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Bangus Aquaculture

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago
The Bangus Fish



 “Grow Out Operation” in the Philippines

 Crysti Jun


Description and Rationale


     The Bangus Fish is the Philippines national fish. It is the country’s biggest fish production, producing 800 million fingerlings a year today. Some of the bangus fish productions are being sold abroad as well in the country. One of the biggest products of Bangus in the Philippines is the Alcantara Group, which is also the biggest exporter of Bangus Fish. The Bangus products are best sellers in areas where there are overseas Filipino communities. The production of Bangus abroad has been designed for convenience in preparing the Filipinos a resource for food.


     What is the Bangus fish’s effect on the local ecology and fish populations? If the Bangus is easy to make, are there any problems in managing the wastes of the fishes? Is the production of Bangus fish sold freshly? Or does it contain toxic substances? How is the presence of bangus fish affecting the livelihood of the Filipinos in the Philippines and overseas? Does the bangus fish affect any other aquatic species? How is the bangus species effectively increasing? Is it due to ways of raising bangus, production strategy, feeding schemes, management of the fishponds, or other reasons? What are the environmental effects within the growing population of the Bangus fish?


     Might there be ways to maintain the high demand of bangus fish for food or livelihood? Generally, the problem with the bangus fish population becoming so hugely disproportional to the rest of the lake's aquamarine life, it started to compete with other fishes for food. What are the reasons for these problems? If solutions to these problems are found, such as ways to spread the Bangus species’ population, safe methods to reproduce legal bangus fish, or other livelihood-enhancing speculation, would there be consistency in the “grow-out population” of the Bangus Fish?



     The initial purpose of the project will be to research the biology and ecology of the bangus fish and figure the solutions to the problem involved with the increasing population of the bangus fish, through a search with personal interviews with people that sell bangus fish in the markets. These initial findings will help discuss the problems within the production of Bangus fish and ways to prevent abuses, where key variables in the bangus fish’s effectiveness and usefulness will be further investigated.

It is hoped that ways to prevent problems concerning the bangus fish production might help improve the livelihood of the people producing adequate quantities of bangus fish to produce even more various value-added products through a more informed understanding of an abundant biological resource.



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Common Names and Synonyms


Chanos chanos is also called the milkfish. The name ‘the large silvery fish’ is also commonly known to people because of the fishes’ physical features. Other synonyms include Bangus (Philippines); Chanos (French); Milchfisch (German); Sabalote (Spanish); and Bangos (US).






Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordota

Class: Osteichthyes (bony fishes)

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)

Order: Gonorynchiformes (descent snout shaped)

Family: Chanidae (anchovy)

Genus: Chanos(milkfish)

Species: C. chanos(milkfish)



It is the sole living species in the family Chanidae, and there are about seven extinct species in five additional genera.





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Morphology and Physical Description


     The fish can grow to a standard length of over 1.8 meters but usually it is about 1 meter length (180cm). The body shape of the chanos is generally symmetrical and streamlined appearance with a sizable forked caudal fin. The variety of fins is arranged as follows: dorsal fin has 13-17 rays, anal fin 6-8; pectoral fin 15-17, and the pelvic fins 10-11. There are four or five branchiostegal (series of long, curved and often pointed bones) rays that are present on each side of the fish. Four or five rays support the gill that covers each side behind the head.


     Adult fishes are silvery herring-like fishes with a forked talk, large eyes, pointed snout with terminal mouth, and cycloid scales.  The mouth is small and terminal. The jaws are toothless. They superficially resemble bonefishes but by evolution the chanos species are more advanced by having 4 branchiostegal rays.


     Internally, the chanos is unique for being much bonier compared with other bony fishes, therefore it is known as deboned milkfish, or “boneless bangus.” The adult milkfishes have a well developed epibranchial organ used as an extention of alimentary canal (digestive tract).



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Getting Food



     Chanos chanos feed on larvae in coastal ponds that consume diatoms and copepods (crustacean, marine invertebrate parasites that serve as food for many species). They also feed on crustaceans, water-dwelling animals that have jointed legs and a hard shell but no backbone. Milkfish larvae eat animal plankton. Adults eat bacteria, algae, small bottom-dwelling invertebrates and sometimes eat free-floating fish eggs and larvae. Adults have well-developed epibranchial organ. The epibranchial organ consumes planktonic prey, which are most often plant material. 






     Chanos chanos, belonging to the gonorynchiform order, are species that are oviparous, meaning that fertilization and hatching of eggs occurs outside the body. The eggs are released by the female, joined with the male’s sperm, and hatched outside the body.The chanos breed  in inshore waters, release their eggs into open water, and produces pelagic (of marine life, belonging to the upper layers of the sea) eggs. When the larvae are about one centimeter, they enter brackish water (water that has a slightly lower salt content than seawater) as young adults return to the sea.


