Fish farming or pisciculture involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures such as fish ponds, usually for food. It is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture. A facility that releases juvenile fish into the wild for recreational fishing or to supplement a species’ natural numbers is generally referred to as a fish hatchery. Worldwide, the most important fish species produced in fish farming are carp, tilapia, salmon, and catfish.
Growth is limited by available food, commonly zooplankton feeding on pelagic algae or benthic animals, such as crustaceans and mollusks. Tilapia filter feed directly on phytoplankton, which makes higher production possible. Photosynthetic production can be increased by fertilizing pond water with artificial fertilizer mixtures, such as potash, phosphorus, nitrogen, and microelements.
Another issue is the risk of algal blooms. When temperatures, nutrient supply, and available sunlight are optimal for algal growth, algae multiply at an exponential rate, eventually exhausting nutrients and causing a subsequent die-off in fish. The decaying algal biomass depletes the oxygen in the pond water because it blocks out the sun and pollutes it with organic and inorganic solutes (such as ammonium ions), which can (and frequently do) lead to massive loss of fish.
Aeration of the water is essential, as fish need a sufficient oxygen level for growth. This is achieved by bubbling, cascade flow, or aqueous oxygen. Clarias spp. can breathe atmospheric air and can tolerate much higher levels of pollutants than trout or salmon, which makes aeration and water purification less necessary and makes Clarias species especially suited for intensive fish production. In some Clarias farms, about 10% of the water volume can consist of fish biomass.