Choosing the best aquaculture system for your needs depends on what you hope to get out of your system. Pond and cage systems are appropriate for small and large-scale farms looking to supplement their income. A large-scale production looking to grow fish year-round would benefit from a recirculating aquaculture system.
An aquaculture system is a technique for farming fish. Aquaculture has been around for thousands of years and is used throughout the world. For much of its history, aquaculture has been confined to the pond system, which allows for the growth of fish in small manmade or naturally occurring ponds. This system can be run on a small scale, in which fingerling fish are added and mature fish are removed on a continuous basis. Though there is not a large harvest in this type of system, small numbers of fish can be collected throughout the year, and this is an excellent system for a family looking to supplement its diet.
A large-scale pond aquaculture system is an option for farmers looking to add fish to an already established farm. Small, natural ponds can be used, or ponds can be created. This is a relatively inexpensive type of system to start up, though it does require a large amount of land.
In pond systems, the water needs to be monitored daily for temperature and the level of dissolved oxygen. An aeration system can be used to add oxygen to a pond. The potenz hydrogen (pH) and ammonia levels also need to be checked weekly, and ponds need to be drained every year or two to remove organic debris.
Cage farming is a good choice for a farmer looking for an additional seasonal income, and maintenance is easy, provided that there is ready access to an existing body of water. In the cage aquaculture system, cages are floated in lakes and stocked with fingerling fish. The bottom of the cage must rest at least 2 feet (0.6 m) above the bottom of the lake, though deeper water provides better circulation.
Though the lake water circulates through the cages, oxygen levels still must be checked daily, and caged fish do benefit from an aerator. Algae and other debris must be cleaned out periodically, and cages should be checked regularly to ensure that they are in good repair. Wildlife can also be a problem in cage systems, so cages will need to be protected from birds or mammals that might try to eat the fish.
For an advanced farmer looking to grow fish throughout the year, an indoor or outdoor recirculating aquaculture system can be used. This system is by far the most technically advanced, and it is quite expensive to start up but yields a large amount of fish and gives the farmer control over all aspects of the farming process. In a recirculating system, water quality is key. Water must be cleaned of solid waste through the use of a settling basin, drum filter or other filtration device. Fish also produce liquid waste that must be removed from the system through the use of a bio filter.
Water must be continually moving in this type of aquaculture system, and back-up systems are absolutely necessary because fish can begin to die after only 30 minutes in stagnant water. All aspects of water quality must be checked daily, and most systems also require adding water because of loss from evaporation. Fish in this system are easy to harvest and are produced year-round, which makes it economical over time.