12. Harvesting your pond

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Harvesting without draining the water
Harvesting by draining part of the water
Harvesting by draining all of the water
Harvesting fish when you have a monk
Harvesting many fish
What to do with your baby fish

306 Do not take any fish out of your pond during the first five months. After five months you may catch a few big fish each week to eat with your family.

307 When most of the fish are big enough it is time to harvest all of them. Usually, they will be big enough to harvest in about six months.

308 Harvest the fish early in the morning when it is cool.

309 Have some watertight containers ready to store live fish.

310 The easiest way to harvest is by draining the water out of the pond.

Figure 160

311 But there are several ways to harvest your fish. You can harvest them

312 Here are some things that you should know about these different ways of harvesting your fish.

Harvesting without draining the water

313 If you do not have enough water to fill your pond again and you want to harvest only part of your fish, you can use a seine net to gather them without draining the water.

314 A seine net with a mesh of 3 to 3.5 centimetres will catch the biggest fish and allow the small fish to escape through the net.

Figure 161

315 You will need several people to harvest with a seine net. Perhaps your family can help you. Perhaps you can ask your neighbours for help, and later help them with their work or give them some fish to pay them for their help.

316 Start at the deep end of the pond and pull the seine net slowly toward the shallow end. The drawing shows you how.

317 You can also use a cast net or a lift net to harvest some of the fish from your pond without draining the water.

Figure 162

Figure 163

Figure 164

318 With a cast net or a lift net, it is easier to catch the fish while they are eating and they are all together. Keep the biggest fish and put the smaller fish back into the pond.

Harvesting by draining part of the water

319 If you have only enough water to fill part of your pond, do not drain out all of the water. Drain only part of it.

320 Pull the wood plug closing the outlet, or if you are using a siphon put the siphon in place, and begin to let the water out.

321 Let half the water flow out through the outlet or siphon. Then put the plug back in the outlet or remove the siphon.

322 Now you can begin to harvest your fish with a seine net. Do it the same way as you did in item 316. If you have a seine net with a mesh size of less than 1 centimetre, you will be able to catch all of your fish.

323 Take all the big fish and put the small fish back. If you have too many baby fish, items 340 to 351 will tell you what to do with them.

324 When you are finished harvesting, let water flow back into the pond until it reaches the level of the overflow.

Figure 165

Harvesting by draining all of the water

325 If you have enough good water to fill the pond again, it is best to drain all of the water. Then you will be sure to catch all of the fish and you can clean the bottom of your pond.

326 While the pond is being drained, use baskets or hand-nets to take the fish out of the water. After all of the water has been drained from the pond, you may still find small pools here and there on the bottom. Be careful to gather all of the fish in the pools.

Harvesting fish when you have a monk

Harvesting inside the pond
Harvesting outside the pond

327 If you have built a monk for the outlet of any of your ponds (see items 113 to 119), you can harvest your fish in two ways: You can harvest inside your pond just in front of the monk. You can harvest outside your pond after the fish have passed through the monk and the outlet pipe.

Figure 166

Harvesting inside the pond

328 To harvest your fish inside the pond, remove the wooden boards from the monk one row at a time. Each time you remove a row of boards from the monk, be sure to put the screen back on top to keep your fish from getting out.

329 When the water is partly drained from your pond, harvest part of the fish from the water just in front of the monk.

330 When you are ready to harvest the rest of your fish, continue to take out the boards one by one. However, put back the screen each time until the pond is empty. When all of the water is out, you can harvest the remaining fish. First collect the baby fish and then collect the big fish.

Note: Muddy water is bad for baby fish. If you must walk in the water to collect the baby fish, let a little clean water flow through the pond to keep it from getting too muddy.

Figure 167

Harvesting outside the pond

331 When you have a monk it is sometimes easier to harvest outside the pond, using a screened wooden box to collect the fish after they have passed through the monk.

332 The drawings below show you how to build a harvesting box, using strips of wood and screen. They also show how big it should be.

Figure 168

Figure 169

333 When you are ready to harvest your fish, put the harvesting box in the outlet ditch outside your pond at the end of the pipe from the monk. Make sure that the pipe is well inside the harvesting box so that the fish will not get out.

334 Now, take the screen out of your monk and remove the wooden boards one row at a time. The water will begin to flow out of your pond.

335 Do not put back the screen. When the level of the water in your pond is low enough, the fish will begin to pass over the boards and through the monk to the harvesting box. When they are in the box, you can collect them easily.

Figure 170

Harvesting many fish

336 With bigger ponds and more ponds, you will harvest many more fish. You must be sure, however, that you will be able to use, sell or preserve all of the fish that you harvest.

337 If you will have too many fish to use, sell or preserve if you harvest all of them at the same time, harvest them at different times. You can harvest just a few of your fish on two or three different occasions.

338 You can do this by draining part of the water from your pond and collecting only some of the fish on the first day you harvest. When you have used, sold or preserved these fish, you can harvest more of them.

339 When you are ready to harvest the last of the fish, drain all of the water from the pond and harvest the remaining fish. First collect the baby fish for your nursery pond and then collect the big fish.

Figure 171

What to do with your baby fish

340 When you harvest your pond, you may also catch baby fish that are too small to eat or to be sold at the market.

341 If you have not built a nursery pond, you may need some of these baby fish to put back into the big pond you are harvesting. You may also be able to sell some to another fish farmer. But you must take good care of the baby fish until you are ready to use them or sell them.

Figure 172

Figure 173

342 If you have another pond that is full of water, you can put these baby fish in a pen of split bamboo or net in the corner of the other pond. You can also keep these baby fish in a net pen or in a fish cage (see items 368 to 375 and 435 to 439).

343 If you do not have another pond, you should keep the baby fish alive in a special small pond nearby until you are ready to use them.

344 The small pond can be a simple hole in the ground about 3 by 3 metres and about 40 centimetres deep. You should have it ready before you begin to harvest.

Figure 174

345 Your baby fish will stay alive longer if they are out of the sun. Build the small pond in the shade under a tree or put a shelter over it. You can build a simple shelter using bamboo or wood.

346 Your baby fish will stay alive longer if they have fresh water. Build the small pond with an overflow and put the small pond near the ditch that brings water to your big pond. That way you can have fresh water running through your small pond.

347 You can also let fresh water into your small pond with a small ditch or a siphon.

348 Your baby fish will stay alive longer if you feed them a little food each day. Feed your baby fish termites or finely ground rice bran, cottonseed cake or groundnut cake when they are in the small pond.

Figure 175

Figure 176

349 If you keep your baby fish in a small pond out of the sun in fresh water and if you feed them each day, they will stay alive for about five days. This is enough time to dry and clean and repair the bottom of your big pond, to fill it with water and begin to fertilize it and to put the baby fish back into your big pond.

350 If you have built your own nursery pond, you will not need these baby fish (see items 231 to 252).

351 If you have more baby fish than you can use or sell, you can dry them in the sun. After you have dried the baby fish, grind or pound them and mix them with crushed cottonseed or groundnut cake or with rice bran. You can use this mixture as feed for your big fish, your poultry or your pigs. You can also use the baby fish to fertilize your farm garden.

Figure 177


After 5 months, start taking out a few big fish each week

After 6 months, take more and more fish until they are completely harvested

Harvest only what can be eaten or sold within one day

Store harvested baby fish in a cage, a net or a small pond

Sell the fish or use them yourself as soon as possible

Choose your method of harvesting according to how much water is available and how many fish you want to take out:

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