clip_image002Tilapia is the fish that find its way in our dining tables, particularly in our sinigang or paksiw. Sometimes they come as they are as fried or grilled. It is tagged as the poor man’s fish, replacing galunggong. However, this fish may be enjoyed by the rich or the poor. It may be because of its abundance that explains its monicker.

Tilapia can be found in many fish cages around the Philippines, usually in major lakes and rivers like Laguna de Bay, Taal Lake, and Lake Sebu. It is basically a freshwater fish, although sometimes they can be found in brakish waters.

The Nile Tilapia, scientifically named as Oreochromis niloticus, is one of the hundreds of species of cichlid fishes. It is commercially produced or farmed with much ease because they are omnivorous and prolific breeders. Most of these cultured fishes are male. This is so because the female tilapia reproduces at a fast rate, thus overcrowding the waters with undersized offsprings.

In a recent development, the CLAARRDEC launched an event called FIESTA of DOST-PCAARRD. A Research and Development Consortium, it featured locally sustainable innovations in agriculture and aquatic farming. One of its highlights is a presentation by Dr. Ravelina R. Velasco, a professor at CLSU. She discussed the feeding of pine pollen to tilapia fries to make them prominently male.

The newly-hatched tilapia fry is sexless. It is at this stage where they are fed with the Benguet Pine Pollen, the reproductive part of the pine tree that is the richest source of testosterone. In her paper “Benguet Pine Pollen (Pinus kesiya) as Source of Phytoandrogen for Secondary Sexual Characteristics in Nile Tilapia”, Dr. Velasco discussed the techniques of sex inversion using pine pollen-treated feeds and its relevance in aquaculture.

According to her paper, the result of the study conducted in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, Tabacco City in Albay, and Naawan showed that pine pollen can re-direct the sex of fish in single or combination of Dosage 2(50-50 pine pollen and 17 alphamethyl testosterone).