Fishponds of the Czech Republic

  • Jan Pokorný
  • Jan Květ
Reference work entry


Fishponds are shallow water bodies the construction of which started in Central Europe in the Middle Ages. Varying in size from less than 1 hectare to several hundred hectares, fishponds have become an integrated landscape component in cultivated regions. In some of them, systems of fishponds play a principal hydrological role. These constructed wetlands provide a diversity of regulatory, provisioning, sustaining and cultural services. Fishponds are centres of high species richness. In both agricultural and forested areas, littoral zones of fishponds form ecotones providing suitable habitats for amphibians, invertebrates and namely for water birds. Presented is a case study on the role of fishponds in water retention during the “thousand-year flood” in the Labe/Elbe river basin in 2002.

About 20,000 fishponds (180,000 hectares) existed on the territory of the present Czech Republic in the 16th century. Since then, their area has declined to 52,000 hectares of nowadays existing fishponds. Large-scale drainage, sewage discharge and intensification of fish production have resulted in water eutrophication and an augmentation of natural fish production. Its average annual amount per hectare has increased from 70 kg in the Middle Ages to the contemporary 450 kg. Adaptation of the management of fishponds to their heavy eutrophication represents a highly demanding task. The proliferation of weedy fish (some of them invasive alien species) interferes with the classical and simple scheme of top-down control of the food chain (the fish stock controls the zooplankton community which, in turn, controls the species composition and amount of phytoplankton).

In the Czech Republic, 4 out of 14 sites listed as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention encompass appreciable numbers and areas of fishponds. These 4 Ramsar Sites and their fishponds are briefly characterized. Discussed are also the threats and future challenges to the balance between the economy of fish production, biodiversity and hydrological and other ecosystem functions and services of these fishponds.


Biodiversity Ecosystem services Water retention Food chain Fish production Eutrophication Ramsar sites Management 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ENKI, o.p.s.TřeboňCzech Republic
  2. 2.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South Bohemia České BudějoviceČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Czech Academy of SciencesCzechGlobe, Institute for Global Change ResearchBrnoCzech Republic

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