We have moved again - now at St Kilda. You can contact us on 0411 105 365. We are in the process of setting up hydroponic and aquaculture displays.

Monday 0930 to 1730
Friday 0930 to 1730
Saturday 0930 to 1230

We are available for consultation and site visits at these times- other times by appointment by email (robin@soladome.com.au)

After 35 years at 44 Chapel Street it was time for a change to a web based operation and to offer guidance based on many years of practical experience.

 

 

What is Aquaculture?

Intensive Aquaculture is where the animals or plants are contained in some way for ease of feeding, handing and harvesting. These systems vary from the flow-through types of system like cages in pond or the sea to the fully enclosed recirculating systems where the water is cleaned, aerated and purified each time it goes round the system.

Aquaculture as defined in the latest South Australian Aquaculture Act

means farming of aquatic organisms for the purposes of trade or business or research, but does not include an activity declared by regulation not to be aquaculture.

The Act goes on to define aquatic organism as

"means an aquatic organism or any species, and includes the reproductive products and body parts of an aquatic organism"

Aquaculture can be in several different forms

Extensive Aquaculture where the animals or plants are in large bodies of water and have to be rounded up or caught in order to be collected for sale or translocation. Fish in lakes or crustaceans in dams are examples of extensive cultivation.

Intensive Aquaculture is where the animals or plants are contained in some way for ease of feeding, handing and harvesting. These systems vary from the flow-through types of system like cages in pond or the sea to the fully enclosed recirculating systems where the water is cleaned, aerated and purified each time it goes round the system.

In all cases Aquaculture has had to compete with the wild caught fishery so costs of production are critical in the Aquaculture industry. Generally costs of production reduce as the scale of the operation increases. Someone producing 1,000 tonnes a year has major cost savings compared with the small operator who can only produce 10 tonnes per year.

Aquatic animals and plants have a much narrower range of environmental conditions within which they will live and grow compared to land based animals and plants.

Maintaining these ideal conditions is expensive so the faster the animals and plants grow the lower the cost of production (they are in the expensive conditions for shorter time). For optimun growth there is an even narrower range of conditions so the cost of providing these "perfect" condtions is even higher. The result is animals and plants that are growing together as fast or faster than they do in extensive conditions.

The Chicken industry has developed to a stage where a day old chick can grow to a 4 kilogram bird in 42 days - compare this with a YellowTail Kingfish that grows from a 1 gram fingerling to a 3 kilogram fish in 18 months (550 days) The Aquaculture industry has a long way to go to get the sort of growth rates that are the norm in land based animals and plants.

Aquaculture is all about food conversion rates. The aquaculture diets have improved to such an extent that food conversion rates (FCR) of 1:1 are becoming common ( Feed 1 kg of fish food to a fish and the fish will put on 1 kg of body weight.)

Fish food in Australia is up to three times as expensive as it is in USA. Australia has fewer producers of fish food as the number of fish farmers requiring fish food is relatively small. In USA some fish farmers have joined together to grow and process their own protein used to make their fish food.

The other problem with Aquaculture is that of scale of production. If we could start with a 1,000 tonne per year system instead of a 10 tonne one there would be considerable savings. But corporate investors are reluctant to put money into something that is risky unless they can see an appropriate return on their investment. We need to make Aquaculture a better investment prospect, more certainty, fewer risks. Financial institutions are still reluctant to lend for Aquaculture ventures unless they can be provided with guarantees or mortgages over other assets like real estate.

We need to make Aquaculture more of a routine production venture similar to horticulture - the demand for aquaculture produce is growing so there are great opportunities for those who get it right.

Intensive animal husbandry is all about genetics, growth, husbandry and marketing.