Arkansas is considered the “birthplace” of warm water aquaculture in the United States. The first commercial fish farms were built in Arkansas in the 1940s to raise goldfish, and through the years the industry has diversified into production of more than twenty species of fish and crustaceans. These species supply food-fish markets, recreational fishing markets and waters, retail pet markets, gardening supply markets, and markets for aquatic weed and snail control.
According to the Arkansas Agriculture Department, Arkansas ranks second in aquaculture-producing states. It leads in production of bait-fish (live fish bought by anglers as bait for recreational and sport fishing), large-mouth bass for stocker fish, hybrid striped bass fry, and Chinese carp. It is third nationally in catfish production. The world’s largest bait-fish farm (Lonoke County), large-mouth bass farm (Monroe County), goldfish farm (Lonoke County), and hybrid striped bass hatchery (Lonoke County) are can all be found in Arkansas.
Arkansas had around 85 aquaculture operations with $61 million in sales in 2013, the latest year for which data is available.
For more information on Arkansas aquaculture, visit the Aquaculture Division page on the Arkansas Agriculture Department website.