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Green Mussel Farming in the Philippines

Green mussel farming in the Philippines is widely distributed all over the country due to the economic importance of tahong and in this article, we will discuss how to grow tahong for profit.

The Green Mussel

The Philippine green mussel (Perna viridis), also called green shell in Visayas and Mindanao, and tahong in Tagalog, or Asian green mussel, is an economically important mussel, a bivalve belonging to the family Mytilidae. It is harvested for food but is also known to harbor toxins and cause damage to submerged structures such as drainage pipes. It is native to the Asia-Pacific region but has been introduced in the Caribbean, and in the waters around Japan, North America, and South America.

Perna viridis ranges from 80 to 100 millimeters (3 to 4 in) in length and may occasionally reach 165 millimeters (6 in). Its shell ends in a downward-pointing beak. The smooth periostracum is dark green, becoming increasingly brownish towards its point of attachment (umbo), where it is lighter. Younger mussels are bright green and that becomes darker as it ages. The shell’s interior has a pale-blue sheen. The mussel has a large mobile foot which it uses to climb vertically should it be covered by sediments. It also produces byssus to help it attach to its substrate.

Perna canaliculus and Perna perna are two similar species, native to the waters of New Zealand and Africa respectively.

In Western Visayas, tahong is not a common name for this green mussel. It is called the green shell, hence there is another species called tahong, the Modiolus philippinarum, or the Philippine horse mussel. If you ask for tahong in Bacolod and Iloilo, you would likely get the brown Philippine horse mussel instead of the green mussel.

green mussel farming
Green Mussel image credit Hatchery International

Tahong Farming

Green mussel farming is similar to oyster farming (talaba). In fact, most green shell farms also grow oysters because the two kinds of seafood share the same habitat.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) provided complete documentation on green mussel farming that can be found here but some new techniques have been introduced recently.

To start a green mussel farm, you need at least P60,000 as start-up capital, and of course, a space in the sea. The ideal depth of water to grow tahong is 5 to 8 feet during high tide and at least 1 foot during low tide.

The majority of your capital will go to the cost of bamboo, nets, and labor as you need several people to build the farm during low tide.

The seed (small mussels) can be both from other farmers or can be sourced from other fishermen who consider green mussels as pests in their oyster farms or fish cages. If there are no available seeds to buy, you can also buy mature mussels from other farm owners during their harvest. These adult mussels will reproduce once transferred to your farm.

Harvesting of Green Shell

Harvesting of the green shells can be done every 4 to 6 months. During the harvest, chose only those that are big enough to market and leave the smaller ones. You can pick them on the succeeding harvests. Some of them will mature and will reproduce so you don’t need to buy seeds anymore. Once you start harvesting, you will only stop doing it once your farm structure is destroyed so regular maintenance of the farm structure is also needed for long-term farming. Usually, a bamboo green mussel farm can last for 2 years without major maintenance but can last up to 10 years if you do regular replacements of broken and rotten parts.

Green Mussel Profitability

Your first harvest is always small but you can expect that the succeeding harvest will grow bigger due to the reproduction of the shells. A P60,000 investment can give you a net income of P50,000 in your first year of gaming and in the next year, you could make P80,000 from the same farm with the average farmgate price of P90/kg. If the price is higher, especially if you are in Luzon, you can make more than P80,000. Most farmers continue to extend their structure allowing more mussels to grow. If you are directly selling your harvest at the public market, you can make up to P150/kg.

Some Questions Related to Green Mussel

How long do farmed mussels take to grow?

Green mussels grow faster than other species and mussel farmers usually start harvesting within 4 to 6 months.

Are green mussels farm-raised?

Green mussels are farmed in the Philippines but some are also harvested from the wild.

Can green mussels grow in freshwater?

Green mussels can only live in saltwater but there are also many species of freshwater mussels that live in either freshwater or brackish waters.

How do you propagate Tahong?

Green shell propagates and reproduces on their own given their natural habitat and good farming practices.

How do we farm green mussels?

Collect baby mussel seed on ropes near the shore. The seed goes into a sock around a long rope. On the water, the sock with the rope is connected to buoys, dropped into the water, and left to grow in the ocean for at least 4 months.

Where in the Philippines can green mussels mostly be cultured?

Mussel farming is being done on a commercial scale in Manila Bay, Bacoor Bay (Cavite), Sapian Bay (Capiz) and Maqueda Bay (Samar). Production of green mussels has increased since the early 1980s with the highest annual production of 26,154 MT in 1985 and an average annual growth rate of 84%.

What is mussel farming Philippine style?

The process involves the setting of artificial collectors on poles or horizontal structures built over or near the natural spawning grounds of the shellfish. In the Philippines, this is called the hanging method of mussel farming. The different variations used are as follows: Hanging method.

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