Semi-intensive pond farming

Pond farming is the most popular method in the Philippines for tilapia farming, and accounts for 62% of annual tilapia production (BFAR 2015). It is unclear how many fish ponds are used for farming of tilapia in the Philippines but a very rough estimate would be that approximately 70,000 hectare of fishponds are used for tilapia.

Key features
Average stocking density

50,000 – 70,000 fingerlings/ha

Average productivity

15 – 20 tonnes/ha/year

# of crops per year

2

# of days per crop

160 days

Harvesting season

All year round

Type of farmer

Both family producers and export-oriented business

Potential risks

Type of farmers

Most farmers operate one or two ponds as a family business and these farmers tend to be not very well organized. In some cases these small family businesses own their ponds but more often these are rented. Export oriented businesses operate large amounts of ponds, ranging from 50 to a few a few hundred hectares. These larger companies own the ponds they operate.

Production and harvesting system

Since tilapia can be carnivorous they are rarely used for polyculture. Most farmers farming in brackish water employ a partial water exchange system using tidal rhythms while farmers with freshwater ponds use diesel operated pumps. Average pond size is 0.4 to 5 hectare for grow out ponds.

In all provinces tilapia are harvested year round. Grow out takes an average 160 days to reach 250 gram, but some farmers harvest there fish at even smaller sizes. Most farms harvest their tilapia at 250 to 300 grams as this size is appreciated most on the local market. The fish are typically harvested all at once using a net when the ponds is drained. The survival rate is  between 75 – 80 %.

Target species and byproducts

A number of different species and varieties are being cultured but they are all commonly referred to as “tilapia” and neither the farmers nor official figures make a distinction between the different tilapia species or varieties that are being cultured.

Stocking densities and productivity

In all provinces, tilapia are stocked year round with the exception of the first few weeks of the rainy season. Stocking density is highly dependent on the depth of the pond. On average 50,000 to 70,000 fingerlings per hectare are stocked for deeper ponds. Some farms stock fry directly while others first grow the fish in smaller nursery ponds resulting in different stocking densities. Additionally, planned harvesting sizes also influences stocking density; if one wants to grow larger fish the stocking density must be reduced.

Average productivity ranges from 15 to 20 tonnes per hectare per year depending on the culture system at the farm. Modular pond systems with separate nursery ponds tend to result in higher yields since crops are rotated more quickly in the grow-out ponds.

Use of seed, feed and other inputs

There are numerous small-scale local hatcheries where fry can be acquired. Some hybrids are available but in most cases fry are classic Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Most farmers use smaller ponds of 2000 m2 where the fish are nursed in hapa nets for a period of 30 days.

Most farmers operating semi-intensive pond systems use a combination of algae and commercial pellet feeds. Because tilapia are omnivorous and are feeding on natural algae in the ponds the FCR is often lower than 1. In ponds with few or no algae and higher feed use the FCR is around 1.8. Most of the farmers use chemical fertilizers to promote algae blooms.

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