MANILA – As what its name denotes, the Weather Loach or Dojo fish in layman’s term can predict impending bad weather as affirmed by the chief of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) research center in Dagupan City.
Westly Rosario said the Weather Loach “is very agitated if there is aberration of weather like typhoons or rains,” as he added that the fish is sensitive to barometric pressure, which causes it to become restless before the onset of inclement weather.
The Weather Loach was introduced in the Philippines before the World War II along with the so-called Japanese snails as food staple of Japanese soldiers. But the Dojo was accepted as a fish species in the Cordilleras because it is cold tolerant.
In the past, the Weather Loach was abundant in the Cordilleras and the Japanese set up buying stations in Banaue.
Scientifically known as Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, the Weather Loach can survive long periods in very shallow water or even out of water and tend to be active in the evening due to the cold temperature.
The Dojo is about 13 centimeters long and thrives in rivers and swamps in the Cordilleras. “It’s like an eel, but it’s not an eel” said Rosario.
Today, the fish is very popular in Japan and Korea where it is priced even as high as P6,000 per kilo.
According to the research chief, a problem in natural population in Korea and Japan emerged because of the advancement of agriculture, particularly in the use of fertilizer and pesticide.
In the Philippines, the fish increased in number, but it did not last long; also because of fertilizer and pesticide use,” he further noted.
To keep an eye on the lack of sufficient fry for aquaculture, the BFAR research center conducted an experiment to breed Dojo using the technique in catfish breeding and the agency succeeded.
The center then developed the Dojo hatchery protocol in 1999 and in 2002 the hatchery started the production of fry.