Colourful creatures surface in aquaculture

Alex Whitebrook/ February 2, 2018/ News/ 0 comments

As a marine biologist, I always tend towards subjects that involve being under or around water. The ocean is swimming with colorful fish and animals that live on reefs and in the marine ecosystem. Based on this idea of colorful marine species, you may not think aquaculture would be a fitting topic.

But let’s see if we can find some color in the idea of culturing critters like fish and oysters.

Let’s begin by examining what aquaculture really is. Aquaculture, also known as fish or shellfish farming, can mean: to breed, to rear, and to harvest plants and animals in all types of water environments. This includes rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Researchers and aquaculture producers are “farming” all kinds of freshwater and marine species of fish, including shellfish (crustaceans), mollusks (oysters and clams), algae, sea vegetables, and fish eggs.

One question I get asked frequently is: What is the difference between aquaculture and mariculture? Well, it is the salinity of the water being used in the farming process.

Aquaculture uses freshwater and mariculture uses “marine” or saltwater for its medium. Some examples in the Big Bend Region are the aquaculture catfish farms in the Blountstown area, which uses fresh water and the mariculture clam farms (or leases) near Cedar Key, Florida, which uses salt water.

The aquaculture production of seafood and aquatic organisms come from fish and shellfish, produced from hatcheries, and then grown to market size in ponds, tanks, cages, or raceways. In the case of Florida clams, the clam seeds are first produced in hatcheries near Fort Pierce, Florida, then brought to Cedar Key waters, and placed on individual lease area ocean bottoms granted to area residents to raise, or “farm,” these clams.

The leaseholder deposits the clam seed into four-foot square mesh bags to contain and protect the small clams. These bags are then laid out on the ocean bottom and allowed to sink into the sandy sea floor where the clams can feed on organisms naturally from the water above them. These clam leases have produced very well – creating one-inch diameter cherry stone size clams in nine months to one year. Markets have been strong and sales have been profitable.

Read more HERE.

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