The cultivation of marine species is also an ancient practice. Ancient Chinese manuscripts from the 5th century B.C. indicate the Chinese practiced fish culture. Although not as implicit, Egyptian hieroglyphics indicate the Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom (2052-1786 B.C.) attempted intensive fish culturing. Following in the footsteps of the Egyptians, the Romans also developed aquaculture practices as they are known to have cultivated oysters.The culture of oysters established by the Romans is the first known form of aquaculture that has continued in some form or another to the modern day.
All of the early forms of aquaculture differed greatly from much of the aquaculture practiced today. The major difference is that aquaculture in ancient times involved harvesting immature fish or shellfish and transferring them to an artificially created environment that is favorable to their growth. Carp, in China, thousands of years ago were collected as youngsters and transferred to special ponds where they were grown. As the Egyptians and Romans proved this practice was not limited to carp but was used with many other species such as oysters and other hardy creatures capable of surviving the transfer to the culture ponds.
Fish farming in its modern form was first introduced in 1733 when a German farmer successfully gathered fish eggs, fertilized them, and then grew and raised the fish that hatched. To do this, male and female trout were collected when they were ready for spawning. The eggs and sperm were pressed from their bodies and mixed under favorable conditions. After hatching, the fishlings were taken to tanks or ponds in which they were cultivated. Initially this "fish farming" was limited to freshwater fish. In the 20th century new techniques were developed to successfully breed saltwater species.
As scientists have learned more about the life cycles of the harvested fish and the stimuli that encourage development, fish farmers are adapting their techniques to gain more control over the fishe's development. Such factors that are important to commercial fish farmers are the stimuli that encourage growth, sexual maturation, and reproduction. Other recent advances include disease control and immunology.
For most of the history of modern aquaculture, only luxury items such as salmon and shrimp were harvested. That trend is changing as new technologies allow for efficient and cost effective cultivation of non-luxury cheap foodfish.
For more information about species being cultured go the the SPECIES section.
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