By: Swapna Tarafdar

MUSCAT: In a new experiment, the Aquaculture Centre under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) has started farming giant freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) in waste water generated from tilapia farming.

Tilapia is mainly a freshwater fish found in shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes and the giant prawn is a species of freshwater shrimp native to the Indo-Pacific region, northern Australia and Southeast Asia.

Fahad Saleh Ibrahim, director, Aquaculture Centre, said, “We are combining tilapia and prawn farming to enable farmers to get better yield without increasing the cost of feed. They will only have to feed tilapia as the waste generated by it is nutrient for the prawns.”

Elaborating on the process of prawn farming, Ibrahim said, “Tilapia farms generate a lot of waste water. Some of the water is used for irrigation while the rest is channelled to settlement tanks where it is usually treated for use in tilapia farming again.

“As part of this new experiment, we started introducing prawn larvae weighing five grams into this waste water. The prawns grown through this method are similar to the ones found in aquaculture farms.”

Ibrahim added, “The prawn larvae survived on the unused fish food and the waste generated from tilapia. This helped to clean the water by getting rid of the macro nutrients. The water was again fit for tilapia farming.”

He said this is a cost-effective way to breed both tilapia and prawn together. “It has been almost a month since we started this experiment. Before this, we bred this species of prawn successfully and now we are trying to hatch its larvae.”

As many as ten tilapia farms developed by the centre are operating in Batinah, Dakhliyah and Sharqiyah governorates. “We hope that they will produce 36 tonnes of tilapia every year.”