Ekkwell Water Life Resources Pond Fish Farms
By: Ichthyologist Thomas R. Reich PhD
No journey into the world of Florida Ponds and their uses could possibly be complete until we discover where all those fish we see in our local pet store come from! Dr. Thomas R Reich, PhD Ichthyologist takes us on a journey through the fascinating world of Florida Pond Fish Farms.
We were given a rare opportunity to visit the tropical fish production facilities at Ekkwell Water Life Resources in Plant City just outside Tampa, Florida. Ekkwell is the oldest active tropical fish farm in Florida and the center of American tropical fish production, and a well known research destination to Ichthyologists like Dr. Reich.
Since its founding in 1962, Ekkwell has expanded to be the world’s largest pond fish farm grower and shipper of freshwater tropical fish, globally distributing over 100 tons of livestock cargo monthly, making live tropical fish the #1 item shipping air freight at Tampa’s International Airport.
This is a very private family business, employing over 60 of the top professionals in agriculture production and pet industry distribution specialists working with the pond fish farm. Many things we were exposed to are trade secrets, and have never been seen outside the gates of this vast complex of pond fish nurseries, we thank the Hennessey Family for their generosity in sharing these intriguing sights!
Ekkwell, in fact, occupies over 450 acres of rearing ponds and over 1,000,000 square feet of indoor breading and hatchery facilities in their pond fish farm facility.
Owner of Ekkwell, Jack Hennessey is very proud that Ekkwell Water life Resources has been awarded over 275 professional and Pet Industry awards, including, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year, US Chamber of Commerce Blue Chip Enterprise Award, US Chamber of Commerce Florida Small Business of the Year, and the US Commissioner of Agriculture Environmental Leadership Award, to name a few.
Dr. Thomas R. Reich explains that there are many types of breeding methods used in a commercial pond fish farm and very specialized methods and equipment used to produce the millions of fry needed to supply the never ending demand for high quality, healthy tropical fish for the home aquarium.
The job of the farm is far from over when the eggs hatch, months of work tending to the pond fish farm and years of experience and expertise combine to develop the tropical aquarium fish that will eventually be shipped and sold in retailers around the world to eager hobbyists.
Many of the babies are moved into the biologically rich outdoor ponds, which can be used to rear the young fish just about year round here in South Florida. After 8 weeks to almost 6 months, depending on the fish species, they are “harvested” through a process known as raking, which is done by hand in the ponds of the pond fish farm with 2 men and a special “raking Net”.
Up to hundreds of thousands of fish are harvested out of each of the 450 ponds in staggered intervals. The fish are then collected and put in special vats on a custom truck and transported back to the indoor facility’s acclamation vats, the first step on their long journey to your local pet store!
Ekkwell Water Life Resources is only one of the many uses of Florida pond fish farms. Dr. Thomas R. Reich encourages you to contact Florida Pond Management for all you Pond related needs and keep Florida’s ponds the best they can be!