HCMR -the main advisory body on aquaculture and fisheries in Greece- will participate in the project with the Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBC). IMBBC aims to carry out basic and applied research on 1) aquaculture technology, reproduction, rearing, nutrition, welfare, pathology and fish quality 2) diversity of marine and freshwater life, phylogeography and genomics of marine species, development of genomic approaches in fish aquaculture, bioinformatics and interactions of organisms with their environment. IMBBC has a long-standing experience in converting accumulated knowledge to aquaculture technologies applicable to the private sector, development of genetic tools for parentage assignment, production of genetic maps and QTL analyses of aquaculture species.
Material resources: Specialized laboratories (nutrition, physiology, pathology, water quality and ethology) support any experimental study. Aqualabs are more specialized on hatchery technology, where systems with automated feeding and monitoring of environmental parameters will be applied. In Souda cages are devoted to on-growing experiments and monitoring of feeding behaviour in larger specimen of new warm-water species.
The Institute of Aquaculture (Crete) provides access to a modern infrastructure enabling multidisciplinary research on all life stages (breeders, eggs, larvae, juveniles, market size) of sea bass and sea bream and of 16 species of 11 genus (D. dentex, P. pagrus, D. sargus, P. erythrinus, D. puntazzo, U. scirosa A. regius, S. umbra, S. dumerili, P. americanus and E. marginatus) emphasizing on the fast growing species greater amberjack and meagre. It also provides access to associated food chain technologies (microalgae, rotifers, artemia). Aqualabs are located at Gournes 17 km from Heraklion.
- In the broodstock zone, specimens of 18 different species have been able to spawn and produce viable eggs. There is a possibility of controlled temperature and photoperiod, as well as induced spawning by use of implants, which is a frontline technique used at our facilities.
- In the behaviour zone, 50-500 L tanks are used in a flow-through system with an option for recirculation and temperature control (15-27 oC) and recently 250-L cylindroconical tanks have been added for digestibility studies in fish nutrition.
- In the intensive hatchery, 500-L tanks are used connected to 1m3 biofilters and these systems are applied for the rearing of marine fish larvae in high stocking densities of larvae (50-200 larvae per L). Temperature and photoperiod are controlled and feeding with microalgae, rotifers, and Artemia can be adjusted through a computerized system, which is in the frontier of this type of technology for automated feeding of fish larvae.
- In the live food zone, microalgae are produced in 1500-L photobioreactors in high density cultures (200-300 millions cells per mL). These photobioreactors use natural light condition, and thereby take advantage if high light irradiance and favourable light conditions in Crete and are a product of constant development in the area of microalgae production during the last 15 years. Rotifers and Artemia are produced in industrial scale with automated feeding, controlled temperature by experienced personnel.
- Six mesocosmos unit are housed of 40m3 where rearing of larvae takes place with high survival rates even of most “difficult” species.
In Souda Bay the concession of floating cages provides access to 100 m2 of pilot scale 3x3x3 m cages or 1x1x1.5 m cages for experimentations on production. Excellent for simulation of real cage aquaculture, this zone is managed by 3 technicians providing daily maintenance and feeding. The zone for access is located in Souda Bay (130 Km from Aqualabs, close to city of Chania).
Aqualabs-Souda bay has been a necessary part of national research projects as well as large European research projects in the area of aquaculture such as FINEFISH, FASTFISH, SEACASE, SELFDOTT, FISHBOOST, DIVERSIFY.
Services currently offered by the infrastructure
At Gournes, the two floors infrastructure named Aqualabs (see plan) is organised as a vertical integrated hatchery (19 people staff) with pilot scale and small scale experimental rearing facilities well equipped with specialised wet and dry laboratories and more classic infrastructures (offices, library, 50 places meeting room, etc). The 7 main zones of experimental Access (1700 m2) integrate the up-to date technology in fish larviculture and computerised management and are managed each by a scientist. The ability to work with early life stages of so many different species (18 different species) is unique worldwide. Nutritional experiments can be performed in 35 tanks of 500 litter capacity. The tanks are connected to a recirculation system with the ability of thermoregulation and photoperiod control. A biochemical laboratory equipped with HPLC, HPTLC, GC, Dumas nitrogen analyser, automated fiber analyzer and bomb calorimeter is offered for chemical analysis of samples. The installation in Souda is unique in the Mediterranean as it offers a variety of high quality experimental facilities for study of early fish life and produces ± 2.000.000/year fry species thus making them always available for experimental purposes.
Modality of access
The Aqualabs-Souda infrastructure is a leading institution in the research for the development of new fish species for the Mediterranean aquaculture through participation to European research projects and collaborations with the industry. Round the year there is a constant flow of visitors for research and education purposes. The infrastructure pursues research and innovation in:
a) Hatchery technology and larviculture (early life biology and ethology).
b) Biology and control of larvae-fish development (morphology, osteology) and development of digestive and visual systems employing histological techniques.
c) Determination of nutrient and energy requirements and optimization of feeding, use of alternative sources of nutrients.
d) Fish behaviour and applications in rearing populations (schooling, self-feeding, learning, sorting devices, welfare) using automated feeding systems, self-feeders, data loggers, video recording and analysis.
e) Production management in cages during grow-out in relation to feeding, behaviour and management.
The following laboratory facilities will be used of support of researchers using the access areas:
- Microscopy (fluorescence, inverted microscope, phase contrast) and stereoscopy equipped for photography, camera and image analysis.
- Physico-chemical analysis of water with electronic devices or photometer.
- Microbiology (cooled incubator, laminar flow, deep freezer, cooled centrifuge, colony counter).
- Biochemistry and nutrition (Dumas, Soxhlet extractor, Hydrolysis unit, fibertec, muffle furnace, oven, GC for fatty acid analysis, bomb carolimeter, HPTLC, LC).
- Fish Physiology (ELISA, RIA enzymatic methods), haematology, endocrinology, speed vac.
- Histology (rotary tissue processor 12 stations (histokinette), embedding station, microtome, slide warmer plate, portable bench, top fume hood, staining system).
- Fish behaviour, ethology, biorythms and welfare with electronic self-feeders linked to computerised data collector, tagging systems of fish (fish eagle) and cameras.
- Computers for processing, analysis and presentation of data as well as redaction of reports.
- Visitor planning to perform experiments in the Aqualabs-Souda bay facilities will provide an experimental plan for their work, in collaboration with Aqualabs-Souda bay researchers in the project. This will enable planning of activities in relation to other Aqualabs-Souda bay activities. The visitors will, once they arrive, have the same access to the facility, equipment and technical support as any of the HCMR researchers already working in the facility. The users of the AQUAEXCEL2020 infrastructure will be provided access to internet, desk, and will be offered the possibility to work with the different groups of activities in the Institute of Aquaculture.
Unit of Access
One week represents the access of installation. The unit of access represents the use of 12 500-L tanks or 1 mesocosm 40000-L tank or 6 intensive hatchery 500-L tanks, fish, personnel, use of other supporting equipment and consumables (e.g. industrial feed or live feed) for one week. In the installation of Aqualabs-Souda projects will be run with an average duration of 3 months. Depending on the nature of research, and although the experiments may take longer, users may spend two weeks at our institution.
After presenting a detailed description of the experimental process and requirements, users may either monitor the experiment or actively participate with hands on work, if required. Host scientists will assist visitors during their experimental work and experienced technical personnel will carry out the routine procedures.