Ayungin (Leiopotherapon plumbeus), a freshwater fish species endemic in the Philippines, is thinning in population. It is a small silver-colored fish used to be plentiful in the country’s freshwater bodies such as Laguna de Bay. Its overfishing by local fishermen mainly for duck feeds and family consumption have now made it scarce.
Considered as the tastiest fish among all the edible native freshwater species in the Philippines, ayungin is now rarely sold in the market. When available, it costs as much as P500 per kilo.
A research project at the University of the Philippines Los Baños is underway to save from threat this freshwater fish. Dr. Pablo P. Ocampo of the UPLB Limnological Research Station has established a captive breeding program to save the ayungin.
Dr. Ocampo reported that ayungin collected by the project from Laguna de Bay has been successfully maintained in the station’s concrete tanks. The collected ayungin broodstock was found responding well to a specially formulated diet combination of commercial prawn feeds and Tubifex worms.
The project is now studying ways on how to induce the ayungin to naturally spawn in an artificial environment. While simulated rain, flowing water, vegetation, sand and soil have been incorporated into the artificial environment, the research station’s findings suggest that ayungin from the wild may find it to naturally reproduce in captivity.
Nonetheless, Dr. Ocampo reported that the rearing techniques used are being refined. Experiments are underway to determine whether live feeds may help the ayungin to breed inside the tanks.
Hopefully, the captive breeding techniques being researched on may come to fruition. With success, the project can provide more Filipinos the chance to taste and savor once again the traditional delectable dishes prepared from ayungin.
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