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An Outline of the History of Fishpond Culture in Silesia, the Western Part of Poland

Surface Water Hydrology

  1. Maria A. Szumiec

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.sw711

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Szumiec, M. A. 2005. An Outline of the History of Fishpond Culture in Silesia, the Western Part of Poland. Water Encyclopedia. 3:135–141.

Author Information

  1. Zaborze, Chybie, Poland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


The need for pond construction in Silesia arose from the lack of large natural waterbodies and the long distance to the sea. The abundance of water, benign climate, fertile soils, the growing demand for fish in the developing towns; and the possibility of transporting fish along the rivers favored the development of fish farming.

The first development and breakdown of fishpond culture occurred between the twelfth and middle of the fifteenth century. Probably, Cistercians began to breed fish in ponds in the eleventh or twelfth century. Fishpond farming developed after the rivers and natural waterbodies had been wastefully exploited owing to the increasing population and strict observance of fasting. The highest progress in fish farming occurred in the fourteenth century and resulted from a rapid economic progress accompanying the growing mining industry and developing trade. Numerous fishponds as well as the introduction of the carp, probably from Czech and Moravia, allowed people to meet the religious demands.

The fish from Upper Silesian ponds were transported by the River Vistula to Cracovia the capital of Poland where the king's court and an increasing number of citizens created high demand for fish. In some estates, the income from pond farming was estimated at 50–60% of total income.

Pond complexes also alleviated and prevented frequent freshets and floods in mountainous regions where forests disappeared owing to developing ferrous metallurgy. In periods of drought, pond waters were used to irrigate fields. Ponds were also built to reclaim marshy sites and to increase the area of cropland and meadows.


  • history;
  • carp culture;
  • politics;
  • climate;
  • economy;
  • social system