James G. (James George) Needham.

The life of inland waters; an elementary text book of fresh-water biology for students online

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physical, chemical and
hydrographic condi-
tions, their purity, con-
tamination, and all
other conditions that
affect the welfare, that
promote or hinder the
normal growth and ac-
tivities of the useful
organisms contained in
them. We must know
these things in order
to know how to make
and keep the waters productive.

Knowledge is being accumulated in all these lines
in a slow and desultory way, thro the voluntary
activity of many diverse and widely scattered agencies.
Fish culture has not yet had the benefit of that
efficient agency of economic progress that has brought
such rapid improvement in animal husbandry the
experiment station. A fish cultural experiment station
is what is now urgently needed : an institution equipped
for water culture, and charged with the duty of carrying
out a well planned line of experiments bearing on its
economic problems. This is needed to supplement the
hatcheries and to bring their work to fruition.

FIG. 239. Eggs of the pike, Esox
lucius, overgrown with two species of


I HE three chief interests
of the public in water
culture lie (i) in mak-
ing the waters produc-
tive ; (2) in keeping the
waters clean and (3) in
preserving the beauty
of the waterside. Hap-
pily, these are con-
cordant, and not con-
flicting interests.

Another interest of everybody is in pure water to
drink. For city-dwellers, public water supplies must
be kept uncontaminated a matter of ever increasing
difficulty as our population grows. This vast subject
falls without our present scope: its literature may be
found by following up a few references (Whipple, et. al.)
given in the bibliography at the close of this volume.

There are two very large reclamation enterprises,
with which water culture should have much to do in the
future :

1. The reclamation of waste wet lands, and

2. The utilization of water reservoirs.

A few words may be said here concerning each of these.


4O2 Inland Water Culture


There are millions of acres of waste wet lands in
America, that are producing little or nothing of value.
That this land will yet be made to contribute much
more largely to human sustenance, there can be no
doubt: for,

1. It is the richest of all the land, in foodstuffs that
make for soil fertility. It contains organic remains
accumulated for ages, together with the wash from
surrounding slopes.

2. It is generally the best located of all the land
with respect to transportation facilities. Inland
marshes almost everywhere are traversed by railways,
their levels having invited the attention of the route-
locating engineer; many marshes border on navigable

3. It is the last of the land available for occupation,
and with our population quadrupling every century,
the pressure for room is becoming ever more intense.

While it is inevitable that most of this land will yet
be used for production of human food, it is by no means
certain how this may best be done. Drainage is the
one method hitherto tried, but drainage has its serious
limitations :

1. Much of the wet land cannot be profitably

2. Its value as a water reservoir is largely destroyed
by drainage.

There is another plan for making marshes productive
that has not yet been tried on any adequate scale -a
plan that involves water culture as well as agriculture.
The marshes now neither wet nor dry cannot be
used as they are; but if by a shifting of some of their
topsoil they be made in part into permanently dry,
and in part into deeper reservoirs of water, they might

The Wastage of Reservoir Sites 403

then be cultivated in their entirety. The dry part
would be available for ordinary agricultural use and
crops can be grown by methods already well worked
out. The permanent water could be made to produce
fish and fish forage and other water crops. The
advantages of this plan over drainage would appear
to be the following:

1. Increased productiveness.

2. Permanent water storage.

3. Diversifying of crops: it would not be merely
adding more of crops already extensively cultivated.

4. Diversifying the industries of the people.

5. Completer utilization of the wet areas.


There is another service that water culture may
render to great public works. It may make water
reservoirs productive. The various measures now
being widely considered for the development of our
water resources should be co-operative rather than con-
flicting. The making of reservoirs for holding the
surplus rainfall near the headwaters of streams, allow-
ing it to flow as needed, should result in three distinct
and permanent civic benefits:

1. Permanent water power.

2. Continuous navigation.

3. Increased production of food.

One of the things that has stood in the way of the
development of reservoirs has been the necessity for
condemnation of valuable agricultural lands needed
for the reservoir site. Such lands when covered with
water, are of course, removed from agricultural use.
But they might yet be used for water culture, and
indeed the value of the resulting crops might thereby
be increased.

