View Full Version : Aquatic Achievements of the Aztecs

05-25-2011, 09:37 PM
Earliest Successful Saltwater Aquaria:

I thought others on the forum might find it interesting to learn a bit about the earliest successful saltwater aquaria: Those of the Texcotzingo (Pronounced /teʃkot͡sinko/) pleasure gardens in Texcoco (Pronounced /tetskoʔko/.)

A little history: Texcoco was an Aztec city in the Valley of Mexico, second only to the colossal metropolis of Tenochtitlan, among the largest cities in the world when the Spanish invaded, and part of the megalopolis that covered the Valley of Mexico.

Now, about the aquaria: First of all, there is unfortunately not much information about the Aztec pleasure gardens' aquaria besides the short phrase "...10 saltwater ponds and 10 freshwater ponds..." which always pops up in all but this document when I search for information about this amazing achievement, so I apologize for the scanty knowledge I have available.

Anyways, these saltwater aquaria were the first in the world to be cycled adequately and the first to keep fish (and probably any other marine species) in a healthy and naturalistic environment. Not to mention the fact that Texcoco is a few hundred kilometres from the nearest coast, which makes this far more impressive than the Roman's anemone bowls, given that the latter's pets usually died before the week was over, were far smaller and not in any way naturalistic, healthy or sustainable for the creatures, unlike the great aquaria of Texcotzingo.

The document is hard to search as it is in image format but it contains a wealth of info on the Aztec pleasure gardens and more than any other piece of information on the internet on Texcotzingo.


Thankfully, more information can be found about Aztec aquaponics than about the Texcotzingo aquaria.

The Aztecs were the first to practice aquaponics, via the chināmitin (Meaning "Square of Cane"; commonly known by the Spanish corruption of the original Classical Nahuatl as "Chinapa" (Spanish & English Singular); Singular: Chināmitl) which were not floating gardens as is popularly believed but raised beds of mud, human waste, guano, plant byproducts and other fertilizers were used to fill the bed slightly above the surface of the waters that surrounded it to grow plants such as maize, beans, squash, flowers, chia, amaranth, &c. far more productively than any other agricultural system in Europe or Mesoamerica at the time and even rivaling much modern agriculture. The fertilized waters among the chināmitin also provided the Aztecs with abundant food in the form of freshwater snails (Such as the Apple snails still eaten today in parts of Central Mexico), Axolotin (The Classical Nahuatl plural of Axolotl, meaning "Water Dog"), Spirulina algae and fish.

Well, that was a long write. I hope you all enjoy it!

05-30-2011, 11:37 PM
Very interesting. It just goes to show how advanced they were compared to Europeans.