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Eel Farming in the Philippines: How to Grow Igat

Eel farming is a profitable and rewarding yet complex process that requires careful planning and execution to ensure success. This article will explore the step-by-step guide to farming eel (Tagalog: Palos or igat), from breeding, growing, and feeding to harvesting in the Philippines. Learn how to start your eel farm and reap the rewards of this lucrative industry!

Introduction to Eel Farming

If you’re thinking about starting to farm eel, you should know a few things. This article will guide you to breeding, growing, feeding, and harvesting eel.

Eels are a type of fish that can be found in freshwater or saltwater habitats. In Tagalog, they are called igat or palos. They’re popular in many cuisines worldwide and a delicacy in some cultures.

eel-farming
Indoor eel farming

Eels are relatively easy to breed and grow. They don’t require much space and can be fed a variety of food sources. When harvesting eel, it’s essential to use proper techniques to avoid damaging the meat.

The Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) is the most popular species of eel farmed in Japan and Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. Other species, like the Longfin eel (Anguilla reinhardtii) and the Shortfin eel (Anguilla australis), are also farmed in Australia and New Zealand.

If you want to learn more about farming eel, read our step-by-step guide.

Breeding Eel

Eel farming is a process that requires great care and attention. If you’re thinking of breeding eel, there are some things you need to know before getting started. Here’s a step-by-step guide to farming eel:

  1. Breeding eel is best done in captivity. This ensures that the young eels are not exposed to predators and can be adequately cared for.
  2. Eels reach sexual maturity at around two years old. When ready to breed, males develop white spots on their fins and bodies, and females become plumper as they mature.
  3. Eels should be kept in tanks with plenty of hiding places to encourage breeding. Plants can also be added to the tank to shelter the eggs.
  4. When mating, the male wraps himself around the female and fertilizes her eggs internally. The female then lays her eggs in a safe place, often amongst plants or in a cave.
  5. Eggs hatch after around ten days, and the young eels (called elvers) will immediately start feeding on small insects and crustaceans.
  6. As they grow, elvers will need to be fed increasingly larger food items such as worms, small fish, and shrimp.

Spawning

Eels have a very interesting spawning process. The female eel will lay eggs in a secluded, dark place in the water. Once the eggs are laid, the male eel will fertilize them. After fertilizing the eggs, they will hatch into a leptocephali larva. These leptocephali will float around in the ocean for years, growing and maturing until they finally transform into adult eels.

Rearing 

Eels are a popular seafood item in many parts of the world, and farming them can be a lucrative business. If you’re thinking of getting into eel farming, there are a few things you need to know. In this article, we’ll go over everything from breeding to harvesting eels.

Eels are typically bred in captivity, as they are challenging to catch in the wild. Once you have your broodstock, you’ll need to set up a suitable environment for them to breed in. This means having tanks or ponds with plenty of hiding places and a good filtration system. The water should also be well-oxygenated.

Once the adults have spawned, the eggs must be incubated at a temperature of around 22 degrees Celsius. After they hatch, the young eels (elvers) must be kept in freshwater tanks with a constant flow of water. They’ll also need to be fed often, as they have a voracious appetite.

As the elvers grow, they must be moved into larger tanks. Eventually, they’ll be ready for harvest and can be sold live or processed for their meat. Eel farming can be a rewarding business, so long as you’re prepared to put in the work!

Eel Farming: Growing Eels

Eels are a type of fish that can be found in freshwater rivers and streams all over the world. They are a popular choice for aquaculture, as they are relatively easy to breed and grow. In this article, we will take you through the process of farming eel, from breeding and growing to feeding and harvesting.

Eels are typically bred in captivity, in either man-made ponds or tanks. Once the fry has reached a suitable size, the adults can be transferred to larger growing facilities. Maintaining water quality and temperature is important when growing eels, as they are sensitive to changes in their environment.

Eels are carnivorous fish; their diet should consist of live food such as worms, insects, small fish, and crustaceans. They will need more food as they grow, so it is important to increase their feeding accordingly. Eels can be harvested at any time of year, but they are typically caught during the winter months when they are fattest.

Eel Farming: Feeding

When it comes to feeding your eels, there are a few things to consider. First, you need to provide them with a high-quality diet rich in protein and fat. Eels are carnivores, so they will do their best on a diet that includes live food, such as worms, insects, and small fish. You can also offer them frozen or freeze-dried foods, but these should be used as supplements rather than the mainstay of their diet.

It is important to remember that eels are escape artists, so any tank or pond you keep them in must be secure. If you are keeping them in an aquarium, ensure the lid is tight fitting, and there are no gaps that an eel could squeeze through. You must put a net over the top in a pond to prevent them from getting out.

