Featured eggs … a female tilapia breeder regurgitates fertilized eggs on the basin with the help of a technician. - BicolMailpic
By JUAN ESCANDOR JR
BULA, Camarines Sur: People don’t know the tilapia they eat were eggs once fertilized in their mother tilapia’s mouth and regurgitated to evolve from fries to fingerlings to maturity.
Dennis Del Socorro, regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), explained the unique way the tilapia eggs are fertilized which involved certain behavior unique to this freshwater species of fish.
He narrates how copulation of tilapia starts with the male breeder ramming its head on the belly of the female breeder until the orange eggs are spurted from the orifice at the bottom pectoral fin.
Then, the female breeder gathers their own eggs in its mouth, and then the male breeder flips and positions its orifice and releases its eggs near the mouth of the female breeder which takes them in into its mouth to fertilize with their own eggs earlier stored near the gills.
After eight to 10 days, the fertilized eggs are regurgitated and the process to maturity from fry to fingerling begins.
This process of life creation intended to bring food for the table goes over and over again in the 15-hectare Regional Freshwater Fisheries Center (RFFC) located at Fabrica, Bula, Camarines Sur, where male and female breeders are selectively and periodically mated for the production of 15 million fingerlings for dispersal to local government units (LGUs) all over the region.
Not only that: the tilapia can easily switch sexes from male to female and vice versa through hormonal manipulation, depending on the ratio of male and female breeders in the ponds.
Del Socorro said that when the male and female ratio of tilapia raised in RFFC becomes greater for the male population they manipulate them to become female breeders by giving them feeds that increase their female hormones.
But he said the male tilapia which are turned into female breeders go back to their original male sex after two months without hormonal feeds.
At least seven technicians are fulltime in raising tilapia breeders for eight breeding cycles every year in 12 separate cubicles at the RFFC which BFAR manages and operate.
Del Socorro reveals that the hatchery system of RFFC is designed for least human handling of the fertilized eggs, fries, and fingerlings through pipes that are connected from the nursery to the growing ponds.
He said the RFFC provides LGUs with their request for fingerlings that are dispersed to tilapia growers and at rivers and lakes in the localities.
Del Socorro said the LGUs have only to request from them their needs of tilapia fingerlings and these are all given for free.
He said the RFFC also provides training for tilapia growers which at present an average of 120 trainees per month enroll and receive free fingerlings after training completion.
Del Socorro said the RFFC which started its tilapia hatchery operation in 1997 has consistently contributed to the government’s efforts to achieve food security. – Bicol Mail
Dennis Del Socorro ... his hatchery has contributed to the effort of increasing inland fish production. - BicolMailpic