A Fish Hatchery is a fish breeding enclosure introduced in The Elder Scrolls V: Hearthfire. It can be used to breed most of the fish species found in Skyrim, which can be collected to use as ingredients to brew potions at an alchemy lab.
Once it has been built, fish can be bred by activating the hatchery, located at the end of the small timber platform on the west side of the Windstad Manor. This opens a menu that shows a list of suitable fish. Any fish native to Skyrim can be added to the hatchery, as well as clam. Multiple species of fish spawned can be bred at the same time, with no limit.
Trying to add more than one of the same species of fish will result in the message "You only need to add one of each item to the hatchery.", and any surplus fish added to the hatchery will be returned to the inventory upon exiting the menu.
Schools of 2 to 3 fish will begin to spawn in the hatchery every 1 to 3 days of in-game time. In addition to the fish themselves, raising abecean longfin, Cyrodilic spadetail, histcarp, river betty, or silverside perch in the hatchery will also attract blue and orange dartwings, which can also be harvested.
Fish can be harvested manually by entering the water and activating the live fish, much like harvesting wild fish throughout Skyrim.
Note: Harvesting Salmon in this fashion will not yield Salmon Roe.
Fish may be killed using spells or shouts from the shore and the current will carry all the dead fish to the right hand side of the Fishery where they will group together for easy pickup.
Note: Salmon killed by spell or shout will not I.D. when looked at but if activated they will yield both Salmon Meat and Salmon Roe.
If the spell Ice Storm is used and aimed so that the field of effect is half in and half out of the water not only will the fish be killed but all of the "Dartwings" hovering above the water that get caught in the effect also die. The dead "Dartwings" do not float and can be found for easy harvesting directly below where they died.
Slaughterfish Scales can only be harvested by killing the Slaughterfish first. (The Slaughterfish will respawn, however they seem to take longer to do so than the other fish)
The following fish can be bred in the fish hatchery:
- Abecean Longfin
- Cyrodilic Spadetail
- Clam Meat
- River Betty
- Salmon using Salmon Roe
- Silverside Perch
- Slaughterfish using Slaughterfish Eggs
The following ingredients begin to spawn in or around the hatchery after fish have been added:
- Blue and Orange Dartwing
- Salmon Roe
- Slaughterfish Egg, on the sea floor after slaughterfish have been added.
- Slaughterfish bred together with other fish will not eat the other fish, or slow down their spawn rate. Unlike wild Slaughterfish, those bred in the hatchery will not attack when nearby.
- However, if the Dragonborn attempts to harvest their fish and the spell/shout used to harvest the fish hits but does not kill a slaughterfish, said slaughterfish may become hostile to the player. For example, using the first word of the "Unrelenting Force" shout on a salmon with a slaughterfish in the line of fire may cause the slaughterfish to attack the player.
- As Deathbell grow abundantly in Hjaalmarch where the homestead is located, breeding River Betty to brew with harvested Deathbells can be very profitable, easily covering the costs required to purchase and build Windstad Manor.
- The most expensive potion that can be created from ingredients produced exclusively from the fish hatchery is made from Histcarp + Salmon Roe + Silverside Perch. This potion has 4 effects and has a base value of 1,149 (4,044 with perks and fortification effects).
- After fast-traveling to Windstad Manor, all of the fish may be missing from the hatchery and all of the clams and clutches of slaughterfish eggs may be empty.
- This bug is easily fixed by reloading the area; e.g., by walking into the house and back out again.
- Occasionally, when waiting the required amount of time near the hatchery, the fish will not spawn. To fix this, simply head inside, and come back outside.