Aquaculture North America

Nuts and bolts of land-based fish farming

March 26, 2015
By Jeff Eastman

New RAS Technical Training Manual covers technical areas including: system start-up

Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD) has developed a new extension resource titled Fish Farm Technical Training Manual as a management tool for land-based, recirculating aquaculture operations. 

The manual was developed as a direct result of the Manitoba–Canadian Model Aqua-Farm Initiative (M-CMAF) that was supported by the Inter-provincial Partnership for Sustainable Freshwater Aquaculture Development, Watersong Farms, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and MAFRD.  The M-CMAF was comprised of the construction and development of a commercial rainbow trout production system intended to establish norms and baseline standards pertaining to economic and environmentally sustainable aquaculture.  Effective integration of the most current technologies including operational practices and standards was key to the M-CMAF. 

The new resource captures technical knowledge gained and protocols implemented during the initiative with the aim of facilitating further expansion of the sector.   The manual covers technical areas including:  system start-up, daily operations, biosecurity and fish handling, feeding, growth tracking and sampling, water quality monitoring, effluent management, equipment and maintenance, emergency response, licenses and permits and harvest and marketing. 

Current aquaculture producers that use similar systems may be interested in using the manual as a guide to refine or develop new strategies and protocols for their operations.  For example, the manual contains a simple yet effective daily feed and mortality data collection sheet used at the M-CMAF that could be easily adapted for use at another farm.  The protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) contained in the manual would require more modification based on the scope of operation and local realities such as regulations but those presented in the manual would serve as solid foundations.  

Beyond offering guidance for current producers, by covering a comprehensive array of technical aspects the manual paints an excellent picture of commercial aquaculture for potential fish farmers wanting to understand the operational requirements of land-based recirculating aquaculture.  

Prior to final publication of the manual, MAFRD solicited the opinion of producers of other livestock to gauge the usefulness of the manual to potential new entrants to the industry.  Those who were asked indicated that the manual gave them a thorough understanding of what would be involved in the routine operation of a fish production system.  Some went further by stating that reading the manual demystified fish production as they saw many parallels with their own operations raising hogs or poultry.  The response was encouraging and furthered the confidence that the manual will support industry expansion by providing technical information on the nuts and bolts of land-based aquaculture. 

— Jeff Eastman

The Fish Farm Technical Training Manual is available in pdf format free of charge upon request from Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.  Contact Jeff Eastman, Business Development Specialist – Aquaculture, MAFRD at

Print this page