Monday, September 7, 2015


In another post, we talked about hydroponics. Hydroponics is when you grow plants without soil. Instead of getting nutrients from the soil, they get nutrients when the operator adds fertilizer into the water. Another way to use a container in order to grow food is with animals like fish.

Aquaculture vs Aquariums vs Wildlife


If fish are grown in a container with the purpose of harvesting, it is called aquaculture. It is treated very similarly to an aquarium but these fish are meant to be eaten. In an aquarium, the fish are meant to be seen and be visually appealing. Their main purpose is simply as a decoration. They are fed, cleaned, and talked to as a pet. An aquaculture system can be treated just like an aquarium but, in the end, the fish or shrimp or other aquatic organism is eaten. Most people don't want to eat little Nemo, their pet goldfish. So if you set up an aquaculture system, maybe you shouldn't get too attached.


You may have caught fish out of a pond or a lake. These fish aren't pets. Their waste (or poop) is cleaned naturally. They have bugs, plants, and even other fish to eat. The plants in a pond are natural cleaners of water. They use the goop and poop as fertilizer. A big difference between aquaculture and wild fish is that the wild fish in a pond or lake are cared for naturally while the fish in an aquaculture system are cared for by the fish farmers.

In aquaculture, the fish are more carefully cared for. The fish are fed and cleaned by the farmer so that the fish are as healthy as possible.


Aquaculture is somewhere in between wild fish and aquarium fish. They are cared for but the visual appeal is typically not as important as the taste and condition of the fish. There is a system that is a bit more complex but typically more efficient than just aquaculture. We will learn about that type of system in another article.

Pros and Cons

There are some obvious benefits to aquaculture. Being able to grow food in a more controlled environment is easier. There are also some drawbacks too. Below is a graphic that shows how keeping fish in one place for a long period may harm the local ecosystem of and ocean or a pond. Some systems (like a locally owned operation) grows the fish in huge swimming-pool-sized tanks which allows them to clean the system more easily and it doesn't affect an ecosystem in the same way as the picture below.

Buildup of excess food and fish waste can turn into a problem over time

This is an example of what an outdoors aquaculture system may look like.

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