Prior to the advent of scientific aquaculture in the mid-nineteenth century, English farming manuals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries instructed American colonists in the "art of husbandry," imparting advice and passing on the best-known strategies for keeping and rearing fish in enclosed ponds. The development of such ponds in the New England and Mid-Atlantic colonies during the eighteenth century marked the culmination of a long process by which British-American colonists adapted to declines in natural fish populations brought on by over-fishing and disruption of habitat by water-powered mills. The development of private fish-ponds as an increasingly important component of American mixed husbandry practices in long-settled areas by the end of the eighteenth century illustrates early American farmers’ ability to successfully adapt to self-wrought changes in their physical environment.

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