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Hungarian Integrated Aquaculture Practices

Z. Jeney

Fish Culture Research Institute

Szarvas, Hungary


Increased production costs, environmental impact problems, and utilization of poor quality soils were the main reasons for the development of integrated aquaculture in Hungary. Fish-cum-duck culture, aquacultural rotation, and the use of different sources of manure in aquaculture systems are the typical forms applied.

In monoculture, 300-500 ducks/ha can increase common carp production by 140-175 kg/ha. In polyculture utilizing silver and bighead carps, a fish yield of 2 t/ha can be achieved without supplemental feeding, and 1,000-1,200 kg of ducks (2.0 to 2.4 kg each) can be produced simultaneously.

A three-phase aquacultural rotation has been developed for areas with poor quality sodic soils. The first phase, lasting 2-3 years, is the double meat production. It is a kind of fish-cum-duck culture with a polyculture of fishes, and results in an approximately 300% increase in total meat production (duck and fish). The second phase is the "forage-crop production on pond-bottoms," lasting 4-5 years. A mixture of alfalfa and red clover proved to be the most economical when raised on the dried bottoms of the same ponds. In the third phase, rice is produced on pond bottoms, resulting in 50-100% higher yields than the average for the country. After three years of rice culture the rotation system starts again.

The use of manure in fish ponds has the "lowest level" of integration with fish culture. Solid and liquid pig manure, fermented chicken manure, as well as domestic sewage water have been tested and are partly applied in Hungary.


Asia has been the cradle of different forms of integrated crop-livestock-ftsh farming systems (I:)elmendo 1980, Dela Cruz 1980, Sinha 1986). Although there have been attempts to utilize these systems around the world (North America -- Buck et al. 1979, Latin America -- Pretto 1985, Western Europe -- Muir 1986), probably only the Israeli (Schroeder 1980, Hepher and Pruginin 1981, Sinha 1986) and the Eastern European practices (Muller 1978; Woynarovich 1979, 1980a,b; Kintzly and Olah 1981; Kintzly et al. 1983; Olah 1986; Varadi 1990) are comparable to the Asian version.

The aim of this review is to characterize Hungarian integrated aquaculture practices and briefly to compare them With the Asian practices.

Integrated Aquaculture Systems

In general, integrated aquaculture systems have several advantages and disadvantages, as listed in Table 1.

TABLE 1 Integrated Aquaculture: Advantages and Disadvantages (Muir 1986)



Shared use of resources

Mismatch of production cycles

Elimination or reduction of waste problems

Possible overloading or undersupply

Reduced cost of production

More complex, less definable systems

Improved operation of components

Divided management goals

Wider opportunities

Limitations in potential sites

Low-cost heating and growth

Public health problems


Use of chemicals

The different systems show great variety in size and complexity. Several attempts have been made to classify the integrated aquaculture systems. Muir (1986) grouped them into three main types, depending on where the aquaculture is integrated (Table 2).

TABLE 2 Integrated Aquaculture Systems (Muir 1986)







Rice, cassava, wheat, crop leaves, palm, rubber, ipil-ipil

Use of land, shelter, security

Nutrients, floc, organic matter




Pigs, ducks, chickens, sheep, goats, cows, buffalo, rabbits, geese

Reservoirs, process water irrigation channels

Aquatic vegetation




Power stations, furnaces and ovens, breweries, distilleries




Breweries, distilleries, agricultural processors



Further divisions have been made according to the level of integration (Barash et al. 1982), the basic components of integration (Dela Cruz 1980), and whether integration is direct or indirect (i.e., if the components are some distance apart, or if intermediate processing is required to integrate them), or whether the integration is parallel or sequential (i.e., if components run at the same time or if, e.g., fish crops run alternately with agricultural crops). Sinha (1986) grouped these according to the site of integration (Table 3).

