Aquaponics is an acronym for Hydroponic Aquaculture demand using an integration system between aquaculture activities and hydroponic planting in rearing containers (tanks/ponds). In simple language, it means farming fish in a tank with vegetables where the final production will be fish and vegetables. Farmed fish are not from the type that consume vegetables, but instead they are non-eating vegetables small fish (ornamental fish) such as guppy, platy, molly etc. The edible fish that are suitable to be farmed are Gourami, Climbing Perch, Snakehead and Catfish. While, suitable type of vegetable is water spinach, green leafy vegetable floated on the surface of the tank using cork or polystyrene. The plants in this system will absorb nutrients from the water produced from fish feces and food waste. (Plants as biological filters) Having the absorption of nutrients by plants will make the water become clearer, improved water quality and the ecosystem in the tank will be more balanced where fish can live healthily and grow. Plants placed in the rearing tank must not exceed 1/3 of the surface area of the tank so that sunlight can penetrate to the base of the tank and will encourage the growth of plankton as a natural food for the farmed fish. If you have any question, please contact Marine Aquaculture Branch, Fisheries Headquater Putrajaya Tel : 03-8870 4784.
Methods to breed Catfish in canvas
Catfish can be bred in reservoirs such as ponds, fibre glass tanks, cement tanks and canvas tanks. Breeding using the canvas system is a new innovation in the field of aquaculture and has started since 2006. Breeding is conducted in breeding sets with a frame measuring 4.5 m x 1.2 m x 1 m and covered with high quality canvas and resistant to weather changes. The water depth in the canvas reservoir is 0.4 m. Catfish fry with a size of 3 inches or 10 gm and above were released with a release rate of 129 fish/m2. These fish are fed with formula feed to ensure the quality of the fish farmed and to maintain the usage period of the system. The breeding period of the catfish is 3 months to reach the market size (6 fish/kg). The price per unit of tank is estimated at RM 1,200.00 - RM 2,400.00. Breeding sets can be obtained through suppliers recommended by the Department of Fisheries. A list of hatcheries that produce catfish fry can be obtained from the District Fisheries Office in each state. The department has also produced pamphlets for the reference of breeders. The pamphlet can be obtained from the State Fisheries Office or from the Extension and Transfer of Technology Division, Fisheries Headquarters, Putrajaya.
Starting a freshwater prawn farming project
To start a freshwater prawn farming project, farmers need to ensure that the selected land site is suitable for the type of breeding to be made. The site must be close to freshwater rivers and free from pollution. Prawn are more suitable to be reared in ponds and farmers need to ensure that the water supply is also sufficient for the duration of the rearing period. The recommended pond shape is a rectangular pond measuring 0.2 ha with a depth of 1.2 m. It is estimated that the construction cost of a 0.1 ha land pond complete with inlets and outlets is approximately RM 2,000 - RM 2,500. The recommended stocking is between 10-20 prawn/m2 and the use of ventilator such as paddle wheel is necessary. Commercial prawn breeding is dependent on formula feed that contains protein content between 28-35%. The breeding period is between 5-6 months (yield size 25 gm - 30 gm each). You can contact the Aquaculture Development Division which offers Freshwater Prawn Farming courses at PPA Perlok, Pahang or any State and District Fisheries Office in your area to get more information on hatchery operators and equipment suppliers. Telephone numbers and addresses can be obtained from the Department Directory on the website.
Breeding method for freshwater fish in cement tank
Freshwater fish breeding such as Red Tilapia, Catfish and Climbing Perch can be carried out in cement or concrete tanks with a size of 500 m2 (50 m x10 m). It is estimated that the construction cost of the cement tank is between RM 8,000 - RM 10,000 per unit complete with inlet and outlet. It is recommended that the stocking of fry for the cement tank system is 15 fry/m2. The method of feeding and water management is the same as for other systems and priority is given to formula feed. To breed in cement tanks, it is recommended to use additional ventilation equipment, such as paddle wheel or blower to increase the survival rate of fish. The Department of Fisheries Malaysia also offers scheduled courses and training attachment for the aquaculture sector but is limited to ground pond systems, cement tanks and cages only. To apply for a course, it can be done online or via the District Fisheries Office. Breeders can get more information about the tank from the nearest State Fisheries Office. The address for VAT can be obtained from the website of the Department of Fisheries Malaysia in the Department Directory section.
