Akvakulturfaciliteter i Hirtshals. Foto: Helle Sørensen

Facilities for aquaculture research, Hirtshals

DTU Aqua has facilities specifically designed and well-suited for research within aquaculture.

A wide range of applications

DTU Aqua has facilities specifically designed and well-suited for research within aquaculture at the North Sea Science Park in Hirtshals, Jutland. These experimental facilities provide the base for the institute’s research into aquaculture, farming technology and fish physiology. 

The facilities enable DTU Aqua to work with a wide variety of species under very different conditions, with recent research focuses primarily on species like rainbow trout, salmon, sole and zander. The aquaculture facilities in Hirtshals are unique in Denmark and outstanding in an international context as well. 

The facilities cover everything  from small-scale pilot experiments to trials at commercial and semi-commercial scale. The facilities provide access to research into both fresh and salt water, and the water temperature can be adjusted. Almost all the facilities are electronically monitored and linked to 24/7 surveillance.

Specific facilities

To mention some specific aquaculture facilities at DTU Aqua: 

  • Hatchery for salmonids and marine fish
    The fertilised eggs are hatched under strictly managed water quality, including oxygen, temperature and light conditions.

  • Facilities for larval rearing
    The fish larvae are reared in special recirculation systems and fed on copepods and rotifers, which are also bred at the facility. Single-cell algae are also cultured here and used as feed for the live feed. 

  • Facilities for studying nutrient balances and feed digestibility
    At these facilities, fish faeces are collected and the drain water is analysed to allow research into digestibility of different feed components as well as exact nutrient balance studies. 

  • Recirculation systems
    In recirculation systems, water is purified internally and reused to minimize the environmental impact of fish farming. The research facilities feature several different types of recirculation system, comprising: 
    • Recirculation system for technology and method development 
    • Traditional recirculation systems for e.g. growth experiments
    • Recirculation systems for measuring potential environmental impact etc.
    • Respirometry system for physiological experiments, including measurement of energy balances, oxygen consumption under different rearing conditions, and assessment of the nutritional value of the feed
    • System for studying behaviour, welfare etc.
  • Respiration laboratory
    The respiration laboratory is used to conduct experiments on both the resting metabolism and swimming respirometry in individual fish that are subjected to a variety of controlled loads. For example, the experiments can focus on metabolism, performance and stress tolerance, linked to online monitoring of relevant parameters.

  • Salt water model fish farm
    A large, commercial scale demonstration plant for developing new farming technologies within recirculation in sea water. The plant is used for research and documentation of farming rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon in landbased, recirculating sea-water facilities.

  • Laboratories
    For this experimental work there are well-equipped laboratories with special competencies in areas such as classic chemical analyses, water chemistry, amino acids and hormones (HPLC).

  • Workshop
    A workshop supports the facility and produces specialised tools designed for the specific experiments.


Aquaculture research

DTU Aquas's research within aquaculture covers technological and biological aspects of fish farming, including recirculation technology, water treatment, water quality and nutrient discharge as well as fish feed, nutrition energetics and welfare.
Learn more about DTU Aqua’s research into aquaculture


Head of Section for Aquaculture 
Per Bovbjerg Pedersen
Tel. +45 33 88 32 56

From the facilities

Klækkeri til laksefisk
Hatchery for salmonids.

Facilities for production of algae used as feed for the live feed.

Anlæg til næringsstofbalancer
Facilities for studying nutrient balances and feed digestibility.

Traditionel recirkulering
Traditional recirculation systems for e.g. growth experiments.

Intern cirkulering til måling af fx miljøeffekter
Recirculation systems for measuring potential environmental impact etc.

Respirometry system for physiological experiments.

Anlæg til studier af adfærd
System for studying behaviour, welfare etc.

Salt water model fish farm.