Aspects of Aquafarming & Commercial Fish Hatchery Design


"Over the years,, so many dollars have been wasted, on un-commercial aquaculture,, ideas"


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Kel Gordon's new sci fi adventure

Aquafarmer has always stated ' test your aquaculture on a pilot commercial scale first'. Pilot, scale aquafarming is much easier and much more cost effective if carefully thought out. Aquaculture, or aquafarming, sites tend to be 'site specific' so copying someone else's work can bite.


Which brings us to aquaculture hatchery design. Fish Hatcheries are where profits start. They do not start by buying your stock in. We strongly believe that every fish farm should produce their own stock. Good fish hatchery design and practices are highly cost effective and profitable.

For example, the boys from Pioneer Fish Farm spent 1 week, in 1995, learning advanced fish hatchery techniques at Hallidays Point Fish Farm & Fish Hatchery. They were given backup support for their first few spawnings. And now they are highly commercial aquaculturists, or were. The following paragraphs discuss commercial thoughts on fish hatchery construction relative to the species and potential commercial outcomes.


Fish Hatchery Design Applications for Aquaculture

Kel Gordon Fish ResearchThis photo represents the new generation of Fish Hatchery Rearing Design, for government research in western culture. Concrete, self-draining floors, plastic 'igloo' construction with fibreglass and plastic tanks and PVC plumbing. This system is efficient, neat and aesthetically pleasing as well as capable of oxygen injection. However this setup is simply not commercially viable. Although this serves a research purpose it does not lend anything to improving functional design in commercial fish hatchery culture. This rearing facility would send native fish farms broke.


Kel Gordon in China

Kel Gordon

This photo is an important Fish Hatchery Design in Wuhan City, China. This hatchery is involved in constant commercial re-seeding and restocking programs.

Kel Gordon was a consultant there for the introduction of Australian Native species such as Silver Perch and Australian Bass in 1995. The design is basically, concrete tank construction with galvanised pipe plumbing and plastic sheeting on steel roofing. However, the importance here is one of fish hatchery function and construction-cost- comparison, relative to production efficiency and material availability. This hatchery works well within their limited budget and low wage/high manpower system. The significance and importance of such breeding and re-seeding programs cannot be understated. A very efficient and profitable facility.


Kel Gordon Fish Hatchery Design

This photo represents my original 'igloo' style experimental freshwater species Fish Hatchery Design in mid production run. When we built this we had no practical experience with fresh water fish and design information was impossible to acquire. As a result everything here had to be portable and serve more than one function as the spawning method and larval rearing methods changed considerably over the ensuing learning curve of fresh water fish breeding.

The design here was one of variation, motility and limited budget. However this hatchery became so efficient we never built the next generation design. The cost of construction including equipment was less than $3000 AUD in 1989. We used simple hatchery construction design with the power connections off to each side and water and air supply overhead down the middle as per existing standards.

The black plastic tanks were bought from the infamous 'Yabby Blue' project for $20 each and they became the breeding tanks, the nursery tanks and also the holding tanks for marketing Silver Perch, Goldfish, Koi, Eel-Tailed Catfish, Australian Bass and Golden Perch.

The fibreglass 'barrels' shown here were, originally, oyster hatching tanks we bought for $50 from the original 'Mr Oyster' setup at South West Rocks. They became very efficient fish egg hatching tanks.

Native fish larvae were maintained in these barrells until the 'functional jaw' phase and then simply drained directly into the nursery ponds. We never touched the juvenile stock.

Larvae bred here were always drained into newly prepared nursery ponds usually on day 4-5 after hatch. However, by transferring day-5 larvae back into the spawning tanks and running a slight flow to waste recirculating system we maintained larvae until day 25. Larvae were fed on a mix of dried zooplankton and commercial starter dust at 20 feeds per day.

This procedure dramatically improved survival in the nursery ponds as the live feed was no longer the 'predator'. Survival consistently went to over 80%.

Now there's something you don't hear about every day.



The hatchery floor was 20mm river gravel layed over an efficient under gravel agricultural pipe drainage system. Tanks were simply drained into the floor which tended to keep the hatchery drier than most concrete floor hatcheries.

This style of hatchery has commercial potential in nearly every fish farm situation. The design was simple and cheap but highly efficient.

Aquafarmer was the first to on-grow 5-day silver perch larvae and artificially feed until day 30. We achieved better than 80% cohort survival using this method. Something every silver perch farm should consider.

The breeding technology developed here and, eventually this hatchery was on-sold to the boys from Pioneer Fish Farm. after more than ten years of commercial production.

There are always commercial alternatives. Hatcheries can be efficient, commercially productive and relative to individual farm budgets.

Efficient Site Specific Fish Hatchery Plans together with complete construction and operational manuals are available from the author.
We also supply complete hatchery units built specifically to suit individual requirements.
Multi-function and multi-species hatcheries built to a budget are what we can provide for you.