Fish Farming in Pennsylvania

Fish Farm PA is not a destination, but a love, a hobby, a livelihood, or a dream. Pennsylvania waters are ideal for raising sport fish like bass and trout. Commercial aquaculture is a huge industry in Pennsylvania; it is #4 in US trout production, and the #1 US trout fishing state, adding well over a billion dollars a year to the state’s economy. Growers here produce 70% of the trout in the northeastern states. Pennsylvania boasts the world’s largest goldfish farm, largest trout farm east of the Mississippi, and has one of the oldest continually operating trout hatcheries (1902). It is the 11th largest aquaculture producing state.

Fish grown include: bass, trout, bluegills, catfish, crappie, shiners, walleye, dace, carp, suckers, perch, killifish, crayfish, minnows, mummichog, eel, goldfish, mussels, sunfish, tadpoles, pickerel, frogs, and bullhead.

The average Fish Farm PA produces locally grown, competitively priced fish. Concentrating on over 20 species of sport fish, breeding aims for fun-to-catch fish with lots of action. The average farm has been passed down by generations in the same family. Brood trout are chosen from local fish, to continue local character and to thrive well in local waters.

Pennsylvania has actively sought to increase aquaculture production and jobs. One study, which began as a way to make unused land along the Delaware River profitable, led to new technology for tank farming, such as tank shape, insulation, food economy, and oxygen use, so fish can be cultured anywhere. This is important in a business where success can be measured in pennies.

Promotion includes creating directories of fish farms, marketing and educational efforts on behalf of the industry, fair legislation and guidelines, quality control standards, and international marketing. Another goal is to assure that the industry is sustainable, and ecologically friendly. Preventing pollution and keeping water safe are chief needs for this industry.

Pond construction is a science. Care in planning and executing new ponds, maintenance of existing ponds, and reclamation of old ponds method quality fish from quality water. The ecosystem, local flora and fauna, needs of the fish to be farmed, run-off water quality and treatment, emergency concerns like flooding, land composition, drainage, and types of materials used and their possible problems must all be addressed. Dams must be protected from failure. Local livestock can become a damage issue . Plants nearby and within a pond need to be managed for high quality. Animals like muskrats can damage ponds. Water temperature and oxygen content present benefits and problems for fish. Some need cooler water, others warmer. Wrong temperatures can cause overcrowding or killing of fish.

Chemicals, nutrients, water hardness, pH factors, and pesticides need to be controlled to continue highest water and fish quality, and to minimize unhealthy plant growth. Bacteria and algae growth are detrimental and may produce toxic conditions. Acid run-off from old mines can damage water quality. Finally, parasites can be carried by pond snails.

For a list of Fish Farm PA hatcheries, contact the Pennsylvania Dept of Agriculture in Harrisburg, PA.

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