Bostock J, Albalat A, Bunting S, Turner WA, Mensah AD & Little DC (2022) Mixed-sex Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) can perform competitively with mono-sex stocks in cage production. Aquaculture, 557, Art. No.: 738315. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2022.738315
All-male tilapia stocks are widely used by farmers to supply both domestic and international markets with homogenous, large sized fish (500 g+). While a number of strategies are possible, hormonal treatment of fry with 17α-methyltestosterone (MT) is the most common method used by commercial farmers due to its low cost and ease of application. However, contrasting to its current widespread use the implications of MT in tilapia farming have raised concerns especially from public and environmental perspectives. Therefore, in this study we tested the impact of stocking a mixed-sex fast growing strain of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) fry at high density and then grading out females at 4 or 8 weeks intervals during grow-out and compared final production with a standard MT-treated mono-sex system. From a production perspective, the strategies to remove females at 4 or 8 weeks were successful as no differences in harvest weight, survival and feed conversion rate were observed when compared to the MT-treated group. Similarly, no differences at harvest were obtained in terms of external appearance, Fulton's condition factor, gonadosomatic index, fillet yield, fat-somatic index and visceral-somatic index (%) between MT-monosex group and the groups where females were removed (4 or 8 weeks). However, a financial analysis of this approach showed that the additional costs (fry, feed and labour) involved in the mixed-sex strategy resulted in lower profits. This could be mitigated if a proportion of the removed females could be sold at a premium price as potential broodstock. In the model presented, sales of 13% of the removed females for broodfish at current Thai prices, or a premium of at least 8% for non-sex-reversed final product would be sufficient for the mixed-sex system to return a higher profit than the mono-sex system. The latter strategy could also enable further social licence through use of small fish in nutritional and outgrower initiatives.
Oreochromis niloticus; Aquaculture systems; Hormonal; Quality; Bioeconomic modelling; Thailand
Aquaculture: Volume 557