Perch, zander, houting and trout - successful trial operation in the new aquaculture plant in Dummerstorf

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Research conditions are considerably simplified with the own circulation system directly on site

About ten years ago, the Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology expanded its research activities to aquaculture. Fish genetics now occupies an important place in the scientific activities of the Leibniz Institute. Last year a separate aquaculture plant was therefore installed in Dummerstorf. "Since July, the trial operation has been successfully running in a converted cattle stable, which will considerably facilitate the work of our researchers on site," informed Professor Klaus Wimmers, CEO at the FBN, today. "Around 200,000 euros were invested in the conversion and the modern aquarium system."

Dummerstorf scientists have made a name for themselves worldwide with their investigations into the stress resistance of rainbow trout and the fundamental molecular biological analysis of the Baltic beak. Currently, a large zander project led by Dr. Tom Goldammer from the Institute of Genombiology is deciphering the genetics of the popular food fish at the FBN for the first time. In cooperation with the Institute of Fisheries of the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania State Research Centre for Agriculture and Fisheries, the first results are to be presented in 2020.

Scientists can work more flexibly
The Dummerstorf aquaculture plant consists of three separate sections, each with a capacity of 1,700 litres, on which three different environmental conditions can be simulated and compared. The three closed circuit systems each include four 200-litre containers and six 60-litre containers. Around the clock, the water is enriched with oxygen and cleaned of fish waste materials. The freshwater fish are kept at a water temperature of approx. 17 to 20 degrees Celsius. In trial operation, water purification in particular was tested, which must function smoothly. The bacteria contained in the filter system convert toxic fish waste such as ammonium into nitrate salts via the intermediate stage nitrite, thus keeping the water clean.

Dr. Ronald Brunner from the Institute of Genombiology is responsible for the test phase before the actual research work on the zander genome also starts at the new facility. "We will continue to cooperate intensively with the world's only experimental aquaculture plant on a production scale for zander in Hohen Wangelin near Waren/Müritz. However, we can now work even more flexibly," says the animal breeding expert. "In principle, our system simulates the same processes on a small scale as in the large plant in Hohen Wangelin. The smaller units can be disinfected and restocked more quickly and allow the comparative study of the effects of different environmental conditions on the fish. In addition, laboratories and offices for the evaluation of data and measurement results are located directly on site. The new infrastructure is a great asset in the field of fish genetics," explained Dr. Brunner.

The scientists from Dummersdorf are mainly interested in strengthening resource-saving and sustainable aquaculture with regional fish species. This is to become more important in fish production than before. Closed loop plants are characterized by their environmental friendliness and good water quality. Therefore no additives with antibiotics and other medicines are necessary. "The consumer wants not only a tasty fish, but also a healthy one," says Brunner. Currently 400 small perch, twelve houting as well as two trout and two zander populate the new plant.

The Leibniz Association connects 93 independent research facilities. Its orientation ranges from natural sciences, engineering and environmental sciences to economics, spatial science and social science as well as humanities. Leibniz Institutes devote themselves to socially, economically and ecologically relevant issues. They carry out knowledge-based and application-oriented research, also in the overall Leibniz research networks, connected, they are or provide scientific infrastructures and offer research-based services.  The Leibniz Association concentrates on targets in the transfer of knowledge, especially with the Leibniz research museums. It advises and informs politics, science, industry and the public. Leibniz institutions maintain close cooperation with the universities, including in the form of scientific campuses in Leibniz, with industry and other partners in Germany and abroad. They are subject to a transparent and independent review process. Due to its overall national importance, the federal government and the States together promote the institutes of the Leibniz-Association. The Leibniz institutes employ about 18,700 persons, including 9,500 scientists. The total budget of the Institutes is more than 1.8 billion Euros.

Photo: FBN/Thomas Häntzschel
With scientists from Mexico, Cameroon, Spain and Italy, an international team is involved in the large Zander project. The state government of MV finances the project for the study of zander genetics with a total of 996,000 euros from the European Marine and Fisheries Fund and the state of MV.

Photos: FBN/private
Every morning Dr. Ronald Brunner inspects the new plant, checks the water values and filters and feeds his protégés. He has been working at the FBN since 1992 and in fish genetics for ten years.
Some of the fish are also fed by automatic feeders. There are dry food pellets in different sizes. These consist mainly of plant substances and fishmeal. Fish are carnivores and need animal protein for breeding.
Morning snack with trout - the native Rostocker has not only a scientific relationship to fish. He is also a passionate angler and also keeps ornamental fish in the aquarium.

Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN)
Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf
Director: Prof. Dr. Klaus Wimmers
T +49 38208-68 600

Institute of Genome Biology
Fish Genetics Unit
Head: PD Dr. Tom Goldammer
T +49 38208-68 708
Dr. agr. Ronald Brunner
T +49 38208-68 734

Scientific Organisation: Dr. Norbert K. Borowy
Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf
T +49 38208-68 605