Fish farming 101: everything you need to know about raising fish for food

In order to successfully raise fish for food, it’s important to have the right equipment and a solid understanding of the fundamentals of fish farming. Fortunately, there are several straightforward steps you can take that will give you everything you need to know about raising fish for food, from planning your project to maintaining optimal conditions in your fish farm as well as selling your products at market when they’re ready. Fish farming 101: everything you need to know about raising fish for food .


The history of fish farming

Fish farming has been around since at least 2000 B.C., when ancient civilizations began cultivating fish in enclosed ponds. The practice later became popular in Eastern countries, including Japan and China. It wasn’t until recently that Western countries picked up on it; now many European countries are rapidly developing aquaculture programs. Why? Well, primarily because of concerns over dwindling supplies of wild-caught seafood. Today, there are more than 40 species of farmed fish (including salmon, trout and tilapia) available in U.S. markets.

Aquaculture is a method of producing aquatic organisms such as fish or shellfish by raising them under controlled conditions in an artificial environment. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, often with integrated multi-species systems designed to produce plants or animals for human consumption.


Why raise fish?

Raising fish at home can be a great way to experience what it’s like to farm on a small scale. Whether as part of a business or simply as a hobby, it can also provide fresh and affordable protein for your family. Learning how to raise fish also provides an excellent opportunity for kids, as long as they’re old enough not to swallow any of their aquatic charges! For example, tilapia are one of the easiest fish to raise in captivity. They grow quickly, are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions and can even tolerate being handled (although handling them will stress them out). These qualities make tilapia well-suited for beginning aquaculturists who want some experience with live stock before jumping into more advanced projects such as breeding freshwater prawns or raising trout.


How are they grown?

There are two main ways that fish are raised for food. In fresh water ponds, and saltwater ponds. There is also specialized marine farms where salmon, halibut and other prized fish are grown under controlled conditions in land-based tanks or net pens anchored offshore. See more in How to start a Fish farm (2017). What kind of fish can be farmed?: The most common types of farmed fish include carp, catfish, tilapia, trout and salmon. Some species have been genetically modified to grow faster than their wild counterparts. Farmed shellfish include oysters, clams and mussels. Other popular types of seafood that can be farmed include crab, shrimp and lobster. See more in How to Start a Fish Farm (2017). Where are they farmed?: Most aquaculture operations are located near large bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and oceans. Farms close to population centers often use recirculating systems to reduce environmental impact. Offshore operations may raise fish from floating cages or by anchoring nets on buoys over deep waters. Many inland freshwater facilities use manmade lakes or rivers that have been dammed specifically for aquaculture purposes.


What do they eat?

One of the first things that comes to mind when people think of a farm is rows upon rows of animals munching on grass and hay. That might be a traditional example, but it’s not really accurate. Fish require their own specialized diets; these are different based on what they eat in nature, how they live in captivity and even what country they call home. There are many types of diets available, so consulting an expert is important if you want your fish happy and healthy. However, there are some basic rules of thumb to follow. First, provide a balanced diet with all necessary nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids (the good kind), proteins and carbohydrates. Second, feed only as much as your fish can consume within 10 minutes—not more or less—to avoid overfeeding and potential health problems like bacterial infections. Third, keep water temperature consistent between 70°F-80°F (21°C-27°C) and use dechlorinated water for best results. Finally, remember that feeding schedules vary from species to species and depend on whether you have juveniles or adults in your tank. Consult a professional before making any changes to your feeding schedule.

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