Getting Started

What is Aquaculture?

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, shrimp, and plants.  Aquaculture products vary widely but are typically used for stocking, food, bait, ornamentals, or environmental remediation.  Producing domestic aquaculture products fills the growing demand for safe, sustainable, and locally produced food. Additionally, there are economic multipliers on a local, community and state level.

View Introduction to Aquaculture video, presented September 2020

Stocking: catfish, bass, bluegill, minnows, and more for stocking into private ponds

Food fish: catfish, shrimp, tilapia, perch, trout, and more for human consumption

Baitfish: golden shiners, fathead minnows, goldfish, and more for anglers to use to catch gamefish

Ornamentals: koi, goldfish, albino catfish, and more for aesthetic reasons. Usually for tanks, aquariums, or small backyard ponds

Environmental remediation: triploid grass carp, bivalves, and more to improve aquatic habitat. Triploid grass carp are commonly used in Ohio as a chemical alternative to removing or limiting aquatic weeds

Links for Aquaculture Beginners:

Aquaculture and Related Permits Through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (pdf) update July 2020

Nuts and Bolts of Aquaculture in Ohio – Dr. Laura Tiu, former OSU Aquaculture Program Director and Extension Specialist (20 min 48 sec)

Introduction to Aquaculture Video - South Regional Aquaculture Center (SRAC) sponsored aquaculture overview (18 min 40 sec)

United States Aquaculture: The New Face of Farming Video - National Aquaculture Association introduction (16 min 19 sec)

Aquaculture: Realities and Potentials When Getting Started - SRAC Extension publication #441, (Nov. 1998)

Unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all recommendations for becoming successful in aquaculture, but there is a lot of information and training available to help you make the best decision. We recommend thoroughly researching your idea, assessing available resources, and defining your goals to decide if aquaculture is for you. We are here to help.

There are multiple factors to consider before starting your aquaculture venture.

Follow these five steps to decide if aquaculture is for you.

Step 1: Assess Your Resources

When considering aquaculture as a business, it is important to think about what resources you have.  This includes land, capital, time, aptitude, and education. There are several fact sheets to help you determine if the aquaculture business is for you.

Helpful Links:

Step 2: Investigate Production Systems

There are three main production methods used in aquaculture:

  • open ponds
  • floating cages
  • indoor recirculating systems

Each system has it’s own risks and benefits.  It’s important to match the production system you use to your resources and goals.

Helpful Links:



Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS)

RAS Presentations - Things to Consider

Step 3: Species Selection

There are over 20 species of fish and crustaceans grown in Ohio.  Aquaculture facilities are permitted through the Ohio Division of Wildlife.  This annual permit ($50-$100) gives farmers permission to culture and sell live fish in Ohio. Our most popular species include:

Yellow Perch: Grown primarily as a food fish in ponds.  Takes a minimum of two years to reach market size.

Bluegill/Hybrid Bluegill: Historically cultured as a stocking fish, but gaining in popularity as a food fish.  Takes two years in ponds to reach market size.

Freshwater Shrimp: Native to Malaysia, this species can be cultured in the summer in ponds.  A high-value niche species typically used for agritainment.

Baitfish:  Culture techniques for spot-fin shiners are being developed to supplement wild-caught and imported bait currently dominating the market.

Largemouth Bass:  Cultured for stocking recreational ponds and sold live to Asian markets.

Tilapia: This warm water fish is cultured in indoor recirculating aquaculture systems and predominately sold live to ethnic markets.

Hybrid Striped Bass






Cultured Species

Step 4: Business Planning

Aquaculture is agriculture and can be a risky business.  It can be expensive to get started and difficult to make money on a small scale.  However, we have seen success with people starting small and growing their business.  We recommend careful business planning before undertaking an aquaculture project.

Helpful Links:

Step 5: Getting Involved

Success can be enhanced by working with others.  Join a producer association, attend workshops, and get to know other fish farmers. 

Ohio Aquaculture Association
President Bill Lynch
Visit their website:

National Aquaculture Association

World Aquaculture Society

Stay Informed!

Our aquaculture program currently hosts four Listservs.  Subscribe to one or all by going to the Listserv page.

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