Improving Sustainability Of Land-Based Closed-Containment Systems For Salmonid Food Fish Production

Funding: USDA Agricultural Research Service
Lead Scientist: Dr. Steven Summerfelt
Project Duration: 5 years

Research at The Freshwater Institute focuses on developing and improving technologies to enhance the sustainability of the modern fish farming industry.

To this end, the proposed projects listed in this plan continue our work in pioneering land-based, closed containment water recirculation systems that are biosecure, have an easily controlled rearing environment, produce healthy and optimally performing fish, and produce manageable effluent for significant reduction in waste discharge.

Specifically, our research will investigate the:

  • biological and economic feasibility of raising Atlantic salmon to market size in freshwater recirculation systems (as opposed to coastal net-pens)
  • potential for raising rainbow trout in semi-closed or closed water recirculation systems to further reduce the amount of influent water and point source discharge required for these systems
  • health and welfare of salmon and trout in relation to dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, swimming speed in circular tanks, soy-based feeds, and water ozonation in low-exchange systems
  • potential for greater energy efficiency in water recirculation systems through improved low-lift pumping and gas transfer processes


In addition, our experimental systems will continue to serve as field testing sites for alternative-protein feeds and for salmon and trout strains selected through genetic improvement programs at other USDA facilities. The investigations proposed in this plan will build on the findings of previous USDA-funded research to develop a sustainable, environmentally responsible, and economically viable aquaculture industry in the United States.