CEBU CITY– The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) officially declared that it has successfully spawned catfish (𝘊𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘴 𝘨𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘶𝘴) via natural methods at the Clarin Freshwater Fish Farm (CFFF) facility in Clarin town in Bohol.

According to BFAR-CFFF information officer Ma. Rocile Angela Josol that spawning catfish “naturally” is a better method of breeding this species since the male stocks are not sacrificed during the breeding process.

Josol said that in order to maintain its pool of brood stocks, the CFFF had been conducting trials on natural breeding of catfish, locally known as “hito” or “pantat” and this success is good news to Boholano farmers who introduce freshwater fish in their rice paddies to increase income and restock the headwaters with fish.

“Presently, catfish fry production in most hatcheries in the country are produced through artificial propagation,” and Josol noted that catfish is one of the emerging and potential commodities in the region. Many people do like catfish, but the freshwater fish with whiskers, is not easily available in the market,”

CFFF head Gaymelo Lopez noted that the BFAR-7 team saw some progress on the natural production of catfish, and apparently succeeded following two trials. Lopez said the first trial in July produced over 9,900 catfish fingerlings.

Lopez added that in its succeeding trial in August, the number of breeders have been increased, and production of fingerlings went to more than 16,560. He said more trials will be conducted to achieve better hatching rate from egg to fry and higher survivorship from fry to fingerlings.

BFAR7-operating facilities coordinator Mario Ruinata on the other hand bared that BFAR-7 resorted to natural breeding than the tricky and difficult process of artificial breeding.

He said in the artificial method, both female and male catfish breeders have low chances of survival. The females are injected with dosages of certain hormones to induce maturation and ovulation while for the male, sperm can only be obtained by sacrificing it.

Ruinata said this species will be used as aquaponics fish because its culture does not require large areas. “They can thrive in hard conditions, less labor intensive and it’s not easily susceptible to diseases,” he added.

Stretched to the limits before its success in natural spawning of catfish, Ruinata shared the tedious process of doing artificial breeding to milk out fingerlings from adults that refuse to spawn while in captivity.

CFFF used to inject the male to stir up the body and mature the milt, and gravid female catfish with hormones for it to release the eggs. After a few hours of rest, the gravid female is captured and induced to release its eggs by stripping or gently pressing on the stomach to facilitate the release of the eggs.

The eggs are then collected in a container for weighing to get a general idea of the number of fries which can be produced from the egg.

The male catfish is captured and killed to harvest the milt sac which is in the belly of the fish. This is then cut into tiny pieces to release the sperm, adding saline solution to keep the sperm alive but inactive.

This milt and saline solution are poured into the stripped eggs and mixed thoroughly for about a minute; using the same amount of clean freshwater with the saline solution, this is then poured to the milts and eggs to facilitate the fertilization process, Riunata said.

He added that while the hatchery is assured of new fingerlings that can be grown to juveniles for the government’s Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa (BASIL) dispersal program, the downside is that males are sacrificed and very few females can survive the ordeal.

For more information, visit Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7)