Assistance that can be obtained from the Department of Fisheries for Aquaculture
- Advisory and technical services from time to time.
- Equipment loan assistance for breeding systems, depending on the type and cost allocated to the Department.
- Technical assistance in terms of water quality study, soil study and site study.
- Free fry supply for small and first time farmers, limited to the first round only.
- Attachment training and aquaculture courses.
The leech industry is new in our country. The Department of Fisheries is also drafting a Leech Farming Development Plan. The Leech Entrepreneurs Association (PELINTAH) Malaysia has been established in early 2009. The Deparment patronizes and also becomes the advisor to the association. Those who are interested in venturing into leech farming are encouraged to become members of PELINTAH. This association will help in terms of information as well as market opportunities. Please contact the Yang Dipertua of PELINTAH, Encik Ahmad Zulkifli Abd. Wahab at 012-6921 171.
The Department is actively promoting freshwater fish farming, especially Tilapia and Catfish. However, currently the Department does not have any publications or courses related to eel species breeding. We suggest you refer to the nearest District @ State Fisheries Office to obtain relevant information. You are also encouraged to contact the relevant offices by referring to the Department of Fisheries Malaysia website for the latest information as a guide.
Marine Fish Breeding
For those of you who are new to the marine fish breeding field, you need to attend the Marine Fish Stocking Course and Marine Fish Farming Course organized by the Department of Fisheries at the Marine Fish Production and Research Center, Tanjong Demong, Besut, Terengganu. Please visit the e-latihan on the Department of Fisheries website.
Before venturing into the industry/business of ornamental fish, you need to have information and knowledge in the biology of ornamental fish itself. The Department provides suitable courses for prospective entrepreneurs and information can be obtained on the website of the Department of Fisheries Malaysia. The course is held at the Enggor Ornamental Fish Centre, Kuala Kangsar, Perak. However, the Department only provides advisory services while bank loans can be applied at the nearest Agro Bank or any other bank.
If you want to export live fish from/to abroad, you need to have a license from the Fisheries Development Authority Malaysia (LKIM) before you can apply for a permit to import/export live fish from the Department of Fisheries through the e-permit system. A CITES permit is required if the species is listed on the CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) list.
Enclosed farming system in fiber glass boxes have not yet proven their effectiveness/viability. You are recommended to breed Giant Mud crabs in the following system:
- Mangrove pens;
- Earth ponds; or
- Integrated farming system in floating rafts for solid crabs/crabs growth and soft crabs
Seawater fish or marine fish can be farmed in tanks such as in cement tanks, fiber glass tanks and PE tanks with RAS system (Recirculating Aquaculture System). In this RAS system, marine fish are farmed intensively where water is drained throughout the rearing period, where water from the rearing tank is drained into a filter system consisting of physical filters such as sand filters, chemical filters such as protein scema and biological filters and finally this water will pass through ozone or ultra violet light before being recirculated into the rearing tank. This means that the water recirculated into the rearing tank is clean and safe for live fish. Farmed fish will be given formula feed and fertilizer fish. To understand the marine fish farming system in tanks, you can follow the Marine Fish Farming in Tanks Course at the Tanjung Demong Marine Fish Production and Research Center, Besut, Terengganu. Please call 09-6958 626 to get information related to the course and the breeding system.
The Department of Fisheries has an assistance programme under the Aquaculture Delivery and Support Services System (SPeKs). If you meet the criteria of the programme, you are eligible to receive fry assistance, food and support equipment for your farming. You are encouraged to register with the Department of Fisheries Malaysia prior to that. You can forward the application for assistance to the nearest Fisheries Office as it needs to go through the district level first, then the state before being forwarded to the headquarters level. You can contact the Fisheries offices by referring to the list of office locations on the Department of Fisheries Malaysia Website: https://www.dof.gov.my/en/contact-us/dof-district-office-location/. The Department of Fisheries also provides advisory services and courses to interested members of the public. Schedules and course applications can be found in the e-latihan system on the Department's official website as above. Currently, the Department is still planning to build collection centers by zone. This is because, the marketing of agricultural products is under FAMA. You are advised to look for your own markets such as restaurants and hotels where the prices offered are higher than those sold to middlemen.
