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What Is a Fish Hatchery?

By J.Gunsch
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments
By submariner — On Jul 19, 2010

I used to live in Vermont and there were a few trout fish farms. These hatcheries raised different species of trout, like rainbow and brown, to use for stocking the states streams and lakes. These hatcheries insured that the fly-fishing in Vermont was always great.

By cougars — On Jul 19, 2010

Another fish farming technique is fish ranching. Fish ranchers collect fish from the wild to raise in pens. This technique is very destructive because it concentrates large amounts of waste into a small ecologically sensitive area. All of the antibiotics, extra feed, and waste sink to the bottom and kill many of the other organisms present in the area.

The ranchers are also culling schools of fish, taking only the young fish. This would be similar to hunters only taking baby animals, and leaving the mature animals in the wild. This decimates fish populations at a faster rate than if fish were harvested as full-grown adults in the wild. Farm raised tuna is often raised in this fashion.

By istria — On Jul 19, 2010

Fish hatcheries are an important part of sustainable aquaculture fish farming. Fish farms that use non-carnivorous fish raised from fry in hatcheries have less of an environmental impact. They do not require feed made from other wild harvested fish.

Hatchery raised fish are also raised in a closed environment. Farmers have more control of environmental impacts from fish farming when they raise the fish in a closed environment. Farmers can regulate water contamination, spread of disease, and habitat destruction.

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