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Fish culture of a certain kind dates from very early times, but its

scientific development has only come about quite recently. Most people

know that in our own country the monks had stew ponds, where they kept

fish, principally carp, and also that the Romans kept fish in ponds. In

the latter case we hear more often of the eel than of other fish. The

breeding of trout and salmon, and the artificial spawning and hatching

of ova, are, however, an innovation of our own time.

Much has been discovered about the procreation of fish, and in no case

have scientists worked so hard and discovered more than in the case of

_Salmonidae_. Fish culture, particularly trout culture, has become a

trade, and a paying one. To any one who has the least idea of the

difficulties to be overcome in rearing _Salmonidae_, this fact alone

proves that fish culture must have progressed to a very advanced stage

as a science.

This advance has in very many, if not in the majority of cases, been

made by the bitter experience gained through failures and mishaps, for

these have led fish culturists to try many different means to prevent

mischances, or to rectify them if they have happened. Some of the most

serious difficulties experienced by the early fish culturists who bred

_Salmonidae_ can now be almost disregarded, for they hardly exist for the

modern fish culturist, with the knowledge he possesses of the experience

of others.

So much of what has been done in fish culture is generally known to

those who have studied and practised it, that the beginner can nowadays

commence far ahead of the point whence the first fish culturists

started. Many of his difficulties have been overcome for him already,

and though he will not, of course, meet with the success of the man of

experience, still he ought with the exercise of an average amount of

intelligence to avoid such failures as would completely disgust him.

There are many pieces of water containing nothing but coarse fish which

are very suitable for trout of some kind. Ponds, particularly those

which have a stream running through them, will, as a rule, support a

good head of trout if properly managed. Again a water which contains

trout may become more or less depleted, and here it is necessary to

supply the deficiency of trout by some means. The easiest way is, of

course, to buy yearling or two-year-old fish from a piscicultural

establishment, of which there are many in the kingdom, but I know that

there are many fishermen who would much prefer to rear their own fish

from the ova, than to buy ready-made fish. Any one who has the time and

opportunity to rear his own fish will be amply repaid by the amusement

and interest gained, and it should be the cheaper method of stocking or

re-stocking a water.

The same remarks apply to a certain extent to waters which will not

support trout, or where the owner wants more coarse fish. The stock of

coarse fish may be improved by fish culture just as much as a stock of


In his first year or two, it is very possible that the amateur will not

save very much by being his own pisciculturist. If, however, he is

careful, and works with intelligence, it is quite possible that he may

succeed better than he had hoped and rear a good head of fish at a less

cost than the purchase of yearlings. In any case he will have had a

great deal of pleasure and gained experience as well as reared some


In the present little volume, I propose to try and deal with fish

culture in such a way as to help the amateur who wishes to rear fish to

stock his own water. Much of the existing literature of the subject

deals with it on such a large scale that the amateur is frightened to

attempt what is apparently so huge an undertaking. Fish culture may,

however, be carried out on a small scale with success, and though

considerable attention is necessary, particularly with young

_Salmonidae_, it is not a task which involves a very great proportion of

the time of any one undertaking it. It is absolutely necessary, however,

that the amateur fish culturist should live on the spot, or have some

one who is intelligent and perfectly trustworthy who does. In every case

in my experience, trusting the care of young fish to a keeper or servant

has resulted in failure, and in every failure I have seen where the fish

have not been trusted to the care of a servant, the cause has been very

obvious, and could easily have been avoided.

The rearing of trout is the most important branch of fish culture to the

amateur, and fortunately but slight modifications are necessary in

rearing other fish. What is good enough for trout is good enough for

most fish, therefore I think that I shall be right in describing trout

culture at considerable length, and dealing with other fish in a

somewhat summary manner. The difference in the management, etc., of

other fish I shall point out after describing how to rear trout.

To begin with, the amateur must not suppose that because he puts fish

into a stream or pond he will succeed in stocking that water or

increasing the head of fish. There are many other things to be

considered. The river, stream, or pond must be of a suitable character

for the fish, and there must be plenty of food. I am sure that it is

much more important to consider carefully whether the water is suitable,

and contains a proper supply of food, than to consider how the fish are

to be obtained, for recourse may always be had to a professional fish

culturist--fish of almost any kind and any age can be bought ready


The point I would impress upon the amateur more forcibly than anything

else, is that he should be sure that there is plenty for his fish to eat

in the water, before he thinks of putting them into it. It is for this

reason that I devote my next chapter chiefly to the stocking of waters

with food and to the improvement of the food supply in waters where some

food already exists.