You can contact the FAMA branch in your state to find the nearest agricultural product collection centre for the freshwater fish market. You can also obtain information on wholesalers or fishery products collecting agents from the District or State Fisheries Office at your project site.
Freshwater Fish Farming
To start an aquaculture project, you need to make sure of the following first:
- The selected land site is suitable for the type of breeding.
- The site must be close to a freshwater river.
- The type of system to be created; whether earth ponds, concrete tanks, cement tanks or pens.
- Adequate water supply for breeding rounds.
- Have a constant source of water.
Mahseer (Tor spp.) is a type of freshwater fish in the Cyprinidae family that inhabits upstream areas in the highlands that have clean water quality without pollution. This fish has not been farmed commercially because suitable farming methods have not been found. Every stocking project must be registered with the Department of Fisheries Malaysia. However, you can get more information from the nearest District or State Fisheries Office.
Market potential and commercialization of Freshwater Crayfish farming today
Freshwater Crayfish (Red Claw) or Blue Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) is a species native to Australia. It has an attractive color which is bluish and white speckled. This species is best suited to live in freshwater at a pH of 7. The mature size of this crayfish is in the range of 8 inches to 14 inches. It has been introduced worldwide as a pet species and also for the aquaculture industry. However, several studies have stated that these crayfish have had an unpleasant impact. Several studies in Australia have found the association of this Red Claw Crayfish culture with infectious diseases. For example, parasitic diseases such as Rikettsia are associated with infectious diseases to humans (Romero & Jimenez, 2002) and these parasites have been found in some Red Claw Crayfish farmed in Australia. In some other crayfish farms, viral infections resembling Parvoviridae have caused high mortality and this adds to concerns about the disease carried by this Red Claw Crayfish (Bowater et al, 2002). The Department basically takes the entry of the species seriously and precautions need to be taken to ensure that the species is not intrusive and becomes a predator to local species if it escapes into outer waters. This must be done to ensure that the freshwater crayfish species to be farmed are safe and not dangerous, does not dominate certain waters and threaten other local species. Therefore, operators who wish to bring in and run the farming must obtain official approval and the following conditions must be complied with:
- Approval to import live Red Claw is limited to Cherax quadricarinatus species for farming purposes only.
- Each consignment carrying Red Claw must be accompanied by a Health Certificate and also a Certificate of Origin issued by the Competent Authority of the exporting country.
- Only live Red Claw with a size of not less than 50 gm is allowed to be imported. Transportation for the female is not permitted. However, if there is a case of importation of Red Claw that exceeds the size of 50 gm, the importer must comply with quarantine procedures and provide relevant documents from the Competent Authority of the exporting country.
- Any activity involving Red Claw farming must obtain approval from the Department of Fisheries Malaysia. Any transportation of breed that involves transportation from one premise to another premise must also obtain permission from the Department of Fisheries Malaysia.
- Famers need to adopt a controlled farming system, including taking into account actions to prevent this species from escaping into public waters. Measures such as putting pens around farming areas and providing special areas as treatment ponds for wastewater are proposed.
- Any sale or movement of Red Claw species that live in the country must also obtain approval from the Department of Fisheries Malaysia.
- Farm premises and facilities provided for farming this species need to be monitored/inspected from time to time by the Department of Fisheries Malaysia to ensure that all guidelines are followed.
High value fish in the market
The Department of Fisheries has targeted Red Tilapia and Catfish as well as Giant Freshwater Prawn to be farmed throughout Malaysia. In addition to being easy to breed, this species are also relatively stable in the market. However, you can choose to breed other fish such as Silver Catfish, Hoven's Carp, Mahseer, River Catfish or other high value native fish. You can contact the State Fisheries Office in your area. Telephone numbers and addresses can be obtained from the website of the Department of Fisheries Malaysia.
