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Bigger tilapia satisfies lucrative fillet market

PHILIPPINES - Previously, the harvest size of tilapia was on the average of 350 grams. However, now it can reach up to 600-800 grams, the desired size for fillets and it's finding favour on the export market.

BFAR says that growing bigger tilapia for export was among one of the technologies presented during the 2007 Mindanao Cluster Regional Technology Forum and Product Exhibition/Fair in Cagayan de Oro City. The technology was locally verified by the Regional Fisheries Research and Development Center of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The larger fish are also suited to the domestic market, usually sold as whole or frozen for premium prices.

To grow large size tilapia, producers are reccommended the GET EXCEL strain of the fish. The 50 gram-fingerling is preferred during stocking for its faster growth and high survival rate.

The ponds are weekly fertilised at a rate of 28kgs Nitrogen and 7kgs Potassium for every hectare, a practice that enhances the growth of natural food and lessens the use of commercial feeds. Tilapia is herbivore so even if it is fed with commercial food, natural food like plants and algae still play a major role in its diet and so performance.

After three months, the stocks are manually segregated into males and females. The females are harvested while the male will continue through the culture period for six to eight months, depending on market demand. Male tilapia grows 40 per cent faster than the female tilapia. The average body weight in the final harvest is 650 grams.

This technological process allows the fishfarmer to have two harvests from a single cropping which can supply both local and export market needs.

the Fish Site Editor

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