Cage Culture


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Fish can be cultured in one of four culture systems—ponds, raceways, recirculating systems or cages. A cage or net pen is a system that confines the fish or shellfish in a mesh enclosure. By strict definition, a cage and a net pen differ based on their construction. A cage has a completely rigid frame (on all sides) and a net pen has a rigid frame only around the top. However, the terms “cage” and “net pen” are often used interchangeably. Marine cages are often called net pens, even though they have completely rigid frames, and vice versa. Structural differences have little effect on production practices or the environmental impact of these systems. Cage culture uses existing water resources (ponds, rivers, estuaries, open ocean, etc.) but confines the fish inside some type of mesh enclosure. The mesh retains the fish, making it easier to feed, observe and harvest them. The mesh also allows the water to pass freely between the fish and surrounding water resource, thus maintaining good water quality and removing wastes.

-SRAC Publication No. 160, What Is Cage Culture?

Southern Regional Aquaculture Center


Auburn University
Iowa State University Fisheries Extension
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Langston University

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