Aquaculture is equated with the reduction of poverty by intergovernmental agencies such as the FAO, which advocate the promotion of small-scale aquaculture through project-based interventions. There is a lack of convincing empirical evidence to support the efficacy of this type of intervention, however. Meanwhile, commercial cultured freshwater fish production has increased hugely throughout Asia, despite limited direct donor or government support. Its impact with respect to poverty also remains ambiguous, however. This article critically evaluates the developmental impacts of both immanent and interventionist forms of aquaculture and advances finely nuanced interpretations of both.