Earl A. Rice got his start growing goldfish in the early 1900's near Thurmont in Frederick County, Maryland. Frederick County is known as the birthplace of goldfish culture in the United States, and Earl's father was one of the pioneers in the industry. In 1923, Earl decided to break away from his partner and moved about 30 miles northwest to a property in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The property contained three earthen ponds at the base of the farm's namesake, Mt. Parnell. The property became the keystone for the business that is now known as Mt. Parnell Fisheries, Inc.
Earl Rice managed Mt. Parnell Fisheries until his passing in 1958, when there were about 40 ponds. The facility grew to over 200 ponds under the leadership of Earl's son, Richard Rice, who managed the business from 1958 to 1998. Today, Richard's son, Mike Rice serves as the third generation manager of the family corporation, overseeing 200+ water acres at four locations, plus an indoor Recirculating Aquaculture System.
Technological advancements, in addition to the physical growth, have also played a part in the growth of the business. In the early days of Mt. Parnell's goldfish production, there were no oxygen cylinders, plastic bags or extensive roadways. Earl and his two employees harvested fish from the ponds and placed 500 fish with seven gallons of water in specially manufactured metal cans. These cans were then placed on a train and shipped via the railways to jobbers within a 500 mile radius.
Currently, goldfish and other fish varieties are still raised in ponds, but conducting business is different with advancements in intensive fish culture, tank trucks, holding pools, and air transportation. Basic logistical advancements and evolving fish culture practices such as the recirculating system have increased the quality and availability of our fish. Decades of growth and progress have not come without adversity and challenges to the management and staff of Mt. Parnell Fisheries. Natural disasters, the economy, and competition in the ornamental fish market will always test the adaptability of the business.
The better part of a century has passed and technology has changed the day to day operations at Mt. Parnell Fisheries in many ways. Although progress is inevitable, our values remain the same and our ultimate goal is to provide quality fish for generations to come.