Pond farming in Austria

Gerhart's pond
Photo: BAW

Ponds are man-made drainable bodies of water in our cultivated landscape. Pond farming in Austria looks back at a long tradition and has been known at least since the 13th century (Waldviertel, Zwettl 1280). It experienced its bloom in the 16th century. Today the centres of pond farming are the Waldviertel region in Lower Austria and southern Styria.

Nowadays sophisticated management systems are applied, which enable the sorting into age classes and can have recourse to different pond types.

In the course of the past few years the Austrian annual per-capita consumption of fish and fish products has amounted to 7-8 kg. Being a good and versatile edible fish, the carp contributes with an annual production of 647 t (2018) its share to the domestic edible fish production.

Carps reach their reproductive age at 3 to 4 years. They feed on zooplankton (small crayfish) and zoobenthos (insect larvae, worms, snails), and reach a size of 35 - 50 cm on average and a maximum size of >100 cm and a weight of more than 30 kg. In pond farming carps are fed additionally with cereals and caught with a slaughter weight of 2-2.5 kg in autumn.

Valuable Ecosystems and new Challenges

Ponds are valuable ecosystems in a cultivated landscape, which is structurally weak and poor in water resources. They do not only provide a habitat to threatened animal and plant species, but they also have a positive effect on the microclimate and on the water balance of the landscape. Thus, it is not surprising that ponds where edible fish are bred in a sustainable way are also located in nature protection areas and NATURA 2000 areas. Nevertheless, pond farming is confronted with challenges, which are related to climate change. The water temperatures rise in spring and in autumn, but also in summer, there are temperature peaks, which discomfort the fish. The Federal Agency for Water Management (Bundesamt für Wasserwirtschaft) supports with its experts pond farming not only in coping with these challenges, but offers, moreover, in technical consulting on many aspects of pond management as well as special courses. 

Courses on Carp Pond Farming

For those interested the Federal Agency for Water Management will organise, from 2021 onwards, courses on thematic priorities such as carp biology, pond ecology, pond management, veterinary law, fish diseases, fish harvest, and transport.

Further information can be requested at the E-Mail.