Latest news at Aoraki Salmon Hatchery


Following on from our successful out-of-season smolt, we have now increased the size of our brood stock and their fertility. Our three year old females are now in the 8 – 10kg range and are producing 6,000 – 7,000 eggs per fish.

The spawning of our first strategy of fish began late December 2015. These have all hatched as alevins and the majority have swum up in search of food. This is our sign that they are ready to start feeding. There are nine feed sizes fed to our smolt in their first eight months of life. These range from a gritty dust consistency to well-formed 3mm pellets. As the alevins absorb their yolksack and start feeding with more vigour they quickly turn into fry and can double their body weight in a week.

By mid-March the fry will be approximately 1g and will be ready to be transported into our raceways. This is quite a milestone for staff as the fry are much easier to look after in one raceway as opposed to 10 smaller tanks.

The fry nearly triple their bodyweight each month until June when they are graded into different sizes. This helps to reduce competition by allowing all of the similar sized fish to live together. Also in June the fry go through a process known as smoltification when they are able to live in saltwater. Although our fish do not ever go to sea they still go through the evolutionary adaptation. During this process they lose their parr marks which are the bands running down the flank of the fish and they are then officially known as smolt.

Between June and August the smolt will grow from 20g to 85g and be ready to transfer to our farm in Twizel. The smolt are transferred in a large tanker that has been setup for the sole purpose of transporting fish. It has 5 tanks and a range of probes in each tank to measure dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide and temperature. The highly trained drivers are able to monitor the fish through a tablet mounted in the cabin of the truck. Oxygen is automatically administered to each tank each time the dissolved oxygen level reaches a critical point. Carbon dioxide is broken down but recirculating water and the temperature is maintained by insulating tank covers.

Once the truck arrives at the farm. The fish are offloaded tank by tank into the pristine alpine water at our farm and the hatchery has done its job.


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