Aquaculture, also known as fish farming, is the commercial cultivation of fish and other aquatic animals. The site selection for aquaculture (a fish farm or hatchery) is essential to its success. Much research has been done on site selection for freshwater and brackishwater farms. This article will cover all the factors necessary to select a good aquaculture site.
The necessity of a good site selection for Aquaculture
The place where fish ponds are constructed is called the aquaculture site. Good site selection is a prerequisite in pond construction. Improper site selection may lead to the following:
- Difficulties in holding water in the pond
- High seepage
- Dike erosion
- Low productivity of the pond
- Inability to drain the water completely, and
- Difficulties in harvesting
Factors affecting site selection for Aquaculture
Aquaculturists must carefully consider responsible factors when choosing a site for their operation. The three significant factors that affect site selection for aquaculture are as follows:
- Biological and operational
- Economic and social
In order to be successful, aquaculture operations must take into account several ecological factors, including land topography, climate, hydrological characteristics, soil characteristics, source of water, water supply and outlet, water temperature, quality and salinity levels, and the availability of food sources.
Before undertaking the construction of the pond, a detailed topographical survey of the entire area should be done by a competent engineer. Such a survey is necessary to plan a pond system due to the various topographical features and the best way to utilize them.
Source of water
Water is the medium surrounding the fish and the sites of gaseous exchange, ionic balance, removal of waste products and the determination of body temperature. The water source for aquaculture may be rain, spring, river, groundwater, ice-melting water and water from the deep tubewell. You can use the natural sources like rain and flood water, and artificial sources, i.e., deep tubewell.
Water supply and outlet
In developing countries, ponds are generally made by digging the plain land and hence, the outlet facilities are very limited for most private fish farms. The pond site should be in a pretty level place but with a gradual slope in one direction. The slop will provide better drainage and permit the construction of ponds in a series.
The water must be of suitable quality, with the right mix of dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity. In addition, water quality can affect the health of fish and other aquatic creatures. Poor water quality can lead to disease and even death. Water temperature is critical in aquaculture, as different fish species require different temperature ranges to thrive.
Read the related article: Water quality in Aquaculture.
A reliable water supply is the most critical factor in choosing a fish pond site. Therefore, you should consider water sources carefully during site selection. Ensure the nearby irrigation facility provides sufficient water to the ponds or hatchery. However, you can get water from the following sources:
- Irrigation canals,
- Rainfall-runoff, and
- Deep wells.
Water supply medium:
- Feeder channels,
- Storage tanks, and
You can get water through the medium using a pump or gravity (The cheapest method). A pond in suitable soil needs 5 l/sec/ha of water year-round.
It would be best if you considered the drainage facility of a pond when choosing a site. Ponds that drain by gravity work well. When harvesting, a pond must have a bottom higher than the maximum water table.
The intended area’s pond site cannot experience flooding. If a fish farm is built in a lowland, the pond walls need to be higher than usual. Additionally, a net must be placed around the wall to stop people from escaping floodwater. It is best to avoid establishing farms on lowlands.
You should consider the following list of critical climatological characteristics when selecting an aquaculture site. You can get this data from a nearby meteorological station.
- wind speed and direction
Ponds should be constructed in open spaces for easy access to available sunlight. Regular sunlight ensures sufficient photosynthesis in pond water which is very important for the pond ecosystem. Moreover, aquaculture productivity largely depends on adequate sunlight.
Biological and operational factors
Before deciding on a location for a project, it is crucial to find out the following information first:
- Extensive: Systems of culture and raising that focus on reproduction and capture.
- Semi-intensive: In this system, aquatic species thrive and produce partially under control and totally on natural feeds and aquafeeds.
- Intensive: A well-managed intensive fish farming system maximizes fish production from a minimum amount of water.
- Monoculture: The culture of only one species.
- Polyculture: Culture of different species at the same time.
- Integrated: It is similar to polyculture, i.e., the culture of two or more species together.
Economic and social factors
Therefore, economic and social factors play a significant role in site selection for aquaculture operations; considerations include availability.
- Proximity to markets
- Transport infrastructure
- Land and land values
- Construction materials
- Construction plans and cost
- Fish feeds
- Transport facilities
- Equipment, materials
- Local labor force
- Skilled and semi-skilled laborers
- Chemical drugs, organic and inorganic fertilizers
- Basic needs like food, medicine, shopping facilities
- Socio-political advantages
Ponds should be located, if possible, within sight of the house owner. If so far from the house, there is always a danger of fish being stolen or eaten by animals such as otters.
Suitable communication facilities are essential for the easy transportation of fry/fingerlings, fertilizer/manure, fish feed and timely access to harvested fish into the market regularly. So, communication facilities must be well developed from the selected site.
In order to maintain a profitable and productive aquaculture farm, many different site selection factors, such as water availability and quality, climate, land use, infrastructure and environmental regulations, must be taken into account. While some of these factors may seem daunting, by working with a professional aquaculture consultant, you can select the perfect site for your needs and ensure a successful farming operation.