Tips on bangus fingerling culture
By Roberto Garcia
BANGUS or milkfish (Chanos chanos) is a major species being cultured in Pangasinan waters and for this reason the availability of a regular and abundant supply of fingerlings is of utmost concern to the industry.
However, the majority of the growers source their young fish for stocking from dealers or from commercial nurseries while a few grow their own stock from fry stage.
The fish farmer who raises his own fingerlings has many advantages: one, ready supply of a healthy stock for at least a year; second, increase in harvest to more than two croppings per year; and finally, additional income from the sale of surplus fingerlings. But at the same time, the culture of bangus fingerlings entails a more intensive process of pond preparation, stocking, feeding and harvesting to achieve good results.
In pond operation, a minimum of 100 square meters to half-hectare can be allotted as nursery pond which can be stocked from 30-50 fry per sqm. There are three important things to look after: protection against predators, growth of natural food such as lablab or lumut, and the supply of good water quality. Commercial feed for fry can replace the natural food and may simplify the feeding process.
After about a month, the fingerling can be harvested or transferred to a bigger pond for further growth. It would be worthwhile that a technical person is on hand to oversee the whole operation especially in resolving serious problems in growth and survival of the stock.
Based on experience, the following information can be deduced. On the question of which is the better fry, wild-caught or hatchery- reared, both can attain survival rate of 50-80% if the culture conditions are right. As for feed, the fry seems to grow faster on artificial feeds compared with natural food but overhead cost is higher. On the other hand, the fingerlings that were not used for stocking in grow-out ponds or sold to other pond operators can be “stunted” or maintained in ponds up to six months to a year. If these “old” fingerlings are finally grown to marketable size, they tend to grow faster than the fresh stock. Thus, a grower can increase his operation to three to four harvests a year. Happy farming!