Australian silver perch on field trials in Dagupan

December 15, 2010 10:55 am 

By Leonardo V. Micua

DAGUPAN CITY, Dec. 15 — A freshwater fish endemic and native to the temperate water of Australia is now undergoing field trials in Dagupan City under the watchful eyes of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Under study at the Dagupan-based National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC) since 2000, is the Australian silver perch (Bidyanus bidyanus), a member of the Terapontidae family.

Dr. Westly Rosario, NIFTDC chief, and researcher Editha Roxas said studies on silver perch started with few stocks donated to the center by a private company.

The fish was first cultured in concrete tanks, then in earthen ponds for the growing out trials with other species like tilapia, catfish and common carps.

Latest report stated the progenies produced by the researchers from the few initial stocks are now being developed into breeders that will lay eggs and when they will mature into fingerlings would be dispersal in inland bodies of water soon.

If the research proves successful, silver perch will be introduced in many fish farms as part of the strategy of the BFAR to produce more protein food in the Filipino dining table and fight hunger.

Growing from 2.5 to 8 kilograms apiece, silver perch is highly regarded as the sleeping giant of world aquaculture, belonging to the low-tropic level in the food chain, similar to milkfish (bangus).

Silver fish is an excellent edible fish. The flesh is white with less bones, which makes it ideal for processing.

A hardy fish, it is considered to have high potential in aqua culture due to its rapid growth rate under a variety of conditions.

Researchers say that in Australia, the production of silver perch in well-managed dams is five to 10 tons per hectare. The average price for the whole fish is around 10 Australian dollars per kilogram.

Both Rosario and Roxas said silver perch can be cultured in more than 19,000 hectares of natural and man-made natural resources, situated in high elevated areas that are less utilized for aquaculture because of diverse climatic condition.

In the Philippines, more than 99 percent of 14,500 hectare freshwater and 239,000 hectare of brackish water fishponds are utilized for the culture of tilapia and milkfish.

But both species, especially tilapia, were observed to have exhibited poor growth performance, high mortality rate during culture and very low hatchery production during cold months of December and January.

Both Rosario and Roxas stressed the urgent need for the diversification of aquaculture commodities, like the introduction of select high-end species, among them the silver perch, in line with the strategy to maximize the production potentials of the country’s aquaculture resources.

They believe that this can also create more job opportunities in hatchery production and grow-out of species.

With silver perch raised in local ponds, losses on feed costs and pollution impact in aquaculture may also be minimized.

Silver perch is omnivores, consuming zooplanktons, small crustaceans, aquatic insects, mollusks, algae and plant materials.

Moreover, researchers initially found that the breeding period of silver perch in lowland like Dagupan is seven months from August to February of the succeeding year.

On the other hand, it can be year-round when done in cold areas like Mt. Province and Benguet.

But in Australia where the fish is indigenous, the breeding period is only four months —-from November to February. (PNA)



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