By Rossea H. Ledesma
A new species of mudworm, known to clean the soil in fishponds, was recently identified and named after Iloilo, the province where its eggs were collected and hatched.
Now called Marphysa iloiloensis, eggs of this mudworm, locally referred to as ulod-ulod, were collected by Mary Anne Mandario, an Ilongga and an associate researcher of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC).
Mandario said she collected the eggs, encapsulated in “jelly cocoons,” from SEAFDEC’s fishponds in Dumangas and transported them to SEAFDEC’s Polychaete Hatchery in Tigbauan where they were hatched and grown to adult size.
The new species was listed in the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) in September 2019 after it was confirmed distinct from other mudworms with help from Australian taxonomist Dr. Christopher Glasby and his team.
Mandario has been studying mudworms, commonly found in fishponds and coastal mangrove wetlands, for their ability to eat decomposed feed from aquaculture and for their potential as food for crab and shrimp breeders.
“Several studies have shown that polychaetes when used as feed could improve the reproductive performance of crustacean broodstock,” she said.
Mandario is currently developing a mass production technique for M. iloiloensis at SEAFDEC that hopes to promote their use as supplemental diet for shrimp and crab breeders.
She also added that the development of a reliable culture technique for this species will lessen dependence on wild stocks as well as attain a disease-free and sustainable supply of mudworm for aquaculture use.
“This is a promising study that could help boost the production of healthy crablets and shrimp postlarvae and at the same time help clean the culture environment,” said Dan Baliao, chief of SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department.