Aquaponic Gardening

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Every so often when I talk about aquaponics someone brings up issues around either the captive culture, or humane slaughter of fish.  These are important, relevant questions that we are going to need to wrestle with in aquaponics.


Here is a link to a short PETA editorial that just came out in our local paper about this subject. regularly brings this up.

How do you answer these questions?  Are fish humanely treated in aquaponics?  How do you humanely slaughter a fish?

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John and Rupert,

While I appreciate dark humour as much as the next guy,

we live in partisan and judgemental times

in which the opinions of many rest upon a twenty-second sound bite.

When I read your jesting comments I could just see the headlines;

"Aquaponic terrorists call for the deaths of PETA members!"

"Methods of murder discussed on aquaponics forum!"


If we were lifting a beer in a pub

or a tomato in a greenhouse

I would laugh at your jokes and likely add one of my own.

In public 'print' I think we need to be more aware

of how our words might be used against us.


I'm not trying to be self-righteous or accusing here,

but ours is an infant art and I don't want it to get a black eye needlessly.



Don't get too worked up about it Shas, there is already plenty of stuff out here on the internet that I don't think we should even try to police it all.  I think most of the news that would make such headlines most people probably think are bunk anyway and it is in the section about alien babies and stuff like that.

Gina, I had to go back and re-read Kellen's comments that you find illogical. I find Kellen's logic flawless. Nature is cruel. This is a forum for individuals who take it upon themselves to become stewards of fish, from their beginning to their end. Kellen was not in any way justifying animal torture, quite the opposite.

In nature, big fish eat little fish, and they do so alive, with sharp cutting teeth. So skinning a fish alive is probably the most "natural" method, and every other method presented on this thread is more "humane" than that. 

PETA is a terrorist organization, no different than the Taliban in that respect. To justify their radical stance as being the only way for them to make a statement is appalling. I have no doubt that PETA is mostly good, and is backed by mostly good people, and have mostly good policy for the good of all (mostly). But they fund and support terrorist activities, and extremist doctrine. That is no different than saying the Taliban is mostly good, they just have to bomb a world trade center now and then so people know they are serious. (now let the sparks fly!)

Kellen Weissenbach said:

Two great answers already from TC and Kobus.


I appreciate PETA's stance on treating animals more "humanely", but they largely have no clue as to the harsh realities of the natural world.  Every single day, wild animals of all walks of life die horribly painful deaths to simply feed other wild animals.  Very few wild animals ever make it to the point of "dying of old age", and they certainly don't get the benefit of modern veterinary care or advanced animal husbandry techniques that keep them healthy and disease free.  As a wild animal begins to get older and weaker, they logically become the next most likely target for a predator.  Most of these wild animals experience deaths that make even some of our worst slaughterhouse killing methods seem pretty "humane".  I'm not advocating these methods at all, so please don't confuse my intentions.  Animals raised and slaughtered by caring people enjoy a pretty fantastic life overall.  If they could communicate with us, I'm not sure they would say they would like to become "wild" if given the chance.  Being wild and "free" isn't exactly a piece of cake.


When is PETA going to start addressing all of these horribly painful natural deaths occurring in the wild every single day?  When are they going to take action and prosecute all the "inhumane" lions and tigers in this world?  Maybe they could at least go out and publicly protest their behavior at the site of the crime.  Just kidding, just kidding.


My point... If these people (much of the PETA membership) who seem to think THEY are the superior folks to educate everyone else on how to treat animals actually spent some time LEARNING about animals, they might discover that, while well-intentioned, some of their ideas are absolutely ridiculous.

Neither worked up nor trying to police the entire internet, TC.

Just reminding myself and my cohorts that our words are read by others as well.

If you've never had to try to put out one of these fires,

I can assure you that they are messy and discouraging.

But, hey, it's not my forum.

I just want to be a helpful part of a happy team.

Peace to you.

Hi Gina,

I think you may have misinterpreted my post from Feb of 2011.  I wasn't endorsing unethical slaughterhouse behavior at all.

Shas, I see your point, but PETA has bigger fish to fry, so to speak.

Great discussion, everyone.  I must confess that I"m more of an icebath fan than a whacker...I just have a hard time striking problem, and Rob and Gina I'm sure you are right that that is the more humane way.  Maybe I'll stop being such a girl someday.  Shas, thank  you for your sensitivity  about public perception of AP!  I think you are right on, and I think we should always appreciate when someone steps in like you are and reminds us that this is a public forum and can be viewed by anyone.

I think that all animals should be treated with respect- and respect entails a swift clean kill.  I have always killed my own meat and feel it's the responsible thing to do.  Animal production of all types has a way of hardening handlers and slaughterers/packers.  It's important that we don't become calloused to the fact that an animal is dying to fill our needs.  On the same hand, it's important not to imbue animals with more significance than they deserve.

In the case of fish, my mind is eased somewhat.  The literature indicates that fish don't feel pain in the classical sense- in the same way that insects don't necessarily feel pain.  Pain is essentially a suggestion in higher vertebrates that allows us to make a choice.  Do I run from the fire or do I run into the fire to save that person?  Higher vertebrates gauge pain against profit and are afforded that choice by their brain.  Pain is essentially a chemical quantification of risk for us to use as a gauge.  Most of the research in this area indicates that fish do not have this choice.  They are slaves to their impulses and as such are relatively absent of the sensation of "pain."  They are compelled to move away from stimulus A or toward stimulus B.  The assumption is that the suffering associated with pain is not something that fish experience, instead experiencing more of a frustration associated with not being able to do what they feel compelled to do at worst.  Pain is a sensation inherently tied to choice.

This does not justify cruelty or callous treatment of fish, but eases the mind when a fish appears to be "suffering."

Well said Nate.


I do not think Kellen was justifying animal torture or harsh slaughterhouse methods.   I was questioning his logic about  questioning if PETA realizes how harsh nature is.   What does that matter?  Its an entirely different playing field when we take animals out of nature and into captivity.  The rules change and the human has a great responsibility to now treat that animal humanely.  

The point that skinning a fish alive might mimic a natural shredding from another fish may be true, but what's the point there Jon?  Should we then develop something that mimics how a gazelle might meet its demise with a lion for how we slaughter cattle so it is more like nature?   Again, raising an animal in captivity changes  the rules and as humans we have a ethical responsibility to maintain the bar about what is humane.  

I am well aware of actions PETA takes, however I am not aware of operations that fund endeavors to harm, torture or kill countless humans like the Taliban nor do they have the same platform.  If they have, please point me in a direction where I can see such proof and I will stand corrected.  Yes their tactics are extreme, but as I stated before sometimes extreme actions need to be taken.  I do not agree with nor endorse some of their more radical actions, but I am certain they have provided countless protection for many animals that otherwise would have had none.  You really want to equate them with the Taliban?  Isn't that a bit extreme?

Jon Parr said:

PETA has bigger fish to fry, so to speak.


Oh NO they don't Jon... what blasphemy....
PETA would never FRY A FISH... so much so that they in fact want to rename fish as.......
Well... "sea kittens".....
Gina's right.. it's not fair to compare them to the Taliban.... they're more like Monty Python...
If they want to come after me... let 'em... I'll beat them around the head with a frozen fish finger...

Now that's just funny Rupert.  I'm glad I said I don't agree with everything they do.  But come on, you don't want to refer to your Baramundi as Sea Kittens?  I'll get you a plush Sea Kitten toy of your own!

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