Environmental Factors


     The chanos is benthopelagic, meaning that it lives and feeds near the bottom as well as in mid waters or near the surface. It lives in freshwater, brackish, and marine water, with a depth range of 1-30 meters. The normal acidity is pH 8, the normal pH of seawater. It is best adapted in tropical water temperatures between 15-43°C.


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Origin and Distribution



     The chanos occur in the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific Ocean, tending to school around coasts and islands with reefs. They also occur near continental shelves and around oceanic islands. Milkfish distribution is limited mainly to low latitude tropics or the subtropical northern hemisphere and where temperatures are greater than 20°C. It has been introduced to several countries such as United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Guam for Filipino milkfish lovers.








Importance to People


     Milkfish species are useful and important because they serve as food fishes in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. It is commercially raised for food and fished extensively throughout its range.


     Specifically to the Philippines, milkfish is notorious for being much more bonier than other food fish in the country, and it has become popular in stores and markets. The Bangus fish, serve as products that are best sellers in areas where there are overseas Filipino communities.


     “The products cater to the taste of the Filipinos abroad and have been designed for convenience in preparing them for the dinner table. The bangus belly, for instance, is ready for cooking. So is the smoked bangus. No messy cleaning of the fish is needed.”

(Agriculture, “Sarangani Bangus for Export, Sarian, Zac B., Dec. 2007)


     Furthermore, because the Chanos chanos, or more commonly known as the milkfish, fish that eats on plants, it gives convenience in other significant ways.


     “According to the Nature study, the vast majority of animals grown on fish farms thrive on diets consisting primarily of plant food. These include vegetarian finfish -- such as carp, catfish, tilapia and milkfish -- as well as scallops, oysters and other filter feeders.

These species, which are popular in many cultures around the world, require only minimal amounts of fishmeal in their diet and consequently do very little damage to wild fish stocks --unlike carnivorous shrimp or salmon.

Therefore, according to Naylor and Mooney, species raised on vegetarian diets actually contribute to the world's supply of fish.”




Survivability and Endangered Status


     The resilience of the bony milkfish is medium. A normal bony milkfish lives up to 5 years, but the national fish of the Philippines, bangus (milkfish), can live up to 20 years.

“Ticao said that even the 20-year-old mother bangus are still productive.”

(Agriculture, “Sarangani Bangus for Export, Sarian, Zac B., Dec. 2007)


The environment in which the milkfish grow on heavily affects the survivability of the bangus fish. Those from the wild usually have a survival rate of 50 to 60 percent while those from the hatchery usually have 82 to 85 percent survival rate. It competes with other high products such as lapu-lapu, pompano, snapper, and seabass.



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Potential Solutions


     Is the presence of Bangus fish affecting the livelihood of the Filipinos in the Philippines and overseas in an effective or ineffective way? It has not been accurately concluded if the Bangus species is a ‘successful’ grow out operation, or whether it interferes with other species in on its field. Further research and other substantial studies about the ecology and food web are needed before determining if the Bangus fish is an advantage or problem to the fish efforts on the local people. There seems to be several promising livelihood possibilities that may be able to benefit the local people buying Bangus fish as a profit as well as eating it healthy. Below are three possibilities with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for each.


Possibility 1




     From a magazine in the December 2007 edition of Agriculture Magazine (“the monthly magazine sponsored by the Manila Bulletin”), there was a fascinating agriculture about growing Bangus and other high value species in the Philippines such as pompano, seabass, lapu-lapu, and snapper in fish cages. They discovered that in Sarangani Bay, it has 19,000 cubic meters of fish cages that can produce that an abundant number of Bangus fish would be produced. This would keep up the high demand for Bangus. “Total yield per cage would be about 35 to 40 tons. That’s equivalent to the usual harvest from 10 hectares of ordinary bangus farmers…”





1. Adequate number of supplies of fingerling are necessary. The wide-range fish cages measures 15 meters by 15 meters and 5 meters deep. This is stocked with 56, 250 bangus fingerlings. Therefore, an abundant amount of Bangus would be produced. In addition, because the cage systems are separated from the other species, there would not be any problems in harming or competing with other species.


2. Raising Bangus fish in cage systems would increase the survival rate of the species. In the wild, these fingerlings usually have a survival rate of 50 to 60 survival rate. In the cage systems, the fish is constantly provided with commercial feeds – there would not be any problem that involves fish’s competition for food.


3. In the Bible (Numbers 11), people complained about the lack of fish meat. Raising Bangus in the fish cages would not be a problem of fish shortage because an abundant number of Bangus species would be grown.



