Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Aquaculture: Ornamental Fishkeeping in Republican and Imperial Rome

It was not until the great archeological excavations of the 1800's that the socially and politically significant aspects of Roman fish keeping were seriously evaluated; research in this area is ongoing. As we refine our knowledge of fish keeping practices of the ancients, we may perhaps come to comprehend the cultural implications of trends adopted by modern ornamental fish enthusiasts in a whole new light.

The principal source of information found in the following piece comes from James Higginbotham's Piscinae: Artificial Fishponds in Roman Italy (University of North Carolina Press, 1997). This comprehensive study of ancient pisciculture describes sophisticated production-scale breeding operations, freshwater and saltwater ponds with water features that would astound any modern pond keeper, and fish enthusiasts as fanatical as any to be found today. It is rich in "new" ideas for even the most accomplished aquarist. Numerous photographs and blueprints serve to enhance textual descriptions of sites. Touches of architecture, ancient scholarship, and art history add flavor without being at all inaccessible to the not-so-conversant reader; this book is about fish and fishponds, and is written as such. Any advanced aquarist, with or without a preexisting interest in history or archeology, will almost surely find this unique work to be a worthy read.