ICAR-Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture, Chennai has achieved a breakthrough in artificially breeding the milkfish, locally known as ‘Paal Kendai’ or ‘Paal Meen’ in captivity for the first time in the country.
In the fish hatchery of the Experimental Research Station of CIBA, located at Muttukadu near Chennai, the male and female adult milkfish were reared in cement tanks for more than 10 years. While the milk fish attains natural maturity, breeding and spawning in the open ocean, maintaining the brood stock (parent fishes), inducing them to mature and breed further were technically challenging tasks. These fish were bred by administering calculated doses of permitted hormone. The fertilised eggs obtained were hatched and reared to fingerling stage, which are further suitable for nursery rearing and farming.
Milkfish has the ability to grow in brackishwater, seawater and freshwater ponds and lakes. This fish consumes low protein pellet feed and grows up to 500g size in 6 months. This is a boon for small and marginal farmers who can grow the fish at a low cost. Milkfish fetches Rs 120-150 per kg in the local market while the production cost is only Rs 50-60 per kg.
Being a low cost fish, the milkfish can cater to the need of the common man in Indian domestic markets as a suitable source of animal protein and for nutritional requirements of human food in general. The small sized milkfish is also being used as a preferred live bait for tuna fishing industry. The milkfish being a herbivore, with low production cost, can form an ideal alternate species for shrimp farmers. Representatives from the industry, fish farmers and fisheries scientists have welcomed this breakthrough.
On July 10, 2015, the first batch of hatchery produced milk fish seeds at the ICAR-CIBA-Muttukkadu, were handed over to fish farmers from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, by Dr. KK Vijayan, Director – ICAR-CIBA.