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According to some experts, aquaculture began on a small scale in ancient Egypt, China, and Japan in about 2,500 B.C. and became established in the U.S. in the mid-1850s A.D.—more than 4,000 years later. The tools used in aquaculture have evolved and continue to evolve as technology changes. Some of the different types of aquaculture products reflect these changes, but some, like nets and reed cages, remain almost the same. Some aquaculture products are specific for certain types of fish farming, although many are standard. There are many different types of aquaculture products.
Hatchery products include hatchery supplies, such as graduated cylinders for counting eggs and small fish, called fry. Breeders use plastic egg tweezers when handling the fish roe, and they use pipettes, or siphons, when moving larger quantities of eggs. Usually the eggs hatch in special trays or bottles.
Fish-raising equipment includes a wide variety of products, often specialized, depending upon the type of fish or seafood. Some aqua farmers raise the aquatic livestock in natural environments, such as ponds, rivers, or oceans, while others use tanks. In either type of environment, the livestock is bred, reared, and fattened for harvest.
Tanks may be circular, rectangular, or conical and need circulation pumps to keep the water moving through sanitation filters. Fish sewage management generates a need for products that test the water quality, such as oxygen meters, thermometers to regulate water temperature, and pH testing equipment. Tank fisheries also need to install aerators and water purifiers.
Ponds for aquaculture may be natural or constructed. Aquaculture products for pond construction may include sluices or locks, aerators, and pond drains, called monks. Workers often use special rakes or scythes to clean unwanted algae from the ponds. For large ponds, aqua farmers use mowing boats to remove underwater weed growth.
Both tanks and ponds leave the fish exposed to dangers, and many products deal with this problem. There are different sized and shaped traps for catching predators like eel, crayfish, and muskrats. Bird scarers and bird protection nets are usually successful at warding off herons, storks, and other predatory birds. Birds may cause a major monetary setback for aqua farmers. When birds fish, they can injure fish, agitate the fish and disturb their breeding, and traumatize the fish, as well as spread disease and parasites in the pond.
Another important aquaculture product is the feed dispenser. Typically, there are two different types, pendulum-operated and electronic. The pendulum-operated dispenser does not need any power source. The fish activate it by touching the pendulum, which causes it to rock and dispense the food. The second kind needs electricity to run and generally dispenses the food on a timer. There are many types of electronic dispensers, including the sprinkler, shaker, and helix-drive types.
Aqua farmers need many different categories of products to harvest their livestock and process it for market. From removing the fish from the fattening arenas to processing and shipping, the fish pass through several staging areas. Each of these areas has specialized equipment, such as fish counters, fillet machines, and vacuum sealers, to aid the workers.
Many aquaculture products are a combination of time-tested devices, such as hand nets, and new innovations. One of the areas where this is most evident is in power plants for the aqua farm. There has been a resurgence in wind-powered generators, such as windmills. On the modern side, solar panels provide energy for some aqua farms. Aquaculture products are becoming more energy efficient and more environmentally responsible.