TABLE 3 Main Types of the Integrated Aquaculture (Sinha 1986)


Integration in the water body:


Integration on the water:


1. Paddy-cum-carp culture


1. Pig-cum-fish


2. Integration with irrigation


2. Duck-cum-fish


Integration near the water


Fish and sewage


Varadi (1990) differentiated integrated aquaculture based on the size and complexity of integrated animal husbandry:

1. The small-scale, Asian type of integrated fish farming means the aquaculture activity is directly linked to one or more activities (Figure 1). The possible advantages of integrated aquaculture as cited above (Muir 1986), can really be recognized in these systems. Small-scale integration, however, does not necessarily mean complex integration. In many of the small farms, livestock are raised separately from the fish ponds and the manure is transported to the ponds.

FIGURE 1. Scheme of a typical Asian-type fish-cum-pig production unit (Varadi 1990)

2. In large-scale integrated fish farming, integration usually means only the use of manure (liquid manure) in aquaculture systems. The simple integration scheme of a fish and an animal production farm is shown in Figure 2.

FIGURE 2. The scheme of the simple integration of a fish and livestock production farm (Varadi 1990)

Aquaculture In Hungary

Aquaculture in natural waters is one of the oldest activities in Hungary. Pond fish farming became more common with the regulation of rivers in the nineteenth century. About 140,000 ha of water currently are under fishery production; 23,000 ha of that are pond surfaces. Aquaculture in

Hungary is based exclusively on freshwater, and is somewhat unusual in that freshwater fish production per capita is one of the largest in Europe (34,000 tons in 1990), while fish consumption in Hungary is only 4.2 % of the total meat consumption, and is one of the lowest in Europe (3.2 kg/per capita in 1989).

Fish farms in Hungary are using semi-intensive methods on poor soils (not suitable for other agricultural activities). The typical culture system is the carp (Cyprinus carpio L.)-dominated polyculture, with "herbivorous" fishes, such as silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Val.), bighead (Aristichthys nobilis Rich.), and grass carp (Ctenopharyagodon idella Val.). In such systems the average total yield is 1 ton/ha.

The more valuable fishes cultured in Hungary are the European catfish or sheatfish (Silurus glands L.), the pike-perch (Stizosteidon lucioperca L.), pike (Esox lucius L.), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss Walb.), and the eel (Anquilla anguilla L.). For pike, pike-perch, and sheatfish, special Hungarian methods of propagation and culture have been developed. The Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baeri Brandt) and hybrids of crosses of the Siberian sturgeon with the sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus L.) are the newest and most promising fish for intensive systems. Development of culture technologies for endemic crayfishes (Astacus astacus L. and Astacus leptodactylus L.) also is a new direction in aquaculture. Meanwhile, the largest challenge met by Hungarian aquaculture is privatization. The domination of state ownership is changing. In 1989, 70% of pond surface belonged to state farms, 28% belonged to agricultural and fishery cooperatives, and less than 1% was private. Among the "users of natural waters" the ratio of the private sector is even lower. However, in spite of a general recession in Hungarian aquaculture in the last 2-3 years, in 1990, the private sector increased its production five times.

Integrated Aquaculture In Hungary

Increased production costs (primarily water and energy), environmental impact problems, and utilization of poor quality soils were the main reasons for the development of integrated aquaculture in Hungary. Fish-cum-duck culture, aquacultural rotation, and the use of manure from different sources in aquaculture systems are the typical programs.

Thus, Hungarian fish culture was integrated mainly with agricultural activities, namely vegetable culture (fish-duck-rice-alfalfa-red clover), and animal husbandry (fish-cum-duck) to include the use of manure (pig, chicken, sheep). In addition, experiments with industrial integration were initiated to utilize the heated effluents of power stations for fish culture, as well as the utilization of by-products of slaughterhouses and pharmaceutical factories for feeding fish. As an example of the integration of aquaculture with sanitation, the utilization of domestic sewage waters in fish culture was also attempted.

