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Fishponds
History and myths
Pond construction
Shore ponds
Inland ponds



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Inland ponds

Hawaiians also used inland fishponds, enhancing existing natural ponds or putting ponds built for other uses - like taro lo`i - to a second purpose. Most of these ponds were built and used by maka`ainana as well as konohiki.

Loko wai were freshwater ponds located close to the ocean and connected to seawater by ditches or streams. Water in these ponds was usually brackish and the ponds were therefore used to nurture fish and shrimp adapted to those conditions: aholehole (silver perch), `o`opu (gobies), awa (milkfish), `opae ula (small, red shrimp) and limu kalawai (fresh water algae). Since loko wai were existing natural bodies of water, they were rarely larger than half an acre in size. Hawaiians viewed them as a natural resource to be used by the community, rather than belonging to a specific owner.

Similar to loko wai, the loko pu`uone were also located near the sea. These bodies of saltwater had been cut off from the ocean by sea level changes or shifts in sand and coral. The ponds were fed by freshwater streams and springs with circulation improved by the addition of manmade ditches connecting the ponds to the sea. Farmers used smaller ponds to harvest fish for themselves and their families; larger ponds were improved, deepened and maintained for the ali`i. An example of one of these larger ponds is Lelepaua pond at Moanalua on O`ahu. Covering 322 acres, the pond was contained by coral and earth walls 10 feet high.

Fishponds located in irrigated farming plots were called loko i`a kalo. Hawaiians planted taro in terraced fields, flooding the terrace with freshwater once the plants were placed. Areas between the plant mounds became habitat for fish such as aholehole and `o`opu. Fishponds of this type were usually small, limited by the earth and stone embankment materials used in constructing walls and the terrace design that privileged taro growing over fish raising.

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