- Main article: Homestead (Hearthfire)
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. Once all species, which are listed below, have been inserted there is no need to ever interact with the hatchery unit on the platform again.
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.
Six fish of every species, except Slaughterfish, inserted will begin to spawn in the hatchery about every two days of in-game time. In addition to the fish themselves, raising any fish other than Salmon, Clam or Slaughterfish in the hatchery will also attract blue and orange dartwings, which can also be harvested. Inserting more different species simply yields more fish, restricting the biodiversity will not yield more fish of the desired species. Once added, a fish species cannot be removed from the hatchery.
Fish can be harvested manually by entering the water and activating the live fish, much like harvesting wild fish throughout Skyrim.
In order to get Salmon Roe from Salmon, the fish must be killed first. This can be done with Unrelenting Force, a melee weapon or a bow. Flames or Frostbite will not work. The dead Salmon will not I.D. when looked at but if activated they will yield both Salmon Meat and Salmon Roe.
The current will carry any dead fish to the right hand side of the Fishery. They will group together there for easy pickup.
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. If this is done, the Slaughterfish Eggs on the bottom will stop spawning until the Slaughterfish themselves respawn. Unlike the other fish which respawn in about two days, the Slaughterfish will take about as long as animals in the wild to respawn.
Shouting Clear Skies will kill all fish within its range without making slaughterfish hostile.
The following fish can be bred in the fish hatchery:
- Abecean Longfin
- Cyrodilic Spadetail
- 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 Dartwing
- 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 the Dragonborn unless provoked.
- 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. Adding Chaurus Eggs which are abundant all throughout Skyrim can increase the price.
- 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 four effects and has a base value of 1,149 (4,044 with perks and fortification effects).
- Fishing content gives more fish options for the hatchery, such as cave fish and arctic fish. The
- 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.