Polyculture - A culture practice to utilize all ecological niches of pond ecosystem effectively
Prabjeet Singh1, Sajid Maqsood2,
M.H.Samoon3, Nitin Verma1,Shashank
Singh1 & Amita Saxena1
1College of fisheries, G.B.Pant
University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, Uttrakhand,
of food technology, Faculty of Agro-Industry, Prince of Songkla,
of Fisheries, SKUAST-K, India.
Polyculture is the practice of culturing more than one species of
aquatic organism in the same pond. The motivating principle is that
fish production in ponds may be maximized by raising a combination of
species having different food habits. The concept of polyculture of
fish is based on the concept of total utilization of different
trophic and spatial niches of a pond in order to obtain maximum fish
production per unit area. The mixture of fish gives better
utilization of available natural food produced in a pond. The
compatible fish species having complimentary feeding habits are
stocked so that all the ecological niches of pond ecosystem are
effectively utilised. Polyculture began in China more than 1000 years
ago. The practice has spread throughout Southeast Asia, and into
other parts of the world.
The possibilities of increasing fish production per unit area,
through polyculture, is considerable, when compared with monoculture
system of fish. Different species combination in polyculture system
effectively contribute also to improve the pond environment. Algal
blooming is common in most tropical manure fed ponds. By stocking
phytoplanktophagus Silver carp in appropriate density certain algal
blooming can be controlled. Grass carp on the other hand keeps the
macrophyte abundance under control due to its macrovegetation feeding
habit and it adds increased amount of partially digested excreta
which becomes the feed for the bottom dweller coprofagous common
carp. The bottom dwelling mrigal, common/mirror carp help
re-suspension of bottom nutrients to water while stirring the bottom
mud in search of food. Such an exercise of bottom dwellers also
aerates the bottom sediment. All these facts suggest that polyculture
is the most suitable proposition for fish culture in undrainable
HOW DOES POLYCULTURE WORK?
Ponds that have been enriched through chemical fertilization,
manuring or feeding practices contain abundant natural fish food
organisms living at different depths and locations in the water
column. Most fish feed predominantly on selected groups of these
organisms. Polyculture should combine fish having different feeding
habits in proportions that effectively utilize these natural foods
(Figure 1). As a result, higher yields are obtained. Efficient
Polyculture systems in tropical climates may produce up to 8,000 kg
of fish per hectare per year.
Figure 1: Polyculture utilizes natural foods
FISH USED IN POLYCULTURE
Combinations of three Chinese carps (bighead, silver and grass carp)
and the common carp are most common in Polyculture. Other species may
also be used. While fish may be grouped into broad categories based
on their feeding habits, some overlap does occur. In our state
Polyculture systems has tremendous potential and our endemic
Schizothoracid species can be utilized effectively in composite fish
FACTORS AFFECTING SPECIES SELECTION AND STOCKING RATES
Market value of fish.
Pond fertilization practices.
Feeding habits of fish.
Feeding habits of fish.
Potential of uncontrolled spawning in grow-out ponds.
STOCKING RATES FOR POLYCULTURE SYSTEMS
Examples of stocking rates for Polyculture systems used in various
countries are presented in Table 1, Modification to suit conditions
in other locations may be necessary.
Table 1: Number of fish
stocked per 100 m2 of pond surface area in Polyculture
systems used in various countries.
Potential Problems in Polyculture
Polyculture is an effective way to maximize benefit from available
natural food in a pond. But, pond management becomes more difficult
when stocking fish species having specialized feeding habits in the
same pond because good fertilization and feeding practices must be
followed. If inadequate fingerling supply severely limits the choice
of species available for polyculture, at least one species should
have general rather than specialized feeding behaviour. This will
allow more of the available natural food to be utilized.
FRI, 1991. Manual on Integrated Chicken-cum-Fish culture, Extension
Material Series No. 7, Director, Fisheries Research Institute,
Kumar, D. Manual of fish culture in undrainable ponds. FAO
NACA, 1989. Integrated Fish Farming in China. NACA Technical Manual
New, M.B. 1987. Feed and Feeding of Fish and Shrimp, ADCP/REP/87/26,
Rahman,A.K.A. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, Zoological
Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka: 364pp
Seafood — Fish — Crustacea
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