Aquaculture vs. Mariculture

Fish farming is on the rise more than ever, but what are the differences in aquaculture vs mariculture? Both use human intervention to farm fish, rather than catching them from the wild. However, the way ‘farming’ is implemented varies greatly between the two. Not only that, the different kinds of fish grown in each also distinguish the two. Many people make the mistake of assuming that the difference is between freshwater and saltwater. Although, that’s not the case. This article will show you the crucial differences between aquaculture and mariculture.

What is Aquaculture?

An example of a recirculating aquaculture system

 Aquaculture is a specific type of agriculture that deals with raising fish and other aquatic creatures (such as shrimp or mollusks) rather than other livestock. In fact, aquaculture can also involve growing aquatic plants. Many commercial operations focus on growing freshwater fish, although specialized operations can also grow saltwater (marine) fish. 

Essentially, aquaculture is fish farming in a self contained environment. 

What is Mariculture?

Mariculture is actually a subset of aquaculture. Some mariculture operations can farm freshwater fish, however, it’s far less common. One of the biggest distinctions from typical aquaculture is that mariculture doesn’t take place in a facility with tanks. It takes place in open water, within enclosed spaces. In mariculture, wild fish aren’t caught from the ocean, although they are raised in it.

mariculture system
An example of a mariculture system


Mariculture is like aquaculture, but in open water rather than closed containers. 

Can You Grow the Same Fish in Both?

Now that we know the differences between aquaculture and mariculture, we can discuss what they allow us to cultivate. Can you grow the same fish in aquaculture and mariculture?

In saltwater aquaculture, you can grow some of the typical fish you would in mariculture. However, aquaculture and mariculture are often used to grow different types of fish. That’s because of efficiency and to maintain a proper environment. 

Common aquaculture livestock:

Common mariculture livestock: