Breeders for hatcheries are mostly selected from fingerlings produced in the hatchery. By selecting fast growing juveniles as breeders, hatcheries are able to develop faster growing tilapia strains. Although the Bureau of Fishery and Aquaculture Resources (BFAR) has recently increased efforts to introduce high saline varieties in order to further boost domestic production, very few advanced tilapia hybrids and strains are readily available in the Philippines
Fry and fingerlings
Similarly to the milkfish, the hatchery sector for tilapia is not very strongly developed. There are an estimated 200 small-scale hatcheries operating around the country but few of them produce high quality hybrid fingerlings on a stable basis. Only a dozen of these hatcheries have been officially registered by the BFAR. No large-scale (> 1 billion annual fry production) hatcheries, like those in Thailand and Vietnam, exist in the Philippines.
Most aquaculture operators that produce tilapia for the domestic market employ extensive and semi-intensive production systems with lower stocking densities and limited external inputs like feeds. Instead of feeding their fish, they fertilize their ponds to create algae blooms. They also grow macro algae in the canals next to the ponds. Unprocessed feeds like rice meals are regularly used as feed by these farmers.
The larger and better organized aquaculture operators produce tilapia using pellet feeds in combination with some natural algae from the pond. In the Philippines there are around a dozen feed millers that produce aquaculture feeds. These companies are mostly local Filipino companies with, in some cases, a minority share of foreign investment. In many cases the pellets that are produced by these millers are not very species specific but can be used for an assorted number of species including carp, milkfish and tilapia.
Chemicals and veterinary drugs
Besides chemical fertilizers to stimulate algae growth in the pond, few chemicals or veterinary drugs are used in tilapia operations. Tilapia are known as hardy fish that are not very susceptible to diseases, thereby reducing the need for the use of chemicals and veterinary drugs.