Humble Garden

ReSkilling for future food independence

Aquaculture dreaming

Posted by Nika On October - 5 - 2007

Mc Laughlin Hatchery, Belchertown, MA, USA

You may or may not remember from my earlier posts that I want to integrate a home-use aquaculture pool to grow our own fish (vary the types of protein we eat and we also really like fish).

One can spend a LOT of money on this sort of activity but I want to be as frugal but as productive as we can be. I also want to choose fish species that are native to this area so that they do not need out-of-region living requirements (high temperatures, long days, salt water).

One Massachusetts native species that I find very attractive is the stream trout. It has special needs, like any fish type (doesnt want to go above 70F for one and needs well aerated, running water for another) but its delicious and tolerant or even loving of the Massachusetts environment.

We visited the McLaughlin Trout Hatchery up in Belchertown, MA, right next to the Quabbin Reservoir to see how the “big guys” raise these fish (for stocking the streams of this state).

Here is a bit of a photo essay on what they have set up, its VERY nice.

I learned that fish released from the hatcheries in MA (some 1.3 million from this hatchery alone) last only 2 WEEKS before being caught.

All that you see here (and a whole lot more not shown) is not paid by general taxes but by fishing licenses!

5 Responses to “Aquaculture dreaming”

  1. Just wandered across your site and thought, “Wow, they’re on the same track as us!” Of course you’re a bit further along with your animals but some day we’ll have the space we need for all that we want to do.

    You’ve got a great blog and I hope to find the time to come back and read more about all your projects. We really want to do an aquaculture at our farm since we have so much trouble with slugs, snails and weeds in our garden. If only it would stop snowing here!!

  2. Nika says:


    Your blog(s) are beautiful! I dont know what your climate is like there usually but we count on snow until April or so. I went to HS in San Antonio so I know the weather you are used to (tho with MUCH less humidity than Houston) – I guess any snow is hard for you? You might get used to it. At least you live in an interesting place!

    I have not done aquaponics yet because we have not been able to afford a proper greenhouse yet. Once that is in place (ever?) then we can get serious. To have outdoors unprotected water that doesnt freeze the fish, we would need to have deep water, a bubbler going, and species of fish that like to be damn cold and hybernate a good part of the year, sounds horrible to me.

    Think of weeds (before they seed) as free biomass for your compost heap or for your chickens (our chickens mow our lawn but only after we have harvested for the year or if they get out).

    Think of ways that you can encourage predators for snails and slugs to live in and around your garden.

  3. Hi Nika,
    Thanks very much. We’re close to Frankfurt and our winters have been quite cold lately with an unheard of amount of snow. Usually it just rains and is dreary during the winter. I actually went to HS in Virginia so I’m rather used to the snow. I even looked forward to it this year. On the other hand, there is definitely something I miss about warm winters like in Houston or Miami.

    We have heard that turtles can be quite useful in eating slugs…I think one of our main issues is the Weinberg snails which are actually protected here. They happen to be the same sort of snails you’d eat as escargot and they are just EVERYWHERE. Seems like most of our neighbors dumb pounds of slug repellent on their plants to keep them out but we’re hoping to control them a bit more naturally. Worst case we’re just going to have to build barriers that they can’t crawl over.

    I think we just really have to be more vigilant in our garden overall about controlling the weeds and pests. It wasn’t so easy last year with a baby at home. Now she’s nearly walking so I hope to just let her loose on her own digging plot in the garden while I tend to other things.

    A lot of people seem to use tilapia over here for aquaponics but I think they just kill off their stock before winter hits. If we did it we’d either have to get a small heater or have a winter tank for breeding stock somewhere protected.

  4. Nika says:

    Tiffany: It sounds like you dont have a problem, you have free food!

    I have not done this but I have read in many places that if you run a strip of copper along the edge of your beds (on top edge) you will exclude slugs and snails. Their bodies react chemically with the copper so they will not cross it. Now you need to build a snail paradise, attract them there and start warming up some garlic butter (yum!) or you could sell them at the farmers market or start an internet business selling the rare highly sought after gourmet Frankfurt Weinberg snails! FedEx them on ice to foodies in the US.

  5. GayLynne says:

    I’m a bit late to this party but I just had to let you know that I was watching a celebrity chef (Gordon Ramsay) TV program a while back and he described how to make regular ol’ garden snails table ready. Just google “gordon ramsay how to prepare snails” and click on the YouTube video listed. Seems it’s best to “detox” them for a day or two. Bon appetite!

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About Me

We are a family of 5, including Nika, Ed, Q (14), KD (7), and Baby Oh (4). We garden 1024 square feet of raised beds plus assorted permacultural plantings. We also have 13 LaMancha dairy goats, 40 chickens, and one guard llama.



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