Backyard Fish Farming

Time to go fishing ... in your own backyard. (Photo: Cliff [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

Raising chickens in your backyard is so last week. Another self-sufficient form of feeding your family is growing in popularity - small scale aquaculture, a.k.a. backyard fish farming.

Think about it. There are all sorts of reasons to be concerned about the fish you can buy at fish markets or grocery stores. Over-fishing, mercury, and industrial fish farms with overly drugged fish that pollute the oceans are all reasons why putting more fish in our diets, which nutritionally is a good thing, can be a bad thing environmentally.

Just like growing a vegetable garden or even raising your own chickens isn’t anything new, backyard fish farming isn’t new either. It’s something that’s been around for a long time. It’s just that a new generation is learning about it and beginning to practice it.

There are several methods of backyard fish farming including one that uses a small above ground swimming pool inside the house. Apparently, you don’t even need a backyard to get involved with backyard fish farming.

An article from Mother Earth News from a few years ago describes four methods of backyard fish farming.

Cage Culture. Those with a pond, lake, or stream on their property can build a cage system with “a cage or pen made of plastic pipe and rigid netting” and stock it “with fingerlings that are fed until they reach a harvestable size.” Catfish are the most commonly raised fish in this system, but “tilapia, trout, salmon and hybrid striped bass are other options.”

Flow-through. In this method cold water from a stream, spring or river is diverted into a raceway that holds fish. “With just a few gallons of spring water, you can grow trout year-round.”

Greenhouse Aquaponics. This is the most complicated method and fairly expensive, but you can raise both fish and grow organic vegetables hydroponically with this method. Plants are used to filter the water instead of a traditional filter system.

Home Recirculating. This is the method that can use a small above ground pool either in the backyard or inside the home – preferably in a basement. Fish are raised in the pool, which must be kept “clean, kept at the correct temperature and contain enough oxygen.” A high level of care is required for this system.

Considering the fact that my family has never been able to keep a goldfish alive for more than a couple of days, I don’t see us diving into backyard fish farming anytime soon. Still, it’s a method that makes sense for those who enjoy eating fish regularly and are concerned with the sustainability of our oceans and wild fish population and concerned with the quality of the food they put in their body.

Do you have any experience with small scale aquaculture?