Eels are opportunistic feeders, so they will eat whenever food is available. However, it would help if you tried to stick to a regular feeding schedule so they can learn when to expect their meals. A good rule of thumb is to feed them once or twice a day, depending on how much food they can consume without becoming overweight.

Overfeeding is one of the most common problems with keeping eels, so be careful not to overdo it. Signs of overfeeding include uneaten food left in the tank or pond, fat deposits around the eel’s body, and aggressive behavior toward other eels.

Tank Size and Environmental Requirements

Choosing the right tank size and environment is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting your eel farm. Eels are highly adaptable and can thrive in various conditions, but there are some key things to remember when setting up your farm.

First, eels need plenty of space to swim and grow. A good rule of thumb is to provide at least 10 gallons of water per eel. If you plan on breeding eels, you’ll need even more space, as females can lay up to 1 million eggs at a time!

Second, eels prefer warm water, so your tanks should be heated to 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use an aquarium or submersible pond heater to maintain the proper temperature.

Finally, eels need hiding places where they can feel safe and secure. Driftwood, rocks, and live plants add great eel tank additions. Ensure that any objects you add are properly cleaned and sterilized before putting them in the tank.

Harvesting Eel

Eels are a type of fish that can be found in freshwater environments. They are often harvested for their meat, which is considered to be a delicacy in many cultures.

Eels can be harvested using various methods, but the most common method is using eel traps. Eel traps are baited with live baitfish, and the eels are attracted to the baitfish and enter the trap. Once the trap is full, it is pulled from the water, and the eels are removed.

Eels can also be hand-harvested, although this method is less common. When hand-harvesting eels, a fisherman uses a hook and line to catch the eel. The fisherman then pulls the eel from the water and kills it.

Once an eel is harvested, it must be properly processed to avoid spoiling. The first step is to bleed the eel by cutting its throat. The next step is to gut the eel by removing its intestines. Finally, the eel should be scaled and washed before it is cooked or frozen for storage.

Questions Related to Eel Farming

Can eel be farmed?

Eels are an ideal species of fish to be farmed because they are very tolerant of many conditions, including being kept in large numbers. After the fingerlings have been in quarantine, they can be grown in ponds or specialized tanks that recirculate the water.

How long do eels take to grow?

In the wild, eels can take five to 30 years to reach maturity, but cultured eels in tanks can mature in as little as seven months to two years.

Sustainable Eel Farming

Eel farming is highly sustainable, especially in the Philippines, where elvers are becoming pests in the ricefields in Central Luzon. Rice eel (Monopterus albus) fingerlings(elvers) are in short supply in these areas, so eel farming is highly sustainable.

What do farmed eels eat?

Eels eat insects, fish, and crustaceans as part of their carnivorous diet. Eels eat fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. They are carnivorous predators that eat a very diverse diet, including just about any marine creature that is smaller than them.

Do eels need oxygen?

Eels require large amounts of oxygen if they are to remain active and grow at an optimal rate. Aeration can be supplied using paddlewheels or aspirators. Blooms of phytoplanktonic algae are encouraged as they produce oxygen and shield the eels from direct sunlight.

How long can eels stay on land?

They are truly remarkable fish, able to travel overland for up to 2 days by breathing through their skin.

Why are baby eels worth so much?

Limited supply and market pressure have helped to drive the outrageous prices for baby eels, but prices are also being inflated by their use in Michelin-starred restaurants, notably in Spain.

What do eels eat on eel farms?

Traditionally, live tubificids (worms of the Tubificidae family), fresh fish meal, or short-necked clam meat are used as starter feeds for glass eels or elvers. Tubificids seem to be the most favorable feed for elvers.

Is there a market for eels?

Because most of the world considers eel a gourmet item, and they are in high demand in many ethnic markets, this species could potentially be a high-value export and niche market product. In the Philippines, eels are very popular with Chinese customers.

Can eels survive in a pond?

It is very common to find eels in ponds while electrofishing. Once in a life, the pond owner usually says, “I have lived here for years and had no idea eels were even in my pond.” Although they look and move more like a snake than a fish, they are just as much like a fish as largemouth bass.

How many eels can 1 square meter produce?

Although having a small pond of 1 square meter is not advisable, eels can produce 200 to 300 kilograms per square meter per year.

How much is the live eel price per kilogram?

According to the 2023 consumer report, the average price in the Philippine peso is PHP 137.81 per kg. Depending on availability and location, this can go up to P350 per kilo.

Conclusion

Eel farming can be a rewarding and profitable venture for those who put in the time and effort to learn about breeding, growing, feeding, and harvesting techniques. With this step-by-step guide, you should now better understand what is involved in farming eels. Whether you want to start a business selling eels or explore an exciting hobby that could provide some extra income, learning how to farm these slippery creatures can help make it happen. Good luck!

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