Fishculture
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BANDUNDU
 
Successful  Fish Harvest
Harvest day for a fishfarmer.  The fish of preference for fishculture in Bandundu is Tilapia.
 
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Two large fish ponds Fish farmers strive to build a pond system which allows for regular harvests.  With a 6 month harvest cycle and a six pond system, the farmer can harvest once a month.  

Six pond layout diagram

Click on the image to the left to see a sketch of a valley with a 6 pond system .  A system such as this one can be accompanied with animal husbandry (pig pen, chicken coop, rabbit hutches...) and the manure from these activities can be added to the compost in the water to enhance fish production.   Vegetable gardens can also accompany fish culture and can benefit from the rich mud that is cleaned out of the pond after each harvest.
Moving a log from pond site
Where there are no tractors, farmers must use appropriate methods to carry out large tasks.  Here the farmer has set up a lever system to get a big tree trunk out of his pond site.
Filling the pond with water  Once the pond is built, water is directed to the pond using a system of diversion canals and bamboo piping.  The three farmers in this photo are standing in their compost fence while their pond fills with water.    Compost, in the form of leaves and manure, is used to promote plankton growth.   Plankton is the primary food for Tilapia, a filter feeder.
Stocking the pond with fish After composting, the pond is ready for stocking the young fish or fingerlings.    Farmers sell their fingerlings at harvest to those who need them for stocking purposes.   The young fish are transported by foot in plastic jugs from one pond to another.  
Feeding the fish  Managing the pond is a family affair.  Parents and kids alike bring composting materials as well as food to the pond on a daily basis.   Here the leaves from the acacia which are rich in Nitrogen are being put in the compost fence.   Food for the fish includes manioc, papaya, sweet potato leaves; termites; leftovers from pounding manioc tubers or maize for flour.
Fish nests in pond bank The Tilapia Niloticus male will build a nest on the side of the pond bank like the ones at left.  He will then invite the female to lay her eggs in the nest.  Once laid, the eggs are fertilized by the male.  When the fry hatch, the mother fish broods her babies in her mouth to protect them from predators.  Once old enough the fry will venture out on their own and will no longer seek refuge in their mother's mouth.
Weighing the fish  THE HARVEST!!!  Finally after 6 months of feeding, the fish are ready to eat.    Here a farmer and his wife look over their fish before sharing some with their family and putting the rest aside for sale. 
Fish for sale Another family after harvesting their pond.  The fish are either sold fresh at the pond bank or they are processed for later sale.  The fish can be deep fried in palm oil for sale 1 or 2 days after harvest or they can be salted and stored for sale at a later date.  
Frogs legs on display

 On the banana leaf in this photo, one can see a good number of frog's legs.  Frogs come to live in the ponds  and the day of the harvest, farmers collect them as they try to leave the pond.  The legs are prepared and fried in palm oil.  Very tasty treat!!

Natural head gear   Three musketeers Congo style.  These guys are celebrating a great harvest a the pond bank.  As you can see, forest leaves can make for good hats.

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