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Aquaculture vs. Mariculture: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 13, 2024
Aquaculture refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of aquatic organisms in various water environments, while mariculture specifically pertains to the cultivation of marine organisms in ocean or seawater settings.

Key Differences

Aquaculture encompasses a broad range of aquatic organisms, including fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic plants, in diverse environments such as freshwater, brackish water, and marine settings. Mariculture, a subset of aquaculture, focuses specifically on marine environments, cultivating species like oysters, seaweed, and finfish that require saltwater conditions.
The techniques and challenges of aquaculture vary widely depending on the species and environment, including issues related to water quality, disease management, and feed. In contrast, mariculture deals with the unique aspects of marine ecosystems, such as managing open ocean farms and coping with saltwater-specific diseases and nutritional requirements.
Aquaculture is practiced globally and is seen as a solution to meet the rising demand for seafood, with methods ranging from high-tech recirculating systems to simple pond farming. Mariculture, while also a response to seafood demand, often involves specific techniques like offshore cage farming and rope cultivation of shellfish, adapted to the marine context.
Sustainability is a key concern in both aquaculture and mariculture, but the considerations differ. Aquaculture initiatives might focus on minimizing freshwater usage and preventing habitat destruction, whereas mariculture projects prioritize minimizing impacts on ocean ecosystems and managing interactions with wild populations.
In terms of economic impact, both aquaculture and mariculture contribute significantly to the global seafood market. However, mariculture is especially important in coastal regions where it not only provides food but also supports local economies through associated activities like tourism and artisanal fishing.

Comparison Chart


Freshwater, brackish, marine
Exclusively marine

Species Cultivated

Wide range including freshwater species
Primarily marine species


Varies widely, including ponds and tanks
Often includes offshore cages, rope cultivation

Sustainability Focus

Minimizing freshwater use, habitat preservation
Ocean ecosystem impact, wild population interaction

Economic Significance

Global seafood supply, diverse environments
Coastal region development, tourism integration

Aquaculture and Mariculture Definitions


Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms in controlled environments.
The aquaculture industry has grown rapidly to supplement wild fisheries.


Mariculture involves farming marine fish, shellfish, and seaweed in ocean or sea settings.
The mariculture industry is exploring sustainable ways to raise salmon in the ocean.


Aquaculture includes both marine and freshwater farming of aquatic organisms.
Many countries rely on aquaculture for a substantial portion of their seafood.


Mariculture is a specialized branch of aquaculture focusing on saltwater species.
Mariculture operations are often found along coastlines and in offshore waters.


Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and marine species under controlled conditions.
Aquaculture techniques vary greatly, from shrimp farming in coastal ponds to salmon raised in cages.


Mariculture refers to the cultivation of marine organisms in their natural marine environment.
Mariculture techniques are essential for producing high-quality oysters and mussels.


Aquaculture is the practice of breeding, rearing, and harvesting fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants.
Aquaculture is becoming increasingly important for producing sustainable seafood.


Mariculture encompasses the cultivation of marine organisms for food, pharmaceuticals, and ecosystem services.
Mariculture also plays a role in restoring endangered species and habitats.


Aquaculture encompasses the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants for food, recreation, and resource restoration.
Advances in aquaculture technology are helping to improve fish health and environmental sustainability.


Mariculture is the practice of using sea-based systems for the production of seafood.
Innovations in mariculture are helping to meet the growing global demand for seafood.


The cultivation of marine or freshwater organisms, especially food fish or shellfish such as salmon or oysters, under controlled conditions. Also called aquafarming.


Cultivation of marine organisms in their natural habitats, usually for commercial purposes.


The cultivation of aquatic produce such as aquatic plants, fish, and other aquatic animals.


Aquaculture using seawater


The cultivation of aquatic animals, such as fish or shellfish, or of plants, such as seaweed, in a controlled and sometimes enclosed body of water. The term includes use of either salt or fresh water. It is a form of agriculture, but under water.


Rearing aquatic animals or cultivating aquatic plants for food


What is aquaculture?

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, shellfish, and plants, in various water environments.

What does mariculture specialize in?

Mariculture specializes in the cultivation of marine species in oceanic or seawater environments.

Can aquaculture be sustainable?

Yes, sustainable aquaculture practices minimize environmental impact and support resource conservation.

How do aquaculture and mariculture differ?

Aquaculture is a broad term covering all aquatic farming, while mariculture is specifically focused on marine environments.

Is aquaculture important for food security?

Yes, aquaculture plays a crucial role in global food security by supplementing wild fish supplies.

How does mariculture impact coastal economies?

Mariculture boosts coastal economies through seafood production, tourism, and artisanal fishing.

What are the challenges in aquaculture?

Challenges in aquaculture include disease management, environmental impact, and resource use efficiency.

What types of environments does aquaculture use?

Aquaculture uses freshwater, brackish, and marine environments for farming.

What are common mariculture products?

Common mariculture products include oysters, mussels, seaweeds, and marine finfish.

Can mariculture support coral reef restoration?

Yes, mariculture can support coral reef restoration through the cultivation of coral and other reef organisms.

Can mariculture help restore ecosystems?

Yes, mariculture can contribute to ecosystem restoration, such as through shellfish reef rebuilding.

How does aquaculture benefit biodiversity?

Aquaculture can benefit biodiversity through habitat creation and species conservation efforts.

What are future prospects for aquaculture?

Future prospects for aquaculture include expanded sustainable practices, technological advancements, and increased global production.

What role does aquaculture play in the economy?

Aquaculture plays a significant role in the global economy by contributing to food supply and job creation.

Can aquaculture reduce fishing pressure on wild stocks?

Yes, aquaculture can reduce pressure on wild fish stocks by providing an alternative seafood source.

Are there regulations governing mariculture?

Yes, there are regulations governing mariculture to ensure environmental sustainability and species welfare.

Are there innovations in mariculture?

Yes, innovations in mariculture include advanced breeding techniques and environmentally friendly farming methods.

What makes mariculture unique from other farming?

Mariculture is unique due to its exclusive focus on saltwater environments and specific marine species.

What innovations are shaping aquaculture?

Innovations in aquaculture include automated feeding systems, genetic improvements, and sustainable feed sources.

How does mariculture address sustainability?

Mariculture addresses sustainability by minimizing impacts on ocean ecosystems and managing interactions with wild populations.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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