This section is from the book "The Goldfish And Its Systematic Culture With A View To Profit", by Hugo Mulertt. Also available from Amazon: The goldfish and its systematic culture.
"Withholding facts is robbery."
A basin of water in the open air, so arranged or constructed that the water may be drawn off at any desired time, is called a pond. A body of water not under control, in the full sense of the word, is usually known as a pool or a lake. The dimension of such body of water does not necessarily regulate the name applied to it, as for instance, a pond may either be but a few feet in length and breadth, or it may cover an estate of hundreds of acres in extent, just as the requirements of the case may be.
In countries far removed from the sea-shore, or any other natural source from which fish may be obtained in large quantities, the necessity arises for supplying the want by some means or other. This can only be done by cultivating them on a large scale, and in quantities sufficient to meet the demands of a steady market. The cultivation of fish for the purpose of food has been carried on for many generations, and so far back as the Middle Ages considerable attention was given by the monks to pond culture, in order that they might have a reliable source from which to procure fish during lent.
From those days virtually dates the systematic culture of fish in waters that are thoroughly under control.
At that time means of transportation were meager and very slow, so that the cultivation of fish in the interior was a prime necessity, yet notwithstanding the rapid transit on the railroad of the present time, putting inland places in close connection with the ocean and other natural fish reservoirs, pond culture may be and is carried on with both success and profit. Though the railroad has made the saltwater fish a great rival of that cultivated in fresh water, the latter nevertheless has the advantage of always being marketable and close at hand.
To so successful a degree has pond culture arrived at the present day, that one is enabled to propagate the scaly tribe in quantities without limit.
The fish that was principally, if not to say exclusively, cultivated in ponds in former days, was the famous German carp; the establishments founded three and even four centuries ago being still in successful operation, and may at any time be seen in various parts of Austria and Germany. So thoroughly has the industry been studied that it might almost be dignified with the name of a science. The profits arising from it are enormous, and it may be that interest has had something, if not very much, to do with the pond culture as it is now carried on.
To give the reader an idea of its extent in those countries, it may be said that the carp ponds belonging to the manor of Wittengau number 250, and cover an area of 22,000 acres, the annual yield of fish from which is one-half million of pounds. Similar establishments are found on the manor Konigswartha, in Upper Silesia, with 205 ponds, covering 9,000 acres; the manor Peitz-Cottbus (Branden-burgh) with 72 ponds, covering 5,600 acres. These and many other large establishments, to say nothing of thousands of ponds scattered all over Central Europe, give ample evidence that the industry is one of magnitude and importance.
In this country the cutting down of timber, the draining of the land, and the establishment of new industries have no doubt greatly increased the value of the soil, but have also influenced the decline in the productiveness of the water.
This is a matter of serious importance, and one which is already claiming the attention of intelligent journalists who see the necessity of fighting the evil ere the remedy is beyond our reach. In fact, the fish industry of the country is one of national interest, and was, not many years ago, the cause of diplomatic difficulty between England and the United States, putting the latter to the expense of millions of money before the matter was satisfactorily adjusted. In view of these facts it will not be long before the necessity of cultivating fish for the market will make itself felt, just as it is in Europe to-day.
The consumption of food-fish, of course, increases with the increase of population, while on the other hand, for reasons given, the supply is rapidly decreasing in quantity and quality. Besides the creeks and rivers are now becoming the sewers into which the washings and dirt of the nation are poured, and the gradual destruction of our fish is consequently taking place right under our eyes.
In the author's opinion, the decrease of our fish is not so much due to the use of small mesh seines, as many pretend, as it is to the increased demand for fish as food. The destruction caused by a few careless fishermen is more than counter-balanced by turtle-hunters and snake-killing boys, the one making it a business, the other engaging in it for sake of the sport, who between them catch and kill a multitude of these voracious enemies of the fish, which, in the water all the time, manage to destroy untold numbers of fish.
The oft-repeated remark, "in former years this river used to be alive with fish," is very well in its way, and is, moreover, true; but it must not be forgotten that in former years there were not so many people requiring them for food.
A bit of forest in which grow a few chestnut-trees was, by the then few village boys said to be "full of chestnuts," but now, when the village has become a large town or city, the few chestnut-trees are not looked upon with the same admiration because, though in equally good condition, they do not furnish chestnuts enough to go 'round.
A piece of land of given size supplies in plenty, vegetables for one family, but if the family increases in numbers, and additions have to be made to the house at the expense of the piece of land, it can no longer furnish the original quantity of food. New land then is added to the field, or, if that is impossible, that remaining is forced to increased production by the use of manures.
Now then, why not apply to pisciculture the rules guiding agriculture, when viewed in this light ? The fish-consuming family has inordinately increased, its dwelling is enlarged at the expense of the fish-producing rivers which are now made to serve other purposes. New additions are consequently necessary and possible by the proper use of water-courses that are now going to waste.
Pond-culture is not solely confined to the production of food-fish, there being many large establishments devoted to the exclusive culture of ornamental fish.
The largest of these are also in Europe, one in Oldenburgh covering twelve acres, yielding anually 300,000 goldfish, and affording employment to many people. A still larger establishment is that in Austria, belonging to Baron de Washington.
There are besides many smaller establishments scattered about all over Europe, and generally near the large cities, just as we find florists in the immediate neighborhood of our own cities.