Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/93

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A SYSTEM OF AQUATIC FARMING

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delicacy. This fish, on account of capacity for rapid multiplication and growth in restricted quarters and in ponds with abundant vegetation, is, perhaps, one of the most available for systematic cultivation. Other fishes, such as catfish and some of the species of bass, could be utilized in certain situations to good advantage.

While frogs have not been, as yet, a very common article on our markets, I do not know that the market has ever been over-stocked, and in the vicinity of large cities it would seem that a much larger quantity could be disposed of. As it is, immense numbers are utilized in the laboratories of schools and colleges, this demand being met for the most part by the capture of frogs in natural ponds. Crayfishes have not attained any special market value in the majority of markets, but I am told that they are sold to a great extent in New York City, and I see no reason why they should not be used as much as shrimp. Terrapin and no doubt other species of turtles could be marketed in much greater numbers than they are at present if their cultivation were systematized and markets properly handled. Both ducks and geese, while reared, so far as domestic species are concerned, very largely on land, would no doubt thrive better and get the best part of their growth on aquatic plants which form the greater part of their native food. They could be readily cultivated in connection with other crops.

The shells of fresh-water clams have been the basis for the establishment of some extensive button factories and the pearls that they produce have furnished a livelihood to a considerable number of individuals. But it is said that many of the factories have had to close on account of the exhaustion of the clams in adjacent streams. Doubtless, some reasonable system of gathering the shells or providing for the propagation and growth of successive generations would easily make this a permanent crop in suitable waters.

Alligator hides have a high commercial value and are all too scarce, with good prospect of disappearance from the extermination of the ungainly animal that produces them. I do not know that an alligator farm, fenced out in a suitable swamp or bayou, would be a commercial success, but it would seem well worth while to experiment in some of the swampy wastes in the domain of this prince of reptiles.

It may be somewhat remote, but it seems conceivable that it would be possible to utilize some fur-bearing animals in this direction, as, for instance: the beaver, muskrat, and possibly the otter, as these animals could certainly be colonized in suitable localities where an abundant water supply at a fairly constant level is available. As to possibilities of securing any regular crop from such animals, we have little data to guide us, but we know that under natural conditions they multiply at a fairly rapid rate. Muskrats in some localities are caught and marketed for food as well as for the skins.