Fish-Cum-Duck Culture

Raising ducks on fish ponds in Europe was developed as a large-scale integration system after the Second World War when there was a serious protein shortage, and the lack of mineral fertilizers became a bottleneck to further development of pond fish culture (Woynarovich 1980b). Hungary initiated such large-scale experiments as early as 1952. The main advantages of fish-cum-duck culture compared to integration with other animals (Barash et al. 1982) include the following:

- Duck culture can be introduced easily without any substantial changes to the environment

and the facilities.

- The nutritional value of the manure is preserved because losses of N and energy due to

fermentation, evaporation, and non-reversible coagulation are eliminated.

- Feed residues are eaten directly by fish.

- Costs of collecting, storing, and transporting the manure are eliminated.

- Land area, otherwise needed for manure-producing livestock is saved.

- A solution is provided to problems of environmental pollution by animal wastes.

- The environment for manure-producing livestock is improved.

- Ducks eat natural feeds that develop in the pond.

FIGURE 3. Scheme of some typical fish-cum-duck rearing systems (Varadi 1990)

Three major duck rearing methods can be differentiated:

• Embankment rearing;

• Platform rearing; and

• Enclosure rearing, or their combination. The schemes of these systems are shown in Figure 3 (after Varadi 1990).

In Hungary, 300-500 ducks can be raised on 1 ha of water during one summer. The vegetation season (when the water temperature is higher than 15° C) is about 150 days. According to the estimation of Woynarovich (1980b) 100 kg of duck manure distributed continuously in pond water increased common carp production in monoculture by 4-S kg/ha. That means 500 ducks can increase common carp production by 140-175 kg/ha. If polyculture of fishes is applied, 1,000-1,200 kg of ducks are produced, in addition to the yields of marketable fish (common carp -- 1,000-1,200 kg/ha; silver carp -- 500-600 kg/ha; bighead -- 150-200 kg/ha). With a decrease in ratio of common carp and an increase in ratio of herbivorous fishes (silver carp and bighead) fish yields of 2 t/ha can be achieved without supplemental feeding (Woynarovich 1980b).

Trials to introduce fish-cum-goose aquaculture into Hungary were limited.

Aquacultural Rotation

Aquacultural rotation was developed for unproductive sodic soils in Hungary by Muller (1978). Aquacultural rotation is a kind of sequential integration and may be adapted for any flat area where the soil is suitable for fish and rice culture. The optimal size of ponds is 30-50 hectares. Inner sides of the dams are to be constructed with a moderate slope (1 :5, 1 :4), thus assuring their protection. The filling and drainage system of each pond must be independent, using irrigation water and a drainage system by gravity. The pond bottom should be large enough for rice fields of 2-3 hectares. Within the rice fields the bottom-level differences should not exceed + 5 cm.

Three Phases of Aquaculture Rotation

1. Double meat production. This is similar to fish-cum-duck culture. On a fish pond of 30-50 ha, 10,000-12,000 ducks may be raised at the same time, and this can be repeated 3-4 times a year. Average weight of marketable ducks 48-50 days old is between 2,600 and 3,000 g. Natural fish yields doubled where duck rearing had been practiced for 2-3 years Table 4, after Muller 1978). Total meat production (duck and fish) of a pond with fish-cum-duck culture was 3.2 times higher than a traditional pond using a polyculture of carp and silver carp.

2. Forage-crop production on pond-bottoms. Organic matter and mud deposited during the first phase of the aquacultural rotation for 4-5 years offers an opportunity for agricultural crop production on the dry pond bottom. Muller (1978) found that leguminous plants and a mixture of alfalfa and red clover gave yields up to 85.05 t/ha of green weight. With irrigation, polyploid red clovers provided the highest yields. The soil is enriched in nitrogen and calcium by the alfalfa.

