The Philippines’ position as the sixth largest producer of shrimps in the world, with an annual production of about 50,000 metric tons, is threatened with the outbreak of shrimp diseases such as White Spot Syndrome Virus, Hypodermic Haematopoetic Infectious Necrosis Virus, Taura Syndrome Virus, and Yellow Head Virus.

To reduce the occurrence of these diseases, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) funded a project called biofloc technology (BFT).

BFT uses a microbial mat composed of aggregates of bacteria, algae, protozoa, detritus, and dead organic particles that help control the natural microbial activity in aquaculture ponds. The use of this technology helps reduce reliance on protein from feeds and at the same time, stabilizes water quality through waste recycling.

BFT also improves shrimp nutrition, as it enhances feed conversion ratio (FCR) which is the measure of shrimps’ efficiency in turning feeds into mass, resulting to larger shrimps. Moreover, when carbon and nitrogen are sufficient in the culture system, the biofloc increases in number and size, thus more visible to shrimps for their consumption.

Disease control can also be achieved through this technology. A well-developed biofloc water can contain more than 2,000 bacterial species, which can enhance shrimp’s immune system.

In terms of investment, BFT may require a high capital, but it can be offset by higher production per cycle.

BFT has already been pilot tested in three farms in Luzon, two in Visayas, and two in Mindanao. An average of 5.5 kg/cubic meter of P. vannameiin tanks were realized, while an average of 18 tons/ha for P.vannamei was produced in the trials in the ponds. A FCR ratio of 1.3 was attained with 95% survival rate, with a stocking density of 800,000 per hectare in a 90-day culture period.

DOST will showcase the biofloc technology and its other agri-aqua research and development outputs from March 2-4, 2016 during its event dubbed as SIPAG FIESTA, held at the PCAARRD headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna. SIPAG FIESTA will feature exhibits, techno forum, techno demo, and other activities showcasing locally developed technologies for the agri-aqua sectors.

Biofloc in concrete tanks (Photo from the University of the Philippines Visayas)

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