Fish farming


Fish Farming or pisciculture involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures such as fish ponds, usually for food. It is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture. A facility that releases juvenile fish into the wild for recreational fishing or to supplement a species' natural numbers is generally referred to as a fish hatchery. Worldwide, the most important fish species produced in fish farming are carp, tilapia, salmon, and catfish.
Growth is limited by available food, commonly Zooplankton feeding on pelagic algae or benthic animals, such as crustaceans and mollusks. Tilapia filter feed directly on phytoplankton, which makes higher production possible. Photosynthetic production can be increased by fertilizing pond water with artificial fertilizer mixtures, such as potash, phosphorus, nitrogen, and microelements.
Aeration of the water is essential, as fish need a sufficient oxygen level for growth. This is achieved by bubbling, cascade flow, or aqueous oxygen. Clarias spp. can breathe atmospheric air and can tolerate much higher levels of pollutants than trout or salmon, which makes aeration and water purification less necessary and makes Clarias species especially suited for intensive fish production. In some Clarias farms, about 10% of the water volume can consist of fish biomass.
Very-high-intensity recycle aquaculture systems (RAS), where all the production parameters are controlled, are being used for high-value species. By recycling water, little is used per unit of production. However, the process has high capital and operating costs. The higher cost structures mean that RAS is economical only for high-value products, such as broodstock for egg production, fingerlings for net pen aquaculture operations, sturgeon production, research animals, and some special niche markets such as live fish.
Cage farming of fishes in open seas is also gaining in popularity. Given concerns of disease, poaching, poor water quality, etc., generally pond systems are considered simpler to start and easier to manage. Also, the past occurrences of cage-failures leading to escapes, have raised concern regarding the culture of non-native fish species in dam or open-water cages. On August 22, 2017, there was a massive failure of such cages at a commercial fishery in Washington state in Puget Sound, leading to release of nearly 300,000 Atlantic salmon in non-native waters. This is believed to risk endangering the native Pacific salmon species.
Copper-zinc brass alloys are deployed in commercial-scale aquaculture operations in Asia, South America, and the USA (Hawaii). Extensive research, including demonstrations and trials, are being implemented on two other copper alloys: copper-nickel and copper-silicon. Each of these alloy types has an inherent ability to reduce biofouling, cage waste, disease, and the need for antibiotics, while simultaneously maintaining water circulation and oxygen requirements. Other types of copper alloys are also being considered for research and development in aquaculture operations.
One problem with such composite fish culture is that many of these fish breed only during monsoon. Even if fish are collected from the wild, they can be mixed with other species, as well. So, a major problem in fish farming is the lack of availability of good-quality stock. To overcome this problem, ways have now been worked out to breed these fish in ponds using hormonal stimulation. This has ensured the supply of pure fish stock in desired quantities.
The tank water is slowly circulated to the hydroponic beds, where the tilapia waste feeds commercial plant crops. Carefully cultured microorganisms in the hydroponic bed convert ammonia to nitrates, and the plants are fertilized by the nitrates and phosphates. Other wastes are strained out by the hydroponic media, which double as an aerated pebble-bed filter.
However, if the farm is correctly placed in an area with a strong current, the 'pollutants' are flushed out of the area fairly quickly. Not only does this help with the pollution problem, but water with a stronger current also aids in overall fish growth. Concern remains that resultant bacterial growth strips the water of oxygen, reducing or killing off the local marine life. Once an area has been so contaminated, the fish farms are moved to new, uncontaminated areas. This practice has angered nearby fishermen.