March 6, 2009

Philippine experts consider menace janitor fish as potential animal feed

Scientists in the Philippines are looking at the potentials of the janitor fish as an animal feed after discovering the aquatic vertebrate's high protein content.


A study conducted by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) funded by the World Bank revealed that field experiments evaluating the effects of feeding janitor fish to chickens and pigs showed both animals' growth.


The research was spurred by the proliferation of the fish in surrounding Laguna Lake areas to create an economic demand for the janitor fish.


It was also aimed to control the species' invasiveness and at the same time, provide additional income to the fisher folk.


Laguna will be used to study janitor fish's potential as an ingredient of feeds for pig and poultry.


Nutrient-wise, laboratory analyses showed that the processed janitor fish meal can be an alternative source of protein.


Sailfin catfish or janitor fish (Pterygoplichthys pardalis and P. disjunctivus), as it is more popularly known, has threatened the livelihood of many fishermen in Laguna de Bay in many ways.


As an algae-eater, the janitor fish competes for food supply with other more marketable fish leading to the displacement of native species.


Its breeding behavior contributes to river's filth since it creates deep burrows in lake and riverbeds. The janitor fish's bone structure also damages gill nets used by fishermen.


The janitor fish is not normally considered as human food; although, there are undocumented cases where such fish is eaten, the study said.


Introduced in the Philippines in the early 1990s as an aquarium fish to clean algae, it has become an invasive species and until recently, presented no economic benefit.


The research also said further studies on the janitor fish are needed in order to effectively address their invasiveness.


Studies utilizing janitor fish has been conducted such as "Biofuel and Soaps from Janitor Fish (Pterygoplichthys pardalis)," by young scientists Raymond Joseph Amurao of Marikina Science High School project.


Amurao was able to extract fuel oils from janitor fish carcasses, material that could be used in applications such as diesel additives and soap base.

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