The culture of mudcrabs in ponds
By Roberto Garcia
MUDCRABS (Scylla spp.) are considered a seafood delicacy because of their fine meat and excellent taste. For this reason they command a high market price and therefore a good candidate for culture.
There are many ways of farming crabs in our country: in cages, in mangrove areas, and in fishponds. I have discussed the first two in previous articles, so I’ll tackle the last one here.
Culturing mudcrabs in ponds is one way of mass-producing as much as 10,000 crabs in one hectare.
According to the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, brackish water ponds measuring from one half to one hectare with good water exchange are suitable for mudcrab culture. The pond must be enclosed in polyethylene nets to prevent the crabs from escaping. It must have a depth of at least 1 meter. Shelters for crabs such as bamboo or PVC pipes should also be installed inside the ponds.
Small crabs weighing 30-40 grams each and numbering from 5,000 to 10,000 can be stocked in one hectare and fed with chopped trash fish, animal hides or entrails, and/or even golden snails locally known as kuhol. Apparently there are already commercial feeds designed for mudcrabs and this makes the feeding task much easier using a volume ration of six to ten per cent of body weight given twice a day.
After 45-60 days, the crabs can weigh as much as 250 grams and can be harvested depending on the demand.
Scoop net or crab trap known as bintol is used in harvesting the crabs. However, total harvest is done after four to five months by completely draining the pond.
Here in Pangasinan, mudcrab culture is not popular because of the dearth of juveniles for stocking in ponds. Apparently, there are reports that there are some good population of mudcrabs in the Dasol/Infanta area where large mangrove stands still abound. A sustainable system of harvesting the crabs must be done to conserve this disappearing resource.