Posted at 02 March 2021

At our Aqualis Research Center in Thailand, our experts are testing new fish food products. The tasters are nearly 5,000 fish and shrimp!

In early 2020, Aqualis, our new aquaculture research center in Thailand, was born. 

The goal? Improve the research and development of fish and shrimp food in the APAC region. This means higher production yield for the farmers, alongside the fish and shrimp well-being and minimization of the industry's impact in the environment.

Aquaculture is becoming increasingly important. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than half of the seafood in the market comes from aquafarms, and the share is rising. This makes it all the more important for Diana Aqua to utilize by-products and expand the circular economy, for example, by minimizing the proportion of wild-caught fish in aquafeed. "In the future, the industry will shift to use mostly plant-based raw materials, single cell proteins (microorganisms and algae) and by-products from seafood and land animal processing in our products", explains Dr Fabio Soller, Technical Director APAC for Diana Aqua. For farmed fish to eat unfamiliar food, they must like how it tastes. "To ensure this happens, we have to find out how the fish reacts to certain tastes", Dr Soller said.

 

Catching red tilapia for weighing

Aqualis new site in Samutsakhon, near Bangkok, is the third of its kind, after facilities in France and Ecuador.

64 water tanks with a capacity of 500 liters and 32 glass aquariums with 150 liters are lined up in a 1,000 square-meter hall. Around 5,000 fish and shrimp are swimming in the tanks, where they work as "tasters".

A win-win for everyone involved

The Aqualis testing center is designed to be sustainable, hot air escapes through the roof and the open sides of the hall guarantee continious circulation. Multiple filters ensure that water consumption remains low. Wastewater is discharged into a hypodronic channel where thousands of small fish consume waste and insects larvae, and crop plants draw nutrients from the water. The water is then treated in an oxidation pond where other fish live. The employees receive these fish for their own consumption, along with vegetables produced from the hydroponic channel. That means not a single liter of water ends up in the public sewage system.

In Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) research trials in fish and shrimp are conducted.

After a series of tests are carried out, where no fish is harmed,  the fish are sold to local fish farms for further growing. The income secures part of the costs of the facility and support the local economy. Since all the machines are energy-efficient and the lamps are equipped with LEDs, power consumption is also kept within limits, even though water and air pumps are in operation around the clock. In order to make the facility even more climate-friendly and also protect it from power outages, a solar energy system is planned to be installed.

The result: better performing and more sustainable products!