A new feed formulation for milkfish and tilapia was developed through a collaborative project of NFRDI, BFAR and SEAFDEC. Initial results of the formulated diet tend to promise a lowered production cost in aquaculture and increased profits for small-scale fish farmers.

The collaborative project, called Aquafeed Research, Development and Extension Project or ARDEP, finished two of its field-testing trials in Guimaras, Iloilo and in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. These verification studies on the development of the new feed formulation aimed to produce aquaculture feeds that are cheaper than commercial feeds.

The novel feed formulation by SEAFDEC/AQD incorporated minimal fishmeal for sustainability and sourced locally available ingredients as alternative protein source to make it cheaper. These ingredients include distiller’s dried grain with solubles, poultry by-product meal, and the protein enriched copra meal. After four months of verification trials, culmination of the two project sites commenced wherein cultured milkfish and tilapia were given two types of feed: commercial and the formulated low-cost feed. Milkfish and tilapia were then harvested for data collection to draw conclusion on the efficiency of the low-cost formulated diet by ARDEP.


The experimental site at Igang Marine Station is located on the coastal coves of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras where mariculture activities of SEAFDEC/AQD are being conducted. Floating net cages to culture the milkfish were used wherein milkfish juveniles with an average body weight of 33 grams were stocked at a stocking density of 33 fish per cubic meter (2500 fish per cage). Growth trial experiments officially started on June 6, 2019. Throughout the duration of the experiment, monthly samplings were done to adjust feeding rates and check the operations. The milkfish were harvested after 120 days of culture when they weighed about 350 to 400 grams of marketable size.

The ceremonial harvest of milkfish at Igang Marine Station was held on October 3, 2019. During the harvest, 1-ton fiberglass tanks were filled with crushed ice and water to produce a slurry where the fish were transferred and euthanized for sorting of the buyer. Sorting of the milkfish into three sizes was done, then weighed and packed into 20 kg Styrofoam boxes layered with crushed ice, secured, stacked, and were delivered to respective buyers.

Recorded data showed an average body weight of 393.45 grams for milkfish fed with SEAFDEC/AQD diet, while milkfish fed with commercial diet weighed an average of 325.35 grams. Total biomass harvested for milkfish fed with the formulated diet was at 2795.30 kg while total biomass harvested for milkfish fed with the commercial diet was at 2234.92 kg. Survival for milkfish fed with SEAFDEC/AQD Diet and milkfish fed with commercial diet was 92.83% and 91.45%, respectively.

The focal persons involved in this experimental site were Ms. Salvacion Ferrer, co-project leader from NFRDI-Aquaculture Research Development Division (NFRDI-ARDD), Regional Director Remia Aparri, Mr. Florante dela Torre, and Katherine Gatilogo from BFAR Region VI.

Milkfish being hauled from their cages by SEAFDEC technicians at the start of the harvest


The 2nd ARDEP field testing was done at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources— National Freshwater Fisheries Technology Center (BFAR-NFFTC) in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. Six 300-square meter ponds were used for the tests where the actual growth trial was officially started on June 27, 2019. Tilapia juveniles with an average body weight of around 21 g were stocked in the ponds at a stocking density of five fish per square meter.

Throughout the duration of the experiment, monthly samplings were done and after 124 days of culture when the tilapia was estimated to weigh at 300 to 350 g of marketable size, harvest was done. The ceremonial harvest of the field trial experiment took off on October 28, 2019.

The harvest included a “Seminar on Freshwater Fish Propagation” conducted by the NFRDI Fisheries Biotechnology Center and the ARDEP to enhance the knowledge and skills of the fish farmer participants on fish propagation and provide them with starter fish fry and fingerlings.

Recorded average body weight (ABW) of SEAFDEC-treated tilapia was at 338.24 g while the control fed by commercial diet was at 308.24 g. Total biomass harvested for tilapia fed with the formulated diet was at 1502.27 kg while the total biomass harvested for tilapia fed with commercial feed was at 1375.73 kg. Survival for SEAFDEC fed tilapia was at 85.91% and 80.64% for tilapia fed with commercial diet. These findings greatly motivated the participants/attendees on the usage of the formulated diet. Persons involved in this project site were Dr. Dennis Tanay and Dr. Christopher Rayos from NFRDI-ARDD, Ms. Jodecel Danting – Center Chief, Ms. Lydia Morales, and Ms. Rossana Cinense from BFAR-NFFTC.

Harvest of Tilapia in BFAR-NFFTC

The ceremonial harvest and program in both sites were attended by BFAR directors and personnel from different BFAR Regional offices.

With the goal of lowering the production cost in aquaculture and increasing profits for the small-scale fish farmers, the recent success of these field trial experiments encourages the project collaborators, the ARDEP group, and NFRDI to continue the research and assessment of the novel formulated feed, to address further gaps, and widen the scope of the verification studies across regions with varying culture environments for milkfish and tilapia. This will give more foundation to the data acquired from the research and eventually transfer the polished technology to our small-scale Filipino aquaculturists who need it the most. (MTMutia, LMIwag, CDelaCruz)