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a secret. But the world at large remained in ignorance of them and their discovery, until a Physician named Dr. Haxo, addressed a communication to the Academy of Sciences at Paris, in which he described the method of Gehin and Remy and its wonderful results. The Academy was thunderstruck. The Government was informed of the nature of the address, and with great promptitude hastened to secure the services of the two fishermen, who were immediately required to apply their system to several rivers in France whose stock of fish was decreasing. The illiterate fishermen became known as the men whom the French nation "delighted to honour," and rose with astonishing rapidity from the obscurity of country life to the highest pinnacle of piscatorial fame. A short time only elapsed before the system was tried in England with signal success. Mr. Frank Buckland, Mr. Ponder, Mr. Francis, Mr. Ashworth, and Mr. Buist, have distinguished themselves amidst many others by their strong advocacy of the importance of fish-hatching.
A few words will suffice to describe the manner in which it is conducted. Instead of the female being allowed to deposit her eggs in the open stream, they are taken from her and placed in narrow boxes made of wood, earthen ware, lead or zinc, arranged one below the other like the stairs of a staircase. The floor of each box is covered with boiled gravel, and communication is maintained between them by means of short lead pipes. The eggs are placed on the gravel, a stream of water constantly runs over them, and a board is placed over each box to exclude the light. All promises well. Yet some eggs from causes beyond our control will to a certainty die. An inexorable law condemns to death a portion of Nature's handiwork, which so far as human observation extends, possesses elements of vitality not inferior to those by which it is immediately surrounded. Every egg resembles its fellow in shape and colour, but in some less fortunate than others, a hidden operation, a mysterious loss of integrity is secretly effected, whereby their beauty is marred and the course of their development arrested. It is easy to distinguish a dead egg. When in a state of health it is of a fresh pink colour, when the subject of disease it becomes
an opaque-white. It should be removed instantly; if not, it will be covered in a short time with what 100 years ago was described with admirable accuracy as a "fine downy wool; " the eggs in its vicinity will adhere to it, and their death will ultimately ensue. A fortnight after impregnation the eyes of the future fish appear as two black specks in the egg, and a red line coursing along the egg-vesicle indicates the future body. The appearance of the eyes is hailed with delight by the pisciculturist. He may now indulge a well-founded hope that he will reap a sure reward for his labours, and his satisfaction is further enhanced by the knowledge that the eggs will bear transport to any locality however distant. Sometimes the eyes do not appear, although the eggs retain their transparency. They are then called blind eggs, and the absence of the organs of vision is an omen of the worst kind. The eggs will prove barren, and all anxiety for their future welfare may be at once extinguished. In those which remain healthy, the eyes gradually become more clear and distinct, until at the expiration of 60 days trout-ova: and at the expiration of 130 days salmonova, spontaneously rupture and the little fish springs into existence. He is an odd-looking fellow. His most notable points are his coalblack eyes, the most perfect portion of his delicate frame; and his yellow umbilical bag, which supplies him with nutriment for a month. His body is almost transparent, and for the first few days of his life he nestles amongst the stones, trying to avoid the observation of his numerous visitors. By degrees he loses his original clearness, his fins develop, and the bag containing his provisions disappears. He now at the age of one month begins to seek his food from the stream, and the time has arrived when he must be allowed greater scope for his increasing energies. He is accordingly placed in an enclosed piece of running water, and when he has arrived at a certain size, he is turned adrift into the open stream.
Such is a brief sketch of a method which if universally adopted, would in the opinion of many men of science increase the stock of fish in the rivers of England a thousand-fold, and would of necessity tend to place within the reach of many who, from its
high price and scarcity are at present unable to obtain it, an article of food, admitting of endless variety and suitable to every palate. Amongst the multitude of fish which the pisciculturist produces, it is not unusual to find a small minority which deviates in some respects from the standard of perfect symmetry. Thus, two will be joined together throughout their whole length, like the Siamese twins, or, and we have had a specimen of this deformity in our own boxes, two heads will spring from one body, or, and this we noticed in several instances, the body of the fish will describe a circle like a ring. These last have very little power of locomotion, their movements being limited to a perpendicular ascent in the water, with a rapid rotatory motion. It was mentioned above that the period of incubation was for salmon 130 days; for trout 60 days. That is the average time. But, in point of fact, it is the temperature of the water which determines the time at which the eggs hatch out. Salmon-ova, under a high temperature, have produced fish in as short a space of time as 30 days. From 40° to 45o Fahrenheit, is the best temperature for the water in which the eggs are placed. It has been observed that those fish which take the longest time to hatch are always the stronger fish of the two. There is a circumstance connected with the artificial production of grayling which does not apply to any other fresh-water fish, as far as present experiments carry us. It is this; that its body is visible in the egg 9 days from impregnation, and it will actually hatch in 14 days.
