For discussion of specific diseases in fish, also see Fish.
Aquaculture, the production of aquatic animals and plants, did not begin in the USA until the late 19th century, with various native game fish species being grown for stocking of native waters. Commercial large-scale production of trout, channel catfish, and tropical fish in the USA began in the 1950s-1970s, with significant expansion in the 1980s-1990s. Today, numerous species of fish (eg, carp, salmon, trout, char, catfish, tilapia, perch, striped bass, cod, sea bass, drum, flounder, sturgeon, tuna, cobia, eel, ornamental, bait, and tropical species), shellfish (eg, shrimp, crayfish, prawns, crabs, oysters, clams, scallops, mussels, snails), other aquatic species (eg, alligators, turtles, frogs), and plants (eg, algae, seaweed, ornamental plants) are grown worldwide. As a result, aquaculture is one of the fastest growing segments of agricultural economies.
Two basic forms of aquatic animal cultivation techniques exist: extensive and intensive. Extensive cultivation is when animals grow at their natural rate in ponds, lagoons, or lakes while feeding on food found naturally in the surrounding waters, similar to livestock animals on range land. This type of technique requires minimal management and is common in third world countries where equipment, mechanization, and energy are limited. Intensive cultivation is when animals are grown in a controlled or modified environment and agriculturally produced feed is provided. This method, which often requires an immense amount of management, is more common in industrialized nations, and may utilize tanks, raceways, ponds, cages, and net pens to concentrate populations of animals similar to large-animal feedlot operations. Various modifications of intensive aquaculture systems and husbandry techniques have been developed to meet the needs of the species being cultured.
Last full review/revision July 2011 by Stephen A. Smith, DVM, PhD