TABLE 4 Increase in Weight (kg/ha) of Fish and Ducks Raised Together (After Muller 1978)


Year 1


2Year 3

Year 4

Increase in weight of fish





Natural yields





Increase in weight of ducks





Total increase in weight






3. Rice production on pond bottoms. Pond bottoms are considerably improved during the first two phases of aquacultural rotation, significantly increasing organic matter and nitrogen level. This nutrient enrichment can be favorably utilized for rice production. The third phase lasts for three years. Highest yields of rice were obtained following production of alfalfa, with mixtures of red clover. Yields were 0.7-1.0 tons higher using this combination, than those following sunflower, sorghum, and maize production. Muller (1978) achieved 50-100% higher yields using this technique than the average yields of rice in Hungary, with a maximum at the level of 5 t/ha. After three years of rice production, the dams of the rice fields are levered and fish-cum-duck production starts again.

Use Of Manure In Fish Ponds

In this case integration strictly means the application to fish ponds of manure produced elsewhere. Animals like chickens, pigs, and cows are raised in special cultural units that are not integrated into the fish farm. Since Hungary is a large pig producer, the application of pig wastes in fish ponds could be the best example of this type of integration. The utilization of pig manure in fish ponds started in the 1950s, when only common carp were stocked. At that time, a disagreeable side effect of heavy manuring often occurred, in the form of algae blooms. Since the 1970s, Chinese carp have been stocked in polyculture with the common carp (Table 5), and this problem was eliminated.

In early studies, a critical question was how much pig waste could be utilized per unit of fish pond without running the risk of a fish kill from oxygen depletion. Experience has shown that usable quantities of pig wastes in fish ponds depend on the delivery and distribution methods: 1,500-2,000 kg/ha/yr can be used when pig manure is placed in the pond in localized heaps. When a carbon manuring method is applied, however, it is possible to distribute 300-600 kg/ha of manure, 1,000-1,500 kg/ha of the thick liquid phase of the manure, or 1.2-2.5 m²/ha of commercial pig waste, over the pond surface, on a daily basis. The maximum possible waste loading in fish pond was determined to be two to three times higher than the above quantities. The total manure loading per hectare of pond surface was calculated between 40 and 80 pigs/ha (Woynarovich 1980a).

Later studies (Kintzly and Olah 1981, Kintzly et al. 1983) addressed the optimal level of the used liquid pig manure as well as the optimal polyculture structure. Biculture of silver carp with common carp (2,500 p/ha + 1,000 p/ha) gave higher yields than both the monoculture and polyculture, with a maximum yield of 2.06 t/ha/year. In monoculture the fish did not reach the 1 kg body weight that is the marketable size in Hungary. Good results were obtained when tench (Tinca tinca L.) were introduced into the polyculture.

Advantages of the methods used in Hungary are:

- Pig waste can be placed into the fish ponds during the vegetation period, while on the fields the application is possible only during late autumn.

- Fish had low levels of fat.

- The discharged water from these fish ponds met the requirements of environmental protection standards.

- Investigations of fish meat quality gave positive results.

Disadvantages of the methods used in Hungary are:

- The bottom of the ponds accumulate organic materials.

- Transport costs of liquid manure became the limiting factor for the application of this method.

- When using the drainage system, only the gravitation method was economically reasonable under Hungarian conditions (Kintzly 1991, personal communication).

TABLE 5 Typical Hungarian Polyculture Technology


Stocking Density







Year 1

Common carp





Chinese carp


Year 2

Common carp


250-300 (20-30)



Chinese carp


same (20-30)


Year 3

Common carp





Chinese carp




* p/ha = piece/hectare

Some Basic Differences Between Asian And Hungarian Integrated Aquaculture

Reasons for integration. Economic as well as environmental aspects dominate in Hungary. In Asia, a dominant reason is the increased production of animal protein for the improvement of the economic condition of farmers.

Forms of integration. In Asia, integration has a higher level of complexity, and is scattered among small-scale agricultural activities.

Future of integration. There is less prospect for integration in the near future in Hungary than in

Asia, due to current economic changes. After the ongoing changes in ownership in Hungary,

environmental issues will probably impact strongly on integrated aquaculture.


The author thanks the Office of Research, USAID, for funding the network meeting and

publication of this paper.

References Cited

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