DTU Aquas's research within aquaculture covers technological and biological aspects of fish farming.

Recirculating aquaculture plant
A key focus area of DTU Aqua's research into aquaculture is the development of rearing systems and technologies that ensure efficient production with minimum environmental impact. Photo: Mathis von Ahnen.

Main themes within aquaculture research

The research areas within aquaculture include recirculation technology, water treatment, water quality and nutrient discharge as well as fish feed, nutrition energetics and welfare. The research aims to improve existing and develop new rearing methods and technologies in order to reduce the environmental impacts of aquaculture and to optimize operations taking due consideration of the needs of the fish.

Research into aquaculture has two interacting themes:

  • Rearing systems and environmental effects 
    Research on the development of rearing systems and technologies that ensure efficient production with minimum environmental impact. Our research focuses in particular on recirculation technology, biofiltration, water treatment and environmental efficiency in onshore facilities (fresh and salt water).

  • Nutrition and welfare of fish
    Feed and its utilization by the fish is central to water quality and the potential discharge from aquaculture. Therefore, we do research on fish feed and nutrition, bioenergetics, feed utilization and nitrogen-excretion studying issues like protein synthesis and the importance of amino acids and fatty acids. Fish physiology and welfare is also studied to determine the implications of water quality and rearing conditions.

DTU Aqua conducts aquaculture research activities both at the North Sea Science Park in Hirtshals, northern Jutland, where we have our own international standard research facilities, and in collaboration with partners in the aquaculture industry at their facilities.

Why do we do research into aquaculture?

Aquaculture is experiencing rapid growth worldwide, and fish from aquaculture currently account for some 50 per cent of the world’s human consumption of fish.

This trend is expected to continue because most wild fish stocks cannot be exploited any further. Aquaculture is therefore the only sustainable way of meeting a growing demand for fish from a growing population.

Denmark and the rest of Europe have a significant aquaculture production, but also a considerable untapped potential. To take part in this development, ambitious goals for the Danish aquaculture industry has been set, covering technology as well as fish production.

Having good natural conditions for fish farming and with targeted research in aquaculture, Denmark and the rest of Europe can streamline and expand its aquaculture production in s sustainable manner. This is why DTU Aqua does research into how environmental impacts can be reduced and resource utilization optimized as aquaculture production is increasing. Thus, we carry out research on how to cost-efficiently reduce the discharge of nutrients from aquaculture facilities. This research has two approaches, one being technology oriented and one being nutritional, since the feed and its utilization by the fish is important for water quality parameters and concomitant nutrient discharge. Fish physiology and welfare is also important for intensive farming, and research is also carried out within these issues.

What is the research used for?

DTU Aqua’s research findings are used by the authorities and for management purposes as well as by the aquaculture industry and by a large number of secondary industries, e.g. raw material suppliers, feed manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, components and recirculation facilities.

Both the aquaculture industry and the secondary industries are suppliers to the global market, and the research conducted into aquaculture thus supports Danish exports.

The research activities are central elements in DTU Aqua’s consulting services to the authorities, primarily the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and its agencies, but also to municipalities etc.

Nordic Network (NordicRAS)

DTU Aqua co-ordinates a Nordic network on recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).

Go to the network website