

Ong said, with the new method of feeding which taste even different, the grouper looses its behavior of eating their own kind because they have developed a new taste for food and not on their own kind.

Steven Rong, a grouper grower since 1993 in the town of Pulupandan in Negros Occidental, is planning to change his trash fish feeding method to artificial feeding after he learned that there is new formulated feed in the market.

Rong revealed that despite trash fish feeding method is cheap, it still requires huge amount of labor since he has to use 10,000 kilos or one ton of dead fish for a week of feeding on his 8-hectares of pond with 60,000 groupers.

For trash fish, Rong has to store the fish in a huge container filled with ice. And when it’s feeding time, they have to crush the fish to small pieces to be ready for feeding.

With this new artificial feed, he said, he can store them in his store room and do not have to worry about the decomposing fish and crushing them for feeding.

Rong has used this method even since because he have not seen any new feeding technology that he can used to feed his grouper except the traditional one.

Rong told The STAR that investing on grouper aside from other aquatic fish is that grouper is more profitable compared to other fish in the market. The culture of the lapu-lapu fish in ponds and cages is becoming popular in the country.

This is because of its domestic and export market potential as foodfish, according to the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) Aquaculture Department.

A gross revenue of P640,000 per hectare per year is possible. This projection is based on a stocking rate of 5,000 per hectare and a survival rate of 80 percent. The culture period is five to six months, with two croppings per year.

The projection also assumes 4,000 pieces of total harvest at an average body weight at harvest of 400 grams per fish. The 3,200 kilos yield per hectare is sold at P200 per kilo ex-farm.

A net profit after tax of P267,930 is projected. Payback period is estimated at eight months.

Rong said, grouper cost around P380 to P580 per kilo in Manila. Rong also hope new changes in his grouper behavior as observed by Ong and other lapu-lapu growers and researchers.

Regarding the taste, Riza San Juan of Santeh said that during their study with the Seafdec, it reveled that grouper tasted better with the formulated feed than the traditional trash fish.

During yesterday’s awarding ceremony if the Lapu-lapu Fingerling Production Contest 2000 held at AmigoTerrace Hotel, the Negros Occidental School of Fisheries (Nosof) won the first place besting the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) and the Panay Southern Polytechnic College. (PSPC)

Marlo Abeto adviser of the Nosof said that they also recommend artificial feeding because it has more advantages compared to the traditional method.

Abeto also said the fish gained weight from 11.5 grams to 52.6 grams in just two months.

Ong believes that with this new technology in feeding, the grouper industry in the country which has been down for so many years may be developed again to regain the exports that we lost to Thailand and Singapore.

According to Ong, artificial feed is favored by the grouper especially since it is tastier compared to trash fish.

However, Ong pointed out that before the fish is introduced to this new feeding technology, the fingerlings should undergo a 30-day weaning period or a period of adjustment from natural feeds.

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