The centre for fish research is located at NMBU Campus Ås, and is managed by the Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences at the Faculty of Biosciences.
Produce their own fish
The centre stocks up on disinfected, IPN free roe four times a year. This means that there are always fish of varying ages and sizes available for research / experiments / trials. With live fish there is the risk of infection, which is why the centre bases its stock on roe only - not live fish. Live fish cannot be disinfected – but roe can. The lines that are accepted have been screened and are free from disease. Seeing that this is a small scale facility, research is not carried out with fish larger than 100 grams. The facility does not have access to sea water, so is not adapted to smoltified fish (i.e. fish ready for life in sea water). The part of the facility that is used for production of the fish contains 40 vats.
Salmon experiments are conducted in two rooms containing a total of 46 experiment vats. These have collecting devices for uneaten feed, and are connected to two different RAS systems in the basement. A warm water section connected to the third RAS system will shortly be used for feed experiments with tilapia.
Small scale experiments require great precision
The centre has significant activity related to alternative feed resources. "Foods of Norway" NMBU’s centre for research-driven innovation, is conducting several experiments to find how new feed resources affect the growth, health and physiology of salmon, and its ability to make use of the feed (feed efficiency).
In contrast to large, full-scale experiments, such as those which are run in commercial production, small scale facilities offer the opportunity to conduct experiments with a great degree of precision. Using collecting devices for uneaten feed, the researchers are able to calculate feed intake which again can be related to growth of the fish with high precision. The feed used in the feed experiments in Foods of Norway is produced at the Senter for fôrteknologi, ForTek at NMBU. Like the centre for fish research, FôrTek is a small scale facility, producing feed for research purposes. The physical proximity and close cooperation between our scientists, FôrTek and the centre for fish research promotes beneficial synergies for our research.
RAS system – Recycling water
The Centre’s three RAS systems for water recycling enables the centre to use minimal amounts of water. The separate, identical RAS systems recycle the water and offer excellent control of water quality and stable water temperatures.
Isotopes as a tracking device
Using radioactive isotopes as markers, scientists canstudy how particles from environmental toxins and pollution act in the fish’s body. The use of radioactive isotopes in experiments is a scientific method: it is not the same as research into radioactivity. The radioactive isotope markers are activated and attach themselves to the particles the scientists want to examine. The particles can either be in the water or in the feed. How the marker acts and the amount of markers in the fish reveal how much and where in the organism the environmental toxins are being stored. Using radioactive isotopes is a very efficient way of conducting research, and the method can also be used on other types of particles in the fish’s body. The Centre for Environmental Radioactivity (CERAD CoE), a centre of excellence at NMBU, conducts the isotope experiments at the centre for fish research.
The isotope section is custom fitted for the purpose. Since the section handles radioactive isotopes, there are strict requirements to its outfitting and design. The section produces and maintains a standard water quality, and a closed water treatment plant filters de-ionized water into the vats used for the isotope experiments. The section has its own cleaning plant for isotopes, and no radioactivity leaves the section or the centre.
Special room for experiments
The centre for fish research has a dedicated sampling room, which has proved very functional. Since a large number of samples are often taken at the same time during an experiment, e.g. when organs are removed at the end of a trial, the room is spacious and can be equipped with a large number of work stations for parallel sampling.
Contagion section – quarantine station
The centre has a dedicated anti-contamination section, which is completely isolated from the rest of the plant. This section acts as a quarantine station and an emergency section, ready if a situation should arise that requires investigating a disease or situation in a waterway.
Even though the centre for fish research does not normally receive live fish, this infection section can also serve as a quarantine station for live fish should the need arise.