A fish pond, or fishpond, is a controlled pond, artificial lake, or reservoir that is stocked with fish and is used in aquaculture for fish farming, or is used for recreational fishing or for ornamental purposes. In the medieval European era it was typical for monasteries and castles (small, partly self-sufficient communities) to have a fish pond.
Records of the use of fish ponds can be found from the early Middle Ages. "The idealized eighth-century estate of Charlemagne's capitulary de villis was to have artificial fishponds but two hundred years later, facilities for raising fish remained very rare, even on monastic estates.". As the Middle Ages progressed, fish ponds became a more common feature of urbanizing environments. Those with access to fish ponds had a controlled source of food, not unlike pastures for cattle and sheep, for use on days when it was not permitted to eat meat. However fish ponds were difficult to maintain. They were a mark of power and authority, since only rich nobles and institutions such as monasteries could afford to maintain them. In winter, supplying fresh food for a castle garrison was a constant struggle. Nobles had access to meat from deer parks, but this did not supply the needs of whole households. Though fish ponds required maintenance to keep them healthy, they were an elegant way of giving monasteries and noble houses access to fresh fish. Some of the more popular species of fish farmed in fish ponds were carp and pike. From the 14th century onward these fish proved to be a popular feature of artificial fish ponds.
Fish ponds have been used in aquaculture. They are/were common in:
- Europe, especially in the Czech Republic (Rožmberk Pond, Velké Dářko, Lake Mácha), where common carp may be kept.
- Ireland, where medieval monks kept fish that could be eaten on Fridays, in accordance with Catholic rules of fasting
- Hawaii, U.S.A., where the Native Hawaiians used them extensively.
- The Philippines where milkfish, tilapia, crabs, lobsters, tiger shrimp, snails and others may be kept.
- East Asia, especially in Japan with koi, trout, and white crucian carp.
Fish ponds are also being promoted in developing countries. They provide a source of food and income from the sale of fish for small farmers and can also supply irrigation needs and water for livestock.
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- FAO, Farm ponds for water, fish and livelihoods FAO, Rome, 2009
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