Fish are raised commercially in one of four culture settings: open ponds, raceways, tanks, or cages. Cage culture of fish utilizes existing water resources but encloses the fish in a cage or basket which allows water to pass freely between the fish and the pond.
The origins of cage culture are a little vague. It is likely that the first cages were used by fishermen as holding structures until fish could be accumulated for market. The first true cages for producing fish were seemingly developed in Southeast Asia around the end of the last century. These early cages were constructed of wood or bamboo, and the fish were fed trash fish and food scraps.
Today cage culture is receiving more attention by both researchers and commercial producers. Factors such as increasing consumption of fish, some declining wild fish stocks, and a poor farm economy have produced a strong interest in fish production in cages. Many of America's small or limited resource farmers are looking for alternatives to traditional agricultural crops. Aquaculture appears to be a rapidly expanding industry and one that may offer opportunities even on a small scale. Cage culture also offers the farmer a chance to utilize existing water resources which in most cases have only limited use for other purposes.
As with any production scheme cage culture of fish has advantages and disadvantages that should be considered carefully before cage production becomes the chosen method. The article will present both advantages and disadvantages of cage culture.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Oklahoma State University.