But how interesting soever the pursuit of Fish-Culture may be, the first question that offers itself to the consideration of those who intend to practise it as an art, is this; what will it cost? One or two facts only need be mentioned in reply. In one year Mr. Buist hatched 327,000 salmon-ova at Stormontfield, for the sum of £48. And more marvellous still, Mr. Ashworth placed 770,000 eggs in his hatching-boxes at Galway, besides distributing spawning fish in certain rivers previously barren, for £14. The expenses connected with our own experiments on 6000 trout-eggs, may be reckoned at £2 2s. The cost then amounts to very little. 1 do not fear to be accused of wasting your valuable time, if I
spend a few minutes in laying before you a short statement of the number of fish turned into the river Thames during the last five years, under the authority of the Thames Angling Preservation Society. The fish are of six kinds; Salmon, Salmon-Trout, Common Trout, Great Lake Trout, Charr, and Grayling. Mr. Ponder of Hampton, has kindly furnished me with the following figures. In 1862, the total number was 33,950
The whole makes a grand total of 205050
But these figures are as nothing compared with those sent to me three weeks ago by Mr. Buist of Stormontfield, Perth. In 1862, that gentlemen placed 270,000 salmon-ova in his apparatus;
In 1864, the total number was 400,000
The total amounts to 1,470,000 eggs!
Of this vast number four-fifths arrive at perfection, and produce the king of fish, salmon: whereas in the natural mode 1 egg in 1000 comes to maturity. And these figures apply to four years only out of thirteen years, in which Mr. Buist has been engaged in the artificial production of fish. May not then the pisciculturist be allowed to point with some degree of exultation, to the disproportion existing between the insignificance of his means, and the magnitude of his ends? Is there any sister-art which can compete with the art of Fish-Culture in the extreme facility of its adoption, and the unqualified utility of its consummation? I verily believe there is not. To make use of a metaphor borrowed from the turf,
Eclipse is first, and the rest nowhere." But the enterprise of Englishmen does not confine itself to augmenting the natural resources of their native rivers, but extends its efforts to the streams of foreign lands, where the salmon is unknown. Thus Mr. Youl
after many failures has succeeded in transporting salmon-ova, packed in wet moss and charcoal, and placed under an ice-house on board ship, to Australia. A letter from Hobart Town, Tasmania, dated July, 1866, speaks of the continued prosperity of 7000 young salmon and sea-trout, the eggs of which were dispatched from England by Mr. Buckland and Mr. Francis in 1864, entirely at their own expense.
I am anxious, while trying to raise the art of Fish-Culture to its legitimate position in your estimation, not unduly to exalt it. I do not believe it to be omnipotent, but I consider that if used in conjunction with other means for checking the increase of destructive fish in our rivers, and maintaining in good condition their natural advantages, it will prove a most valuable adjunct to the national wealth and enjoyment. It is indeed the peculiar pleasure of those who make Fish-Culture a subject of study, to know that their efforts are directed towards the profit and happiness of their fellowmen. While some scientific minds are actively engaged in ascertaining the greatest velocity and precision at which projectiles of enormous power can be successfully hurled at their own species, while the columns of our leading journals teem with reports of the progress of man's ingenuity in exterminating his own race, while millions of money are consumed in maintaining in efficient discipline masses of men whose sole dreadful duty it is to destroy their own flesh and blood, the lovers of fish-hatching can boast of being disciples of a higher art, scribes of a nobler page, heroes of an inexpensive contest. Their triumphs involve no man's life, their failures imperil no man's limb. The book of Nature is their rich possession, their titles, their honors, their estates. The precious volume is always open and will continue open when, to use the noble language of Burke, "the grave shall have heaped its mould upon our presumption, and the silent tomb shall have imposed its law upon our pert loquacity."
W. L. BARKER.