404 Inland Water Culture

Some special development of the water bed would,
of course, be needed to fit them for an intensive water
culture. The one great open basin of water, now full
and now reduced, that is the usual thing in reservoirs,
would hardly suffice. But with no extraordinary
increase of cost the greater part of the bottom, espe-
cially in shoal water, might be divided into fish ponds,
so constructed as to be under control. By deepening
these considerably and using the excavated earth for
building strips of dry land between them, the holding
capacity of the reservoir might be increased. It would
be increased by just so much as the volume of earth
taken from below and placed above the high water
level. Then as much water as under the present plan
could be drawn off for power or navigation, and the
residue in the pond bottom would suffice for main-
tenance of the fishes therein.

On this plan, in a reservoir of 100 acres having 90
acres of shoal water on which fish ponds could be
developed, 50 acres could be permanently devoted to
fish raising, and at least half or much more to agricul-
tural crops, without interfering with its efficiency for
water storage and regulation of stream-flow. This
would be much better than having it all lie fallow to the
end of time. It would transform a water waste into a
water garden. Incidentally, it would cure also the
unsightliness of a vast area of exposed and reeking mud
during the season of low water.

The beauty of the shore-line Another public interest
with which water culture must ever be identified is that
of preserving the beauty of the landscape. As nature
has given of her bounty to the waterside, so also she has
lavished her beauty there.

What flowers adorn the shore-line! The fragrant
water lily, the stately lotus, the queenly iris, the bril-

The Beauty of the Shore Line


liant hibiscus, the soft blue pickerel- weed, the sweet
forget-me-not! What foliage in pondweed and water

FIG. 240. The common wild forget-me-not.

shamrock, in arrowhead and arrow-arum, in water-
shield and spatterdock! What exquisite submerged
meadows the pondweeds, bladderworts and the mil-
foils make! How inviting are the shores where these

Inland Water Culture

abound, how unattractive, those from which these have
been removed.

The landscape belongs to all. Its condition affects
the public weal. It is good to dwell in a place where
the environment breeds contentment ; where peace and
plenty and satisfaction grow out of the right use of
nature's resources; where wise measures are taken to
preserve the bounteous gifts of nature and to leave them
unimpaired for the use and benefit of coming genera-

Much of the scenic beauty of every land lies in its
shore lines; and it should be a part of public policy to
keep unimpaired as far as possible the attractiveness of
all public waters. Streams differ far less from one
another in their own intrinsic characters than in the
way they have been used by the hand of , man. They
differ less by topography and latitude ; far more by the
cleanness of their waters, by the trees that crown their
headlands, and by the flower-decked water-meadows
that fill their bays and shoals. The famous distant
lakes and streams that attract so many people far from
home every summer are not more beautiful or restful
than many homeland waters once were, or might
again be, were but a little public care exercised to keep
their waters clean and the beauty of their shores and
bordering vegetation unspoiled.

Private water culture Great as are the benefits to be
hoped for in public works, those to be derived from the
application of a rational water culture to private
grounds are probably in the aggregate far greater. On
thousands of farms there are waterside waste lands,
lying bare and abused, that might be reclaimed to use-
fulness and beauty through intelligent water culture.

The making of a pond on the home farm is good work
for the slack season; and once properly constructed it

Private Water Culture


is permanent, and will with a minimum of attention
yield returns out of all proportion to its cost. It will
yield fresh fish for the table. It will yield healthful
sports for the boys and girls who should be kept at
home; angling, and swimming in the summer and
skating in the winter. It will yield beauty ; the beauty
of a mirroring surface, reflecting trees and hills and

FIG. 241 . A beautiful cover for a mud bank. The water-shamrock, Marsilea,
in front, then arrowheads, then sedges.

sky and passing cloud; the beauty of the aquatics
planted on the shore line: the beauty of the water
animals, of flashing dragonfly and gyrating beetles, and
leaping fishes. It will add to the joy of living.

