Cage Culture

Freshwater Aquaculture June 03, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Growing Fish in Cages

David Cline, Extension Aquaculture Specialist, Auburn University

Common cage materials (photo courtesy of David Cline, Auburn University).


Many landowners who are interested in aquaculture may not have the financial and physical resources or the practical experience to start a large-scale aquaculture operation. Growing fish in cages can be a means for landowners with existing ponds to produce fish for supplemental income and to gain experience in aquaculture. Cage culture is an intensive form of aquaculture that has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully considered before making an investment.

The advantages of cage culture include:

Stocking catfish into a cage (photo courtesy of David Cline, Auburn University).
  • Many water resources can potentially be used, including ponds, lakes, strip pits, rivers, and streams.
  • Cage culture requires a relatively small financial investment.
  • Feeding, sampling, observation, and harvesting are all comparatively simple.
  • The pond or water resource can still be used for other activities like stock watering or recreational fishing.

Disadvantages include:

  • The fish are crowded in cages, and there is a relatively high incidence of disease that can spread rapidly.
  • There can be localized poor water quality, such as low dissolved oxygen, in and around cages.
  • Caged fish do not have access to natural food, so a nutritionally complete diet is required.
  • Cages can be attractive to predators, vandals, and poachers.

For more information about cages including construction materials, cage designs, species selection and stocking, cage placement, potential problems, harvesting and marketing refer to the publications listed below.

Edited by: Vanessa Weldon, Extension Associate, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Cage Culture Publications

What Is Cage Culture? (pdf)
Best Management Practices for Responsible Aquaculture (pdf)
Cage Culture: Species Suitable for Cage Culture (pdf)
Cage Culture: Site Selection and Water Quality (pdf)
Cage Culture: Cage Construction, Placement, and Aeration (pdf)
Cage Aquaculture: Regional Reviews and Global Overview (pdf)
Cage Culture Problems (pdf)
Cage Culture: Handling and Feeding Caged Fish (pdf)
Cage Culture: Harvesting and Economics (pdf)
Caged Fish Production in Alabama (pdf)
Cage Culture of Tilapia (pdf)

Cage Culture Websites

Cage and Pen Fish Farming: Carrying Capacity Models and Environmental Impact
Cage Culture in Maryland
The Culture of Striped Bass and Its Hybrids in Cages

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.