Snakehead Murrel is a cannibal and territorial fish species. This indicates that it is not suitable for breeding in small reservoirs. The appropriate system is an earth pond. Stocking of fish in the pond is 5 fish per square meter. You can contact your local State Fisheries Office or the Aquaculture Development Center. Telephone numbers and addresses can be obtained from the website of the Department of Fisheries Malaysia.
Gourami Fry (Osphronemus goramy species)
To obtain Gourami fry, you can contact the freshwater supplier directory or contact the nearest State Fisheries Office. For your information, the fish is very easy to keep because it is resilient and eats all types of food.
Giant Mud Crab
Methods of Giant Mud Crab farming are:
- In the earth pond - for growth
- In the pen - for gowth
- In the cement tank - soft crab
- In the fiber glass tank - soft crab
Histamine poisoning in fish/aquaculture products in Malaysia
The Department of Fisheries conducts annual monitoring of the histamine content of pelagic fish catches through the Marine Sanitary and Phytosanitary Program (SPS Marin) and Hygiene On Board (HOB). Both of these programs are conducted annually for the needs of exports to the European Union. Generally, the histamine content in caught marine fish was as much as 30 ppm obtained from anchovy samples in Langkawi and budu (Anchovies sauce). Determination of histamine response in aquaculture products in Malaysia was not carried out because the presence factor of histamine only include fish from pelagic type. For more information, you can contact directly with the Fish and Public Health Branch, Fisheries Biosecurity Division, Department of Fisheries Malaysia. A detailed study of histamine content in fish was conducted by the MFFRD, Singapore. Written reports on the findings of the study can be obtained from the relevant parties.
Conditions and procedure of the movement of Arowana Fish from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah/Sarawak
Movement of Arowana from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah/Sarawak must be accompanied by the following documents:
- Certificate Of Origin from the Fisheries Biosecurity Unit, State Fisheries Office in the state of origin where the fish is farmed.
- Live fish transport permit issued by MAQIS.
- Fish business license issued by the Fisheries Development Authority Malaysia (LKIM). The Arowana must also be fitted with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) chip as listed in the Certificate of Origin.
Implementation of European’s Union (EU) Certification
Information on the certificates and conditions required at the hatchery level to meet EU requirements has been provided on the official website of the Department of Fisheries Malaysia. You can browse the Department's website and obtain information through the downloadable document of the Description Kit - Conditions and Procedure Requirements For Farm Approved for Export of Fish and Fishery Products to the European Union (EU) 2009. If you need more information, you can contact the State Fisheries Biosecurity Unit or the Fisheries Biosecurity Division, Headquarters of the Department of Fisheries Malaysia.
Breeding System in Malaysia
There are several breeding systems used to breed fish such as; ponds, cages, tanks and enclosures. Among the systems mentioned, cages are the most commonly used systems because there are many bodies of water whether rivers, lakes or sea waters. This system is used for both marine and freshwater fish species. Meanwhile, pen culture is rarely used for large/commercial scale breeding. It is only used by small operators either in lake areas or in shallow sea waters. This is because the enclosure structure of the net is installed all the way to the bed is different from the floating cage system. As for fish cages, apart from square cages, there are round cages with a large diameter, for example 18 - 20 meters. This system is used by commercial scale operators because it requires expensive equipment acquisition and breeding handling costs.
Suitable Soil for Arowana Farming
Suitable soil for Arowana farming is of sandy clay type (clay content 55% - 60%) and water supply throughout the year from natural sources such as hill water, rivers, dams and lakes. Water quality is as follows:
- Temperature 29 - 31 ° C
- pH 6.5 - 8.5
- Dissolved oxygen 5 ppm
- Alkalinity 60 -100 ppm CaCO3
- Hardness of 100 ppm
- Turbidity 30 cm and
- Ammonia 1 ppm
For the purpose of exporting products such as anchovies, you need to obtain an Exporter and Importer License from the Fisheries Development Authority Malaysia (LKIM). In this regard, you need to contact LKIM for the purpose of applying for the license.