Fishcage in the Philippines - Sarangani Bay 






1. Although the Bangus species living in the cage systems are totally dependent on commercial feeds, this can be a disadvantage. The cost of the feed is P 22.50 per kilo and in the case of Bangus; it takes about 2.8 kilos of feed to produce a kilo of Bangus. If the Bangus production is to be grown in cage systems, it would need to require more reliable fishing feed strategies.


2. The Bangus fingerlings in the cage system are needed to e fed for 8 to 9 months. Could the prolonged culture period possible be the best way for raising Bangus fish? Is there a faster process to raise Bangus? Further research is needed.

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Possibility 2




     Hydro dams are built to ensure a steady supply of water by containing and regulating the flow of natural rivers in the catchments. In the Philippines, there are 6 large dams and 54 small dams currently. Why not create more hydrodams to prevent pollution in the riverbanks in which the fish species, including Bangus, are affected? The possibility of hydrodams becoming the basis for an area for Bangus production could be tested.





1. This is a reliable substance because it could last for at least 75 years if it is built well.


2. Not only is it beneficial in growing Bangus species, it also supplies water and electricity for agriculture, industry, and households, even those at distant places.


3. Hydrodams provide sufficient amount of water and oxygen. The highly polluted rivers were found to have low dissolved oxygen (5mg/1), which constantly affects fish. Therefore, providing more oxygen for the fish specie would not be a problem.


4. The combined storage capacity of 2,783 million m3. This means that if the bangus species are grown in hydrodams, there won’t be “too much” fish.





1. Hydrodams in the Philippines often do not have an adequate amount of water to generate water and energy supply, especially during dry season. The current water levels of the dams are not enough to supply the increasing demands of the population and industry.

2. Huge dam construction affects environment in several ways such as inundation of habitats, loss of native species, spread of invasive species, and irruption of water-borne diseases.


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Possibility 3




     Bangus is probably the most common fish known amongst the Filipinos in the Philippines and overseas because of its delicious taste. However, there are other issues within the production of bangus species that people are not aware of. The areas of bangus production are important because in some places such as Luzon, there are diseases affecting the environment.


     Therefore, further research was needed. A visit to a Bangus restaurant and an interview with one of the employee, Rod Llagas, helped know more about a ‘healthy bangus.’





There are many types of Bangus:

Bangus Sisig, Rellenony Bangus, Pochero,

Sizzling, A la Pobre, Bistek, Paksiw, etc.




     However, from the variety of the Bangus fish food, there is the healthiest Bangus, the Bangus Prime-Cut of a fried milkfish belly.

Rod Llagas pointed out to have the bangus fish always fresh and ready to be cooked, they have to be properly stored in cold freezer storage. He also mentioned specific ingredients in the Bangus Prime-Cut.

Ingredients in the Bangus Prime-Cut include: vegetables-onion, tobacco; salt; sour sauce, the tamarin-“sampala” (in tagalong); water of the rice



Part of the process of cooking a ‘healthy’ Bangus:

1. Prepare all the ingredients (mentioned above).

2. Marinate/Wash the Bangus fish.

3. Put the ingredients and bangus fish together, ready to be cooked.

4. Cook for 10-15 minutes.








1. The healthy Bangus fish is full of nutrients and is well known for its taste, it can be a main dish to the Filipinos or other Bangus eaters.


2. It is possible to cook the Bangus fish healthy at home, and it does not require a lot of time. Generally, it would only take time to prepare the food and to cook the fish for 10-15 minutes (as mentioned above).


3. Filipinos or other bangus eaters will enjoy eating the bangus fish as well as giving good health to them. Using the bangus fish as a healthy resource for food would serve God by taking care of our bodies.





1. To prepare the Bangus fish and the ingredients might be too costly for local people in the Filipinos to eat.


2. Eating the belly part of the Bangus would be healthy, but other parts of the fish would not be considered as being healthy.




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“Chanos chanos” Wikipedia.org.  April 10 2008.



Eli, Anonymous. “Milkfish/Chanos chanos” FishBase.org. 14 January 2008.



“Milkfish” Answers.com. April 10 2008.



 “Milkfish and Relatives: Gonorynchiformes – Milkfish (Chanos chanos): Species Account” Animals.jrank.org. April 12, 2008.


Shwartz, Mark “Fish Farms Threaten World Population” AlbionMonitor.com 10 July, 2000.


 Llagas, Rod. Personal Interview. 30 April 2007.

Corazon, Cabibog-Sinha. Philippine Biodiversity: Principles and Practices 2006; 220-221.

Sarin, Zac B. “Sarangani Bangus for Export” Agriculture Magazine December 2007: 5-7 


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