Features of a Class A Bangus Pond

By | September 23, 2022

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Features of a Class A Bangus Pond

Last week, I got invited to the weekend rest house of a cousin located in a Class A fishpond. It’s a two-hectare property situated in Binmaley, Pangasinan near the Manat Bridge along the Basing River bank.

My cousin and her spouse work and reside in Metro Manila. They visit and attend to their ponds during weekends.

The original property was less than two hectares. A significant amount of clearing, excavation and landfill, and dike building were done before the property became productive as a Class A fishpond.

Through land filling, area was reclaimed on which to build a small concrete house next to the river. A small bamboo shed at the other end of the property was built and serves as living quarters for the caretaker.

A small concrete weekend rest house; Basing River at the background
Rearing pond (farther pond in backgroound) – also see the caretaker’s stilt shed at the end of the pond; smaller transition/rearing pond in foreground

Other improvements made were: (a) metered water supply (b) electric service connection (c) perimeter lighting (d)  concrete main gate for water exchange and control of tidal water for the ponds (e) another concrete gate for the transition/rearing pond (f) a 16 hp diesel water pump with stainless steel hose – installed at the main gate (g) additional digging work and dike construction for a smaller rearing/transition pond (h) reinforcement and strengthening of earth dikes next to the river (i) net protection for the main gate.

Concrete main gate for the main rearing pond; see the angled stainless steel hose attached to a water pump
Concrete gate at the smaller transition/rearing pond
Electric post for perimeter lighting
Net protection for the main gate inside the main rearing pond

Closer view of cement gate with retractable door; see other end of stainless steel hose connected to a water pump

Lately, (a) additional landfill work to create space for a storage shack and extra yard space and (b) building of reinforced wall beside river were undertaken around the house. My cousin also bought a small adjacent pond to be used as nursery for raising bangus fingerlings.

Reinforced concrete wall for erosion control and against wave action being built next to the Basing River
Bangus are almost of same sizes as can be seen in the rearing pond feeding area; when harvested later, the size of the bangus will be almost uniform

The property consists of: (a) one large main grow-out pond (b) a much smaller transition/rearing pond (c) and 2 nursery ponds.

Unique features of a Class A (or first class) fish farm that gives it a premium over Class B and C ponds are:

1. Located next to a river – The property is situated at the bank right next to the Basing River. This is the key feature (location) that gives this type of ponds the highest class status among bangus farms. The brackish river water is the prime source of water of the Class A pond.

2. Continuous water exchange – A Class A pond benefits from the regular water exchange through the ebb and flow of the tides. It is watered during high tide. Draining occurs during low tides. It has the ability to readily clean up pond water when there is a danger of water quality deteriorating, or if there is “tangok” (fish stress due to insufficient dissolved oxygen content of the pond water).

A fish farm can also be classified as Class A when it has exclusive use of a short supply canal that draws water from a creek that is in turn connected to a main river. However, the canal should be maintained constantly and dredged at least once a year to make sure that tidal waters flow in and out of the ponds.

3. Higher stocking density – it can support a higher stocking density of bangus under a semi-intensive culture. With one meter of depth, it can accommodate 8,000 to 10,000 fingerlings per hectare that feed on natural food during the first 45 to 60 days and on commercial feeds thereafter. When dissolved oxygen is low, my cousin runs the water pump installed at the main gate to pump in water and serve as aerator.

4. More uniform bangus sizes – during grow-out, sizes of adult bangus tend to be more uniform and their rate of growth does not vary as much as those in a closed system Class C pond. As a result, during harvest, average size of bangus tends to be bigger, total number of kilos of bangus sold is higher – means higher peso sales for the fish farm operator/owner.

5. More conducive pond environment for raising prawns in polyculture with bangus – Survival rate for tiger prawns is much higher when raised in a Class A pond compared to say, Class C (a closed system) pond. Hence Class A ponds generate greater profit potential (higher bangus sales plus prawn sales) per square meter compared to lower class ponds.

6. Easier method of harvesting – Depending on the size of the rearing or grow-out pond and pond layout, method of harvesting for Class A ponds can be through total draining, “pasubang“, or use of haul seine net (“kalokor“). If all the bangus stock and prawns are to be taken out, then total draining is done during low tide. Or alternatively bangus can be harvested using “pasubang” (method of catching bangus by netting selectively the fish swimming against the current during inflow of water). 

In a closed system Class C pond, such as mine, we have to wait for the water level to recede in the dry season (March or April) before we can do total draining (“limas”). Else, if the water level is still high, we need to spend more for diesel fuel and water pump rental (due to longer hours) to drain out the water. This will not be cost-effective, so we might as well wait for the dry months. 

Usual method of harvesting bangus in lower class ponds is by haul seine net (“kalokor”). But then, you can’t take out all your stock (bangus, tilapia, and prawns) using this method. In these types of ponds, when total draining is resorted to during dry months, “kalokor” is done first to take out most of the bangus and tilapia. The rest of the fish and the prawns are hand picked after the water is totally drained out. 

For more details on harvesting through pond draining (“limas”) click this.

7. Better pond preparation – adequate sun drying of the pond can be done readily by the fish farmer and there is enough time to clean, level, and plow the pond bottom. You can also have enough time to build a diagonal canal to help you in your harvesting. After that the usual pest and predator control (using tobacco dust and/or tea seed), liming (if needed), spreading of chicken manure and inorganic fertilizers can adequately be done.

In my case as a Class C pond operator, I wish I had more time to sun dry my pond and plow my pond bottom. But no, to my dismay, water quickly creeps in within a day or even a few hours. So I just had to be content with pest control, liming, fertilization.

8. Presence of wild extraneous (non-bangus) fish varieties – These fish come in from the river and are captured in the confinement net near the main inlet gate. They provide miscellaneous income for both the pond operator and his caretaker. Extraneous fish are harvested at the same time as the regular bangus harvest. Proceeds of the sale of extraneous fish are usually shared equally between the owner and caretaker.

Confinement area for extraneous fish (foreground); main gate at end
Confinement area for extraneous fish outside of the main gate with view of the Basing River

 9. Use of river transport for harvest and supplies – After harvesting, bangus and other fish are brought to the Dagupan fish center by motorized boat. Use of boat is more efficient as it can load much more quantity of harvest through a shorter, more direct route to the Dagupan fish center, compared to land transport. Bulk supplies such as feeds, chicken manure, fertilizers, etc. are also brought in by boat.

In the case of this Class A fish farm, the hired boat loaded with bangus traverses the Basing River and docks right beside the Dagupan (Magsaysay market ) fish center specifically at the Pantal river bank. Some “consignacion” owners (brokers) are situated next to the river bank. Newly arrived tubs from the boat quickly undergo bangus sorting as to size. If the “consignacion” is situated further down the building, these are loaded into carts and brought into the consignacion’s assigned stall.

Harvesting is done by at least 15 workers who are all expected to accompany the catch in the boat on the way to the fish center. The 15 workers are divided into 3 groups – those who stock the bangus in tubs (“banyera”), those who count the bangus prior to selling, those who pull the loaded tubs from the boat into the embankment over a plank.

Class A ponds can be leased at Php 40,000 to 50,000 a year. For those interested in buying a Class A pond, current going rate in our municipality is Php P150 (US$ 2.90) per square meter or even less. 

For the complete list of Fish Pond Buddy blog posts on fish farm-related topics, please click the Index page.