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Polyculture in Aquaculture

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Sustainable Food Production

Definition of Polyculture

Polyculture is the production of two or more cultured species in the same physical space at the same time, often with the objective of producing multiple products that have economic value. They may be a combination of animals, plants and animals, aquatic species only, or aquatic and terrestrial species.


Aquaculture has its roots in China, perhaps as long as 4,000 years ago [1]. Interestingly, polyculture was a part of that early history. The Chinese often stocked multiple species of carp together in ponds to take advantage of all the types of food available. The pond would be fertilized, often with terrestrial animal manure, to promote the growth of the food organisms. In addition, terrestrial vegetation might be added. Thus, each of the species stocked occupied its own ecological niche.

Another form of polyculture that has a long history is rice–fish culture. By modifying rice ponds to provide a refuge for fish when a rice paddy is dewatered...

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Organisms that live on or in the sediments in aquatic environments.


A habitat that provides for the needs to support the life or an organism.


The community of plants and animals suspended in the water column that drift with the currents. They have limited or no swimming ability but may be able to move vertically.


The plant component of the plankton community.


The animal component of the plankton community.


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Correspondence to Robert R. Stickney .

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Stickney, R.R. (2013). Polyculture in Aquaculture. In: Christou, P., Savin, R., Costa-Pierce, B.A., Misztal, I., Whitelaw, C.B.A. (eds) Sustainable Food Production. Springer, New York, NY.

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