Fish farming

Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture. Fish farming involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures, usually for food. A facility that releases young (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 used in fish farming are carp, salmon, tilapia and catfish. There is an increasing demand for fish and fish protein, which has resulted in widespread overfishing in wild fisheries. Fish farming offers fish marketers another source. However, farming carnivorous fish, such as salmon, does not always reduce pressure on wild fisheries, since carnivorous farmed fish are usually fed fishmeal and fish oil extracted from wild forage fish. In this way, the salmon can consume in weight more wild fish than they weigh themselves. The global returns for fish farming recorded by the FAO in 2008 totalled 33.8 million tonnes worth about $US 60 billion. Extensive aquaculture Aqua-Boy, a Norwegian live fish carrier used to service the Marine Harvest fish farms on the West coast of Scotland Limiting for growth here is the available food supply by natural sources, commonly zooplankton feeding on pelagic algae or benthic animals, such as crustaceans and mollusks. Tilapia species filter feed directly on phytoplankton, which makes higher production possible. The photosynthetic production can be increased by fertilizing the pond water with artificial fertilizer mixtures, such as potash, phosphorus, nitrogen and micro-elements. Because most fish are carnivorous, they occupy a higher place in the trophic chain and therefore only a tiny fraction of primary photosynthetic production (typically 1%) will be converted into harvest-able fish. Another issue is the risk of algal blooms. When temperatures, nutrient supply and available sunlight are optimal for algal growth, algae multiply their biomass at an exponential rate, eventually leading to an exhaustion of available nutrients and a subsequent die-off. The decaying algal biomass will deplete the oxygen in the pond water because it blocks out the sun and pollutes it w th organic and inorganic solutes (such as ammonium ions), which can (and frequently do) lead to massive loss of fish. An alternate option is to use a wetland system such as that of Veta La Palma. In order to tap all available food sources in the pond, the aquaculturist will choose fish species which occupy different places in the pond ecosystem, e.g., a filter algae feeder such as tilapia, a benthic feeder such as carp or catfish and a zooplankton feeder (various carps) or submerged weeds feeder such as grass carp. Despite these limitations significant fish farming industries use these methods. In the Czech Republic thousands of natural and semi-natural ponds are harvested each year for trout and carp. The large ponds around Trebon were built from around 1650 and are still in use. In these kinds of systems fish production per unit of surface can be increased at will, as long as sufficient oxygen, fresh water and food are provided. Because of the requirement of sufficient fresh water, a massive water purification system must be integrated in the fish farm. A clever way to achieve this is the combination of hydroponic horticulture and water treatment, see below. The exception to this rule are cages which are placed in a river or sea, which supplements the fish crop with sufficient oxygenated water. Some environmentalists object to this practice. The cost of inputs per unit of fish weight is higher than in extensive farming, especially because of the high cost of fish feed, which must contain a much higher level of protein (up to 60%) than cattle food and a balanced amino acid composition as well. However, these higher protein level requirements are a consequence of the higher food conversion efficiency (FCRЧkg of feed per kg of animal produced) of aquatic animals. Fish like salmon have FCR's in the range of 1.1 kg of feed per kg of salmon[citation needed] whereas chickens are in the 2.5 kg of feed per kg of chicken range. Fish don't have to stand up or keep warm and this eliminates a lot of carbohydrates and fats in the diet, required to provide this energy. This frequently is offset by the lower land costs and the higher productions which can be obtained due to the high level of input control.