The accompanying diagram is intended as a sugges-
tion for the development of a tract of upland waste wet
land into a water garden. Its noteworthy features are
found in the provision for growing forage under control,
and, in so far as need be, apart from the animals


Inland Water Culture

FIG. 242. Diagram illustrating the conditions for fish production on an 80

acre tract of wet upland, traversed by a trout stream. A, in a wild state.

B, equipped for intensive fish raising.

Area devoted to fish, in A, one acre more or less; in B, one acre of enclosed ponds.
Devoted to fish forage, in A the same acre of open stream, in B, forty acres of ponds,

planted and under control.
Devoted to land crops, in A none, it is all too wet and sour; in B, all the made land

between the ponds.

that are to eat it. This is a suggestion for the application
of the principles discussed in the earlier pages of
this chapter. There is, of course, nothing original
about it: it is what has made modern animal hus-
bandry possible. It has not been applied to fish cul-
ture, however, and we are not able to give any figures of
production because it has not been tried out in a practi-
cal way even on such a scale as is here shown.

Swamp Reservations Now, having presented apian
for complete utilization of the marshes, we hasten to
add that we believe it would be a great misfortune if

Swamp Reservations 409

all the marshes were to be "improved." Some of them
are already serving their best use as refuges and breed-
ing grounds of wild water fowl. In all of them there is
a whole wonderful fauna and flora that we could ill
afford to lose. That these would be lost under an

FIG. 243. Wall painting
from an ancient Egyptian
tomb showing the plan of a
house with a water-garden.
(After Brinton).

intensive water culture is highly probable (see fig. 244),
for our own cultivated crops are in the main successful
about in proportion as we eliminate the wild to make
room for them.

Since the wet land is almost the last of the unoccupied
land remaining near to the centers of human habitation,
and since it is the dwelling place of the largest remnant
of native wild life, we should not be taking measures for


Inland Water Culture

FIG. 244. A pond at Lake Forest, 111., containing islands covered by t

For effects of grazing

making it over to cultural uses without at the same time
providing reservations where the wild species may be
preserved for future generations. Each of these wild
species is the end product of the evolution of the ages.
When once lost it is gone forever: it can never be
restored. We are not wise enough, nor farsighted
enough to know whether the qualities lost with it would
ever be of use to our posterity. We are now only at
the beginning of knowledge of our plant and animal

But quite apart from any possible economic values
that these creatures of the wild may possess, they have
other values for us that we should not ignore. Ere

Swamp Reservations


i and divided by a pasture fence. The left hand end is closely pastured.
! the extreme ends.

their destruction is complete, public reservations
should be made to preserve the best located of the
marshes for educational uses. As we have need of
fields and stock-pens because we must be fed, so also
we have need of this wild life because we must be
educated. It was with our forefathers in their early
struggles to establish themselves in the New World:
it conditioned their activities, lending them succor or
making them trouble. In its absence it will be harder
to comprehend their work. The youth of the future
has a right to know what the native life of his native
land was like. It will help to educate him.

412 Inland Water Culture

Exploitation is reaping where one has not sown.
Mere exploitation is but robbing the earth of her
treasures. Usually it enriches only the robber, and him
but indifferently. Getting something for nothing usu-
ally does not pay. It tends to rob posterity.

Exploitation is the method of a bygone barbarous
age an age when men, emerging from savagery,
acquire dominion over earth's creatures ere attaining
to a sense of responsibility for their welfare.

Conservation is the method of the future. It means
greater dominion and completer use, but it also means
restraint and regard for the needs of future generations.
We are urging that in the use of our aquatic resources,
the wasteful methods of exploitation be abandoned;
and in two directions:

1. We urge that water areas, adequate to our
future needs for study and experiment, be set apart
as reservations and forever kept free from the dep-
redations of the exploiter, and of the engineer.

2. We urge that in those areas which are to be made
to contribute to human sustenance, the wasteful,
destructive and irresponsible practices of the hunter be
abandoned for the more fruitful and fore-looking
methods of the husbandman.


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