A fish hatchery is a facility designed to raise fish. It provides an optimum environment for fish eggs to develop and hatch by maintaining proper water temperature and oxygen levels, and providing adequate food supplies and safety from predators. A hatchery works to raise baby fish and prepare them for release in another environment for various reasons, as well as for food.
Water environments that may be adequate for adult fish may not be sufficient for breeding, fish eggs and hatchlings. Any number of environmental factors can cause adults to become infertile. Fish eggs and baby fish are a favorite food for some predators like frogs, turtles and other fish. Some adult fish even eat smaller fish and eggs of their own species. Hatcheries resolve these problems.
One purpose of a fish hatchery is to raise a certain kind of fish in order to stock a lake or pond for fishing. Certain types of fish, such as trout and salmon, are favorites among fisherman. Sometimes, in a popular fishing hole, the fish are harvested too quickly to allow them to breed and grow. A hatchery provides a safe haven until the fish are mature enough to be caught.
Another reason that a certain fish may be raised in a fish hatchery is for environmental conservation. Every animal has its place in the ecosystem. Sometimes, human activity makes it impossible for fish to breed or causes them to disappear from a body of water altogether. A hatchery can reintroduce mature, healthy fish to a previously inhabited body of water where they will maintain the ecosystem by doing their part in the food chain.
A fish hatchery may also be used to farm fish for human food consumption. Hatching and raising fish for food has many advantages for humans and the environment. First, because of pollution, many wild fish are contaminated with dangerous pollutants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Consuming these pollutants is hazardous to human heath. Farm raised fish contain lower levels of contaminants, which helps to reduce this risk. Raising fish in a hatchery also helps to relieve the environmental pressures in an area due to over-fishing.
For people’s aesthetic pleasure, a fish hatchery can raise fish such as koi or other carp and goldfish to be released into private or garden ponds. Ornamental pond fish are hatched and cared for, then sold to consumers at garden centers and pet stores. Similar to pond fish, tropical fish for aquariums can also be raised in a hatchery.