Picture of Joeven C. Calasagsag
Red Pacu fish can now be propagated through surgical stocking
by Joeven C. Calasagsag - Friday, 23 December 2011, 04:07 PM
balita.ph; December 21, 2011 12:28 am

DAGUPAN CITY, Dec. 20 –The exotic aquarium fish called Red Pacu (Collusom bidens) can now be introduced sporadically in fresh water streams and lakes teeming with water hyacinths or water lilies through a method of culture called surgical stocking.

Director Westly Rosario, chief of the Dagupan-based National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC), said not all fresh water streams and lakes would be stocked with Red Pacu yet as environmentalists are still cautious of the possible effect of the fish to other plants, like rice.

It was learned that in a national fish symposium in Manila, a few regional directors of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) still issued some reservations about Red Pacu, fearing that if stocked in all fresh water fish farms, it would run berserk there and become uncontrollable.

But Dr. Rosario assured that Red Pacu would not follow the ways of the Giant Snails, which were introduced in 1990s, to boost the protein food of the Filipinos.

The reason for this is the fish sexually matures only after two to three years and when it does, it had already grown into one kilo and might have been entrapped by fish farmers and thrown over burning charcoal and eaten.

Red Pacu, a cousin of the deadly piranha, is herbivorous unlike the latter which is carnivorous. Pacu feeds only on plants, especially water hyacinths, and grows up to 0.6 meter when fully matured.

NIFTDC started conducting research on Red Pacu 10 years ago through some fingerlings turned over by a hobbyist.

These fingerlings grew into adults and with the use of hormones injected in the male and female species, the center was able to produce some offspring.

It was only during the Fish Conservation Week in October this year that NIFTDC finally introduced Red Pacu both as a food fish and cleaning agent in fresh water ponds.

Rosario admitted they have now actually started disseminating Red Pacu fingerlings in some fresh water bodies of Pangasinan to control the growth of unwanted weeds in their fish farms.

He said some people from Bayambang town came to the center and took some fingerlings to be seeded into their fresh water ponds which they wanted to be rid of water lilies.

At the same time, the fish can be introduced in some fresh water in Mindanao long been pestered by water hyacinths that often block the flow of water and cause floods.

As a cleaning agent, the fish can eat water lilies that impede the flow of water. At the same time, it can be caught by any means, including hook and line, with plant leaves as mere baits.

Water lilies, which are sometimes being dried, to become raw materials for handwoven items, are a bane to the growth of fish since they allow only little sunlight in the water, said Rosario.

As to the fear of environmentalists that the Red Pacu can later pose danger to all plants in the water, Rosario said that unless injected with hormones, the fish can sexually mature in two to three years.

That means that when it finds mate, the fish has grown to more than one kilo in weight and could have already been caught by farmers and already ended up as delicious fish stew or fried fish.

As shown during the Fish Conservation Week at the center, the fish can be cooked into several culinary delights, including "kare-kare", fillet and fish "shanghai".

Serving an aquarium fish when it is still young, the Red Pacu turns blackish and ugly during adulthood. [By Leonardo V. Micua (PNA) lvm/lvmicua/1840/rm]

Source: Red Pacu fish can now be propagated through surgical stocking

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